You may know Kathryn Finney as The Budget Fashionista, but this year she’s kicking off a new tech-focused company digitalundivided with a symposium called FOCUS100, which connects women of color in the tech industry. Here, she talks to ESSENCE.com about her new venture and how she stays on the pulse of this ever-changing industry.
ESSENCE.COM: Why did you choose to start this particular business?
KATHRYN FINNEY: Women of color in particular consume social and Internet technologies at rates often higher than their male counterparts. It was as if it was okay for us to consume tech, but not create it.
The idea that we can consume, but not create, technology bugged me for several years and it was at the BlogHer business conference, where I was a mentor, that I actually turned that bug into action. Inspired by the conference, which helps women-led companies in a variety of fields build their businesses, I developed digitalundivided and the FOCUS100 conference.
ESSENCE.COM: What has been the most challenging and most rewarding part about starting digitalundivided?
FINNEY: The most challenging and the most rewarding part has been to expand the definition of a "tech company"/"start-up" that serves the needs of one particular group.
ESSENCE.COM: You initially started out with your own fashion site. Could you tell us some of your favorites to keep up with the latest in fashion?
ESSENCE.COM: Which online retailers would you recommend for the best shopping experience and selections?
FINNEY: This one is a hard one for me, but I would say ASOS — which is a website that was started in the UK but now is global. ASOS has a strong plus-size section called "Curves," and it is one of the few online stores that offer fashion-forward styles for plus-size women.
ESSENCE.COM: Which fashion apps can you not live without?
FINNEY: I do love UberSocial as it allows me to tweet photos of some of my top finds.
ESSENCE.COM: How do you keep abreast of what's new and fresh online?
FINNEY: I read a lot. I mostly read news magazines and sites like the Atlantic, New York Times, New York Magazine and the Economist. I'm also a new fan of Reddit.
ESSENCE.COM: What was the most important thing you learned when starting your business that you can share with budding entrepreneurs?
FINNEY: Be yourself. It is so much easier to maintain your success if you are yourself. Also know what you stand for and stick by it, even if that means saying "no" to seemingly great opportunities.