Last night REWRITE won the Best Online Platform at the inaugural Brown Sugar Awards!!! I was totally overwhelmed and didn’t prepare a speech, so here it is!
This award is an honour. To be recognised by my peers, by other amazing Black Women who know the tears, sweat, and sleepless nights that go into creating an organisation that is unapologetically dedicated to the betterment and development of Black Women & WoC. REWRITE was born out of a frustration, and a need to create a space that is For Us By Us. The journey has been long and beautiful. Thank you to: Jenn Augustine – the REWRITE ROCK – REWRITE would not be where it is without you! Thank you, Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed for your open spirit. Thank you, my Ride or Die, my partner in crime, Aiwan Obinyan, for seeing the vision way before I did. And thank you to Brown Sugar Movement Team – Oliva and Maria, for taking the time to reward and recognise Black Women.
Firstly, thank you to all the non-Black people and organisations who have backed their Tweets with donations; I appreciate you!
For the rest of y’all, sorry (not sorry) to break it to you, but your single Tweet really doesn’t do much for us. REWRITE is a self-funded creative writing organisation for Black Women & Women of Colour. Since our inception in 2018, REWRITE has:
Taught over 200 Black women & women of colour (yes, two freaking hundred)
Published over 30 reviews of books by Black Women & Women of Colour
Created a whole literary magazine showcasing work by Black Women & Women of Colour
Partnered with over 20 writers, literary agents, publishing houses and writing orgs of colour
All with no external funding. Now, since some of y’all have decided that you want to support REWRITE because we’re a Black-led organization, here are some useful ways you can do this:
DONATE. This is the most useful thing you can do for us right now. You can even set up a profile for on-going donations. Here’s our donation page.
SIGNPOST BEYOND TWITTER. Social media has a short lifespan, instead of Tweeting, include REWRITE in your newsletter, blog, website or podcast. I send out a weekly newsletter with our latest courses and activities. Sign up here.
BRING SOMETHING TO THE TABLE. Partner with REWRITE by offering your skills/services – for example creating a writing competition, offering a free masterclass on editing/publishing etc. What can you offer us IRL?
PAY IT FORWARD. Buy a course and we’ll offer it as a free place to a Black Woman or Woman of Colour who needs it. See our current courses here
At REWRITE we’re about supporting & celebrating Black Women & Women of Colour entrepreneurs. REWRITE Founder, Christina Fonthes, had the opportunity to interview Kru Patel, Co-founder of BeYou.
BeYou is a startup based in Birmingham, UK, that strives to educate and empower women by providing all-natural solutions to those everyday problems. Since being founded by Kru and her brother Hemang in 2018, BeYou has continued to break taboos surrounding periods, women’s health and body positivity by spreading their message of Celebrating 𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙫𝙞𝙙𝙪𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝘁𝗼𝗴𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿™.
I started using BeYou just under a year ago – recommended by my partner – and it has literally changed my life. Being an entrepreneur is exhausting at the best of times; I’m one of those women who cannot function during menstruation, which isn’t ideal when you have a business like REWRITE to run! The BeYou patches have made my personal and business life tons better; I’ve not had to cancel important meetings or classes, and I love that they are 100% natural. The folk at BeYou are currently offering free hand sanitisers with their parcels, so go get you some! Visit them on Instagram @beyouperiod and at their website. Tell them we sent you with code: REWRITE_15. Read on for the interview.
CF: What is your story? How did you become the Founder of this ground-breaking product?
I’m very close to my younger brother and I’ve always said that he’s the genius in the family… so the credit really goes to him! During my first job out of university, I was on my period at work and as I avoid taking pills where possible, I went and grabbed a hot water bottle. One of the guys on the sales floor saw me walking back to my desk with it and abruptly told me that I wasn’t allowed to have my hot water bottle in the office as it looked ‘unprofessional’. I understood to an extent, but I was in serious pain that day and felt furious at the reaction I had just received! I was severely cramping, and my insides were literally falling out, I couldn’t help but feel disadvantaged as a woman! Later, I called my brother to have a vent and ended up crying down the phone! That’s when he made the point, ”It’s not like you can help it! Guys can use literally anything in the office, even when it’s self-inflicted, so why shouldn’t a woman be allowed to use a hot water bottle to help with something which is natural?” He actually got it!
He started doing some research to find a natural solution that could help period cramps (he was working at Google at the time) and it turns out it’s a problem in most workplaces. Many women really suffer monthly but feel that there is the stigma attached to being seen with hot water bottles or to even mention a period! But then how is it men feel they can mention it openly? How many times have you sarcastically heard “Is it that time of the month?” We could get into so many debates surrounding the period stigma. My brother reached out to a friend of his in India and together they came up with the BeYou patches. My brother is the co-founder of BeYou, and a real innovator when it comes to noticing problems and thinking of creative ways to solve them.
CF: How difficult was it to go from idea to inception? Were you working a full-time job; did you have prior business knowledge or experience?
