Sisters Supporting Sisters/Brothers is dedicated to men and women of color living out their entrepreneurial dreams. Sisters Supporting Sisters/Brothers was started due to a lack of outlets to feature the immense talent and creativity of men and women of color. It is important for people of color to be more supportive of one another in business and life in general. A strong network of relationships amongst minority men and women would definitely help make the climb to the top a little bit easier—especially if they just happen to be going after the same dreams. Honestly, there is enough money for everyone to do their thing and still be supportive at the same time.
The Sisters to Support: Aeshia De Vore Branch/ Nicole Roberson
Name of Business, Website, or Service: T.E.E.N. Diaries
Clutch: Tell us about T.E.E.N. Diaries! (please inform us on what T.E.E.N. means)
Aeshia: Teen Diaries LLC is a multimedia company geared towards young women (ages 13-22) who enjoy urban and pop culture. Our ultimate goal is to help this demographic transition into adulthood through e-mentoring and community service. T.E.E.N. Diaries, which means Teen Entertainment Education Network Diaries, is our brand name. It’s a long acronym that encompasses everything we stand for. Currently our brand consists of an e-mentoring website (TeenDiariesOnline.com), online TV network (TeenDiaries.tv), community service projects, and a developing talk show.
Clutch: We applaud you for taking on an issue that sadly, some of us are ignoring. Everyday, one of our young girls are falling prey to the many traps and temptations that are so widely highlighted in our mass media outlets. What made you two decide to make a difference and launch the initiative and website?
Aeshia: There are multiple reasons (Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks, the negative portrayal of multi-cultural women in the media, the high school dropout rate, increased teen pregnancy, demand, necessity, etc.) that inspired the launch of T.E.E.N. Diaries. In 2005, the Tyra Banks show aired on TV, and I was relieved that another positive portrayal of black women was available for women of ALL RACES to see. Ms. Banks addressed real issues that I could relate to while maintaining a level of respect for her position and power in the media (something that several former talk show hosts, who were popular, didn’t do). Although I enjoyed her show (and still do), I realized that there was a noticeable void on TV and online for positive content that connected directly with the urban youth market (teens and college students), who spend so much of their free time actively engaged in these media outlets. I could not leave this need unaddressed so I started developing TeenDiariesOnline.com. Nicole, a fellow AKA, a clinical social worker for at-risk teens, and most importantly my friend, came on board and helped make this dream a reality. Without our combined efforts, T.E.E.N. Diaries would not be where it is today.
Nicole: Being in the media field, Aeshia saw a need for positive programming for young, urban women. As she mentioned, I have experience in clinical therapy and have worked with at-risk children and adolescents for over a decade. In my field, I noticed a need for more mentors and counselors of color to serve kids of color. I recognized the positive effects of this form of relationship on many of the clients I served, so I began planning a mentoring agency that focused on serving at-risk children of color by pairing them with professional mentors of color. Aeshia and I discussed our ideas one day and realized that in many ways we were trying to do similar things with the same population.
Clutch: One thing that makes you so different from others we have seen is you actually have teen bloggers running the site! How is that? Do they like blogging?
Nicole: Yes, they love it! Teens are notorious for being on the Internet and chatting with friends. That’s basically what we ask our teen writers to do, so their ‘job’ (so to speak) fits them very well. They are responsible for sending in weekly blogs and they send in a range of topics from personal experiences to fashion ideas or advice to their peers on boyfriends, school, best friends, etc. We encourage them to treat their blogs like diary entries and they do just that. Their sincerity is refreshing and appreciated.
Aeshia: They’re like our little sisters. :)
Clutch: Speaking of the young women, what type of feedback have you received from them and their families?
Aeshia: The feedback has been near tear jerking. The comments we receive from our readers and our peers in the industry give us the endurance to work so hard everyday. Here’s a recent comment we received:
“Thanks again for the work you do with T.E.E.N. Diaries! I just wanted to say that I think it is very inspirational for younger women, and is filling a gap. I’m a journalism student and I’m launching a site targeted toward young urban pre-teens/teens this fall to encourage them to consider entrepreneurship, creative careers, and following their dreams. Teen Diaries Online really encouraged me to follow mine as well!” – Julene Fleurmond, 22 (Plano, TX)
Nicole: ‘Unique’ is a word we hear often. We have a segment called Dear Nicole. Its format gives our members an opportunity to get personal advice. We’ve had a huge response from that and it gives us a chance to really connect with our TDO community. Many of the same teens come back for advice again and again. It affords our TDO staff a chance to forge a unique (there, I said it) connection with a neglected population.
Clutch: What type of topics, issues and features do you cover/highlight on T.E.E.N. Diaries?
Nicole: How much time do you have because we’ve done a lot in just a year! We’ve featured incredible music artists such as NeYo, Bow Wow, Tiffany Evans and Kanye West. We’ve featured an array of professional women in our ‘I Want Her Job’ series such as Nadia Hallgren and Piper Carter. We orchestrated several contests and have featured many social/community teen oriented programs on our site.
Aeshia: Also, as e-mentors, we address teen issues (sex, relationships, dealing with parents, finance, careers, etc.) that young women may not be comfortable talking to their family members about. We truly serve as the “ultimate guide” to life for this target market.
Clutch: How has being a new media company helped in reaching our young women?
Aeshia: By staying consistent and doing what we believe in, we have managed to reach over 35,000 young women each month. With over 5 million page views in the past year, we’ve attracted readers without gimmicks, sensationalism, or advertising. We are very proud.
Clutch: Do you have any blogging, social media or business tips to share with other online publishers?
Aeshia: The best blogs are relatable, visual, informative, and short. Our minds are overwhelmed with an array of media each day, so visiting a blog that covers topics of interest to your demographic, in an entertaining way, is refreshing. Also, do what you can to stand out from your competitors. Being unique will help you establish a brand for yourself.
Nicole: Identify your talents (the ones God gave you), then ask Him for direction and the means, and go for it. If you can envision it, you can do it. I firmly believe that hard work pays off.
Clutch: What’s next for you two and T.E.E.N. Diaries?
Aeshia: We are working on expanding our online property with a social network and new unique features as well as launching our teen talk show and specialty programming with the right media partners. Production companies, networks, investors feel free to call us anytime.
Nicole: Another exciting venture we hope to embark on soon is the introduction of community-based projects for young women. Self-esteem is a major issue among the younger generation. T.E.E.N. Diaries wants to offer face-to-face assistance through education and empowerment workshops and seminars.
Clutch: Please list: 1-2 of your favorite business books or website.
Aeshia: FastCompany.com and Inc.com both offer great advice, tips, and resources for entrepreneurs. Hopefully we will be featured in their magazine someday!
Nicole: The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. (Although it’s an old selection, many of the rules are timeless and can be personally edited and used in a variety of business situations)
For more information about T.E.E.N. Diaries please visit www.teendiariesonline.com.