There’s blogging for fun, and then there’s blogging for a living. For those who prefer the latter, the biggest challenge is monetization by landing brand ambassador and collaboration deals with major brands. The task seems simple, but without the right tools, direction and support, many aspiring beauty bloggers end up spinning their wheels.
Life in Style blogger Candice VanWye recognized the need for accessibility to resources and encouragement. So the Atlanta transplant, by way of California, successfully created a community of Black female creatives with her influencer agency Brown Girl Bloggers and co-working space, Monday & Co. The agency currently has more than 1,700 members and counting, quickly becoming a go-to source for Black women looking to take their influencer game to the next level. Her co-working space is positioning itself as a necessary work hub for the same audience.
We caught up with Candice to learn more about her growing brand, big signature hair and desire to celebrate Black girl creatives.
— Jessica De Vault Hale
HYPE HAIR: When did you start Life in Style?
Candice Van Wye: I’ve been blogging under different blog names since 2013. I started my blog as a way to document my fashion choices, and I love doing it for fun.
HH: Tell me about Brown Girl Bloggers. What inspired you to start this agency?
CVW: I started Brown Girl Bloggers because I was a Black blogger in a new city looking for friends. I remember looking at the social media profiles and websites of other blogging groups and not seeing many brown faces. Instead of asking them to include us, I decided to create what I wanted to see.
HH: What services does Brown Girl Bloggers offer?
CVW: We connect brands with our influencers for social media and blog campaigns. We also offer content creation services. For instance, we take photos for other brands, manage their social media, etc. We really focus on brand campaigns, because I love helping Black women get paid for their creativity.
HH: What made you want to launch Monday & Co?
CVW: I’ve wanted to have a coworking space since I first heard of them around 2013, 2014. As a freelancer, I’ve always had a membership at a coworking space. In San Diego, I was a member of a female-only coworking space, but I was one of few Black women there. I loved working from the office, but I dreamed of having an office where Black women could change their hair without it being weird and listen to the music we want to listen to. I also want us to have programming that reflects the struggles we might have as business owners and creatives. For instance, photoshoot days with a makeup artist who comes with makeup for us or a photographer who knows how to light Black skin. I also wanted us to be able to have conversations that we can’t always have when White people are present.
HH: There are so many coworking spaces in the Atlanta market; what does Monday & Co offer that’s different?
CVW: We put Black women first, and I designed it to be a beautiful and inspiring space to work in. I focused on everything from the types of plants we have to the type of furniture, to the way it smells and even the music. We are also a smaller space which means our community is so much stronger. Members know each other, they get to have a say in the programming and experts we bring it, and everyone says the vibe when you walk in is amazing.
I can’t explain that, because it’s something you have to experience. I love that we’ll all be working intently and then someone will say something to spark a conversation, and we have the Blackest of Black girl conversations full of hand movements, body rolls, and yelling YAAAASSSSS. We love hanging out, but then we get back to work.
HH: You’re known as the “Girl with the Big Hair,” but your blog isn’t hair focused. Could you share a few tips on how you create and maintain your signature style?
CVW: I feel like everyone else around me cares about my hair more than I do, and I’m considering a big chop in 2019. I don’t do a lot to my hair. I think I lucked out in the genetic lottery because I have thick hair. I moisturize my hair and keep it clean. I also take Mane Choice Hair Vitamins. I love detangling with Aussie’s Moisture conditioner, and I really like Form Beauty’s shampoo and conditioner as well. I’m not big on brands.I usually just choose hair products when I’m in the store by what’s on sale or what looks good. I don’t spend much time on my hair at all. Every now and again, I like to add clip-ins to give myself a crazy amount of volume.
HH: There’s been such a surge of positive Black imagery in the media. How important is it to you to contribute to the imagery and narrative of the Black female experience?
CVW: It’s so amazing to me how much positive imagery we have now. I feel like it’s imperative to show it, and I think it goes so much deeper because seeing Black women in different environments inspires all of us. We get to see Black women live free and creative lives where they aren’t struggling. We see
Black women build amazing families and parent in a healthy way and we see Black women travel and experience new cultures. I think [Black Girl Bloggers] contributes to that by putting more of those images out there to our audience. But more importantly, we’re helping the Black women who create those images make money. We’re helping them fund their businesses and lifestyles, and I believe we’re helping to push the narrative that Black women can be whatever we want to be.