She's Black Girl Fly: Nick + Court's Anniversary Interview
Just one year after founding Black Girl Fly Magazine, Nickecia (Nick) Alder, Courtney Danielle Stradford and the entire Black Girl Fly team have amassed a following of over 45,000 people, established an award-winning brand, and carved out a continuously expanding online space for Black women and girls. Nick, a Media Psychologist with a focus on Black women and girls in the media, and Courtney, a graduate student in microbiology and a successful natural hair and beauty blogger, started Black Girl Fly Magazine with a common passion for sharing the authentic experiences of Black women. In celebration of their one-year anniversary, the founding duo reflect on their journey with Black Girl Fly Magazine in its inaugural year. What has been your biggest accomplishment this year? We’re grateful to be able to say that our first year has been filled with big accomplishments. It’s hard to choose just one. This year, we completed the process of trademarking Black Girl Fly Mag so that we’re a legally recognized brand, which is a huge milestone for us. We also currently have our first class of interns, a group of bright, driven young women who are helping us move our publication and platform forward. It’s been a huge learning curve, but having these women on our team is exhilarating. We get to witness them develop their skills, passions, and talents, and we don’t doubt that we’ll watch them flourish in a few years and say, “Remember when she was interning with us? Now she’s out here killing it in fashion/journalism/graphic design”. Our most surreal accomplishment was winning our first award. In May, It’s My Hair Magazine (link: http://goo.gl/o2kW4T) awarded us for our work at their “Black Women in Publication” awards in Atlanta. The ceremony was meaningful for us because it was evidence that people valued the work that we do, and we got to celebrate alongside other Black women we support and admire who are leaders in this industry.
What inspired you to start Black Girl Fly Mag? We created Black Girl Fly Magazine to fill a void—we wanted to see accurate, non-stereotypical media representations of Black women and girls. It initially started as a passion project that was closely related to my current doctoral research in Psychology. I conduct research on Black feminism, media representations of Black women, and how media that relies on stereotypical representations of Black women impacts our beliefs, relationships, gender roles, and sexuality, amongst other things. Research on the subject focused primarily on the negative impact of mainstream media, and ignored positive online alternatives to mainstream media—myself and many of my friends were frequenting blogs, sites and magazines that more accurately portrayed the experiences of Black girls. I wanted to get rid of the negative research and decided to create a platform centered on sharing the authentic, positive experiences of Black women and girls. The brand and publication, Black Girl Fly Magazine, was created. I reached out to Courtney with the idea and asked if she was down to help build the brand. She has a strong interest in women’s wellness and beauty so she was all in! We pulled together a small group of friends that ended up forming our social media, graphic, and editorial teams. The rest is really history.
Did you think you would experience this level of growth in one year? No. We definitely surpassed our expectations in this first year. We set pretty big long-term goals, but we were really modest with our short-term goals. We’ve experienced an intense learning curve that has involved many different areas of content creation and media/publication management. Our publication continues to grow in submissions and monthly readership. Our social media platforms have surpassed 45,000 supporters around the world. We’ve collaborated with some amazing brands and have been invited to cover many events (links: http://goo.gl/9OiFMt, http://goo.gl/3iCfdm, http://goo.gl/PUu5Wb). It’s all so much more than we could have imagined.
Describe this year in one word.
We can’t pick just one! The two words that best describe our year are learning and growth. Through learning, we have grown, and as we grow we continue to learn. It’s been an exciting year of firsts for us—our first feature, first event, first event covered, first award, and first class of interns. We are thankful for all that we have learned and look forward to growing even more in the years to come.
Where do you see you BGF next year? We want to grow our social channels exponentially. We would love to see our Instagram community grow to 80-90K supporters within the next year. We'd also love to see our other platforms grow to 10k. We want to create more original content and provide a platform for Black women and girl journalists, writers and creatives to share their work.
Where do you see the magazine in 5 years? We definitely want to get into print. We were intentional about starting digitally because of our target demographic. Black millennial women are online creating and consuming all types of media. We eventually, however, see ourselves continuing a legacy laid out for us by printed Black media outlets. Our aim is to start with anniversary issues and move toward bi-annual issues.
We also have a ton of products and services we would like to roll out over the next few years. We want to continue to draw the communities we’ve created and nurtured online towards our offline events and experiences. This year, we were able to host a few events (link: http://goo.gl/PGpo8f), cover a few other ones, and facilitate workshops. Connecting with supporters face-to-face is a powerful experience, and we would love to create events that give Black women and girls opportunities to connect, create, and flow.
We want our collective to have contributors in metropolitan cities across the world while we continue to expand our roots in our current cities. Chicago, one of our base cities, is currently experiencing a cultural renaissance. Daily, we find ourselves connecting with the most amazing Black women who are building brands and businesses, teaching, mentoring, creating and doing amazing things. We want to do more to showcase these realities.
We’d also like to create more content for more age groups. We had some amazing opportunities to work with high school and middle school girls and realized that we have so many skills we want to share; so many critical conversations around media representation of Black girls and women we would like to facilitate and we are currently planning the creation of that brand.
What was the most memorable part of starting Black Girl Fly Magazine? Being noticed. Gaining the attention and acknowledgment of our peers and hard hitters in the industry is definitely a great feeling. Seeing the retweets, reposts and encouraging comments makes our hard work even more worthwhile. Being recognized by supporters feels amazing; by now we have met so many women that support us by engaging with our social media platforms or frequenting the website. Each time, I am just as shocked and humbled as the last. Receiving the Women in Publication Award was another confirmation that we are fulfilling our purpose. Black Girl Fly Magazine is our baby. We have labored diligently to see it thrive, and we continue to work hard to create a space where people can see all the amazing things Black people are doing. A space where we are uplifting, teaching and learning. Being recognized is such an honor and blessing.
Special thank you to our inaugural class of interns who coordinated our anniversary interview and have just been rockstars in the last few months! We appreciate all your hard work and dedication.
Black Girl Fly Magazine (BGF) is a revolutionary internet platform that commands a space for the authentic experiences of Black Women; serving as a digital nexus for lifestyle and cultural news for contemporary, urbane Black women. Follow us on Instagram and Twitte