I can remember exactly what I was doing 10 years ago this week. The memories are so vivid. 10 years ago this week, we were living in a townhouse in Kendall, Florida. I worked as assistant calendar editor for the local alt-weekly. I was bursting with ideas of my own, but always on assignments that didn’t tap into my personal interests or expertise. And at this point, I’ll just quote myself: This week started out like any other. I had a regular work day complete with the weekly Monday meeting. Trudged through Monday and Tuesday’s expected tasks. Met my deadline on Wednesday. Back in those days, we had a busy social circle and friends would just stop by the house as evening fell, most often on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. That particular week, our dear friend Ehren — also our landlord at the time — came over after dinner. We sat around drinking, just my husband, Ehren, and myself. And through the course of conversation, Ehren convinced me that I should have a blog. “What would your blog be about? What would you call it?” We bounced around ideas for maybe an hour or so. Maybe less than that. Pretty much as soon as the question was posed to me…I had an idea that came straight from my heart and soul. My husband came up with the best name ever, we bought the domain on the spot.

I stayed up all night writing my first ever blog post, and learning basic HTML so I could include links and videos to my blog. (Back in those days, WordPress wasn’t as intuitive as it is now). Ehren made me a header. We put up my first post on August 14, 2006.

It’s been a decade (and change), but sometimes it feels more like 110 years ago.

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One of the first things I did with Afrobella was make a blog roll (remember those?). I had it divided by category, and the top category featured my inspirations. They included: Beauty Addict, Concrete Loop, Crunk and Disorderly, FourFour and Motown Girl, the only other natural hair blog I knew at the time. I would browse Fokti and Nappturality and Naturally Curly’s message boards for natural hair info. After work, I’d come home and stay up all night and write. I started to go to the Publix supermarket further from my house, just because they had a magazine rack that OCCASIONALLY had a copy of Vibe Vixen in there and I loved browsing it for beauty story inspiration. My first celebrity interview was Lisa Price of Carol’s Daughter – I was SO excited to meet her and SO excited her products were in Sephora at that time.

So much has changed. Now 3 out of the 4 blogs I named as my initial inspiration, no longer exist. The creators have moved into different spaces, different creative ventures, different jobs. “Blogging” is a downward trending term now – this article via The Atlantic explains what happened pretty well. Now there is social media. Now, everyone’s an influencer. Now it’s so much more about being a multi-hyphenate entrepreneur than it is about being a writer or editor who focuses exclusively on that. It’s a trend I first observed in the newsroom – one John Oliver took to task recently on Last Week Tonight – now even journalists are expected to write, edit, work on video or podcasts, meet quotas for clicks or build a database all of a sudden (that last part happened to me at my old job).

Back in 2006, my blog was a passion project, a labor of love that took me away from my daily grind to a space of creative expression. When I quit my job in 2009, Afrobella became a career. I found myself having to rise to all sorts of occasions. And when I was free to take different opportunities, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and found skills I didn’t know I had. This blog has taken me to places beyond my dreams, from New York Fashion Week to the red carpet at the Academy Awards. Because of this blog, I have spoken on stages alongside celebrities, hosted parties and fashion shows and in-store events, I have done work I never was trained for or prepared to do but I learn as I go, always.

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What Afrobella looked like in 2008

This blog has taught me that I am more capable than I ever believed myself to be. It has taught me that the only thing holding myself back from greatness, is myself. And if I can do all of these things, believe me – so can you.

I am a woman who wanted to read about topics that reflected and affirmed my beauty. I saw a void and I tried to fill it. Who could have thought it would turn into this?

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In light of a decade of Afrobella, here are 10 things I am grateful for.

Inspiration – On August 13, 2006, my friend Ehren asked me “what will your blog be?” I knew I wanted to reflect beauty and to shine a light on black beauty in particular. One of the first things I thought of when he asked me was this clip of Josephine Baker in Zou Zou. I had seen it when I was 16, late one night on BET. It has lingered with me until then.

I just wanted people to see it and appreciate her beauty, to appreciate the time in which she lived and the irrepressible spirit of black beauty. So I did. I wanted to write about discovering my natural hair’s needs, so I did. Over the past decade, I’ve been able to write about and even interview my family, family friends, personal friends in general, celebrities…there is a full celebration of my life in this blog. It’s basically a diary of my life for the past 10 years, plus products. I have no shortage of personal inspiration, and for that I am beyond grateful.

Perspective – Creating beauty content over a decade has given me so much perspective on trends, on beauty, on being a professional, on LIFE. I’m still learning new things every day.

Discernment – When I first started this blog, I would jump at any opportunity. Now I know the power of no. I have learned that saying no to the wrong thing doesn’t mean the end of all opportunity. Saying no to the wrong thing often makes way for you to say yes to the right thing.

