How I started: Liv Little, gal-dem

Turning that initial thought into a business you can focus on completely is likely to be an unpredictable ride. Here Liv Little, founder of gal-dem, which tells the stories of women and non-binary people of colour, explains how she got started.
face bw

‘There was never a plan to be a founder, or entrepreneur, or raise big money. It was the typical side hustle. I wanted to address a gap I saw in representation in the media, and connect with people who shared my vision and values to create a space where women and people of colour could connect.

‘At the start it was just a shitty website – I can say that because I was the one involved in the design process, which was basically a £20 theme. I borrowed money from friends and family for the first print issue – I borrowed £100 from my best friend and was so scared I wouldn’t be able to pay her back. 

‘For the first year I had a full-time job. I worked on it every waking minute – my work/life balance was non-existent. It felt like it was required to propel it forward. It was weekends, late nights, emailing on the loo, speaking about it in my sleep – the whole shebang.

‘People began recognising the name, and we began to take on projects. It was a case of trying to save a little bit and building slowly on that – I never got £100k. We had to keep building relationships with brands – building, building, building.

‘I get to create the environment I wish other publications had.’

‘Pretty soon, I was like “whoa”, there’s demand for this; this is something that clearly needs to be pursued. It was slightly daunting, in terms of entering a system you don’t know anything about, especially as a black woman. I shied away from calling myself a CEO for a long time, but now I’ve learnt you have to figure out what works for yourself and your team.

‘You spend three years pouring your life’s energy into something for free, it gets to the point where you have to get paid. People have to get paid. For my own mental health wellbeing, it was time. In year three, there was a conscious decision to build partnerships and get involved in commercial projects. To show a model that can make money while continuing to do the great work that’s important to us.

‘I get to create the environment I wish other publications had – there aren’t the same levels of hierarchies or bureaucracies here, so you can try stuff out. Sometimes, I look around and get overwhelmed – I can’t believe the whole thing went from my feeling of isolation to this.’

Liv has just moved into a new role as President of the Board at gal-dem. Find out the latest from her at @livslittle.

You might like these, too