I see myself way beyond the traditional route of someone with a PhD. How many of us can say that we are working on our PhD at age 27? I’ll wait. How many of us can say that we are working on our PhD while running one of the top growing online publications dedicated to black women? Mhhmm, I think you can tell where we’re going with this. Like most Around The Way Girls, Nickecia Alder is all about breaking molds and creating her own path. For starters, she’s a New Yorker that loves and currently lives in Chicago, *gasps*! On top of that, she’s loaded with degrees in psychology and is an alumni to one of the most prestigious universities in the country, yet she has different plans than what’s expected. Instead of taking the traditional route, Nickecia has managed to take her studies and turn it into what is now, Black Girl Fly Magazine.
Tell us about Black Girl Fly Magazine and how it all got started.
Black Girl Fly Magazine got started kinda like passion project. It’s closely related to the research that I do in school currently. So what I’m researching is black women in media; the stereotypes and imagery of black women in media and how that impacts beliefs, relationships, sexuality, gender roles etc, ect. When I was doing the research it was getting a little daunting, a little boring from reading and writing all the time so I wanted to do something to reflect more on the media that I was consuming. I felt like the research was kind of one sided where it was talking about all the negative stuff and not showcasing the platforms like The Around The Way, and Black Girl Fly Mag that are doing things that are more positive and trying to combat some of these main stream images.
When did the passion project turn into something official?
Well I knew when I started the passion project, I was eventually gonna take it to somewhere bigger than what it was. I really was in the mindset of, well I’m in school now, so I’m just gonna wait until school is over, but my mind was nagging me to do more with the blog because I saw so much potential in it. I really couldn’t sit back so I just went for it. I hit up one my friends from undergrad, her name is Courtney. She’s a natural hair blogger and a science girl. She has a degree in microbiology or something weird like that [laughs]. So I hit her up and was like, yo you wanna go in with me on this project and create this magazine, and she was game.
What is the “Black Girl Fly Girl”?
Black Girl Fly Girl means a few different things, but first and foremost its the girl who is flying past all the stereotypes, so like the literal sense of flying. Then in the not so literal sense, she’s the black girl that’s fly, on the grind and doing her thing. She’s on top of what ever it is that she’s doing whether it’s work, school, or at home. It’s really just the sense of being comfortable as you. Then it goes a little bit further, we have an acronym for FLY meaning Fiercely-Love-Yourself. We want to proclaim a message to black women to fiercely love themselves, and cultivate love for the people around us and our communities. So it has a lot of different meanings, at least for me.
So who are the Black Girl Fly Girls that inspire you?
I have so many! Right now, I’m really inspired by Numa Perrier, she’s the creator of Black and Sexy TV. It started off as a YouTube channel and web-series that’s black focused, hence the name Black and Sexy [laughs]. It’s pretty similar to my creation and I studied her closely as I created my magazine. I’ve been following her since she started till now and the growth that she’s been able to achieve is inspiring. She just got a partnership with BET, she’s moving from YouTube to TV and that’s breaking the mold for us. She inspires me to create the content that I feel like black people wanna consume.
In what ways does Black Girl Fly Magazine uplift and unify the black community?
It starts off with imagery. If we talk about the statistics of how much we consume media, how much we’re on our cell phones, how much we’re on the internet, we use it A LOT, and the black community in particular, we are the largest consumers. My thought process is that if we’re consuming all this media, and most of it is negative, it can unconsciously have an impact on us whether we know it or not. It was really just the thought of, if we’re using all this media, then maybe I can be one of the small chunks that are positive. And then beyond that, it’s also about the narrative that we are aiming to tell. We are aiming to talk about black women in various aspects of life and it’s uplifting for us to be able to create this platform for other bloggers, writers, and artists to submit their work. Even though they might not have the connections to Huffington Post or something, but they know the people at Black Girl Fly will support them. It’s really about commanding this platform that is intentionally black. We love all cultures, we’re down for the people, but this is intentionally for black women and we’re gonna tell our stories the way we want them to be told.
How do you feel about black women in media today? Do you see any improvements in the industry?
I’m seeing a shift. I don’t think it’s necessarily where I would love it to be but I think because there is so much independent content being created that mainstream outlets are starting to take notice to fact that we don’t really need you! [laughs]. I’m starting see the powerful Shonda Thursdays and her showing black women in different roles than what we have seen in the past. It’s women like Shonda Rhymes, Ava Duvernay, and Issa Rae that are shifting the mainstream media. So it’s slowly changing but we still have work to do.
What’s the hardest part in being an independent publication?
