Hazel Brown has been "discovering" Tottenham through the lens of Instagram for several years, going on to turn her discoveries into a website, showcase events and very recently a print magazine. She is also the founder of Women's Music News, a platform featuring women in all roles of the UK music industry. Rachel Ho caught up with Hazel to find out more.
Photo by Darren Bandoo supplied: Hazel Brown at a Discovering Tottenham event
Where did you grow up and what did your parents do?
My family have always had a close connection to London, when they first met they used to go out on the Old Kent Road. I was born in Bromley and spent my teenage years just outside Enfield. I moved to London when I was 18. My mum had various jobs, but worked in a bank for many years before my sister and I were born. My dad has tried many different roles – I think that's where I get it from - but most notably, he was based in Bermondsey for 20 years, making industrial leather goods, as well as props for films, including Braveheart.
Describe your relationship to Tottenham.
I've lived in Tottenham for just over five years, which is the longest time I've stayed in one place in my adult life. I've found that there is something unique about Tottenham and its community. We have one of the most diverse communities in the UK and there is something special about so many different nationalities coming together in one place.
Photo source @DiscovTottenham: The first print edition of Discovering Tottenham
What is Discovering Tottenham and how did it come about?
In May 2016, I launched Discovering Tottenham (DT) on Instagram, posting photos of places I'd been to and things I'd seen in the area. This did really well, so I launched the website in September 2016. DT is an online magazine that showcases all the amazing businesses and other things happening in Tottenham, with a focus on telling the stories of the people behind them. It's also very important to me to acknowledge the vast number of changes and developments happening in the area and how local people feel it might affect them. We want to be as diverse and inclusive as possible and are always on the lookout for more people to speak to and collaborate with.
DT ran two community events last year showcasing local talent. I wanted it to be a place where the whole community could come together to network and celebrate.
I also recently finished my very first print magazine for DT, with a focus on food and drink which will be available from 18th March and free to pick up. The plan is to release another three issues throughout the year, with the themes, music and performance, fashion and beauty and craft and creative. They will be distributed for free at key venues and events in Tottenham.
You've also recently launched Women's Music News. Tell us more about that!
For most of my career, I've worked in the media and creative industries. I worked in music publishing and neighbouring rights for three years, up until 2014, so music has always been something I've had an interest in. I noticed that there are a lot of organisations supporting women in music, but there was no established platform in the UK that covered all genres and was bringing everything together.
Women's Music News (WMN), launched on 1st February this year and has been brilliantly received so far. Due to recent press coverage and the #metoo campaign last year, I thought it was more important than ever to create a positive and inclusive platform that showcased women's talents in the music industry. Not just featuring artists and performers, but also women behind the scenes that are often overlooked. I plan to have a mix of contributors, both women and men, as I feel that the only way that solutions can be found to current issues, is to ensure that everyone is included in the conversation. It's a place for positive discussion and discovery and we hope to appeal to everyone, both inside and outside of the music industry.
Earlier this year, I moved into an office space, supported by the brilliant charity LYST (London Youth Support Trust) who support young people - up to age 30 - set up and start their own businesses in Tottenham. I set up an independent publishing company, Hazel Brown Creative Ltd, to manage both Discovering Tottenham and Women's Music News. The plan is to bring in enough income to sustain both publications and work with other young people in the local area and give them an opportunity to gain experience in media. Next year, I'd also love to run creative workshops for people in the community.
Photo supplied: The WMN team
What advice would you give to women who want to make a living from creating content?
There's no easy answer to this, as the old media model no longer works in the way it once did – which has both good and bad sides. It's all about trying to stay ahead of the game and being genuine in what you are doing and what you offer. There's so many inspiring, talented and creative young people out there that are carving their own path in the industry.
I think it's important to stay determined and I'm a strong believer that if you really put your mind to something you can make it happen. My business is still in its very early stages, so watch this space!
It's important to be you and make sure you are doing something that you are passionate about, but it's also ok to take time to figure that out. Try your hand at as many different things as you can – at the end of the day, any experience will help you to build who you are and is hopefully one more small step towards figuring out whether something is for you or not.
As a woman, how do you think Tottenham has changed? What would you like to see change?
Even in the short amount of time I've been working on DT I've seen a huge amount of change in the area. It's important to acknowledge that we're not perfect and there are definitely areas where Tottenham needs support. We have one of the highest poverty rates in London and that shouldn't be ignored.
On the other hand, we have businesses that have been established in the area for decades (Hall's Greengrocers has been in Tottenham for almost 100 years!), which is something to be proud of. I think it's important to appreciate the old and the new. There is so much creativity here - you could find a wealth of talent hidden in the next road or the next building.
Favourite thing to do in Tottenham?
I really enjoy going to local events, like the brewery taprooms and the markets. There are so many talented small creative vendors and businesses in the area and I really enjoy talking to people and finding out what motivates them – everyone has a story!
Photo supplied: Hazel Brown
Find out more about DT and WMN