Welcome to our newest editorial initiative, Who What Wear Spotlight, where we'll be using our editorial platform, social following, and ad inventory to turn the spotlight on small businesses that need our support now more than ever. Each week, we'll be highlighting a new fashion or beauty company. If you own a small brand and would like to be considered for the program, please apply here.
Not only is Nana Agyemang the social editor of New York magazine's The Cut, but she's also the CEO and founder of a fashion and media platform that is working from the ground up to amplify Black and Brown women within the industries. From highlighting successful women of color in fashion and journalism to hosting programs that train and mentor young women hoping to break into the industries, EveryStylishGirl is creating space in the media world for marginalized voices that have been silenced and left out of positions of power.
"My past experiences led me to become a change-maker, and that is why I decided to create a media training program for recent graduates seeking placements at media companies," Agyemang says of why she started EveryStylishGirl in 2016 and grew it into a platform that offers training programs for college-age women. It is her mission that other women of color will not be alone in their positions at prominent publications as she was while working at places like The New York Times, BBC News, and Elle. And the focus isn't just on ensuring better representation within the industries but also on making sure that Black and Brown women are given credit and paid for their contributions to fashion, beauty, and writing.
Throughout the year, EveryStylishGirl hosts its trademark Sip n' Slay event that at times takes the form of a conference with speakers from the fashion and media industries and at others looks more like a career fair with networking opportunities and workshops. This year was going to be ESG's first opportunity to take Sip n' Slay global with a special conference in Ghana. Of course, Agyemang had to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic and take the event online, which turned out to be an international opportunity for ESG anyway: The digital Sip n' Slay conference reached 500 viewers from across the globe, showing Agyemang there is a large and widespread demand for what her platform has set out to do.
Last week, ESG expanded this mission with its launch of EveryStylishGirl Biz, an additional platform created for women who want to change the world of business. Through this space, they'll be sharing resources that elevate women's businesses in addition to providing insight and guidance from business professionals.
In a time of economic uncertainty and a national spotlight on systemic racism, Agyemang is impressively optimistic. And why shouldn't she be? She's created resources for her community to thrive in sought-after creative careers. That's being the change you want to see in the world.
Tell us about yourself and your business.
EveryStylishGirl is dedicated to the amplification of Black and Brown women in fashion and journalism. The company was birthed out of the hardships I encountered as a young Black journalist. I have had to work through a multitude of barriers to get opportunities to work at The New York Times, BBC News, and Elle magazine. In every one of those spaces, I was either the only Black woman or one of very few. Our media training program at EveryStylishGirl serves as a platform to mentor and train college-age women to be equipped for the journalism industry.
On top of having a media training initiative, we offer the EveryStylishGirl Career Advancement Program for recruiting Black and Brown women professionals in media, fashion, and beauty. This program allows companies to pull from a directory of top-tier candidates that our team has vetted and worked with for an extensive amount of time.
We hope that through these initiatives, Black and Brown women will work in more spaces in media and fashion, enlisted in positions of power, and create effective long-term change.
And if you had to sum up your business in five words or fewer?
Black Women Boss Energy
What inspired you to start your business?
I noticed there was a lack of Black and Brown women in media and fashion positions. Once I noticed there was a problem, I decided to work with others to create a robust career-advancement program. My mission is to continue helping Black and Brown women get access to these industries.
How have social-distancing and stay-at-home orders affected your business? How have your priorities shifted?
The global pandemic has affected our business in many ways. For starters, we lost tens of thousands of dollars in sponsorships. We host media conferences called Sip n' Slay multiple times during the year, and the sponsorship funds help us pay for the location, travel, and gifts for our speakers and guests, as well as our team contractors.
In addition to that loss, we had a conference planned in Ghana this year. For the first time, we were going to take the conference global, to my motherland. I was thrilled to bring this enriching experience to a space that has an insufficient number of resources for women in creative and nontraditional industries. Since the pandemic, we have pivoted to digital events. This shift has been a blessing in disguise. Although we lost multiple sponsorships, we solidified funded partnerships with a few brands and gained an opportunity to reach women globally with our Sip n' Slay conferences.
We are now focused on creating digital events that will speak to women around the world. Our next event is a virtual career fair that will take place late in the summer. This event will be for anyone looking to sharpen up their résumé, build their interview skills, and learn the key factors to getting hired during a time of Zoom interviews and pandemic-related uncertainty.
What are two to three of your favorite brands you like to support?
Two brands I love to support are Hanahana Beauty and The Folklore. Hanahana Beauty is an all-natural skincare and wellness brand whose mission is to disrupt the global beauty industry. They created a holistic, bottom-up approach to ensure and improve the economic health, environmental conditions, and self-sustainability of the women within the shea industry in Ghana. My second favorite brand is The Folklore. It’s where I go to shop luxury and emerging African fashion brands online. Designer clothing and accessories are all sourced directly from Africa, and they are working toward helping African designers gain visibility globally.
What has been your proudest moment as a business owner?
My proudest moment thus far was having the ability to adapt and shift in a global pandemic. I chose not to abandon our company plans due to COVID-19. I changed my state of mind. I chose not to stress over something I could not control. I made a list on April 1 with five goals I wanted to accomplish by the end of that month, and I reached them all.
Although the pandemic and the protests bring frustration and discomfort for me, I have decided to channel that energy into actions. This past May, we had a successful turnout of over 500 guests at our first-ever digital Sip n' Slay conference. We had projected 200—max—would attend, if that. My sanguine attitude allowed me to prevail and take our events global. That was always a goal of mine, and I never thought it would happen so quickly.
Interested in the types of panels that were held at the digital Sip n' Slay conference? Here's a preview:
Agyemang shares her digital guidebook for growing your Instagram following and reveals how she strategically increased The Cut’s Instagram following to reach one million and EveryStylishGirl's to 40K followers in less than three years. Dive into this breakdown for some major keys on planning, scheduling, content, and everything in between.
Abena Boamah, the founder of Hanahana Beauty, guides you through a manifestation meditation. Boamah is a Ghanaian American creative entrepreneur and mental health advocate with a master's in education. Driven by strategically curating learning experiences, Boamah has been unapologetic about her identities through all forms of her work. She focuses on showcasing stories of Black women globally through visual storytelling as an educational and therapeutic approach, specifically working with marginalized groups from students to adults.
Gabrielle Amani, the CEO of MEFeater, and Imani Ellis, the director of entertainment communications at Bravo and E! and the founder of The Creative Collective NYC and CultureCon, walk you through a discussion on successfully launching a media company. Check out this panel for the building blocks and checklist needed to finally set that launch date!
Laurise McMillian, Refinery29's content strategy editor and social strategy lead, takes you through Social Media 2.0, chatting about social media skills and tools that are not only necessities but also advantages within the industry when it comes to defining the line between business and personal.
Naomi Elizée, Vogue's associate market editor, and stylist and fashion editor Mecca James-Williams discuss the state of fashion journalism and visual storytelling. They tell you everything you need to know for a successful journalism career.
DJ Solène OJ provided music for the Sip n' Slay conference.