Reflecting on the past, looking forward to 2010… Friday 01 January, 2010

On January 10th, 2009, Live Unchained was launched.  Since our birth, we… smiled, laughed, made mistakes, networked, re-grouped, danced, wore bright colors, traveled, repeated mistakes, wrote poetry, video-chatted, got our hopes up, proof-read, got angry, sold a t-shirt, read a lot, made time, received much love, learned about the Diaspora, strained our eyes, made ends […]

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On January 10th, 2009, Live Unchained was launched.  Since our birth, we…

smiled, laughed, made mistakes, networked, re-grouped, danced, wore bright colors, traveled, repeated mistakes, wrote poetry, video-chatted, got our hopes up, proof-read, got angry, sold a t-shirt, read a lot, made time, received much love, learned about the Diaspora, strained our eyes, made ends meet, listened to Nina Simone all day everyday, turned off the television, tried to live green, cried, were silly, spent money, planned trips to Africa, educated, were professional, picked ourselves up and committed to living unchained.

In short, 2009 was great!—In a rich and challenging way….

Thank you to everyone who has supported us throughout the development of Live Unchained. It is still a work in progress and we love what this project is evolving into.

Below is a quick re-cap of what we did in 2009, what we want for 2010 and what we learned along the way.

2009—Where we’ve been

1. Blog

We started blogging on February 26th thanks to the advice of one our supporters and friend’s, Abadeu Madyun of Studio 3wd.  Since then, we have published 26 posts, including several interviews with women of African descent from across the world with a variety of talents and interests.

Lucía Asué (Visit her profile on Facebook for more info.)

2. Travel

This summer we traveled to Madrid, Spain where we were able to connect with contributor Lucía Asué (activist, journalist and filmmaker), who showed us so much love.  Lucía introduced us to various members of Alto Consejo de Communidades Negras and helped Kathryn develop her research on black activism in Madrid, Spain.

3. Events

We hosted our first film screening at the University of Maryland-College Park, with S.A.L.S.A. and SOUL.  We showed Mya B.’s, SILENCE: In Search of Black Female Sexuality in America and had a discussion about the historical and global implications of her work. We had a ball! We ended the evening with a poem by University of Maryland student, Nkemka Anyiwo performing one of her poems.

4. Design Contest

We also launched our design contest. Check back in our store for the submissions we have posted soon.

5. Submissions

We received submissions from near and far.  Soon you’ll be able to see examples on our blog and website.  So stay tuned and e-mail us your submissions as well as questions or suggestions to liveunchained@gmail.com.

2010—Where we’re going

1. Business Plan

We are running Live Unchained like a business.  Given how much money we were spending out of pocket we decided to take advantage of tax incentives for corporations and became Live Unchained, LLC.  We consider Live Unchained a social entrepreneurship.  We recently won a free business action plan from Simplicity Mastered, a consultation service, and plan to make our message clearer, develop a more practical and stronger marketing strategy and increase contributions to the anthology.

2. Live Unchained Sampler

We decided to release a Live Unchained sampler in the Summer of 2011.  In other words, we’ll be developing a mini hard-copy anthology with cd and dvd insert to market to potential publishers.  We’ll also post as much of this sampler as we can on our website.

3.  Website re-design

Miriam will be grinding out a new and improved website that will be more visually interesting, interactive and descriptive.

4.  Advisory Board

We are in the process of soliciting members for our advisory board.  This board will help us with the selection process, assembling committees to help evaluate the submissions we receive, post occasional guest blogs and help us spread the word where they can. Expect more information about this wonderful group of women soon.

5. Time Management

As both creators have full-time commitments (to graduate school and professional graphic design) outside of Live Unchained, time management has been key.  We’re learning to manage our time and energy better so that Live Unchained strengthens our current commitments, and doesn’t compromise them.

What we have learned…

As the project grew, we grew.  We learned a million lesson from this experience (as we also made many mistakes), but we chose one that stood out for each of us.

Kathryn’s #1 Lesson:

We spent a lot of time seeking out people to contribute to Live Unchained.  I learned to shift my focus.  Now we’re building a project that people will want to contribute to.  (In business language, you could say it’s the difference between selling a product and making a product that sells.)

Miriam’s #1 Lesson:

Working on Live Unchained has taught me to be patient. I’ve realized that some things take longer than expected and some things need to be re-done, but the outcome is better because of those efforts.

When I face challenges, I say to myself: “Live Unchained today.” I know that I can, because the women who have been a part of this project have encouraged me to be the very best by example.

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