I think the hardest part for us is that my co-founder and I are in different states. She’s in New York, and I’m in Chicago. We also have writers and interns in different locations everywhere so the hardest thing to overcome is doing this team work remotely. It really takes a lot of time and creativity in terms of how we communicate to keep the team moving. I’m in grad school too so there’s a lot of late nights sometimes, whether it’s editing articles or reviewing emails. But yeah, it takes a lot of work but my co-founder has really been instrumental to helping move the project along and I really couldn’t ask for a better person to do this with.
You are stacked with degrees. Why not use that to get a top level job instead of going independent?
I think I noticed about two years ago or so that whenever I finish my degrees that I wouldn’t go into a traditional job. I don’t see myself being a traditional professor, although I would love to teach and will do that, but it won’t be in a traditional sense where I’m going to one institution and being centered there. I feel that with the way the world is changing that millennials are disengaging from the work force. We don’t necessarily want to be tied down to one particular job and want to have the option of, lets say, working, in a different country I can do that.. And so for me, getting this degree was really about creating my own path and having the credentials to back it up. I would love to teach and do a couple other things related to therapy, especially for the black community and women in particular. I see myself way beyond the traditional route of someone with a PhD.
What can we do as women to set an example for the “Fly Minis?”
It really starts with just acknowledging them. When we are traveling through out our day and we see some young black girls in the street, say hi. They might be acting in ways that we deem as bad, or may be good, but sometimes we don’t stop and take the time to say hey good morning and address them. We should let them know that others may not see you but I see you and you’re beautiful.
One thing that I’ve been very passionate about is whatever I’m doing I want to be a mentor for young black girls anywhere. This past summer I worked with a friend who created a summer art program and basically taught black girls about social media and how to create your own personal platform. So I think those are things that we can be doing, influencing young girls with the tools that we have and teaching them the things that we know to set that entrepreneurial mindset early in their life.
What exciting things does Black Girl Fly Magazine have coming up?
I teamed up with Rae Chardonnay, who’s a DJ from Chicago, black girl and fly as hell; and Lauren Ash, from the lifestyle brand and online publication Black Girl In Om. We came together and decided we were going to throw a party. We were very particular in the way we came about the party because we felt like the party scene in Chicago is very decent, but I haven’t been to any good parties that are curated by women of color, for women of color. So that’s coming up this Saturday, October 17th, Party Noire is happening!
As far as Black Girl Fly Magazine, we are approaching our one year anniversary November 21st! I don’t have details yet as to what we will being doing to commemorate, but you can look out for that soon. Then of course new things for the New Year!
What do you want people to take from your brand?
The mission like I said, really comes back to this idea of influencing black women to feel fly in whatever that they do and to see women that look like them in the media. I feel like it’s hard to have a lot of self love, self acceptance, when you don’t necessarily have the images that reflect you. So it’s all about reflecting these positive images so black women can feel comfortable in their own skin.
What advice do you have for young girls who are trying to follow in your footsteps in starting an online publication?
My first thing would be do the research. Before Black Girl Fly launched we spent almost a year and a half researching. It helps you to circumvent a lot of mistakes and things like that once you research and follow people that are doing something similar to what you want. Take away things that they’re doing right but also find ways to set yourself apart. So yea, take your time to know exactly what you want to do and how you want to define your brand.
Also it’s really important to collaborate. We really are as strong as our network around us. Tap into your network, use your resources, and be receptive to others. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
Is this where you saw yourself at this age?
No [laughs]. When I was sixteen I was always saying how I was gonna go to medical school and be a doctor [laughs]. I definitely knew the target group I wanted to work with. I wanted to create kinda like a halfway home for young moms. So providing them with medical care and social services, and things of that nature. I think that’s still a very possible dream that I can still accomplish sometime later on in life because it’s still very connected to what I’m passionate about: the well-being of black women. I definitely didn’t see myself here but I don’t see my interest being that far off.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Not to worry. I feel like on my way out of college I was really unsure of what the future was going to look like. I was just having a conversation with a friend a couple days ago and we were talking about how before we had this feeling of oh no I’m not gonna make it! To being 27 and thinking, oh man I think I actually can make it! So it really would be to not worry and that everything will unfold the way it’s supposed to.
I know New Yorkers be hatin on Chicago, but what is your favorite thing about Chicago since living here?
I actually am one of the New Yorkers that loves Chicago! I think what I love the most other than it being a beautiful city, is that there’s great food, great people, and always great things to do, especially in the summer time. I know once that winter hits ya’ll go into hibernation, but in the warmer months there’s so much to do. It’s such a ripe place for creatives and artists and pushing cultures forward. I’m in no rush to go back to NY [laughs].
You can catch Black Girl Fly Magazine on every social media platform @blackgirlflymag and check out the site http://www.blackgirlflymag.com. Connect with Nickecia on Twitter and Instagram @word2nick. Party Noire is this Saturday at the Promontory in Hyde Park from 12pm-6pm. For tickets and more info click on the link here or follow on Instagram @partynoire.