Teen uses quarantine to create media business highlighting minorities’ stories
Some people used the quarantine to get healthy, spend more time with family or conduct repairs on their homes, but Sparkman High School senior, Sarah Chase, utilized her extra time to create a media empire.
Courageous Curls Media was born. The site focuses on the stories and issues of minorities. Chase intends for the site to raise awareness on these issues and to start conversations needed to bring about change.
“As a minority in America, I feel like part of the racism issue comes from the fact that people do not know how amazing every person of color is,” Chase said. “We are entrepreneurs, writers, artists and so much more. I want Courageous Curls Media to be the place to prove that.”
The idea of Courageous Curls Media came to Chase about a year ago, but then COVID-19 hit and she found herself with time to develop her idea. As a member of The Crimson Crier student newspaper staff, Chase missed writing. Bored one evening, she took to the computer to create a website and Instagram.
“I created both in one night. I did not go to bed until 3 a.m.,” Chase said. “I was super excited and kept texting one of my close friends about it.”
The name of the media company has special meaning to Chase. She went through a “natural hair journey” during her freshman year which she says was not easy. The curls were hard to accept and even more difficult for Chase to love. Now, she embodies those curls, even loves them.
“There is so much history involving our ancestors behind black hair and that is what makes it beautiful–even though there is still a fight for it to be seen as such by society still today,” Chase said “The name Courageous Curls Media is a tribute to my ancestors and to any black woman who decides to rock their natural hair. There is bravery behind wearing your curls as a black woman.”
The site is divided into a typical news site menu, including a news, opinion, feature and arts and entertainment section. The site also includes a column called Hangin WIth Hannah, written by the website editor as a big sister advice column. To keep the site interactive, Chase added a From the Public Section.
“This section allows our readers to send in any submissions they would like to see published on our site, including poems, columns or anything else written they want to share,” Chase said.
The site has been a success. Recently, Chase decided to add video and has released CCM’s first magazine in October. Including herself, 16 members currently write for Chase’s media group. The group is diverse, consisting of people of color and non-people of color.
“A few of the writers are friends I go to school with, but others I found either on Facebook groups or on the GroupMe chat I use to follow another media group called Afro Puff Chronicles,” Chase said. “When posting that I am looking for writers, I always give CCM’s initiative. I think being a part of our goal is what makes them want to join the team, especially right now.”
Chase laments on a story written by fellow classmate, Grace Moore, that featured Brianna Sipp who owns a crochet clothing business.
“Brianna is super talented. Not many teens have that talent, so I think it is unique that she has turned it into a business,” Chase said. “It fits our goal of sharing stories of minority women, whether they are older than I am or around my age.”
Like Sipp, Chase herself is a young entrepreneur who accepts the responsibility. In fact, knowing that the media site was her responsibility, and not her parents, Chase used money from her savings to purchase a professional domain. Her parents, Frank and Teresa Chase, have been supportive of her endeavors.
“They are always there to encourage me, ask me how everything is going and to make sure that I am focusing on school as well,” Chase said. “My family has supported me in everything I have done and I am extremely blessed to have them in my corner.”
Chase admits that she has not always felt that she could have a voice or even that she had an interest in current events however, the March 2018 March for our Lives protest inspired her to become involved in current issues and in sharing her voice with others.
“I watched the protest at home and it was inspiring seeing all those young voices lighting and caring about issues that were affecting Americans,” Chase said. “I realized then that I can make a change in this world no matter how big or how small.”
Creating the Courageous Curls Media platform, which currently boasts 884 followers on the group’s social media accounts, has taught Chase more than journalism and entrepreneurship skills. It has allowed her to understand a variety of minority groups.
“I have learned how unique each group of people are and also how each group faces different struggles when it comes to representation and racism. I think that CCM has allowed me to educate myself on issues outside of my own race,” Chase said.
Journalism is not a passing fancy for Chase. She hopes to work at the Los Angeles Times one day to continue having her voice heard, yet, she also intends to still be running Courageous Curls Media–an expanded version.
“I have always wanted to live in California and I admire the Times’ work,” Chase said. “I’m just taking my plans day by day right now, focusing on graduating, what college I want to attend and passing my classes. I do, though, want to turn CCM into a living and have it reach its full potential.”
Whether or not Chase makes it to California remains to be seen, but her idea of creating a media company to celebrate minorities has been fulfilled.
“I think Courageous Curls Media has provided this space in journalism that shared minority voices,” Chase said. “When I think about the success of CCM, I think about a piece I wrote on Laila, who attended a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.Peaceful protests are not highlighted as much as they should be in the media. Her responses were very visual and I placed the photos in the story so the reader could be taken on the journey as well. I think that more stories like Laila should be shared because it was a beautiful and much needed one.”