Meet Louisa Davies and Katherine Chambers, founders of Chapter W, a brand new space with work written by women, for women. With the recent happenings in the world at the moment and constant fight against oppressive policies, this interview seemed pretty well timed. Chapter W is designed to bring together women who want to share their burning passions, controversial opinions or even their favourite Jacqueline Wilson books. It’s a space that I think the world needs; in a world where everything feels uncertain, its pretty awesome to find somewhere where you can find opinions on all issues – and voice them yourself. I love the online world and it’s power, so I couldn’t wait to find out what Chapter W is all about.
Hiya! So, tell me a little bit about Chapter W and what it stands for.
Louisa: Chapter W came about the day Brangelina divorced. I was absolutely sick to death of reading stories about how Jennifer Aniston was handling it, and demonising the women in the media and dragging up crap that no one cares about anymore. Katherine and I had been chatting for a while about the disgraceful way the media portray women, and we decided to create a safe and passionate online space for people everywhere to share their own thoughts, and read relatable content that provokes a response in them.
Katherine: Chapter W is the lovechild of myself and Louisa. A hotheaded, outspoken and fashion-forward website with big hopes for the future.
What was the driving force behind setting up the website?
L: As I said before, it was partly because I was sick and tired of reading horrific portrayals of women in the media. But also, I have been blogging myself since 2013, and started as a fashion blogger. I felt that the person I was at 19 is very different to who I am at almost 24, I have a lot of opinions and views that I feel don’t sit comfortably on the online space I created back then. My brain is always whirling with ideas, and Chapter W embodies all of my passions, whether that’s feminism or Jacqueline Wilson books. It’s a new chapter for me as well as our readers.
K: Chapter W was driven by a desire to create. I also felt strongly that young women needed an online platform that offered no-judgement, attainable content; a place where we could share opinions, collaborate with one another, get lost in a story and also have the option to choose between digesting an interview with an inspirational female, debating politics, or simply kicking back and reading about the latest must-have lipstick.
What’s the story behind the name?
L: What’s in a name… It was really important for us that the name was to the point and memorable, and we had a few ideas milling about, but Chapter W really stuck out. For me it means a brand new chapter in your online experience, and as Katherine says, the W can mean a few different things to the obvious. A bit like the ‘S’ in S Club 7…
K: Ah, that old chestnut. I believe we had a few options flying about when we were trying to decide on what to call the website. In the end we settled on Chapter W because we thought it had a bit of a ring to it! It’s clear what the W stands for, when you think about it, but it also retains an air of mystery, which I quite like…
I know you’ve just launched, but what aims do you hope Chapter W will achieve?
K: To put it simply, success and fun. I’d love for Chapter W to take off, quite simply because I love to write and I love to create. I also love nothing more than being inspired, and even though Chapter W only launched this month, it’s already given me a platform to speak with some really inspiring individuals.
L: I like to think our content will stir something in our readers, whether it’s them agreeing or disagreeing, and light a flame in them to get writing themselves. It would be amazing to see it becoming a real hub for female writers, and then who knows where it will go!
L: With all the nonsense that’s going on in the world, as well as my fierce feminist heart, I found it hard to blog about anything other than the experiences I was having and the things that really made me passionate. I found my past blogs more vapid, and I really wanted to start a conversation and contribute to the online world rather than just exist in it.
K: One of my favourite experiences, if you can call it that, is meeting new people. This has definitely shaped the way I write my content, particularly when it comes to interviews. I love using Chapter W as a bit of an excuse to strike up conversation with women I’m inspired by. This also doubles up as a great way of ensuring I’m sticking to my guns with one of my rules of Chapter W, by making sure I write the king of content that I’d love to read. I’m a total nosy parker really.
What does the website mean for women and young people?
L: It’s early days, but I hope that it becomes a safe space to project your passions and opinions, and become a community of power and strength.
K: As Louisa says, it’s a hard one to say as it’s really early days, but I’d like to think that women and young people will be able to visit Chapter W and come away inspired. If I can write just one piece that has a positive impact on just one person, that would be pretty cool. Excuse me while I vomit at my own sentimentalities.
You obviously both see social media as a positive force for this generation. How do you see Chapter W contributing to that?
L: Using social media in a positive way takes experience and an education. You have to make some mistakes along the way, but I like to think our feeds will be full of positive and interesting content that will make people want to engage. Social media is a great way to elevate your voice and position your views in a short and snappy way that will get noticed.
K: People often talk about the ‘dark side of social media’, which is undeniably an unfortunate truth, but it’s rare people talk about the positives. Social media has given young people a platform to share their opinions and to raise their voice. Much like anything, when used properly, social media can do great things. I just hope that Chapter W contributes to that positivity!
The meaning of ‘Feminism’ and ‘Equality’ are debated an awful lot. What do the two words mean to you?
K: To me, they mean exactly the same thing. Nothing frustrates me more than hearing someone state that they are not a feminist, then giving their reasoning as the fact they believe in equality. The word itself, linguistically, can be misleading, but feminism is not simply pro-women, it’s pro-equality.
L: I agree with Katherine. Feminism is equality. Simple as that. It’s not man hating, it’s not thinking women are better than men, it’s fighting for rights we should have as humans on this earth. It’s a simple notion, and one that often gets exaggerated, which is what I hope we can begin to educate people on.
L: The Women’s March was a day I’ll never forget. I had tears in my eyes at the speeches, and felt my face in a smile the entire time I marched, looking at the placards and the solidarity. The thing that got me the most was all the young girls with their parents, held on the shoulders of their father’s, smiling and chanting. It gave me a lot of hope for the future, teaching girls that they don’t have to stand for injustice and inequality, and there’s a 100,000 other people battling for them. It was amazing.
K: In all honesty, emotional. I had to hold back the tears at the start of the march. I also felt inspired and driven, the march highlighted the strength that we have when we come together as a community, not just of women, but of people that support women’s rights. I also walked alongside a tiny French Bulldog at one point, which totally triggered my emotions all over again.
What’s in the pipeline for the next 12 months & what is the dream goal?
L: The next 12 months are going to be very exciting! We have lots more articles in the pipeline, with interviews, reviews, opinion pieces, hopefully recruit lots more writers, and we even have an event planned for March 2017. Watch this space…! The dream is to have people to share our content with their friends, ignite conversation around our articles, and see us as first port of call for trusted and quality content.
K: The scary thing is, at this stage, we just don’t know. However, I do know that I’m excited to watch it grow! At this point, the only way is up. My dream goal is for Chapter W to continue to be a hub for great quality, shareable content. I like to imagine us bookmarked on web browsers of young women everywhere. Here’s to replacing the sidebar of shame (my guilty pleasure).
And finally, do you have a piece of advice for all the women out there reading this?
L: My piece of advice is to never ignore that fire in your belly, or the passion that you can’t quite forget. Who knows what it could lead to?
K: A quote I love, which I try to live by, is that you should never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.
Thank you to Louisa and Katherine for providing such wonderful, insightful answers. I hope that Chapter W ignites a little something inside you too!