Faith – Faith can be tested, faith can be shaken. But real, true, faith deep in your heart is what can keep you going when times get rough. Stoke the flames of your faith in those times when the wind is howling around you. Faith has helped me through being mired in self-doubt.

Freedom – I am grateful that this brand, this platform, this blog that I have created, has made room for me to share my gifts with the world on my own terms. I am free to accept or seek out the opportunities that call to my spirit and feel right in my heart. That is a blessing I don’t take for granted.

Friends – I have made some incredible friends on this journey. Friends who have my back, who know my heart, who support my wildest dreams. I have a network of goddesses and unicorns who genuinely care about me. The sisterhood blogging has brought me is stronger than words can say. I am so, so grateful for the friends I’ve made along the way.

Community – I know I have readers, I know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I have followers and fans. But nothing touches me more than being out in public and having a face to face moment with someone who’s been inspired by what I do in some way. It happens all the time and in so many random ways. I get stopped at the supermarket or on the bus. Just yesterday, checking out at the doctor’s office, the receptionist told me I’m on her natural hair vision board and helped inspire her to go natural. Moments like that can almost bring me to tears. I know how important that is, because THAT is why I started this blog in the first place. To see a reflection of beauty like mine in the world. Thank you to every last one of you who reads my blog or follows me anywhere on social media. I couldn’t do any of this without you.

My voice –  I’m not the flashiest, I’ve got my own style. I’m not the loudest, I don’t like to talk over people. But when I do choose to speak up, I’m one of the most considered. I take my time and take what I have to say seriously. I know now that my words have weight. That weight has come from doing the work.

The work – I love what I do. I am honored to do what I do. I get to see the difference over time, how products for darker skin and kinky hair have taken flight and become easier to obtain in retail stores, how more and more, you can find images of beautiful women of color in ads and on magazine covers everywhere now. In just 10 years, we really have made major strides. We still have so much further to go. I am here to do the work, I am happy to do the work. Here’s to celebrating and embracing our beauty on our own terms. All shades and textures of beautiful.

The Future – I’ve done so many things that I could never have imagined and I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had. I can’t even imagine what’s around the bend, but I know it’s bright and beautiful.

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Things have changed and I have grown. But there have been times – especially recently – where I have considered life beyond Afrobella. This industry has evolved more rapidly than I could have possibly imagined and there are times when I feel out of place. Sometimes now, I feel less sure than I used to be. What do audiences want, anymore? Should I try to do what other people are doing? Am I not doing enough? What do I want?

I choose to keep trying. Keep swimming. To stay true to who I am at my core.  At the end of a decade, I’m still standing, Forever Afrobella. Thank you for your support over the past decade, thank you for reading and commenting and lifting me up, thank you for keeping me going. I’m not done yet!

If you’ve read ALL of this (who reads 1700 word blog posts anymore? I hope more people than I think), please leave me a comment, let me know when you discovered my blog, let me know your favorite thing or post or thing you wish I would do. I’m getting back to the swing of this thing!

