by Kweli Wright
Name: Nichelle Stephens
Hometown: Birmingham Alabama, currently in NYC
Favorite website: buzzfeed.com
Favorite read: The Living Is Easy by Dorothy West
Recent read: My Life in Three Acts by Pam Grier
Most inspired by: Mom
Favorite cupcake flavor: Hazelnut or Nutella cupcakes and caramel sea-salt
Quote governing your mission: “My color is my joy and not my burden…” –Bebe Moore Campbell
Twitter handle: @niche
When it comes to making it in media these days, you have to be a Jack (or Jackie) of all trades. After her start as an accountant, Nichelle Stephens followed her passions to not only establish herself as a financial blogger, but as an editor, small business consultant, social media strategist and, of all things, a cupcake enthusiast. Her transition from money to cake was not always easy, but through her talents as a writer–Nichelle currently has four blogs–she has crafted a multi-layered career that allows her the freedom to create and inspire others.
“In the beginning, the blogging was an outlet,” says Stephens. “It wasn’t until three years ago that I really started making some money. Now [my blogging is] a profit-making entity.” Here, the blogger, editor and social media strategist, talks to us about juggling jobs and tasting cupcakes.
Have you always wanted a career in media?
I can’t say that I focused on media, but I love to write. In high school, I wrote poetry and always loved being creative.
So accounting was your job and blogging…?
I started blogging about six years ago with Keeping Nickels. It was an outlet from doing accounting bookkeeping, where I could write financial tips for start-ups and businesses, write small business information, give advice about personal finance. I have a degree in accounting and worked at a management consultant firm, so I had the experience. I also have my personal blog– Nichelle Stephens–which is my fun side. I have another blog about women and money, I Can Bring Home The Bacon.
You’re also a founding co-editor at Cupcakes Take the Cake, the most popular cupcake blog. Tell us how that came about.
Back in 2004, my friend Rachel [Kramer Bussel] and I would buy cupcakes and take them to events–birthday parties, press events, book parties–anywhere we knew a crowd who be, and it seemed like cupcakes were everywhere, so we decided to start this blog. It’s not about recipes and baking, but the wonderful varieties out there and how popular cupcakes are not only in the United States, but around the world. We have a list of cupcake shops from Sao Paulo. Brazil to Singapore. We even host cupcake business classes teaching bakers how to promote themselves.
It’s amazing that you have time for another gig. How did you connect with Pepsi to become the Community Editor for the Pepsi We Inspire blog?
They actually found me. I built my online presence six years ago and from day one I’ve been prolific with my writing, I guess they recognized that. They liked my voice from my personal site, my Twitter feed. That’s one great thing about Twitter, you can use it to discuss off-the-cuff things that you are thinking about and relate to other people.
Were you concerned that Pepsi We Inspire was going to be more about pushing the brand than inspiring African-American women?
Before I got the job, I met with the marketing firm working with Pepsi. I was so on-board [with their ideas]. This site was something that was so needed, not just as a site for women, but as a site for the African-American community specifically. The only concern about doing something when it is connected to such a popular brand is that you don’t want to hit the audience over the head and that’s why I liked the approach. The site is interconnected to Facebook-connect, so real interaction is there. The site is beautifully designed, very informative and it gives women a way to contribute to communities by volunteering or donating, or just sharing stories about what inspires them the most. It’s just a great thing.
With all of the jobs that you manage, do you find you like the path your career has taken?
Only until recently have I felt in control. The first couple of years I struggled to make ends meet and now I’m definitely more comfortable. One thing about the freedom is that when you work a 9-5 there are things that you can never take part in. I can now go to conferences and presentations, I can do things like that now because of my flexible schedule.
Where can we look for you next?
I’ll be attending and presenting at the Blogging While Brown conference in Washington, D.C. June 18-19. My presentation topic is The Business of Blogging.