Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, Afroelle magazine celebrates and empowers women of African heritage.
Founder and editor-in-chief Patricia Miswa recently celebrated the digital magazine’s fifth anniversary. Afroelle magazine has featured more than 500 stories on women in Africa and the Diaspora, providing an international platform to showcase their work.
Each issue features entrepreneurs, leaders, influencers and tastemakers who are making a difference in society, plus editorials on books, films, music, technology, business, travel, lifestyle, art, culture and more.
Why did you decide to start Afroelle?
I launched Afroelle in May 2009 as a blog called The Ladies Room. As the blog began to grow, I relaunched it as a digital magazine in December of the same year.
I started Afroelle as an outlet and to provide a platform for women to showcase their work, work that sometimes is not recognized by mainstream media. Everything about Afroelle has been organic; starting and working on the magazine was a hobby at first, something I did in between looking for a job as a college graduate. I started looking at it as a business when I realized that it was becoming more fulltime and when I’d get emails from potential advertisers.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
I studied PR in college but after graduation I felt like it was too stiff for me, I needed something that encouraged my creative side and love for storytelling. My first business, a side hustle, was actually a wedding stationery business that a close friend of mine and I started after college. We did it for about two years before deciding to focus on other things.
What are you currently working on?
We are currently working on building our community and expanding to building partnerships with other likeminded platforms.
What happens during a typical day at Afroelle?
Most days comprise of researching on upcoming issues, pitching to brands, writing and editing articles, communicating and coordinating with our writers, responding to emails, interacting with our community on social media and studying the market.
What do you love the most about running your own business?
I love that I get to wake up every morning to do exactly what I love. The peace and joy is priceless. Working on the magazine, discovering and interacting with inspirational women gives me so much joy. I also love that my business is location independent and I’m able to travel and visit family and friends whenever I want to.
What is the toughest part when it comes to running your own business?
The fact that everything falls on your shoulders. When you are employed you know someone is handling different things like marketing, advertising, accounts etc. But when you are the business, if you slack a bit then the business suffers.
I’m still at a point where I’m growing the business side of the magazine, trying to create new products, exploring different business models and sometimes it’s not easy managing the creative side of producing the magazine and the business side of keeping the business going.
What has been the stand out highlight at Afroelle so far?
We celebrated 5 years this July, reflecting back on all the women we have featured and the issues we’ve highlighted is huge for us.
What has been your biggest lesson as an entrepreneur so far?
That failure is also part of the journey, the thing is to fail quickly, learn the lesson and keep it moving. I used to really fear failing. I used to worry about what people will say. Most people don’t know this but at one point, when I was working fulltime as a marketing officer at a college and night shifting on the magazine, I also started a sandwich business.
I would wake up at 4am and make sandwiches to sell at a shop just outside the college. It failed because I loved making sandwiches too much to realize that I wasn’t making any profits! Last year I also launched a bridal magazine but it didn’t work. I was devastated for a minute, then I had a conversation with my former supervisor from work who reminded me of Thomas Edison and his attitude on failure and it opened my eyes.
Failure has helped me become more innovative, I’m more open to taking risks. Failure no longer bothers me. I’m out here looking for the winning formula and if failure and learning is part of it then I’m willing to go on that journey.
What‘s next? What goals are you working towards?
The past five years we’ve had a great reception in the Diaspora and our goal right now is expand our readership and engagement in Africa and to develop different products for our audience.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering launching a media company?
Make sure you do your homework. Learn from those already in the industry – find out what has worked for them or not, what gap you can fill, what you can do differently and then start and don’t give up.
If you could be mentored by any entrepreneur, who would it be and why?
It would be South African media mogul Khanyi Dhlomo, founder of Ndalo Media, Destiny Magazine and Destiny Man. She is a phenomenal business woman and I’m mostly inspired by her success story. She had an opportunity to work as a fashion and beauty assistant at True Love magazine, she started out as an errand girl but by the age of 22 she was appointed as the editor.
Who are the other up and coming black female entrepreneurs we should have on our radar?
Zim Ugochukwu the founder of Travel Noire a global community of black travelers and Myleik Teele, CEO of CurlBox, her second business. Myleik tells it like it is, she has amazing business insights and I love her authenticity.
Is there any other information you’d like to share?
All of our past issues are free for viewing. Readers can subscribe to read at www.issuu.com/afroellemagazine