My Little Black Book: Empowering the everyday woman

The Filling

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Victoria SmithWe first featured Victoria Smith, founder and editor of digital magazine My Little Black Book, in our So you wanna be startin’ something issue on 27 March 2014. Since then Victoria has been recognised as a female force to be reckoned with and My Little Black Book has won accolades as a website that promotes real women, honest writing and real life role models. We caught up with the inspiring entrepreneur for a little update… 

It’s now been a year and nine months since My Little Black Book first came onto the scene and since we first interviewed you! Fill us in on what My Little Black Book has been up to. 

A lot has happened since I clicked publish on at the start of 2014. To kick things off, we won a Cosmopolitan magazine award for our content – out of 47,000 entries. 47,000! In my capacity as editor, I have also recently been named a Rising Star in Media & Journalism by WeAreTheCity and The Guardian, recognising me as a ‘female leader of tomorrow’ and someone who is ‘paving the way for women who will follow’ – very humbling.

In addition, My Little Black Book has made many friends across the globe and has become one of the foremost female-led content platforms, offering countless women the opportunity to write – for fun, for career development, and to help address the current bias within mainstream media. We have also worked with some amazing, aspirational brands, not least on our ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ competition, described by one lucky winner as the “most exciting advent calendar”.

But above all, we have chatted to a whole host of incredible women – our real-life role models – in order to bring readers the inspiring and engaging content not typically seen on lifestyle blogs or in glossy magazines.

We love the My Little Black Book manifesto, which introduces the site as a magazine for women with “style and substance”. Tell us about the story behind it.

My Little Black Book was conceived with a dual agenda: to elevate the female voice in an industry still biased towards male bylines, and to focus on real-life role models, rather than celebrities, in order to empower the everyday woman. Not only am I passionate about aspirational writing – feeling too many column inches are given over to vacuous celebrity stories – but also I’m committed to supporting the next generation of female journalists through our writer’s network and editorial workshops.

You’ve now featured so many amazing women. Who has been the most memorable or inspiring so far?

Picking the most memorable is like picking a favourite child: I just can’t do it! To give you a flavour of the types of real-life role models we profile, however, we have recently interviewed seven times Grand Slam champion (and arguably the most successful tennis player in Britain at the moment), Jordanne Whiley; we’ve lifted the curtain on life as a leading lady with the West End actress, Katie Brayben; and we’ve been truly inspired by the courageous story of master chocolatier, Amelia Scholey.

You have received lots of recognition for the great work you have been doing. What’s been the standout moment for you on your My Little Black Book journey? 

For all the personal accolades and achievements – which are obviously lovely – I’d probably have to say that the comments from young women all over the world, expressing their enthusiasm for the site or how much an article has resonated with them, is what stands out most. That and working with our network of ambitious writers, many of whom I know we’ll see driving editorial agendas in years to come.

One of the issues that My Little Black Book seeks to tackle is gender diversity, particularly in the context of the quarter life crisis. What are your insights or tips on how to best tackle these issues? 

My Little Black Book was originally born because I felt marginalised by macho attitudes at work. I’d already hit the glass ceiling, in my mid-twenties – and it hurt. Finding a solution to gender diversity isn’t just a women’s issue – it’s an ‘everyone’ issue – but there is a real sense of sisters doing it for themselves at the moment, which is amazing. We’re not afraid to say ‘we’re brave, brilliant and ambitious, but life isn’t living up to expectations’. Admitting you want more is the first step, finding a support network (like My Little Black Book, or Suit & Pie) the second.

(This brilliantly articulated piece will resonate with anyone going through a quarter-life crisis. Hugs.)

Give us a sneaky peak into your plans for My Little Black Book and for yourself over the next year. 

If I told you, I’d have to shoot you! (Being serious now, our plans are big, so watch this space and do get in touch if you’d like to be involved.)

Check out the excellent My Little Black Book website and follow Victoria and My Little Black Book on twitter @MyLBBMagazine