“Women Recharged is about taking the time to pour back into you, whether that is personally or professionally,” says Aprille Franks-Hunt, founder of the empowerment community that mentors, coaches, and motivates women through content and conferences. Franks-Hunt says she initially started the encouragement circle in proactive response to an exhausting time in her life.
“A series of life experiences had left me feeling drained,” she explained in an email. “I knew the best way to get myself back to 100 percent was to step back, find a positive source and get recharged; which is something I believe many women rarely take time to do.”
Franks-Hunt was mining fertile ground.
According to health and medical information site WebMD, most of the 15 million Americans living with depression are women, and 60 percent of them don’t seek help. Geared specifically toward the healthcare needs of African-Americans, BlackWomensHealth.com reports the depression rate among black women as approximately 50 percent higher than that of white women.
Franks-Hunt says of her site, “[A]lthough we serve women from all walks of life and nationalities, African-American women are approximately 90 percent of our demographic.”
For Franks-Hunt, recharging involves a periodic “boost of love, energy, positivity, sunshine, and faith” and a growing community is responding to the mix of inspirational quotes, Three years after she launched the Women Recharged Facebook page, the community grown to nearly 200 members and almost 10,000 followers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
We asked Franks-Hunt for tips on strategic online growth—fans and followers don’t always indicate engagement with your brand or content—and how to find safe online communities for young women.
Madame Noire: How have you gone about growing the Women Recharged audience since you started it?
Aprille Franks-Hunt: I started my business using Facebook. Initially, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with it or how it was going help people. I just wanted a place where women could use their voice and where I could use mine. I knew if I wanted to make an impact, then providing consistent content would [be] key and being authentic would serve my audience well. Leveraging other platforms with Facebook such as, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram [has] been equally beneficial to the growth of Women Recharged.
MN: The internet can be the source of denigration to women (e.g. bullying, ‘who’s hotter?’ quizzes, fat-shaming) as well as empowerment and motivation (e.g. the #BringBackOurGirls and #YesAllWomen movements). What’s your advice to women—especially young women—looking for empowerment and safe spaces to express themselves online?
AFH: Anyone who uses social media has a level of social responsibility to adhere to, and as a social leader, I believe there are unspoken rules of the responsibility in holding this space. I’d like to remind women that they are what they’re connected to, and if it doesn’t feel good, it probably isn’t good for you. I would also advise them to pay attention to the consistency of those online before you invest time and money into anything. Make sure your online experience is a just as good of a fit as your in-person relationships.
MN: This past March, you produced the “A Fabulous New You” conference featuring Tisha Campbell-Martin as the keynote speaker plus a bevy of major sponsors. How did/does interacting with your members live, differ from connecting with them online?
AFH: The A Fabulous New You Conference was, in the words of one of our attendees, “a phenomenal experience.” Connecting in person with our members is our primary focus; the online platform serves as a continuation of our in-person meetings.
Having an online platform allows us to remain connected with our supporters, clients, and fans. It’s a way for us to provide coaching and to mentor women who know they need “something positive” pouring into them. I like to think of us as a bridge, helping women build a little at a time to reach the next milestone of life.
MN: Women Recharged requires members to contribute a $75 annual fee or $25/month. What do the fees go toward?
AFH: Women Recharged is a for-profit business. The membership fees are a revenue stream within our business model that supports various business expenses related to video production, events, coaching, training, and administrative fulfillment.
MN: There are many ways to reach and engage audiences online and most of them are incredibly time-consuming. What’s your strategy for building the Women Recharged community, while maintaining a balanced life?
AFH: I truly believe balance comes in cycles, and in varying proportions and looks different for each of us. There are times when I am extremely passionate about my personal life (like my family, friends, or community needs), and then there are times when I am consumed with helping others and connecting, providing the best of what we can to our audience and clients. It’s admirable to work hard, and to be driven, but you have to rest, enjoy life, and cherish your relationships. It’s no fun climbing to the top, exhausted and alone.
MN: Which sites/online communities do you go to for inspiration and edification?
AFH: MadameNoire is definitely a favorite of mine as it relates to lifestyle, Black and Married [With] Kids when I need relationship inspiration and knowledge. I also love listening to the playbacks of Bishop T.D. Jakes sermons, and Alfred Edmond Jr.’s Black Enterprise articles when I need business guidance, knowledge and tips.