09 Dec 4mygirls, The October Instagram Heroes Creative Winner, Creating Safe Spaces Online
@4mygirls was started in December 2020 by Candace Redlinghys, model, creative director and founder of 4mygirls, after feeling that the local creative scene was closed off to women of colour. Candace took it upon herself to create the space she desired for herself and for her girls who shared her vision, stylist, Ammaarah Abrahams, photographer, Tara McAuliffee, makeup artist, Jehaan Galant and social media manager, Tamia Khumalo.
My inspiration for the page was to create a space for open dialogue about anything at all. That anyone could comment or message us and strike up a meaningful conversation about whatever their hearts desired. We wanted something genuine, where people could view us as a trusted friend. We often steer away from an aesthetic that is too planned and calculated opting for a down-to-earth, community centred approach. – Candace Redlinghys
Their platform truly embodies their slogan, ‘we do this 4 you, we do this 4mygirls’, spotlighting, championing and helping women and non-binary people of colour get the contacts, resources and support that they need to pursue their dreams. Creating a safe space for women and non-binary POCs to speak about their life experiences and share wisdom with others is at the heart of their Instagram account as Candace states, ‘We want to keep breaking boundaries, one step at a time, not waiting until we’re super famous to give back but at a grassroots level taking our community with us during every success that we experience. Because when they succeed, we succeed.’ We caught up with founder, Candace, after winning the ‘1000 grams of likes’ trophy for Instagram Hero of October, in the creative sector, to chat about their beginnings and how they go about creating a safe space and online community…
How has the page grown since launching and what has this journey been like for you?
In a year, we have grown exponentially! It has been an overwhelming experience but a joyful one. We recently had the amazing privilege of being featured in the Adidas Forum SA campaign. It was such a humbling experience having our impact recognised. It was like seeing our dream being fulfilled. We’ve been able to unearth some amazing talent from models, to photographers to videographers and give them the platform to showcase their work and be celebrated!
You’ve succeeded in creating a community on your page, tell us a bit about your audience and how you engage with them.
Our audience is a wonderful group of young women and non-binary people of colour. We engage with them as if we’re old friends to be honest. We started a tradition of asking them every Monday how they’re doing and how their week was. What they are grateful for, or what they’re struggling with. This has created open conversation that our audience really enjoys. Its like a heart to heart between good friends and that’s all we want our page to be.
What does winning the “1000 Grams of Likes” award mean to you?
It really means so much to me. When going out on a limb and starting 4mygirls, I truly never believed that it would get to where it is now. There is always doubt when pursuing one’s dream. But I am incredibly grateful to the team of women around me that have pushed me forward and championed my ideas as I do theirs. The award means progress, it means that as a creative you don’t have to give up on your ideas because someone out there is seeing it and acknowledges your work. I believe we all need that to keep going as creatives, as people.
What is something that 10and5 readers may not know about Candace, the woman behind the account?
Well, they may not know that I am a classically trained singer who’s done about 7 years worth of Music classes. Music is my life and has been since I was a child! I love how music brings joy and allows the tears you’ve kept in to fall too. Performance is an extension of my personality and brings me great joy. I also belong to an all women dance crew, which is quite fun!
What can we expect from you in the rest of 2021/2022? Any projects or collaborations to keep an eye out for?
We’re launching some new summer Merch this month in collaboration with Another Preloved Thrift by Michka (a Women of colour owned thrift shop) this month! We are super stoked about it! We also have some plans for next year that we can’t wait to share with everyone.
What is your favourite Instagram feature right now and why?
I think the question feature in the stories. It allows people to share freely. The anonymity of it lets people say what they truly feel and creates a safe space for them to receive support and comfort if needed.