I first fell in love with digital in 1995. Broadband was just a twinkle in someone’s eye as these were the days of dial-up internet.
Access to the web was slow and clunky but there was something about this new form of communication that instantly resonated and excited me. The immediacy. The opportunity to connect with people from across the globe while sitting at my desk in my spare room. Searching the web to find nuggets of information that could inspire, educate and entertain me.
As a girl, my passion for magazines was just everything. I lived and breathed everything from Just 17 to Jackie magazine. There were no British magazines that featured women of colour and I had always dreamed of launching a magazine for women and girls who looked like me. I soon realised how expensive setting up a print magazine was. I just didn’t have those kinds of funds, so I put the magazine idea to the back of my mind for a while.
I never thought that digital would give me a career; I was a trained journalist and envisioned my future working life in print. In 1996, I began working in the online department at ITN. The only woman in the team, and for a while, the only person of colour. Yet at this time, the industry was colour-blind. If you had the skills you were given the chance to show them. Slowly and surely I taught myself to code, HTML, build a web page and manipulate images.
At ITN, I spent a lot of time researching online. I came across online publications aimed at African-American women but there was nothing for those based in the UK. I soon realised that the web gave me a way to launch the magazine I had dreamed of as child. In 1999, I launched PRECIOUSmagazine.
Digital had allowed me to follow my dream, but support for my dream was sometimes hard to find. “This web thing isn’t going to last,” a journalist friend confidentially informed me. “So what’s the point of a magazine in cyberspace just for women of colour?” my business advisor asked. PRECIOUS readers got it. It seemed everyone else needed to catch up.
I left ITN and my digital career developed. I took on a role as Internet Europe Editor at Moreover.com – a Reuters-backed technology start-up which provided business intelligence and news aggregation products for enterprises and consumers. I then went on to serve as web editor of ATE Online, the world’s leading provider of business information and services to the international gaming, coin-operated and electronic amusements and leisure industries.
Digital helped me to follow my dream, through the launch of PRECIOUS and developing my professional career through my roles in various start-up companies.
The explosion and development of social media has amplified everything. I still find digital exciting, educational and entertaining. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
About the author
Foluke Akinlose MBE is founder of PRECIOUS, the leading online network and resource for women of colour. Foluke’s career has taken in roles as internet europe editor at Moreover.com; a Reuters backed technology start-up which provided business intelligence and news aggregation products for enterprises and consumers. She also served as editor of ATE Online, the world’s leading provider of business information and services to the international gaming, coin-operated and electronic amusements and leisure industries. She was honoured with an MBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List for services to the Creative Industries. In 2011 she was listed on One World Actions List of One Hundred (Unseen) Powerful Women who change the World and in 2011 Foluke was invited to be a Titan for Doug Richards Creative School of Start-Ups.