LAST UPDATED: 5th MAY 2021
We have had the pleasure of interviewing Sophie, a 19-year-old writer and creative based in London. She is a bubbly ambitious and welcoming Black woman. She is the founder of The Kollab Network (TKN) an online platform dedicated to empowering and documenting the stories of creatives through workshops, events and live interviews. Sophie is also a podcast co-host on the GetRealWith Podcast, which is dedicated to sharing real and honest conversations, and is the Director of Creative Content at Milk Honey Bees, a healing safe space for young Black girls.
In our interview Sophie and I spoke about what Black Excellence means to her and the origins of The Kollab Network.
“I think for me Black Excellence is about allowing Black people to just thrive and just be their authentic selves and not feel like they have to fit into certain boxes of who they should be. I feel like excellence is very personal to you and that’s why I would say thriving because it is like you can thrive in any space.”
Olamide: What does Black Excellence mean to you?
Sophie: “I think for me Black Excellence is about allowing Black people to just thrive and just be their authentic selves and not feel like they have to fit into certain boxes of who they should be. I feel like excellence is very personal to you and that’s why I would say thriving because it is like you can thrive in any space. It can be harmful if we only have one idea of what excellence is.”
The Kollab Network was created a year ago when Sophie was in sixth form. When asked about what inspired the start of TKN she described how lockdown caused her to have a lot of free time as well as many other effects and that she “needed to channel my energy somewhere.”
Olamide: What inspired you to create The Kollab Network?
Sophie: “My own personal experience so I actually wanted to get into journalism back in the day hence why I took politics at uni. I really found it hard to connect with other writers because all the writers that I met were white, white men or white women not that it is a bad thing. But I found it really hard to relate with their experiences and what they were writing about was very different. So I felt like I really wanted to create a space to connect with other people and to learn about their stories.”
We spoke of the difficulties of not knowing how to get into the creative industry, not getting our questions answered and not knowing who to ask these questions to.
Sophie: “I went to a school that was heavy on academics […] occasionally my school would have talks on sky and the typical internships. But it wasn’t really about ‘how to get into [the creative industry], who to speak to. It was more of academic subjects. It was a bit hard if you weren’t really trying to be a doctor. I was like there’s no way I’m doing science. There’s no way, I need to find something, I need help”
Olamide: How do you think you have developed personally from managing TKN?
Sophie: “It really pushed me to be more out there. The first live I did I was so nervous and awkward I was like ‘hi..’, just so awkward. The more I did it the more I got better at it and I got a lot of more confidence. I have learnt about even more creative jobs, so I have connected with more creatives. Now I feel like I don’t really know about Journalism anymore.”
“I would just say to network. I think for me it is just about networking because a lot of the time, I think especially with creative people it is about who you know not what you know.”
– Sophie Arinde
Network – “I would just say to network. I think for me it is just about networking because a lot of the time, I think especially with creative people it is about who you know not what you know.”
Faith – “Have faith as well! I think it is so important to believe in yourself and believe you are worthy to be in those spaces.”
Social Media – “Social media can really help you connect with people. Building that online relationship I think it is really important, following people, reaching out to them, sharing their stuff. With social media you can really market yourself.”
LAST UPDATED: 5TH MAY 2021
My name is Olamide and I am BEN’s new blogger. I am a first-year at the University of Oxford, St Anne’s College studying Classics.
My aspirations for BEN’s blog is to show Black Excellence in its entirety. Excellence in the Black community exceeds what we believe and see it to be, by merging the creative and non-mainstream industries with the already academic side of BEN we will be able to see this.