It’s that time of year again. For the third year in a row, HelloBeautiful presents our annual “25 Women To Know” list. This year we are highlighting dynamic women who are influencing the world of media. On this list you’ll find women from every facet of the business: super publicists, digital divas, rising television stars and more. The women were selected based on rising star power, business momentum and industry buzz. This year’s ’25′ are truly changing the industry with their innovative thinking, creative branding and fearless leadership. Congratulations to the 2013 “25 Women To Know” Honorees!
Check out these five media mavens making moves in the digital world.
Patrice Grell Yursik
Patrice Grell Yursik began her writing career traditionally by contributing to a Miami-based newspaper. Eventually she realized her heart wasn’t into it, and that’s how Afrobella.com was born.
“I felt stuck in a rut and stifled with the kind of writing I had to do at my old job,” says Yursik, “The idea for [Afrobella] came from the fact that I noticed a void in the media, where women like myself – Black, natural, proud of my unique beauty, plus sized – weren’t being seen in mainstream media as much. I wanted to shine a light on the kind of beauty that I believed was being overlooked.”
Today, Yursik, who gave a keynote at last year’s TEDxPortofSpain, is highly regarded as the Godmama of brown beauty blogging (with copycats in tow, of course). In addition to daily musings and reviews on her signature site, she is working on a non-fiction book based on her brand.
Necole’s job title, “Celebrity Blogger,” didn’t actually exist until she came along. The popular blogger and now businesswoman known for posting entertainment news started NecoleBitchie.com in 2007 not knowing that it would catapult her to stardom, but believing that one day she would find success.
Some of her biggest career highlights include being featured in a two page spread in Ebony Magazine and winning the Soul Train Music Award for Best Soul Site.
“With Ebony, I really felt as though they told my story well. It has always been important to me to tell my story to young girls, especially those who are struggling because I am proof that you can definitely make something out of nothing,” says Necole, who was near homeless and sleeping on her aunt’s couch at the time she began blogging. The Soul Train Music Award meant a lot because I never in a million years thought that I would receive an award of that caliber for being a blogger.”
Necole continues expanding her empire with projects that she’s mum about for now but in the meantime, let her story be a true testament to why it’s best to never say never, as the saying goes.
A visit to FashionBombDaily.com will have most people believing that Claire’s life is all glamour and glitz. After all, she globetrots to the hottest fashion shows and gets intel to all that is fresh and new in the industry, but it’s not that simple.
“The glamour comes after the gruntwork,” says the 32-year-old editor-in-chief of FashionBombDaily.com and freelance fashion journalist for Vogue.it. Most of the time, I’m in my pajamas, at my computer. And even when I’m at a ‘fabulous’ event, I might crank out a blog post if need be.”
Claire started blogging as a hobby but it grew due to exclusives, being noticed by bigger websites and because there was a need for an online destination geared toward urban fashion from a journalistic perspective. It was a niche that earned Fashion Bomb Daily a spot on Signature 9’s list of 99 most influential style blogs in the world.
These days Claire works with a team to keep content flowing, she’s building Fashion Bomb TV, and continuing to break barriers in the process—but on her own terms.
“I can’t change others’ perceptions of brown people—and I can’t change my skin color. We’re always told as black women that we have to work three times as hard as our competition,” she tells Hello Beautiful. “It feels as if it’s an uphill battle sometimes, but I realize there’s always something I could be doing more of—financing trips to international fashion weeks, putting more personal pictures up, writing more posts. I try to continue to diversify and prove the website’s value to this industry. I feel as if I’m already successful in my sphere so being on the ‘inside’ isn’t super important–it’d be icing on the cake I guess, but it isn’t my ultimate goal.”
Lovette “Luvvie” Ajayi
Luvvie has a reputation for being funny but she also knows when to get serious about her business. The writer, digital strategist and nonprofiteer splits sides via her award winning blog, Awesomely Luvvie, by cracking jokes on everything that is pop culture and internet shenanigans, but she also finds balance by spreading HIV/AIDS awareness with her rapidly growing nonprofit, The Red Pump Project.
Ajayi boasts career highlights like being one of the first Black bloggers credentialed to cover the 2012 Academy Awards and winning the Women’s Media Center’s 2012 Social Media Award amidst tough competition like Issa Rae and Janet Mock. And when she’s not being a digital superstar, she finds time teach the skills she’s learned along the way by hosting online branding, SEO and marketing seminars.
“If you’d like to go from a blog to a business, you need to become more strategic about your branding and how people see you. Figure out your voice, make it stronger and create a visual identity that complements it,” said Ajayi, who clearly knows what she’s doing.
Franchesca “Chescaleigh” Ramsey
The 29-year-old actress/comedian/graphic designer and vlogger developed a loyal YouTube following by producing videos that creatively combined humor with social commentary through sketches, as well as educating women about how to style their dreadlocks via tutorials. However, it wasn’t until last year’s “Sh*t White Girls Say…to Black Girls” exploded onto the web that she was thrust into the mainstream spotlight.
Since releasing the now paramount video, which to date has almost 10 million views on YouTube, Chescaleigh has appeared on Anderson Cooper, given a keynote speech at Long Island’s Bay Shore High School’s “Ethnic Pen Conference,” and starred in an online TV One web series.
Ramsey continues to amass new fans online and is currently pitching a sketch comedy show loosely based on her YouTube channel, collaborating with WNYC on a series of videos about social media, and gearing up to launch a hair site.