COMMENTS

VeePeeJay (Vashti) says:
August 19, 2016, 5:46 pm
Congrats on 10 years Patrice. I'm at the 5 year mark and I can definitely identify with some of what you said. I love LOVE that you always stay true to yourself, that's one of the things that inspires me most about you. Can't wait to see what you do next.
Darlene says:
August 19, 2016, 5:50 pm
Congratulations on 10 years! I read to the end so I had to post. You inspired me to rock my curls to work and be proud of my true self in corporate America. I love reading your interviews. I'm still using your packing list and recently shared it with a couple road warriors. Here's to a bright future Patrice!
Dionne S. says:
August 19, 2016, 6:54 pm
Congratulations Patrice, on 10 years of Afrobella. You are an inspiration. My favorite thing is exactly what you wrote, "I have my own style...my words have weight (which) comes from doing the work". Thank you for doing the work!
Jayne Morehouse says:
August 19, 2016, 6:57 pm
Congratulations, Patrice! You're a force, a voice and an inspiration. Here's to 10 more years!
Mxb says:
August 19, 2016, 6:58 pm
Congratulations, Bella! I'll be raising a glass in your honor this evening. Hip hip! Cheers!
Yoki Hanley says:
August 19, 2016, 6:59 pm
Congratulations on 10 years of blogging for US!! You may feel like you are not sure of your future, but believe me, you will ALWAYS be needed by us! Thank you for your words!!
NJC says:
August 19, 2016, 8:13 pm
Here's to ten more years of thoughtful, trailblazing 1700 word blog posts! Lots of love to you!
Tasha Hussey says:
August 19, 2016, 8:28 pm
Congrats on a decade of great blog post and hard work. I've been so proud of you Caribbean girl, you have been such an inspiration to us all and I look forward to all your future work. I discovered your blog through my Trini friend about 8 years ago.
Paula says:
August 19, 2016, 9:56 pm
You are one of my blogging inspirations. I think I've shared this story with you before, but, I'm touched to speak it again. My very first PR dinner, it was with bloggers I looked up to - you, Daneen, Julia, Nadine, Jeanine, to name a few of those around our table that night. I was lucky enough to sit next to you, and I was awkwardly starstruck of who I was eating with that night. I made an under my breath comment of "what was I even doing here?", and you leaned over, patted my hand and said "You belong here just as much as we do." That generous comment boosted me so much. It made me realize this is (was) such an even playing field - we all have our voice to share. And I am so lucky you have shared yours. Congrats on 10years, Bella!
Jeannell says:
August 19, 2016, 10:41 pm
Oh Afrobella, how I've loved having the opportunity to interact with you over the years. I remember when I first met you at Fro Fashion Week in Atlanta, I felt a bit nervous in my gut and had to drum myself up to speak to you. I was new to the industry and up until that point just about every other blogger I'd met acted extremely snooty when approached. I'll never forget how warm and genuine you were. You told me your real name and embarked on a sincere conversation of getting to know me. That moment set a true precedent for me, and I've always said that I hope that I can stay has humble and approachable as you've always been! To 10 more years, congratulations!
Deb says:
August 19, 2016, 11:02 pm
Congratulations on this milestone! I not so much discover your blog than was figuratively grabbed by the arm and led to it by your brother, my 'office husband' at the time. I'm soo glad he did! The pride and support of your family runneth over and it's a beautiful thing. Your blog was such an inspiration and years later became a lifeline when I moved abroad and went natural out of sheer necessity. You rock! Here's to another decade of inspiring afrobellas everywhere!
kalakuta27 says:
August 20, 2016, 12:18 am
Congrats on 10 years of blogging! Keep shining!
Joanna says:
August 20, 2016, 6:44 am
Congrats on 10 years! You have definitely been an inspiration.
Arlene Gibbs Décor says:
August 20, 2016, 6:50 am
Congratulations on your ten year anniversary!! Your blog was one of the first I started to read. As a dark skinned Caribbean-American woman living in Los Angeles, things were ROUGH! :) I was living in the land of the blond weaves and mental paper bag tests. I was so happy when I "discovered" Afrobella. Looking forward to the next ten years. x
Oneika the Traveller says:
August 20, 2016, 7:09 am
Patrice, congrats on 10 years! Like you, I also sometimes feel out of place in this new media world, where blogging doesn't exist in the same space or capacity it did when I started my first blog, waaaaay back in 2005! As I said on FB, thank you for really paving the way and showing us how passion can manifest itself into something big and great. I was really struck by your comment about how, while you don't speak the loudest or the most often, when you do speak, your voice is heard. You're right, that's due to the work you have put in, and the respect that you have garnered as a result. At any rate, I was so honoured and touched when you reached out to me about Trinidad and spent your precious time on the phone giving me tips and tricks! It was yet another confirmation that you are indeed a class act. Wishing you more happiness, creativity, and growth!
SoFrolushes says:
August 20, 2016, 7:53 am
10 Years. Amazing stuff. I can't remember when I discovered you but it was along my natural hair journey. You as person from the occasional interactions I have had with you has always been pleasant. Your blog is always fab. Stay blessed
Spinster says:
August 20, 2016, 3:16 pm
Been following you & this blog for so long, can't even remember when. But it has been a long time - surely a few years, if not from the very beginning. Happy anniversary, and wishing you continued success with this blog and your many other future endeavors.
Angela says:
August 20, 2016, 5:06 pm
Congratulations on the 10th anniversary! I don't remember when I started reading your blog, but I know it's been at least five years or so. I have really enjoyed reading & occasionally commenting. I choose not to go natural right now, but I still get lots of healthy hair tips. I live your beauty posts and live vicariously through your travel posts. Keep up the good work!
Casandra McCottrell says:
August 20, 2016, 8:27 pm
