Entrepreneur Candice Peterkin ’20 Aims to Share Struggles and Stories of Women of Color, Through SheIsArt

Entrepreneur Candice Peterkin ’20 Aims to Share Struggles and Stories of Women of Color, Through SheIsArt

Photo of Candice Peterkin

Candice Peterkin ’20

Peterkin’s startup is one of the four business ideas that will be pitched at the Fairfield StartUp Showcase on April 25.

Candice Peterkin ’20 is a first-time competitor who has been selected to pitch her business idea at this year’s Fairfield StartUp Showcase. Peterkin operates digital and social media platforms under the name SheIsArt Magazine, LLC, which depict the beauty, stories, and struggles of women of color.

SheIsArt is a fully digital landscape consisting of an Instagram page and a YouTube channel, with a website currently in the works. Peterkin explained that SheIsArt existed before the Startup Showcase, and that it was actually a close friend who suggested that she should pitch for a spot in the Showcase during the qualifier round last December.

So far Peterkin says that preparing for the StartUp Showcase has been a great experience, and has allowed her to meet new people and make valuable connections. The target market for SheIsArt is women of color, ages 18 to 25. Peterkin chose this demographic because she believes it is at this point in life that women transition into adulthood. “It’s a time for soul searching and self-searching where young women should know that all of the things — like beauty and love — that they are searching for somewhere else, are actually within them,” she explained.

Peterkin’s inspiration for SheIsArt comes from being around family members, specifically her mother, and witnessing their struggles. When her mother needed a difficult brain surgery, Peterkin explained that it was a continuous battle to gain access to the right treatment. This got Peterkin thinking about larger social issues, including inequality within the healthcare system, and how women of color don’t always have a platform to share their experiences.

Peterkin also became familiar with the stories of women of color on a global scale after spending time in South Africa and seeing stark examples of their struggles outside of the United States. This enabled her to see that “women of color need to avoid the tendency to alienate themselves because acknowledging widespread struggle will create cohesion,” she said.

Through SheIsArt, Peterkin seeks to show that art can be defined in many ways, which is why she describes her process of “targeting women who are not the usual Kim Kardashian” fans, and instead sharing the beauty of “women walking down the street who have done something great that no one knows about.” In this way, her platform is really about challenging viewers to rethink women of color as art and to recognize that they, too, can be anything they set out to be.

Peterkin's work is highly influenced by the black community. She explained that her content is created by thinking about what the individuals in her community are feeling, whether it be exclusion, desire to fit in, self-love, or desire to be recognized. She wants to provide these women with recognition, and to inspire them to keep going. She wants to tell a different story than the “angry black woman” or the “troubled black woman” and focus more on celebrating black women. This notion is heavily connected to the SheIsArt tagline, “Acknowledge, Release, and Teach” (ART).

“ART stands for the three-step process of first acknowledging the struggles of black women, then releasing the struggle, and finally, teaching young women of color to avoid falling into the cycles and giving them advice on how to live in this community,” explains Peterkin.

Peterkin hopes that the StartUp Showcase will give SheIsArt the opportunity to share womens’ stories even more, and she has high hopes for potential sponsorships and advertising.

To see Candice Peterkin '20 pitch SheIsArt at the StartUp Showcase be sure to save your seat at the event on Thursday, April 25, 2019.

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