Black Blogger Month: Afrobella, Natural Entrepreneur

With Afrobella.com, Patrice Yursik created a thriving business for herself by providing a haven for women who love being natural

Patrice Yursik of Afrobella shot by Errol Dunlap

Patrice Yursik has roots in her business (Image: Errol Dunlap)

For Patrice Yursik having natural hair is more than a fad, it’s about embracing her God-given curls and understanding that it’s just as beautiful as any other form of tresses. Longing to see a reflection of herself in mainstream media, the Chicago-based blogger took matters into her own hands and created Afrobella.com, a blog that celebrates women who are “all shades of beautiful,” and reviews products for natural hair.

Since launching in 2006, Afrobella.com has won several Black Weblog Awards—including Best Niche Blog, Best Culture Blog, Best Writing in a Blog, and Best Style and Fashion. Now, Yursik’s achievements are being recognized by BlackEnterprise.com as part of our first annual Black Blogger Month. Here, she discusses her journey to loving her natural tresses and the business of blogging about beauty.

I started blogging because…

I started noticing a void in the representation of women who look like me in magazines and online. There weren’t any natural hair blogs to speak of at that time. So I wanted to write about natural hair and also kind of depict the fact that just because you have natural hair, doesn’t mean you’re wearing clothes that you made yourself out of hemp and make-up made from natural pigments. Women who are natural can also be glamorous.

Afrobella stands out because…

They’re a lot of natural hair blogs, they’re a lot of Black beauty blogs right now but, I bring a very different perspective. I bring kind of a journalistic standard. You know, I’m definitely a writer first and foremost. I think that people are drawn to my perspective and my personality I guess… It’s a unique perspective. I say that I’m often imitated but never duplicated.

People trust my brand because…

I have built a relationship with my readers where they have grown to trust me and respect what I have to say. People tell me, “I wanted buy this product but I wanted to wait until you wrote the review because that helps me make a decision.” That’s huge! To know that people are actually waiting for my views on something, especially a natural hair product. I think that it’s important to build your credibility and to maintain your credibility, and I’ve been able to do that.

The biggest mistake I ever made in business was…

Not knowing enough about my business and not knowing my worth as a blogger. You get so excited when brands start paying attention to you, and you get so excited when people start e-mailing you on exclusive press releases or exclusive information. You start thinking, “Wow, they know who I am.” It’s really easy to just jump at the first opportunity, and not realize that people are in fact looking at what you do. They realize your power before you might even have an awareness of what it is.

What I learned from that was…

That I need to consider the opportunities that come my way a lot more carefully. I’ve learned to take it more seriously. I was taking something from being my hobby and being a personal outlet for my creativity into a brand and a business.

I realized blogging was a business when…

Afrobella.com logo

Afrobella.com for the natural woman

I had been invited to various events and the opportunities and possibilities for me on my own were in fact greater than a 9-5 could ever offer me. It was time for me to make a leap. And I had a strong enough platform at that point that I could make the leap.

The pros of running a niche blog are…

You can brand yourself as an expert pretty much. You become the default expert in that field. So I get people asking me the most detailed hair questions.

The cons of running a niche blog are…

People can see you as limited to your niche and sometimes the opportunities that might come to people who are not in your niche. It may frustrate you sometimes.

Networking has helped me to…

Grow my traffic. It’s been everything to my business. I’ve made invaluable friendships through networking. I’ve found mentors and I’ve been able to mentor people in turn through networking. Especially if you want to talk about social networking, that’s really what made it possible for my blog to strive and grow.

I measure my success by…

I think that there’s no set yardstick. I’ve already exceeded just about every benchmark I set for myself in my mind. It’s easy to start comparing yourself with other people’s success and that’s a dangerous trap to fall into. I try to just look at my success as not a yardstick that’s defined and something that’s continually growing and changing.

In business, you should never be afraid to…

Go with your gut instincts. If you’re getting feelings telling you you should do something, don’t go against them. Time and time again I’ve realized that I should always listen to my first instinct instead of doubting myself. That inner voice is telling you what it’s telling you for a reason.

If I weren’t blogging I’d be…

Writing in some capacity. That’s what I’m born to do.

Anyone that wants to follow in my footsteps should…

Make sure that your platform is safe and strong before you jump. But don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith. There are bigger and better things waiting for you outside the cubicle.

The image of Black beauty should always be…

Up to the person. A person with natural hair is naturally beautiful just like a person with straight hair. The tagline for my blog is, “Be yourself, be natural, be beautiful.” And when I say natural I don’t necessarily mean natural hair, because I think that, especially now, it’s kind of a fad, kind of a trend.

Black hair is important because…

It’s part of our history. Black hair is important because Black women care so much about it that we made it this multi-million dollar industry around the world. Black hair is our culture, it’s our identity, it’s our standard of beauty. It’s everything.

Be sure to check out the rest of the digital thought leaders as they’re revealed each day by logging on to BlackEnterprise.com/BlackBloggerMonth.