Meet Laura Eboa Songue

Co-Founder & Managing Director
FASHIZBLACK Magazine

Headquartered in Paris, France, FASHIZBLACK is a high-end printed magazine and digital platform.

Co-founded by Laura Eboa Songue, FASHIZBLACK came to life as a website in 2008 before evolving into a print gloss magazine at the start of 2012.

From street wear to catwalks trends, FASHIZBLACK targets individuals who care about their Afro-Caribbean roots and their western culture.

Why did you decide to start your company?
FASHIZBLACK started out as a blog back in early 2008, conceived around a very simple need. As street style blogs were on the rise, we couldn’t see as much diversity as we hoped for.

We knew for a fact that black people had a lot to showcase sartorially. We created a blog first and it led to all the other evolutions for the concept.

What was your career path prior to starting your first business?
I was still a student at business school when I started working on FASHIZBLACK. I initially just offered to help out one of the other co-founders, as I thought my management, communication and marketing skills could come in handy. I also had the opportunity to work at LANVIN, Jennifer Behr luxury accessories and KENZO.

Did you always know that you would start your own business?
I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I was in high school. I always wanted to grasp that sense of independence and I knew I wanted to determine my own destiny. But on a practical side, I had no idea what business I could launch, I’ve always been pretty shy with my ideas, and really convinced that “everything has already been done.” I didn’t know what value I could bring to the table.

Can you describe your typical working day?
I don’t really have a typical day, but usually first thing in the morning I check my phones and my emails. I try to answer as much as possible. In the meantime, I read a lot of articles about business, Africa and fashion online. I make sure all the platforms are performing, namely the website and the social networks.

I can also have days packed with meetings so I won’t be around the computer much but I always have my phones to stay connected. Overall, I deal with all the business, financial, HR, administrative decisions, key partnerships and advertising and the general management of the company. I can be updating a financial plan to get more funding one day or having a brainstorm for the next issue.

What have been the highlights of running your own business?
I must say every milestone and new step has been a true highlight. Whether it’s when we launched the website, published our first digital issue, launched our blog L’Entre-Deux or when we successfully crowd funded the first print issue in August 2011.

What is the hardest part of running your own business?
The pressure is definitely hard to handle. It’s not only about living through constant pressure for yourself but you are responsible for the people who work for you and with you. You carry them along with you, and it gets though sometimes.

There are other difficulties obviously, like the constant questioning and the need to make everything perfect. But at the end of the day, it’s all worth it!

What has been your proudest business moment so far?
I think it’s the little things that stick with me the most. I was at a Virgin store and we just released the first issue. I saw a girl who was reading the magazine and she seemed mesmerized. She stayed there and went through it and she didn’t move. I was so proud for us.

On another level, the partnerships or advertising with top brands are always proud business moments because we are really working hard to earn every bit of it.

What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
I read a lot of business success, or failure, stories so I tend to really learn from other people’s tribulations and mistakes. What they did right and what they wish they could have changed. It’s inspirational, motivating and valuable lessons to remember.

 

What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting a media business?
Media is like any other business. You have to learn your craft, make a valid solid plan, write it down, study the tools to get where you want, and work as hard as you can. It’s about resilience and persistence.

There are a lot of opportunities or niches in the media industry. Have a vision and a distinctive voice. It will get you far.

What does the future hold for FASHIZBLACK?
As our evolution showed, our concept provides fashion, beauty and culture media for black people globally. It’s not just about a magazine or a website or an application, we are targeting that young, educated Afropolitan generation and it is definitely a lifestyle. So, we hope to be able to spread the concept on more platforms and media.

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For more information visit www.fashizblack.com/en. You can also find FASHIZBLACK on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Tumblr. You can follow Laura on Twitter at @leuja

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Laura Eboa Songue was interviewed by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club.

Octavia Goredema was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2012 for her work at the Twenty Ten Club, supporting Black female entrepreneurs.

You can find the Twenty Ten Club on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Do you have a question for Laura? If so, please feel free to post a comment below:

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