Last year, Unbothered turned five, and it was all about our glow up. Unbothered started in a little boardroom in 2017 when our fearless leader and now vice president, Chelsea Sanders, and a group of Black women at Refinery29 (including founder Aly Hickson) bonded over a shared vision and a simple dream: to create a space for young, dope Black folks to be themselves, to be celebrated, understood, heard, and seen. And five years later, that dream was realized through incredible live events like The Glow Up, our two-day summer blowout in Atlanta in 2022 (that’s coming back in 2024!), fun in-person meet ups, necessary reporting and storytelling, and stunning cover moments.
This year, we leaned into our strengths and delivered more work that was made for us and by us that celebrated Black folks including our Next Up Mixer in partnership with Tres Generaciones Tequila, which featured some talented folks in the independent artist space that we know are Next Up in the music game: Tanerélle, Madison McFerrin, and B.K. Habermehl. We kicked off everyone’s new favorite show Prime Video’s Gen V with an in-person screening event in New York, indulged our thirstiest inclinations with our first ever Thirst Week, a week of stories and social moments all about desire, and capped off the year with a special digital zine with cover star, Baby Tate! It was incredible to see the brand grow into its confidence this year, and as we celebrated our 6th anniversary this week, I was reminded of what makes Unbothered so special: our community. We’re 284k (and counting!) strong on Instagram, and it’s your comments, engagement, and energy that keep us going. But it’s the community we’ve built within our team that I am so proud of, and I just need to take a minute to gas up the brilliant women behind the scenes that create the content that brings us all so much joy.
The team held a private event this week in New York City with signature cocktails by Tres Generaciones Tequila, delicious late-night snacks by Popeyes (seriously, you have to try their new wings), and a special performance by viral sensation Maiya the Don. The drinks were flowing, the food was hitting, and Maiya the Don hyped the whole crowd up with her hits “Telfy,” “Duties,” and “Into Myself”, but it was looking around and sharing the night with the Unbothered team that had me crying in the club. First, I have to give it up to Sandy Pierre, our branded execution manager, who is responsible for pulling off the party of the year and organizing, well, everything. Sandy is the reason why the phrase “standing on business” exists. She approaches her work with care, creativity, and intention, and if Sandy is handling something, you know it’s handled. Anything brand partnership you see on Unbothered is because of Sandy’s hard work. She’s also the girl who can’t walk through a party without getting stopped every five steps by someone who has to say hi or tell her she’s killing it. I am so grateful to get to be in her orbit and work alongside her.
If you don’t know Maiya Carmichael, you will. She’s our social strategist and the life of every Zoom call. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with as much charisma and star power as Maiya. She hosts our hilarious social series called Unbothered Court, and she’s one of the co-hosts of the Go Off, Sis podcast. Maiya will make you laugh, but she’s also very serious when it comes to getting shit done; I joke that we’re all going to be working for her one day and if that happens, I’d be honored. Christa Eduafo is our other social strategist who hosts our popular on-the-street social series, What’s Tea?. Christa is so funny, genuine, and has a genius approach to social content. I’m constantly in awe of her ideas and her positive outlook. She also took on a new endeavor this year and became a DJ! As DJ Chvmeleon, Christa provides immaculate vibes and she even got the party started for the first hour until DJ 9AM took over for the rest of the night and kept us dancing until we had to change our shoes (just me?). Rounding out the social team is Jessika Hardy, our social video producer, who you may know for her controversial lust for Shrek (yes, that Shrek), or for her ability to make us cry laughing at every beauty product review and food tasting she does for Unbothered. If there’s one thing Jess is going to do, it’s put her hair — and dignity — on the line for some content! She’s also the sweetest, kindest, funniest person who deserves every wonderful thing her career has in store. Rissa Papillion is our extraordinary video producer and the brain behind our beloved series, Dear Black Love. Rissa works so hard I worry about her constantly, but she always tackles every task with a smile and the best energy. She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and we have her to thank for Unbothered’s video presence that has become so established and set apart from anyone else.
As for me, I run our editorial team and have the privilege of working closely with two of the best writers and editors in the business: our culture critic Ineye Komonibo and UK editor L’Oréal Blackett. Ineye’s pen is so mighty, she has the ability to give context and nuance to the latest cultural event dominating our timelines, as well as hype up the Black shows and movies we need to be paying attention to. Everything Ineye does is intentional and straightforward. She doesn’t say anything she doesn’t mean so when she gives you a compliment, you hold onto it like a rare gem. I tell her this all the time, but I’m her biggest fan. And L’Oréal, well, she’s across the pond holding it down for the UK all on her own, and she’s created a space for the Black UK girlies to share their stories and celebrate their culture. Aside from being an incredible beauty writer and the human embodiment of sunshine, L’Oréal is so sharp, smart, and has impeccable taste. My only complaint is that we don’t live in the same city so I can bask in her light daily.
Then there’s Kimber Bowman, our director of multicultural strategy (she also oversees Somos), who can not only get down on the dancefloor, but has also been such a grounding, guiding light for the team. Kimber’s presence is so calming and confident, and she brings creativity and coordination to every meeting. She also delivered one of our best and most vulnerable pieces of the year when she shared her experience taking antidepressants for the first time. Finally, there’s our aforementioned VP, Chelsea Sanders, who helms the entire ship. She goes to bat for us constantly and there’s no one else who believes in Unbothered more than Chelsea. She was in that little boardroom when the brand was born and she’s built it into something so magical, so necessary, and so unique. If Chelsea Sanders is on your team, you’re bound to win. And if she’s the head of that team, the possibilities are boundless.
With the help of some Tres Gen tequila, I gushed all my praise and sentimental musings on the team throughout our anniversary party, to the point where everyone eventually rolled their eyes at me and said, “Not again!” when I started crying… again. Listen, I know it’s a hard time to be celebrating anything right now when the world is on fire, and it feels like our timelines are full of despair, but as Toni Morrison said, “It’s not possible to constantly hold onto crisis. You have to have the love, you have to have the magic. That’s also life.” There was so much love and magic in the room on Tuesday night at our anniversary party, and I’m so grateful for all the beautiful Black folks who came together to celebrate us, but also just to be — joyful, happy, grateful, ratchet, emotional — and whatever else they wanted, because above all else, what Unbothered gives us permission to be is free.