Congratulations! I've been enjoying your blog for 5 solid years and it's been a true pleasure. Every blog post is so inspiring and thoughtfully written. I've learned so much.
Sonya B says:
August 20, 2016, 9:38 pm
Congratulations! I started following you when I decided to loc my hair. My then teenage daughter told me to get a twitter page since I didn't care much for Facebook. World's of information from you and others have been invaluable. I've even won several things from your blog page. You're the 1st person I followed on Twitter; your page was so beautiful. I'm now inspired to start a blog of my own. Reading this today has helped me to narrow down what I want to write about. Keep inspiring and keep doing what you do. You are Black Girl Magic at its best!
Nylse says:
August 21, 2016, 12:01 am
I think I discovered you ~9 years ago. I like good content no matter the word count. Congratulations ????
Briana says:
August 21, 2016, 6:46 am
Congratulations! This is a HUGE milestone, and this was a beautifully reflective post. I believe I discovered you around 2012. Luvvie must've mentioned you. And I just thought what you built was amazing. When I hear your name at conferences or other blog meetups, it's always met with positivity. You've inspired so many people, and for that, you're truly an icon to me. Looking forward to what these next 10 years hold for you.
Sasha-Shae says:
August 22, 2016, 10:56 am
Wow!! 10 Years already!? That's so awesome! Congrats love! I look forward to seeing what you will do in the many years to come. I still remember years ago when I first started reading your blog, and I'm so inspired to see how far you've taken it. Keep doing awesome things!
Shannyn says:
August 22, 2016, 8:43 pm
I've been a reader for at least three years. I discovered you when I started my own blog and I was immediately inspired by how authentic you were and how EVERY post was empowering, even when it didn't need to be. Your blog makes beauty attainable. I read every word of this post and was so worried it was going to end by you saying goodbye. Whooooo girl I'm so glad you didn't. Thanks for helping us find our pretty.
Keianna Johnson says:
August 23, 2016, 1:13 am
Happy 10 Year Anniversary Afrobella. What an amazing accomplishment. I became a fan of yours back in 2010. At the time I created a mom blog called Chi Chi Sophistication documenting my daughter and I natural hair journey. Afrobella was number 1 on my blog roll. I looked to your blog for Natural Hair Advice. In 2013, I shutdown my blog due to insecurities of keeping up with the "blogging game." I began my blog as a space to do what I always wanted to do which was to become a writer, but that wasn't enough to keep readers attention. What became more attractive to readers was everything but reading my material, so I shut my blog down...today I wish I hadn't done that. I wish I would have hung in there just a little longer. Today I have a new blog site Inam building from scratch. I am excited and ready to write. Thank you Afrobella for the standard you have set for writers everywhere. Thanks for staying true to yourself. Thanks for being my inspiration.
Chantel DaCosta says:
August 23, 2016, 2:38 pm
Congratulations Afrobella and thank you for creating this amazing fashion and beauty space for black women. Your blog was one of the first I visited as young professional in 2009 when I started working to see you do simple makeup tips. It is amazing that a decade has gone by and your platform has grown and evolved.
Pheralyn Dove says:
August 23, 2016, 3:25 pm
Congratulations Patrice on your 10th Anniversary. I LOVE Afro Bella. My daughter introduced me to you about five or six years ago. Your content is solid. Your writing is inspired. Your authenticity shines through. Even though I have changed up from time to time, I have been wearing natural hair for the better part of the past 47 years. Yes you got that right. I got my first Afro in 1969 at the age of 14. Seeing your generation embrace natural hair and seeing the awesome creativity and entrepreneurship that has come with it makes me feel so proud. And Your, My Dear Sister: You make me feel So PROUD! Please keep doing what you do. Here's to YOU! Love, Peace & Blessings Always
Chidi Beauty says:
August 24, 2016, 12:07 am
Congratulations!!!!!!! Thank you for the past 10 years, and I look forward to seeing how you and your blog evolve over the next 10 years. May God grant you the wisdom and strength to keep walking in your purpose.
Adriennewrites says:
October 4, 2016, 9:05 pm
I read it. I like long reads. And I hardly ever comment anywhere (!) but there you go. You are definitely an inspiration.
Pamela says:
October 10, 2016, 8:33 am
Congratulations!!! 10 years....wow! I will never forget meeting you at WNHBS 2011 my fisrt year vending...my booth was packed and you PURCHASED products from me...I knew of you but didn't KNOW you...I was thankful. Then a few days later you wrote a blog on your WNHBS experience....my booth was rated the best customer service and you reviewed my products ?? When Afrobella said it was good....you knewnit was good! You helped shaped my business! When I saw you in Toronto later that year....that's when I knew it was real! You introduced me to Luvvie....your one woman show was amazing and we had a great time! I am so glad you've remained true to who you are and what Afrobella stands for....your mark on this industry is untouchable! Your smile, humility and true live for what you do shines through! Here's to 10 more years! Love you Patrice!
Sarah Boone says:
October 24, 2016, 8:33 am
Congrats Patrice on 10 years! You are truly an inspiration to us natural hair bloggers! I'm just finding you! I am new to natural hair blogging and I was looking for inspiration and someone who has passion and knows what they're doing. I can see that you do and are very successful! I love that you stay true to who you are! You have a new subscriber for life now! I'll be looking to you for advice and help with my blog soon! Much love and continued success!
Tmj says:
November 26, 2016, 11:05 pm
Congrats! 10 years is a long time in this business. I found you early on 2008-2009 and since then your blog is the one I come to for TRUTH. Your kind spirit comes thru the technology. Keep doing your thing Lady!

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