• Tittykay Cesay

'You can beat the statistics'

At Ace we look for the best black business success stories, to celebrate, inspire and motivate you. Each week we will share an amazing story about an entrepreneur from a diverse background. This week we introduce you to Tobi Oredein, the founder of Black Ballad.

In 2014, Tobi Oredein launched Black Ballad, a UK based lifestyle platform that tells the human experience through the eyes of black women. The platform's mission is to create content designed to help black British women live their best lives, and covers a range of topics, such as politics, education, dating, mental health, beauty and much more.

Tobi decided from an early age that she wanted to be a journalist

Growing up as an only child, Tobi used magazines for company. Cosmo Girl, and Smash Hits were her favourite magazines. By reading them, she felt as though she was talking to somebody her own age, which she throughly enjoyed. By the age of 13, Tobi decided she was going to be a journalist.

With this in mind, the entrepreneur progressed through her education achieving high grades which eventually landed her in King's College University of London, where she gain a BA in American Studies.

After graduating, Tobi got her first job at a TV magazine, covering celebrity interviews, news stories, real life copy and features. She quickly realised that she didn't enjoy the role though. Her interest lied with publications such as BET, Essence and Ebony, she wanted to create content focused on black lives. Growing up she realised that, in the magazines she frequently read, none of the girls featured looked like her, she never saw a black girl in the publications she read.

After becoming growingly frustrated, the entrepreneur decided to take matters into her own hands by starting her own publication for black women with her husband's help.

"Black women are not all the same"

According to Metro, white journalists make up 94% of journalists in the UK, compared to black journalists that only make up 0.2% of British media. This means that black perspectives and stories are significantly underrepresented in publications, and if black news stories are portrayed, this is done through a white lens.

In an interview with I want you to know, the entrepreneur states "black women are not all the same". Tobi wanted to create content for all types of black women, of all ages, with different life stories. Tobi saw a gap in the market and wanted to fill it by creating her own publication platform tailored for black women.

Black Ballad was initially launched as a free publication that would rely on advertisements for revenue. However, Tobi quickly realised this wouldn't be sustainable, so she launched a crowdfund for the publication in 2016. The crowdfund started of very slow, and Tobi was beginning to give up. Trying to reach just 250 subscribers was proving difficult.

However, things took a wild turn when she made a viral video, and appeared on BBC's Black and British show. Suddenly, Tobi managed to smash her goal due to the attention she brought to the publication through her appearances.

Today, the publication has brought Tobi a lot of success. The membership platform achieves an average of 18% month on month growth since its launch. Tobi has also been recognised by Forbes, on their 30 under 30 list and has worked with brands such as the Financial Times and Waterstones.

Since 2017, the publication has given opportunities to over 150+ black female creatives and continues to grow.

The lesson to be learnt here? You can beat the statistics. As black people we are often outnumbered in many of the fields we may choose to pursue, but this does not mean our success is limited.

Take advantage of your niche, and beat the odds!

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