Working with a sibling means a lot of the pressure is taken off just one person. My brother really spearheads this business and so I am still able to work on my full-time job as a marketing manager in a pharmaceutical company. This is an advantage for us to be able to see what gaps there are in the market to help more women. My background is in marketing and my brother’s is in being a genius.
CF: What was the biggest challenge you faced or are still facing as a businesswoman?
I wouldn’t say that I personally face an issue, I think the entire female industry does. The biggest challenge we face is breaking taboos and having conversations we’ve been suppressed to have over generations. Simple topics like a period, which has been a part of the female anatomy since the beginning of time should be a normal, open part of life by now! Whilst we have a long way to go, I feel that we are making progress in baby steps. I saw this quote which really hit home and overwhelmed me with a huge sense of appreciation:
“I am the first woman in my lineage with the freedom of choice, to craft her future whichever I choose, say what is on my mind when I want to, without a whip of the lash, there are hundreds of firsts I am thankful for, that my mother and her mother and her mother before did not have the privilege of feeling. What an honour. To be the first woman in the family who gets to taste her desires. No wonder I’m starving to fill up on this life, I have generations of bellies to eat for. The grandmothers must be howling with laughter, huddled around a mud stove in the afterlife. How wild it must be for them to see one of their own living so boldly!”
Whilst there is a long way
to go for women to have equal, open opportunities I feel men also need
educating from the beginning for this to happen. I am extremely lucky to have a
sibling of the opposite sex who understands feminism, and the brand really is
upheld by this and our beliefs.
CF: As a businesswoman myself, I’ve often felt imposter syndrome – have you experienced anything like that and how have you dealt with it?
Of course. Imposter syndrome is common amongst both men and women. I think women are just more open about it now. Because of the traditional ‘male-dominated’ business world, it’s normal to feel that we may not be good enough for the position we find ourselves in, but I feel that this is what will drive us to go further, push boundaries and prove to the industry we are just as successful. I try to practice mindfulness. So every day I will list 3 things I am grateful for and 3 things I want to achieve (I don’t write this down I tend to just keep this in my head but I know my brother does this religiously too). It really helps to put things into perspective.
CF: We see images of ‘boss women’ living lavish lives, holidaying in Dubai, but very little is said about the amount of time that goes into running a business, particularly in the first year (I’m still catching up on sleep from 2 years ago!). How do you manage your time & how do you avoid burnout?
I try not to look on social media for inspiration on these “boss women” as I feel it can be soul-destroying at times and I don’t feel that it is very inclusive! I have to remind myself that what I see on social media may or may not be the real story, and it’s also so different from the message we are trying to portray through the BeYou brand. My brother is probably more experienced with burnout. As he works on this daily with a very small team of people, workload can be extremely demanding. I can speak on his behalf that sleep had definitely become secondary! I know that he schedules in work into a diary and sticks to it. Keeping fit is generally also a really big part of our lives and so this also helps to stay fresh and keep the mind ticking. I am 6 months pregnant now so I’m actually making the most of my sleep!
CF: What is the 1 thing you wish you’d known before starting the business?
The challenge of getting sceptical females on board with trying something new. Within this industry, there are so many fad products that don’t actually do what they say on the tin. Ours is a product that actually works meant that we had to rely on word of mouth to get things going initially. We are super grateful for those early adopters of the product as many of these ladies are now brand ambassadors!
CF: What 3 tips would you give to women of colour who want to start their own businesses?
Have a solid support structure around you there will be tough times but with a trusting team/partner you will feel less like a fish out of water.
Don’t give up on the first ‘no’. If you believe in your brand/product then push forward.
Support other women! I believe if we stand together we will become a strong web of working women that will become difficult to tear down.
Why does REWRITE make a distinction between Black women and women of colour?
The need to have a distinct space for women of colour to express themselves and have their work published can hardly be questioned. In a world where publishing is dominated by white, mostly male, authors, writers of colour have found it effective to publish works for us by us. Being at the intersection of race and gender, therefore, women writers of colour feel this need even more greatly. REWRITE is one of the organisations that is working towards filing this gap.
But the question why Black women, as women of colour themselves, should be held apart from other women of colour, may prove necessary. Are the experiences of women of colour not experiences that should be held in solidarity? This introduces a new intersection. Intersectionality, as Kimberle Crenshaw educates us, deals with “the fact that many of our social injustice problems like racism and sexism are often overlapping, creating multiple levels of social injustice”. She uses the example of roads that meet at an intersection, with each of these roads representing the different ways in which a person may be held back through unjust social practices and rules.
Black women, being at the intersection of gender, as well as the specific racial bracket of Blackness, experience life differently than would other women of colour. Their experiences influence their work differently, with different nuances related to Blackness, than it would other women of colour writers. So, where women of colour writers find themselves locked out from the publishing world, Black women of colour experience it even more so. But the consequence of Blackness does not extend only to struggle and injustice. The joys and triumphs of Black women at having overcome society’s burdens are also distinct. Their experiences remain unique, and so their work requires unique amplification.
REWRITE is proud to be a Black woman-led organisation.