Sliding into DMs can get tricky.
That is the predicament I found myself in when I realized I wanted to interview the women of The Fourtress. I happened to stumble upon their Instagram page while on my explore page and as soon as I got into their content I was hooked. With a combination of street style, philanthropy and all around black girl glo, I knew I had to meet these women in real life.
I sat down with Tierra, London, Kiara and Candice in their Brooklyn apartment and we discussed brand building, being an inspiration and what is in store for them in 2018.
Saturday School: First, how did you all meet and become roommates?
Tierra Taylor: Candice and I went to Syracuse University, Kiara and I are both from Las Vegas and then Kiara and London went to Hampton University. If you all want to tell the story about how you all found the apartment…
London Coleman-Williams: Okay so Kiara and I knew we were going to be roommates and we had been looking for a couple of weeks and we happened to be checking out a different apartment near here and as we were walking our landlord was outside and stopped us and asked if we were there to see his building. We weren’t but we walked in anyway and he showed us the three bedroom first and then showed us the four bedroom.
Kiara Bass: He literally showed us every apartment in the building, he was so happy [laughs].
LCW: So we see this apartment and we’re like “oh my gosh this is perfect” but we didn’t know who else we could be roommates with. As we’re walking, Kiara is like “wait I know someone!” and as she’s describing them I’m like “bet!” Soon after they came and saw the apartment and that Monday or Tuesday we signed our lease.
SS: That’s perfect!
Candice Frank: Yeah Tierra and I had been looking for an apartment for like a year [laughs].
SS: That was like my experience!
CF: Luckily we weren’t getting kicked out of anywhere but we had been looking for so long we had to just stop.
SS: Yeah it’s super discouraging. So how long have you all been living in New York?
TT: Since 2014, me and Candice graduated in 2014.
KB: I graduated in 2015.
LCW: And I graduated in 2016.
SS: Got you, so when you all moved in together did you hit it off immediately? It sounds like you did because you already had relationships formed.
TT: Yeah we just gelled so easily.
SS: I was wondering because I live with my cousins so I didn’t have that problem either but I am always curious about other people’s roommate situations especially with it being four people.
CF: I think we just took advantage of the chemistry. When we were thinking of starting something, literally one night we just came up with the idea, went out to a birthday party and then came back and just brainstormed.
SS: That leads into my next question, what made you all start The Fourtress as a platform?
CF: I think the whole mode that pop culture is in right now to celebrate black women, mixed with our chemistry, and mixed with our jobs (we’re all in the public relations, digital and graphic design fields). We were like we could really put our heads together and create something that does all of those things while simultaneously tracking our glow up. Your twenties are a crazy time and I think it’s the best time to document anything. You have your career, relationships, fun, travel, etc. so I think putting all those things together and thinking about how we could inspire other women, and we live together so it makes it super easy.
SS: I will say that’s what drew me to you guys because as I was going through your feed I was like “oh these are four poppin black girls I wonder what they’re about!?” Also in New York I feel like there are a lot of poppin black girls and I love it! I get inspired by it.
LCW: Speaking to what Candice was saying we didn’t really see anything out there that was specifically for us and we took what we had right here and made it into something.
SS: How did you all come up with the creative direction for your social platforms and website? It all looks really good and consistent.
TT: We have a lot of meetings. We meet once a week and at the beginning we would have a brainstorming session with a bottle of wine and throw out names to figure out what would work for us. In design my technique is that I ask people to send me a color palette that they like so I asked everyone to come up with a color palette and we just voted. We use two different typefaces and once the palette and typefaces are set you can use them interchangeably throughout our page.
SS: It looks good! Is it hard to stay consistent with your posting? Because you all are always posting whether it’s on the page or your IG story there is always content. How do you find the time to create all of it?
CF: I was just telling them before holiday break that I didn’t know how much work this was going to be! [laughs]. It is fun but sometimes I’m like “this is a lot of work!” But when you think about #ProjectQueenV and the results that came from that and when you think about people who call us an inspiration it makes it worth it.
SS: So you talk about your brainstorms but do you have a content calendar? I bet it’s heavy [laughs].
TT: The Google Drive is full [laughs].
LCW: We have the Google Drive and we have weekly meetings.
KB: For Instagram stories it’s kind of a daily thing. Someone will say “oh I’m going to drop this in tomorrow morning.” then they’ll draft up a slide and post it.
LCW: We are very organized and I think that’s what helps it work. As we’ve done things we learned what works and what doesn’t work.
