POSTSCRIPT is a new type of publication. For today. A timeless anthology dedicated to the voices of women of colour, that’s not afraid to dig deep and tackle any topic whilst being presented in a manner that is distinct from anything else I’ve seen in a long while.
This is no easy task for anyone – especially when you go it alone. I took a moment to sit down with Chinasa Chukwu and Elvira Vedelago, the two creators behind POSTSCRIPT to understand a bit more about what drove them to make what has become an essential read for me.
Chinasa and Elvira in your own words when did you decide to launch POSTSCRIPT and why did you feel it was needed?
Chinasa - We initially met just as friends and found ourselves having a conversation that we’d both had in bits with other people but we really connected with each other based on those conversations. It ranged from philosophy, psychology, politics, culture and art but in a really critical yet personal way. We found ourselves at the end thinking about why we had connected so fiercely on these things and realised over the course of this very long day that we connected because we felt these were conversations we weren’t having or seeing anywhere else.
Because of our personalities we were like “Hey. Why don’t we think about putting something tangible together at some point.” We decided to do some research and come back to each other. We had a solid idea that we would be doing something and now we’re here.
Elvira – It is odd when we re-tell it because it was a pretty intense day, our first (unintentional) business meeting and at the end we were like, yea, we’re going to go into business together.
Who would you say POSTSCRIPT is for?
Elvira – As an individual it’s somebody who is socially conscious and we say is a critical thinker. We have quite in-depth articles and you have to care. If you don’t care about these issues, then it’s not going to be interesting to you. The array of the content is quite wide reaching.
Definitely somebody who is looking for smart content and interested in community issues.
Launching a print title in a time where some believe that traditional media is dying is risky. What do you say to this and what would you say sets yours apart?
Chinasa – To people that say print media is dead, I think traditional print media is dying- by that I don’t mean just anything that’s in print. I mean people relying just on newspapers as their sources of news and information. And trustworthy information at that. I think that kind of media is dying because there is so much varied content out there. There are also more varied perspectives. For us we weren’t necessarily thinking about the print or publishing industry we just wanted to have conversations we felt weren’t being had enough by people that looked like us. We weren’t being allowed into those spaces that people are saying are dead and I think the reason why some of those spaces are dead is because of that. The world is so much larger than this single lens perspective that we were getting so I don’t think that was ever really a concern of ours going into this.
Elvira- We did a market analysis but I also don't think traditional print is dying in the way that people have been throwing it out there as a thing to be afraid of. I think it is being reinvented. I’ve been buying magazines since I was 10. Pretty random because I did not understand anything that was in them. It felt like a rite of passage or something to have a Vogue.
A couple of years ago I stopped (buying magazines) because I got bored. It’s boring. It’s the same stories, the same perspectives, it’s the same people that they’re featuring, it’s the same people that are editors. Now we’re having this increase in interest of independent publications that are so much more broad in the stories that they’re sharing and so much more interesting in the content that they’re putting out.
Print is dying in the way that people have been throwing it out there as a thing to be afraid of. I think it is being reinvented
I think a big part of that is because we’re getting a whole range of different people sharing and thinking about telling stories. I still love print. There is something about print - having something that is tactile actually requires you to slow down in this world where everything is so fast paced. We are so overwhelmed. I feel like so exhausted by noise.
There is so much noise all the time. We are all connected all the time on social media. Publications are constantly churning out content. It’s really overwhelming but I think it’s beautiful [that] you can pick up something like POSTSCRIPT or any other publication and touch something and that grounds you and that centres you. Scientifically you focus so much better when you hold something instead of just looking at [it] on a screen.
I still buy print media and spend my money on it, but I’ve changed the type of publications that I buy.
From a personal perspective, how has your background and cultural heritage informed the type of business you knew you wanted to create and way you want to work?
Elvira – I am Nigerian Italian. And I think both of those cultures are very…I can’t describe it in any other way other than ‘kpa kpa kpa’. It’s like you make it work. There are no rules. We just figure it out. We make ways where there are no ways. We do what we want kind of thing. So, I think both of my cultures are like that.
Growing up in that household with both of those influences I do think… my mum is such an inspiration to me and such an incredible businesswoman but obviously that kind of lifestyle is unstructured and day to day things can change because it really is just like as and when things happen. I feel like I was an anxious child and I’m still an anxious adult.
Growing up I was like, I need structure. So I went into it thinking I’m going to go down the 9-5 route, get a solid paying job to be secure. And then I got bored.
Probably because I’m so used to that ‘kpa kpa kpa’. Then I delved into the world of doing it myself, creating a business and making money for myself which is still… I get so much anxiety from it and you really need to be strong to be able to do that. I’m learning that it is hard but at the same time there is something so rewarding about making and keeping your own goals and targets.
Chinasa – I think it’s the same in terms of wanting structure and being a good Nigerian kid, I went to university and I studied law.
By the end of it I knew I had no interest in practising this. I love law but I don’t want to practice it. Whilst I was at university, I started looking at other creative outlets and accepted that that was what I was going to be doing. In terms of creating my own business something that followed me around as a kid was this idea as that it was shameful to be multi.
How many times did a parent say to you, “You can’t be running around doing everything, you have to focus on one thing”. And it was not ok to be more than one thing as a person. I remember at school it being really weird that I was British AND Nigerian. And being Nigerian in particular being a problem. Getting to the end of my teen years and realising it was ridiculous.
I was tired of feeling ashamed of myself and that’s when the seed of wanting to create something that made me feel proud of who I was, was planted. That allowed me to look honestly at who I was and the things that I cared about without it being some sort of stigma. It continues to inform what we do all the time.
What does a typical day look like to you?
