Written by: Madison Duboise
Chika Ofodu(left) and Destany Michael(right)
There are only a few things to do when you meet a new friend, go shopping, get lunch on the weekends and even try a new hobby. For friends Destany Michael and Chika Ofodu they took their newfound friendship to a whole new level and started a blog.
Destany is from Vallejo, CA and she grew up in the Bay area, Chika is from Brentwood, CA and grew up in the Bay area as well. They met each other at San Jose State University and became good friends and were even almost roommates. After Destany decided to transfer to a community college after her first year at SJSU, the two still felt their friendship had so much more potential. Their connection remained strong as they began a blog called Sisterhood Exchange about their love for sharing information and stories with others.
The idea of a blog came from their daily conversations together. The two could spend hours on the phone together talking about everything from personal situations to specific social issues. Their conversations sparked something inside them which peaked their interest in sharing these thoughts and raw conversations via writing.
“We enjoyed writing pretty well since we were both in college at the time we started our blog. The Instagram page was created initially to share more about our blog, but we began using it as a tool to share our love for literature, little did we know we would find an awesome community online that inspired us to begin highlighting our books and other literature related topics,” the two said.
They post on their blogs consistently about social issues, their romantic relationships and even their career and academic endeavors. The goal of their blog is to serve as a representation of their sisterhood, sharing the real conversations that they have, they always use their platform to share any topic that feels relevant or meaningful to them. On their Instagram account @sisterhoodexchange, they often post about the books they have read in the past or the ones that they currently are reading.
“We hope to spread our sisterhood with the world and to represent the Black community in that regard. We also hope that with this platform, we can further build our book club and engage with fellow book-readers,” the two said. “Our mission statement has always been to stay true to ourselves and ultimately have fun, this adds to the many ways that we bond and connect as sisters.”
When the two started their blog in 2018, they knew they had stumbled upon a new passion, one they both wanted to share with the world.
“We started the account back in July after having our blog for about two years. After enjoying many conversations over the phone, one thing always led to another. We spent most of the time sharing with friends and family via text and social media but it felt like there was still a disconnect between our work and potential audience. We had all these great conversations but not a lot of reach, so we started an Instagram account to gain traffic,” Ofodu said.
They even started their own book club, inspired by their love for literature. The two heavily focus on literature written and focused on people of color and hope to share some of the most beautiful stories they themselves have read.
‘Our book club first launched in August 2020 and lasted till September 2020. Our first book was “The Color of Hope,” a short book dedicated to the beautiful stories or accounts of different people of color who live with mental illness. We held multiple IG Lives with different guests, discussing various topics that came from the book and had two book club meetings in which one of the authors, Iresha Picot joined us,” the girls said. “Holding space for the author to join us in talking about the book, mental health, Black issues, intergenerational trauma and more was so riveting and a huge accomplishment for us. Considering our individually busy lives, we decided to make the book club seasonal--so we completed our Fall Book Club and will begin our Winter Book Club at the beginning of 2021.”
The two chose to do all this together because it served as a way for them to stay connected. After enjoying each other for one year at San Jose State University, they honestly could not get enough of each other. They remained in touch after Destany transferred by frequently texting and talking on the phone for hours. They have turned their friendship into a full blown brand.
“Being in a “long-distance” friendship for all these years has made us grateful for each other's willingness to stay connected, and commitment to making our sisterhood a forever thing,” Ofodu said. “It has been remarkable seeing how much our blog and Instagram account has grown. Thinking about how we started only a few years ago and where we are now, it is so cool to reflect on how an idea has expanded to where it is today. We have so much more to do and work on, but to think that we just started a virtual book club is a huge achievement for us and I can not wait to see where we go. We have learned not only about what it takes to gain a large following with our social media and blog, but also about how special this bond is. We have learned more about each other during this time because we talk so much. Especially talking about books, we have been able to have strong conversations that illuminate our interests, our grievances as Black women and our dreams for our respective endeavors.”
Destany would say that as she’s been growing and learning more and more, she’s more of a non-fiction girl. She really enjoys learning about new topics and gets ideas from books, she loves making sure the bookshelf is packed with books to open her mind to new things. She loves a good fiction book here and there but there's something about non-fiction books that kind of feel like a challenge for her to overcome. Some of her favorites are: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
Chika considers herself to be a fiction person also, while always working to build her non-fiction book collection. Some of her favorites are: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, The Last Miss Parrish by Liv Constantine, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, and The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore.