As the fashion world continues to reckon with issues of representation and diversity, the conversation has focused on people already working within it. There’s the necessary and long-overdue coverage of Black designers and Black stylists. Nana Agyemang, the founder of EveryStylishGirl and social editor of New York magazine’s the Cut, is thinking beyond the confines of the industry, toward dismantling the barriers to entry for Black and Brown women who have yet to get their start. Today she’s launching a global directory of 200-plus social media editors, writers, and stylists.
Agyemang founded EveryStylishGirl four years ago as a platform “dedicated to the amplification of Black and Brown women in fashion and journalism.” One year later, she began organizing in-person networking events called Sip n’ Slays, held in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. The project has recently expanded with EveryStylishGirl, a career advancement program which includes the directory. “This came to fruition through my frustration with the industry and the pipeline issue with hiring new talent,” she says. Agyemang saw a fashion industry that frequently hired people with already established social media presences or those who had already worked at elite institutions. “I struggled so much as a young girl in Ohio getting connections in the industry. It was literally impossible. There’s so much talent we’re missing out on when we forget about those women who don’t work in major global cities.”
Agyemang knows what it’s like to break into the world of fashion media when you’re from a smaller city because she’s done it herself. In high school, she devised “a plan of action to leave the suburbs and attend a college in a metropolitan area.” She went from Ohio to George Washington University, and then to Columbia Journalism School, where she wrote a prize-winning article for Elle on the challenges faced by of Black models at New York Fashion Week. “This article was an important step forward in my career and inspired me to launch EveryStylishGirl,” she says. “A few months later, I scored a major interview with Yara Shahidi about Trump’s 2016 presidential win [which ran on EveryStylishGirl]. The interview received a lot of coverage, and I think it played a role in getting hired at the New York Times.”
The women in the directory are vetted through the EveryStylishGirl team, after which they’re able to upload their résumé, LinkedIn account, and portfolio to the directory while checking off their fields of expertise. For businesses, access to the directory starts with a monthly fee, and so far the response has been positive. Women who are interested in joining can sign up at the EveryStylishGirl website for consideration for the next wave of directory names to be announced in the next several months. Currently the professional experience of participants runs the gamut of legacy media platforms, and independent sites. Ultimately, the question guiding Agyemang is this: “Who is fighting for the women who have no access, who have no voice, no big name, or credentials? Who is independently lobbying for those women to gain access?”