Elvira – I don’t know that any two days look the same. We have periods where we have some routine, like right now because it’s a little bit quieter. I say that but I still feel incredibly stressed. It’s more in- house processes rather than being on shoots and going to and doing events. Right now it’s all the planning phase so I’ve got a little bit of a routine.
I’m on my laptop from when I get up to when I go to sleep… but I’m trying to be a little bit more focused with this time that we have to have some space to think because I find that I get really wrapped up in all the little tiny things. You feel like you’re doing stuff on your to-do list if you’re ticking things off but actually in terms of moving the business along it’s all tiny little loose ends instead of thinking of the bigger picture.
I’m trying to have two days a week where all I do is think. It sounds like, oh, I’m such a philosopher… In the context of POSTSCRIPT, being something that is so considered, we take so much time to question everything making sure we’re creating the right kind of content and putting out the right kind of message [and] that requires thought.
Chinasa – I get up and stretch. I’m trying to stretch in the mornings and do some form of exercise at some point during the day because otherwise my body is not moving at all. Then I split my day into a creative section and an admin section divided by emails. So creative in the morning, then deal with emails, then admin. I’ve been trying to stick with this method of breaking up my day and it’s making me more efficient.
Are there any particular figures in your life that have been a driving force of inspiration to you?
Elvira – I think the biggest influence in my life is my mum. In everything. She’s an amazing mum, she’s an amazing businesswoman. She’s an amazing person. Also, I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt from her is to just roll with the punches. Anything that comes her way she just figures it out, whereas I freak out at every single challenge. I’m trying to be more like mum in that respect.
There’s a whole list of people. Beyonce, obviously. Sharmadean because she’s got a good mind on her, how she approaches work and she again is somebody who really doesn’t take no for an answer and she kinda figures it out. My [university] netball coach, Tamsin Greenway. I had the biggest girl crush when I met her because she was so dedicated to her craft. Every time you step on that court you have to be
the best that you can be. I was really motivated by her and I still am. Chinasa, she is very patient and has a lot of time for people.
Chinasa – I’m going to start with my mum. Both my parents actually but my mum because she’s really resilient and I think that taught me to be really resilient and to approach every situation as if there’s a positive and advantageous end point that can be reached. She has taught me the value in seeing the treasure in whatever situation.
My dad because he is really creative and he’s always taking the opportunity to find out where his creativity can take him. He was involved in High Life when they first started out. He had an album with a whole group of people because it was something he was interested in. My older sister because she’s had a couple of setbacks in life and the timelines everybody thinks you should be sticking to and she has stayed really resilient. She always gets back up. Doesn’t matter how long it takes. She’s got grit.
Anything that comes [my mum's] way she just figures it out. She just rolls with the punches
MAMATER, translates to 'motherland', what/where is home to you?
Chinasa – I used to say on a plane. Because when I was younger I used to constantly on a plane between England and Nigerian and I knew I was going to people that I loved on one end. Often I travelled without my siblings, so by the time I got there my parents or siblings would be there.
Right now because England is so fraught, not that it hasn’t always existed but you can see it so I’d be lying if I said England felt like home right now.
I also get back to Nigeria and feel like an alien sometimes so that doesn’t necessarily feel like home. So it’s in flux right now.
Elvira – I feel the same really. I don’t have a physical thing that feels like home. I think London at one point felt like home but recently, not. But I’ve always felt that my mum was home because we moved around a lot when I was a child and wherever she was that was home.
I’m trying really hard to make myself home. Wherever I am. She (mum) was the one who told me because she was like, “when I go who will be home?”. Also she could see that I was attaching on to my partner as well and he’s a huge comfort to me and he’s starting to feel like home. But she was like you need to be so solid in yourself that you are home wherever you are.
We weren’t necessarily thinking about the print or publishing industry [when we started POSTSCRIPT] we just wanted to have conversations we felt weren’t being had enough by people that looked like us
Through the processes of starting and running your POSTSCRIPT and being a person in the world what tools do you use to centre yourself and keep you focused?
Chinasa – I used to really hate my phone. It used to really irritate me and I’ve realised it was because I was overworked, I was oversubscribed.
Even when it was friends calling I did not have the emotional or physical capacity to be there for my friends. Getting a phone call made me want to scream. Now, I have done a couple of things… I’ve deleted my emails from my phone so I have to go look for them. I’m pretty good at setting limits for myself so I put limits on all the apps and once that limit is down, I’m out.
Digital media and tech have moved so quickly that we have not learnt how to properly engage with it aside from just consuming more and more.
When you’re younger, even if it’s just your mum that teaches you, you know to switch off the TV at certain point and go to bed. So, in your head you know too much time spent watching TV is bad for you and that is a part of your understanding of the world. We haven’t had that for technological equipment, and I think beginning to teach myself that, the same way you would teach a child has made such a huge difference.
Before it was constantly, go go go. Especially with something like POSTSCRIPT where you pour everything into it and you constantly want to be available and make sure you do not miss an opportunity, being able to do this makes me more efficient has completely changed my ability to work and be a good creative and enjoy what I’m doing. Rather than feeling like I’m constantly on this wheel because that’s the measure of my success, my performance and my worth.
How do you see POSTSCRIPT evolving and what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Chinasa – For us POSTSCRIPT is becom[ing] a brand, beyond being a print publication. We’re thinking about what kind of community we want to build, what kind of conversations we want that community to be having. In terms of a legacy, I think we want POSTSCRIPT to have had significant conversations because so much of the media we do consume and so much of what we were trying to avoid were those conversations that we felt were really surface level. We want POSTSCRIPT if nothing else to have raised those issues, to have looked at those difficult things head on and to have given people that look like all of the women in this room an opportunity to be visible in those conversations and an opportunity for our opinions to matter. For our perspectives to be seen. I think that would be if nothing else the legacy that I would want POSTSCRIPT to have had.