Celebrating African Women in Media: An Interview with AfroElle Founder Patricia Miswa

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As For Harriet is a digital media space and online community for Black women across the Diaspora, we seek to celebrate and shine light on other women doing similar work. Patricia Miswa is one of these women. Miswa is the founder and editor-in-chief of AfroElle Magazine, a digital publication that celebrates women of African heritage. She started the platform 5 years ago and has made tremendous strides in achieving the goals she set out to achieve. AfroElle magazine has featured over 500 stories of women in Africa and the Diaspora. They are business owners, change-makers, artists, non-profit directors, and more—including women like Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter Zoleka, Hollywood actress Lisa Raye and many more. 

The digital magazine has truly created a space for women to build relationships and gain inspiration for starting their own projects. As AfroElle celebrates its 5th anniversary, I sat down with Patricia to discuss her journey and provide some insightful remedies on teamwork and impacting change in her media. 

For Harriet: Patricia thank you so much for sitting with me to chat about who you are and your magazine AfroElle. Tell us a bit about yourself and your cultural background. How did you come about to developing AfroElle Magazine?

Patricia Miswa: Thank you for having me. I’m a passionate storyteller, creative, and the founder and editor of AfroElle Magazine. I’m Kenyan born and currently based in Nairobi. AfroElle Magazine started as a blog called the Ladies Room. I was going through a low moment in my life when I to the realization that women are more powerful when we open up and share our stories. 

I wasn’t 100% sure about the direction I was going to take, so I just put up the first post and left it there for a month. In the beginning we mainly talked about relationships, but later on I realized that a woman’s life is multi-faceted. So I slowly incorporated other sections. AfroElle becoming a digital magazine was very organic. 

One day I came across Issuu, the digital publishing platform, and I was just amazed at the many digital magazines out there. I knew that was the direction I needed to take. At the time, there was no digital magazine in Kenya and East Africa solely for women, so I was getting into unchartered territory. But I was willing to take the chance. At that time I had zero design skills. I remember the first time I want to design the magazine, I cried (laughs) because I didn’t know what I was doing. I probably quit 10 times before I started. And here we are, five years later. I’m so glad I made that decision. 

Read more: For Harriet