When designer, Kristy Tillman, realized there was a lack of black representation in the creative market, she created Tomorrow Looks Bright, a newsletter featuring high-quality impactful projects and things exclusively made by black women creators.
From art galleries and wearables to comics and lingerie companies, Tomorrow Looks Bright is a breath of fresh air for consumers looking to support black-owned businesses and enterprising creators who are often left out of mainstream advertising and media. With thousands of subscribers, Tillman has definitely hit a sweet spot. BlackEnterprise.com caught up with her to learn more about her journey.
BlackEnterprise.com: Tell us about your background.
Tillman: I am a designer. I am currently the design director at Society of Grownups. We are democratizing financial literacy. Prior to that, I helped co-found the Detroit Water Project and was a designer at IDEO, an award-winning global design consultancy. I also am a frequent visiting design lecturer at Maryland Institute College of Art.
Tell us about the defining moment when you decided to launch “Tomorrow Looks Bright.”
I spend a lot of time on Twitter and there is a steady flow of discussion about diversity in tech and design. The pipeline issue is largely touted as the primary reason for the dearth of black folks in tech companies. This sent me on a search to satisfy my curiosity beyond the obvious about what black folks WERE making, more specifically black women.
The act of making things and putting them out into public space is a dialogue between society and that maker about what she believes should exist. And since we contribute disproportionately to the global cultural fabric, I wanted to better understand that dialogue. And if I was curious about it, I figured other people would be as well. So I decided that I’d look for things weekly and share those findings out.
Describe the TLB audience.
The Tomorrow Looks Bright audience are mostly black women (I just did a recent user survey). There is also a good amount of folks who are not black or women who are curious about the things black women make. I get e-mails often from folks who are not black women, some of my coworkers have signed up, and some of my friends in the tech world, white men, often retweet and share my newsletter to their Twitter feed.
I don’t mind this, but I created the newsletter for the benefit of black women; black women have been the biggest supporters, and that is who I am speaking to in the newsletter.
Why is it so important for black women to have an exclusive space?
A lot of the convos about maker culture elevate men and diversity convos often revolve around white women. Being not white and not male has its own unique challenges. Often our contributions go unacknowledged and it is important for mechanisms to exist to help us find each other so that we can also offer support as well as celebrate each other.
What is your best marketing tool for attracting an audience and spreading the word about TLB?
It has been by word of mouth. Growth has been organic—we have thousands of subscribers now. People have found the newsletter and shared it with their friends. Folks like, Crissles from The Read, even shouted us out. I had no idea she had subscribed.
How do you receive submissions? Since launching TLB, what have you been surprised to learn?
We have a form on the site that allows people to submit their projects. We also get a fair number of people submitting on behalf of others and tweets from fans who saw something cool they think we might like.
I am surprised by the sheer magnitude of finds. It’s not surprising that black women are creative and industrious, but before starting the newsletter I didn’t realize there were at least five companies out there making underwear/lingerie, and Black women-owned gallery spaces were shaking up the art world.
Any future plans to enhance the newsletter or the TLB platform?
Yes. There are plans to expand the editorial content and to build upon the emerging community beyond the confines of the newsletter. The ultimate goal of TLB is the connective tissue of black women creative entrepreneurs.