As they say “time flies when you’re having fun”. I can honestly say that it’s been a ton of fun building the Outdoorsy Black Women social network. Have their been struggles? Of course, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Some of you may not know how this idea came to be, if you’d like to know check out How Outdoorsy Black Women Got Its Start!
For anyone that doesn’t know, my name is Toyin Ajayi and I’m the founder of the Outdoorsy Black Women social network. I’d like to talk a bit about the journey since launching and what I hope to accomplish over the next year. When I chose to embark on this journey, I didn’t realize the different oppositions I may face lol. I knew there may be some push back from some but I don’t think I understood just how deep things could go. One of the interesting things that came up was people not really believing I was a Black woman that founded it or was running it, lol. That didn’t bother me because I knew where that thought process came from, but it did force me to be more transparent and show my face a bit more. I had to learn a lot and fast but it’s been a good experience for the most part. With that said I’m going to cover a few things I’ve learned this past year.
4 Things I’ve Learned In Year 1 of Outdoorsy Black Women
1. People are uncomfortable with the idea of Black Women coming together!
I want to discuss why I believe and know a space like Outdoorsy Black Women is necessary. Over this past year, I can’t tell you the amount of times that I’ve had to explain that wanting a place for us as Black women doesn’t mean we’re asking to be segregated from the world. Outdoorsy Black Women is a space to celebrate, connect, and grow sisterhood between Black women and Afro-WOC. The fact is, there aren’t that many spaces that we can just call our own. I never imagined that it would be a constant journey to explain that. I thought that if people could understand the need for women’s groups (sororities), men’s groups (fraternities), LatinX groups, Asian groups, etc then surely a community for Black women engaging in sisterhood shouldn’t be hard to understand.
At the end of the day, we’re all different and I believe we should appreciate and respect all of our differences but also appreciate and respect our need to sometimes be among communities that we can relate to. As long as a group or community isn’t forged with hate, I welcome and respect spaces that aren’t for me. Just like many of our members, I’m in mixed van life groups, rv groups just for women, LGBTQ groups, etc. But I also respect spaces that weren’t made for me.
Many ask why Outdoorsy Black Women was needed, there are so many unique types of Black women and I wanted us to have a space we could all call home. Although I used the outdoors as a general way to connect us all, Outdoorsy Black Women is a social community that I hope ALL Black Women/Afro-WOC will gravitate towards and maybe be encouraged to try new things!
We Appreciate Our Allies!
While Outdoorsy Black Women is made specifically for Black Women and Afro-WOC, we want to say thank you to any allies out there and appreciate you respecting the network and who it’s for. If you would like to offer support, please help spread the word and you can follow us on social! Also, you’re welcome to check out our blogs!
2. A lot of US don’t see ourselves as Outdoorsy because we don’t get represented Outdoors!
Another major challenge I’ve faced is getting us to realize that we’re all a lot more outdoorsy than we think lol. I’ve had so many conversations this past year where someone will say “I’ll check it out, but I’m not really outdoorsy” and then I’ll say, “do you garden, go to the beach, go to parks or go hiking?” and usually they’ll say yes to something I mention lol. Y’all Black People ARE Outdoorsy!!! The thing we have to remember is everything we do, we do it in our own way. Most of us go to cookouts, outdoor concerts, cabin trips and more and yet we didn’t realize we’re just being outdoorsy in our own way. Honestly, I can’t wait to get our Outdoorsy Black Women events started because we’ll be giving you all outdoor experiences in ways that we can ALL enjoy it!
3. People have a hard time believing we could have an actual social network
This has been a funny one, over the past year I’ve had to constantly explain that Outdoorsy Black Women isn’t just a group on another platform lol. Until I launched my this social network, I didn’t realize how many people really couldn’t fathom us having a social network of our own. I don’t get offended, it’s just another part of the challenge of blazing this trail for us all!
4. If I build it and keep at it “you will come”
I’ve definitely had my moments where I wondered if my vision for Outdoorsy Black Women was too big or far fetched. I never went to school for coding and there’s really no handbook for running a social network. I’ve learned a lot of how to do things along the way. But I can truly say that every time a new member joins I’m inspired and thankful that you all want to be here. I’ve met so many amazing Black women doing all kinds of dope things over the past year. You all have INSPIRED me and really encouraged me to keep going with this. I can confidently say I’m in this for the long haul and dedicated to keeping this a space for US!
So What’s Changed?
When I first started this community I was set on pushing the app as much as possible. What I learned is that a lot of people still want to be on the desktop/mobile site! So while the app is definitely available for those who want it, I’ve made sure the mobile and desktop experience is much smoother. The Outdoorsy Black Women app has also changed a lot since it launched last May, it’s got better navigation and been restructured to make everything the site has to offer accessible. If you have the app, don’t forget to leave a review in the app store 🙂 . There have been several server upgrades over the last year to make sure Outdoorsy Black Women can scale easily.
Initially I just put everything out there without a focus on locations. While that’s been awesome, I realized that I can’t be everywhere at once LOL. So while I definitely want everyone to keep joining from everywhere, I still have to focus on building region by region. So I’ve started focusing more attention to building membership in the South East United States because that’s where I’ll be for the next year, but the goal is to launch chapters and have ambassadors in each state. So much of the first year was spent on making sure that the foundation of the platform was in good shape. I want year 2 to be focused on building membership and getting us all connected a bit more.
- Our Book Club will be starting on Feb 1st, I’m extremely excited that we’ll have another way to connect and grow through our discussions together. All of the books chosen for our Book Club will be written by Black women from all walks of life and covering all types of subject matters.
- Events! It’s my goal to get our first event going by April or May. Covid has given me a lot to consider but plans are being made and finalized as we speak.
- Launching Regional Chapters! I don’t want to rush into this process, but it is something I’m excited to tackle when that time comes. Having chapter ambassadors will allow for events to be held in locations nationwide! If being an ambassador is something that may interest you, hang tight, I’ll be making that announcement sooner than later 😉
What Can YOU Do To Help The Community Grow?
- Honestly the biggest thing you can do at this point is HELP SPREAD THE WORD! Lol. The more members we have, the more we’ll be able to connect, be inspired by each other and help each other. Tell a friend to tell a friend and let’s keep this thing popping.
- Participate and help keep the community active!
- Support the shop, events, etc so I’ll have the funding to keep things running. And if you’d like to donate, you can Donate here!
At the end of the day Outdoorsy Black Women isn’t just about me. If you have any suggestions for how to make the community better, I definitely want to here them. Share them in our Community Suggestion Box!