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Annette & Francesca

First published August 27, 2021

Annette Christian & Francesca Mariama founded YES GURL back in 2019 to empower young women, especially young women of colour, to share their thoughts, opinions and experiences. Fast forward to 2021, and they’ve built a thriving online magazine, and community, that celebrates sisterhood. Read on to learn more about their journey to YES GURL, and what their hopes are for the future.

Annette and Francesca

Annette, Francesca, what’s your creative occupation?

Annette: Co-founder, Editor & Writer

Francesca: Co-Founder & Illustrator

Where have you been?

Annette: A year after graduating from university, I found myself in a job that was dull, draining and lacking creativity. Without the ‘experience’ I needed on my CV to get a job that was more to my liking, I felt pretty stuck. After venting about our frustrations with work, one day I linked up with Francesca and we decided we’d create an online magazine, and see where it went.

Francesca: After leaving the world of education, I felt lost and had no idea which direction to go in. The majority of people went to university – it seemed to be the norm, however, it definitely was not for me. I found a job in retail working a few days a week, enjoying the freedom it gave me to do whatever I wanted for the rest of the week. Eventually, I knew working in retail wasn’t right, and I had to think about my career long-term. I discovered HR and felt like, out of all the career options available, it was most suited to me. I started a HR apprenticeship in a financial firm and that was the beginning of my career… but I was still yet to tap into my creativity.

Illustration of a woman raising her fist

I remember scrolling through social media, seeing digital illustrations and loving the way they looked. I knew that I had to learn how to do it. FRANCESCA ON LEARNING HOW TO ILLUSTRATE

YES GURL community participating in the Choose to Challenge photo campaign

Where are you now?

Annette: It’s been two years since we launched YES GURL and our little passion project is growing into a small publication. We’ve got a fully fledged team, have worked with recognised brands, and have given so many women the opportunity to hone their skills. I’m also now working in a much more creative full-time job that’s quite similar to the work I do for YES GURL, thanks to the expertise I’ve picked up.

Francesca: I’m still working in the HR field however I’ve always been a creative person and wanted to do something that explored that side of me. I remember scrolling through social media, seeing digital illustrations and loving the way they looked. I knew that I had to learn how to do it, so I bought the equipment, and software, and started learning right away. One day, speaking to Annette, we both realised that we wanted to do something together that employed our creative skills, and that’s how we came to YES GURL – an online platform aimed at empowering women from all backgrounds.

Contemporary women writers illustration

Where are you going?

Annette: The plan is to continue empowering women, and for YES GURL to be our full-time occupation. When we first started out it was a passion project but we always had dreams of it being big.

Francesca: I’d like YES GURL to continue growing and to reach more women who can enjoy it; to promote other businesses and become the go-to platform! We have many projects coming up that we are excited about and a great team working with us.

Finally, what’s occupying your thoughts today?

Annette: How lush the weather is and how I can’t wait to spend the day with my friends.

Francesca: Pain from the gym!

Thanks for sharing your story, gals! Make sure you check out YES GURL, and follow them on Instagram – yesgurlzine


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