SS: This is clearly a big undertaking and I know you all have full-time jobs but where do you all work and how has your career helped or hindered The Fourtress?
CF: I work as a Social Media Coordinator for The View so that has helped a lot. Just seeing how people take in media and respond to posts or captions. Just all the analytics of it as well.
TT: I am a Graphic Designer at ESSENCE magazine so what I’m doing with The Fourtress is literally what I do at ESSENCE but I think it’s helpful to work in that space because I’m constantly getting new ideas about design and ways I can incorporate that into The Fourtress and even with Fourtress I’m like “we can do this with ESSENCE” they have a bigger platform that still caters to our community.
LCW: I’m a PR and Social Media Coordinator for a firm called The Door. We have a lot of lifestyle clientele such as culinary, fashion, etc. and The Fourtress is all of those things. So I take on a lot of PR stuff for The Fourtress as well as the analytics and monitoring engagement.
KB: I am a PR Coordinator at a firm called Weatherby Group. I don’t really do social as much at work but I help out with the PR aspect of things and staying organized. Whether it’s Fourtress or professional, each side helps me do something wonderful.
SS: You all are like your own personal PR Agency. So tell me about #ProjectQueenV. I think it’s great that you started this initiative. How did it come to be?
LCW: We knew we wanted to do something that gives back. We passed around a few ideas and one of them was to give back to women by raising money to donate feminine products. In addition to our weekly meetings we would always meet about #ProjectQueenV and we built it from the ground up. From the venue, Tierra created amazing materials for everything, Kandice found the Coalition for the Homeless which is who we gave all of our products to. We put through an awesome marketing campaign which led to an amazing event at Cafe Erzulie and we had a good amount of people show up and we packed over 100 bags of feminine products to include: five tampons, five wipes, five pads, chapstick, soap and deodorant. It’s really an awesome project and something we would like to do yearly but we’re also working on other community service initiatives in the future.
SS: That’s amazing! Do you see yourselves hosting any other events outside of community service?
TT: We’re working on it! [laughs].
SS: [laughs] yeah you don’t have to tell me I’ll just keep my eyes open. Earlier I touched on your social media presence and you all have a pretty big following. What advice would you give to someone who just launched a brand and has minimal followers?
KB: I would say know your purpose. It’s easy to want to do something but if you don’t have a content idea in mind it can be hard. And ideas change but it’s good to have a larger understanding of what it is.
CF: I would say put in the work. You might want to do all of these “things” but you have to be grounded and you have to want it and be passionate about it. Everyone can say it but actually going through and doing it is a totally different thing. Everyone starts with an idea, we started with an idea, and I won’t say had we have known how much work it would’ve been we wouldn’t have done it but it is a lot more work than we anticipated and every single person is grateful to that but you have to be willing and you have to be passionate to see that idea come to fruition.
TT: I would say be consistent. With social media if you’re not consistent 1. You won’t grow and 2. People won’t care and they’ll get bored with you. We post daily because if we don’t, you’ll see the dip in engagement. It also helps you build a relationship with your followers.
SS: well it definitely drew me in [laughs]. Since it’s the new year, what are your 2018 goals for The Fourtress?
TT: We’ve discussed doing partnerships with other black women who have great platforms. Partnerships with brands would be wonderful for us. But we want to do partnerships that impact the community in a positive way.
CF: And specifically targeting younger high school girls.
SS: So last question, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give to high school you?
LCW: This is still advice to me today, but you have to put the work in. If you’re not going to do it someone else will. If you’re not going to stay up late some other girl is working just as hard. If you’re not going to focus on your dream it’s going to become someone else’s. If you really care about something just do it. Don’t let anyone hold you back. You are capable!
CF: I would say try to always have your own idea. I think it’s important have your own “something”. It could be a hobby or anything it just has to be something. It’s important to always have something on the side that you’re passionate about that you can grow and continue learning about. Everyone just works everyday and that can’t be life.
TT: I’m pretty open now but I feel like if I could’ve been more open when I was younger in terms of traveling and learning about other cultures. College helped me with that but I would have loved to have known some of those things when I was in high school. Like if I wanted to start something back then I could’ve. It’s like these high school kids today have access to more but they’re starting things a lot younger and I wish I would’ve been doing those things but I would just say being open minded.
KB: Just keep going. When I was in high school I had no idea I would end up on the East Coast. I thought I would go to school in L.A. but just keep going because you never know what is going to unfold.