After stumbling upon the work of Bryanda of Quirky, Brown Love, you'll be inspired to embrace your differences and stay authentic to who you really are. Just starting her blog a little over a year ago, the site has grown tenfold, reinforcing the fact that the Black community isn't just the stereotypes that you see in the media, but diverse in all of it's beauty and uniqueness. We had the opportunity to chat with Bryanda to talk about everything from how to grow a successful blog to what it means to have a long term relationship in this day and age.
So for those of our readers, who might not know, tell us a bit about Quirky, Brown Love and what you aim to accomplish with the platform.
Quirky, Brown Love is blog that I started in October 2014. The purpose of the blog is to act as an online medium for Black and brown people who have decided to allow themselves to be themselves. Through my quirky life realizations, love stories and features, I hope to encourage the Black community and let them know that they can be whoever they want to be and that they can speak their mind.
The title is so intriguing, even though you touch on a diverse range of topics other than love. Where did you get the inspiration for the name of the blog?
It's funny, when I started Quirky, Brown Love I had the intentions about solely writing about black love. I got really pissed off after watching a marathon of Nicholas Sparks movies and realizing that there were no brown people in any of his movies. Like really, how can you create a world without Black people, Latin Americans or Asian Americans, etc.? I also hated the fact that all of the movies about Black people were riddled with baby mama drama, violence and stereotypes.
Why can't there be a movie where a Black girl who loves alternative music and anime, meets a Black guy at a comi-con convention or music show and fall in quirky, youthful love together? Or where is my powerful yet awkward Black girl boss (think Jess Day from New Girl or The Mindy Project)? The fact that this doesn't exist is the reason that I first started Quirky, Brown Love. From this intial concept, QBL has grown into a platform for all people who are misrepresented in the media.
Growing and managing a successful blog is a pretty tedious task, especially if you have other life commitments. You do an amazing job at handling it all, what does a normal day look like for you?
I'm glad that it seems like I have my stuff together because I really don't! This is honestly the busiest time of my life, as I am balancing two part time jobs, a blog and applying to medical school. Therefore, whenever I have off days, I dedicate several hours to my blog. Most of my time on my blog goes into writing and scheduling posts, scheduling social media through HootSuite and networking on Twitter. I also have a blogging tribe that meets almost every week online, so that definitely helps me dedicate a block of time to blogging.
So, you minored in Spanish while you were in undergrad. Have you ever been to Spain or would you like to visit one day??
I definitely wish that I would have studied abroad when I was in college. Luckily, I'm taking a gap year now and plan to go to Costa Rica in a few months. Barcelona, Spain is definitely on my wishlist, though I'll probably have to brush up on Catalan before I plan a trip. I also applied to a medical school in Puerto Rico, so we'll see if the Lord takes me there :)
On the topic of travel, if you had the opportunity to go anywhere tomorrow (with no limitations), where would it be?
Anywhere in South Africa. I have always wanted to visit Johannesburg so it would be a dream come true. Also, another really random place that I want to travel is Iceland. I really want to visit the Blue Lagoon.
The Internet is filled with amazing bloggers and resources. What are some blogs that you admire? Where do you go to find community?
Oh, there are so many! I actually read a lot of blogs, so I ended up making a post listing 200+ of my favorite bloggers. If I have to pick a few, I love whoisamberjanae.com, the kelfix.com,thebudgetdivaa.com, michelenej.com and myrookienotes.com. I also network with a lot of bloggers in Black Bloggers United.
Of course, we should chat a bit about relationships. You’ve been in yours for over three years! What do you think is necessary for people to learn in regards to having a serious relationship in this day and age, when “Netflix + chill” seems like the norm?
It's funny, my boyfriend, Matt and I always say how lucky we are to have each other in a day in age that everyone is always on their phone. Neither Matt or I have an Instagram and if I didn't have a blog, I probably wouldn't be on social media at all. I met Matt at Subway Restaurant near our university as he was making my sub. We started talking while he made my sandwich and after a few times of stopping by Subway, he gave me his number and we've been together ever since. One thing that I will say is that Matt and I never really had a "honeymoon" phase. We had both been screwed over in our previous long term relationships, so neither of us were in the mood for dealing with someone who wanted to play mind games. If you are hoping for a serious relationship, you need to go into the dating scene with honest and realistic intentions. If the person that you are with is not being upfront with you, don't waste your time. Also, realize that there is no perfect relationship. There have been times in my relationship that I've had to swallow my pride and I know that Matt has had to do the same. Lastly, remember that your body is a temple. Our generation seems to have forgotten this.
Quirky, Brown Love has had amazing growth in the past year. What advice would you give to other bloggers who are looking to grow an engaging network and reach different communities?
The best advice that I can give is to not try to grow your blog alone. If I didn't have my blogging tribe and if I didn't join blogging networks, I would not have nearly as much success as I do now. To build my blogging tribe, I literally just cold emailed bloggers that I liked and that had a similar blog size to me and are about my age. I definitely stepped out of my introverted comfort zone to build my tribe, but it has literally been the best thing for my blog and for my personal life. These ladies have my back even when I don't get support from family or friends.
Quirky, Black Love does an amazing job at representing a demographic of people of color that are normally looked over (or completely disregarded) by mainstream media. How do you hope that your platform can inspire others to be themselves, no matter how quirky or different that might be?
Growing up, I always felt like I didn't really fit into the box that people fit me in. As a light skinned, Black girl, my identity was always challenged. I was never Black enough for my Black classmates and even though I participated in activities that were seen as typical of White culture, I didn't relate to White people and want to be seen as myself, a Black woman. When I was in elementary and middle school, I went through an immature phase of what I thought was "being Black" such as listening to rap music, not raising my hand in class and getting in trouble. I even got suspended from class because I thought it was the cool thing to do. You would never believe that if you met me in person now!
Later, I realized that I was just stereotyping Black people based on what I saw in the media. I was putting on a front when I went to school and then coming home and listening to the music that I actually liked and study for hours because I actually liked school. I'm sure that there are other people out there who can relate to the struggle that I was feeling, but there wasn't really a prominent outlet for people like us. I hope that Quirky, Brown Love grows to be this outlet. I want to tell the Black community that they can be themselves, whether that means listening to alternative music or listening to trap music while watching anime. Not everyone is the same kind of weird and not everyone's life fits perfectly to the Instagram standard. I hope that my transparency and honesty on QBL encourages others to be themselves as well.
What can we expect next from you? What do you have planned for 2016?
I've actually scheduled a few posts for the next month, so I can tell you for sure that there are a lot more features of amazing artists, bloggers and musicians. Also, I will be giving more insight into my life with my boyfriend, Matt and any other random observations that I can somehow shape into a blog post. I'll also be attending the Blogging While Brown Conference this year because I won the award for "Best Original Graphic Design In a Blog", so hopefully I'll make some great connections there!
This interview was conducted by Sienna Brown. Sienna Brown is the founder of Las Morenas de España. From New York to Murcia, Spain, she is constantly on a journey to inspire and be inspired while engaging in different methods of creation. Her passion for learning about others leads her towards constant exploration and practicing the art of listening as much as she can. See more of her work here and follow her adventures on instagram.