Hi guys -my readers in the UK…You guys are amazing!! Happppy New Month!
Hope you are all well. I know, I know, I know. What’s your excuse this time Fols?
To be honest, I don’t have much of an excuse. Well, apart from the PhD saga for which, I will use as an excuse for as long as possible! No but really. I have been really overwhelmed with work, so sincere apologies.
I feel like its been a while so lets have a mini recap since I was last here…
So apart from doing my research, I came to surprise my sister at uni for her birthday. It was supposed to be a surprise, but then my mum told her she had “sent some stuff through the train driver’. I was obviously like…?! Needless to say it was no longer a surprise and my sister casually greeted me because of course, she KNEW I was coming!!
Parent’s eh? They can never ever keep a secret!! So, a massssssive Happy Birthday to my munchkin sister… I have been loving you since before before :):):)
Anyway, today’s interview is with Miss Tobi Oredein. Tobi is the Editor and Founder of Black Ballad , a UK based website which considers the topics of conversation for Black British Women. If truth be told, it’s really a website I personally think all Black Women, not just British, would benefit from it. I feel as though its an opportunity for women to find their voice.
Ok, Ok. Enough mushy mushy talk from me. You guys will think I have become soft!!
Hi Tobi! Thank you so much for taking part in this interview. So we’ll start with some general questions first. Please tell us your full name and where you’re from.
My name is Tobi Oredein and my birth parents are from Nigeria.
- What is your educational background?
I have a BA in American Studies from Kings College London.
- Can you give us a brief overview of what you do currently?
I am currently the Editor of blackballad.co.uk – a website that seeks to tell the human experience through the eyes of mixed race and black British women.
- Why did you choose this path?
I choose this path for professional and personal reasons. Professionally I was freelancing as an entertainment journalist and I wanted to move away from that type of journalism. Furthermore, I had most of my experience in print media and with journalism changing, I knew I had to expand and improve my existing digital skills.
Personally, I didn’t feel like there was a British publication that really represented my friends and I. There have been some great black British publications that have been forerunners, but times are changing and I wanted to create a publication that tackled the trails, tribulations and triumphs that my friends and I were experiencing.
- What is a typical day like for you at work?
A typical day for me, (I’m working solely on Black Ballad) starts around 6:30/7. From 7am-8am I will spend time in prayer and get focused for the day. I also check all social media, the site, and stats from the previous day. I work best in the morning so from 8:30-midday, I try to spend time writing my own features, but find social media content for Twitter and Instagram.
After lunch, I reply to all emails, check twitter, Facebook to see what people are talking about so I can decide on content for the next month. After I will proof read writers work, find matching pictures for the articles, upload pictures and texts into our CMS system and that can take me up until 4ish. As it was Black History Month last month, there have been quite a few events that I have attended in the evenings.
When I get back home, my co-founder and I will briefly discuss how well the site and social media has performed on that day and then discuss any other issues with the site that can range from content, the business side of things, or applications. It’s strange because around 10pm, I usually find it easier to start writing again, probably because it’s quieter.
- What do you find challenging about your job/current position?
I think finance and distribution were my biggest challenges. Money is still a challenge as this project is self-funded by savings and wages from freelance work.
In terms of distribution, I started to look at stats to see what my readers were actually reading and sharing and looking at the patterns. This came into play a year or so later, as you can’t guess what people want.
- Before you eventually got onto this career path, were you able to gather work experience?
Yes, I spent my entire university years interning anywhere and everywhere I could. However, I interned on magazines, as digital media was just getting started during my intern days.
Thanks for that. So let’s move on to some questions on your chosen career path.
- When you chose your career path, did you have any particular expectations?
I think I really decided I wanted to be a journalist when I read Cosmogirl. I used to love the problem pages, the features and interview, every page felt like the writer was talking me. I was raised as an only child, so it kept me company, lol. I wanted to keep people company through my words. I wanted to make people feel visible.
- How did those expectations match up to your job now?
I didn’t have expectations to be honest. I think the only expectation I had was to make people feel visible and I think Black Ballad does that. Black Ballad makes those of black origin in the UK visible.
- Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Networked. I hate it and never did it. I went in and worked really hard. Got to the office 1st as intern, and was one of the last to leave. I went above and beyond, but I never emailed my Editors afterwards. It was a stupid mistake; however, if I got a job at one of those publications I would never have started the website.
- What is the best way, if there is one, to prepare for your chosen career path?
Write, write and write! Read! Find writers you admire and see what you like about their style, don’t copy, but use their work, their career path to motivate yourself.
- Can you describe your job using a film title
The Devil Wears Prada describes my career best, not perfectly but best. Andy took a job she didn’t really want, got consumed by it, but returned to her passion. I started out in entertainment journalism and went down a similar road, but I didn’t tread on anyone or sacrifice my morals. However, I did have a red-head in the office that made life incredibly hard to be in the office at one point.
- Is there anything you wish you had known earlier that would have helped shaped your career choice?
Network as I said before. I wish had more belief. It’s something I still work on now.
- What advice do you have for someone who wants to get on this career path?
Write, read (as said before) and get a mentor. When I say mentor, someone who wants to invest in you; everyone had good intentions, but sometimes people don’t live up to their promises 99% of the time.
Great thanks! So finally, I just want to ask a couple of personal questions. Just a few I promise 🙂
- How do you balance your personal life with work?
Good question. I’m terrible. I need to get better, but church is a great escape and spending time with loved ones.
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am a foodie! I love eating out at restaurants and I love going to museums- museums always give me a good sense of perspective.
- (LOL..I thnink we could be GREAAAAT friends..I eat waaaay too much! ) At present, do you volunteer anywhere?
I’m a sunday school teacher at my church- the children’s department.
- What was your last holiday destination?
I went Paris last year for my 25th birthday. It was such a beautiful break.
- What would be (or is…) your favourite holiday destination?
New Orleans is my favourite place in the world! The culture is so rich. I went in 2011 as part of a road trip with my girlfriends. It was an amazing experience.
- What is your favourite type of car?
7. Finally, what is your favourite designer/ high street brand?
I love & Other Stories! However, Topshop will always have a special place in my heart as it has the best tall range on the high street.
Thanks Tobi! Ooooh.. And a happy belated birthday to you for yesterday. I hope you had an amazing day!
So guys, I reallllllllly hope you found this interview interesting. Please check out the website apart from some thought provoking articles/topics it is really something I think my female readers ( no discrimination guys!) will LOVE!
(Confession- I have even been able to grab a few styles from the Black Ballard for my Sunday-Church-Big-Girl-Style-Oppression LOLLL!)
Till Next week guys!