The internet has exploded with platforms catering to millennials of color, but ‘Bonnets and Durags’ founder and host Simone Arrington has found a sweet, intimate spot in the chaos for meaningful conversation. Arrington, who works in digital marketing at iOne Digital, has the tough job of balancing her creative pursuits with the hustle of a 9-5. But she’s out here doing the work–recently extending her brand from an online podcast to an entire lit party experience. MN spoke to Arrington about the genius behind her idea, how she keeps up with everything, and advice she has for burgeoning creators.
I love the name of your podcast! How did you come up with the concept for Bonnets & Durags?
Social media is a place chock-full of opinions and opinionated people. After constantly having to defend my stance on certain topics regarding dating and relationships, I grew tired of arguing back and forth with users (specifically black men) on my timeline. Black women and men are at odds too often, so I knew that it was time to take our conversations offline and have civil discourse. I wanted to create a safe space for black men and women to express him- or herself in a setting where they could be honest with themselves and others, free of judgement. What that setting looks like in real life is when we’re laid up pillow talking with our significant others or at a sleepover with friends in our most vulnerable, yet comfortable state as black folks: in our bonnets and/or durags. I wanted to recreate that vibe in the form of a podcast. Bonnets & Durags: A Pillow Talk Podcastis an outlet where we have open and intimate conversations with millennials of color. We talk about a variety of topics. Whether it’s about sex and relationships or personal growth and career development, these conversations I’ve had with millennial black men and women are ones that everyone needs to hear. All of my episodes have been learning and discovery moments for not only my guests but myself and my listeners.
What has been the most challenging part of launching your own platform?
The lack of funds and/or resources. Not only am I the concept creator of the show, I am the host, the producer, the sound engineer, and the marketer. Supporting a podcast on your own can be a bit tough sometimes. People may not realize how much time/money goes into the production and promotion side of creating and sustaining a podcast. Consistency, organization, and a unique point of view are key elements to creating a successful podcast. My biggest challenge has been the lack of consistency due to my insanely busy schedule. Luckily, I’ve been able to hire a super talented social media team to assist with promotion of the show, but I’m currently working on mastering everything else and learning the full scope of what goes in to enhancing the production value of this show’s brand.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of starting your own thing?
Being able to connect with so many people with varying perspectives. Not only do I learn something more about each of my guests (who sometimes are even my friends) after walking away from every episode, it’s a pivotal learning moment for themselves as well. It’s interesting because I’ve come to learn that my podcast for some has almost felt a little like therapy for them. I give them a space where they’re finally able to open up about their feelings, emotions, and viewpoints in a judgement-free setting. On the other end, I get so much positive feedback from listeners saying they connected with an episode or talking point and felt like they were in the room amongst friends while listening. I used to dream of having amazing open dialogue like this, and now I’m curating it.
Talk about your recent party for your two year anniversary. How did you go about promoting it? Were you shocked by the turn out? Did you always intend to extend your platform to the party scene?
Where do I even begin? I most certainly was shocked by the turn out. It was a sold out event that had over 120+ supporters. My heart was just so full. I even had listeners from Boston, DC, and Atlanta asking me to do an event in their city! Seeing all of that melanin under one roof with their silky headwraps on just brought me so much joy. I am still in awe of the outpour of support from this podcast platform alone as well. My audience is what makes promoting my events so easy. They’re loyal and supportive because I produce and discuss relatable experiences and content. Anyone who understands me, my vision, and my purpose is willing to align themselves with helping me fulfill my passion. This wasn’t my first event for the brand or in general. Since moving to NYC in 2017, I’ve organized several parties and networking events, such as the #WeMetOnTwitterDayParty, that are based on the premise of connecting millennial black women and men. I don’t necessarily plan to move the podcast platform in to a consistent party platform but if it’s what the people want, I’ll give it to them!
You also work in digital marketing for iOne digital. How do you balance your personal projects and work?
Going to be totally transparent here, I’m still working on perfecting the craft of being able to juggle everything that I have going on. I’m taking it day by day but I’ll be a super organized powerhouse soon! But what’s been guiding me is the principle of discipline. I said in the beginning of 2019 that this year would be my year of self discipline, and that has challenged me to be more organized, more punctual, more intentional, and more ambitious.
What advice would you have for other creatives who are looking to venture out and create their own platform?
Find a gap and fill that void. Create the content that you want to see — not just what’s trendy or the kind others have told you you’re only capable of doing. Take a risk. Celebrate your small wins. Find your passion and pour into that. Play by your own rules. Remember, you are your biggest fan!
Bonnets & Durags on all platforms @bonnetsdurags