Creating an Online Community for Young Women and Nonbinary People of Color
Ochuko Akpovbovbo BA ’21, aneconomics major from Lagos, Nigeria, recognized when she moved to the U.S. at 18 that the media landscape did not authentically represent the lives of young women and nonbinary people of color—too often, stories would focus on worrying statistics, heartbreaking news, or reductive narratives about identity.
“I remember thinking to myself ‘I really wish there was content out there about the lives of women of color that isn’t so heavy.’ How are we doing with health and wellness? How are we doing with relationships, with money and career?” Akpovbovbo says. “I wanted to create something well-rounded with the overall message that there are many ways to be a person of color.”
From this idea, Parachute Media was born, a digital publication and community organization that exists “to empower Gen Z and millennial women and nonbinary folks of color to reclaim their narratives and redefine success on their own terms.”
Officially launched in summer 2020 with co-founder and editor-in-chief Hanin Najjar, while Akpovbovbo prepared for her senior year at L&C, the site has grown to encompass seven sections: health and wellness, love, beauty, culture and entertainment, identity, politics and activism, and money and career. What began as a one-woman operation quickly expanded to involve a large team of young women and nonbinary people of color, including classmates ofAkpovbovbo’s at Lewis & Clark. In September 2021, Akpovbovbo was featured in the Portland Business Journal’s “Inno Under 25,” a list of promising young entrepreneurs in Portland.
At Parachute Media, one of Akpovbovbo’s primary goals is to democratize storytelling and offer content that is user-generated. This includes articles on navigating the job market as a person of color, guides to environmentally friendly menstrual products, and recommendations for social justice-related novels.
“Everyone has a story that’s funny or interesting, or that we can learn a lesson from,” Akpovbovbo says. “I tell my team, if you know someone who knows something, they should write for us.”
During her time at Lewis & Clark, Akpovbovbo found a mentor in Chrys Hutchings, associate director of the Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership. Hutchings introduced her to the world of tech and entrepreneurship in Portland as well as the resources of Lewis & Clark Law School’s Small Business Legal Clinic.
Today, Parachute Media is working to bring in new people and expand its collaborative efforts—to date, partners have included Kulfi, a cosmetics company celebrating South Asian beauty, and Instagram. But for Akpovbovbo, the journey is only just beginning.
“Eventually, I would like to have in-person events,” she says. “And a few years from now, I want the Parachute Media platform to be a place where women of color can find a safe space. My goal is to help them realize the simple truth that there are other people like them.”