Magazine editor Keysha Davis shares how she built a career in publishing

Keysha Davis Twenty Ten Talent

Keysha Davis is the editor of Blackhair magazine, an international bi-monthly glossy magazine featuring hair inspiration, fashion, beauty and lifestyle features for black women.

A magazine veteran, Keysha started her career in London as the editor’s assistant at live listings magazine Blackout, writing reviews, liaising with contributors and compiling the listings page. Keysha moved to a work experience placement in the fashion department of Bliss magazine, one of the UK’s leading magazines for teenagers at that time. At Bliss Keysha hit the ground running, gaining an insight into the competitive and exhilarating world of fashion.

Shortly after Keysha became the editorial assistant of Pride magazine before embarking on a career as a freelance writer and was published in the New Nation, Bolz, She Caribbean, Precious Online, Se7en magazine and contributed regularly to BBC Music Online.

Keysha worked in PR and marketing for four years, learning a new set of skills such as writing press releases, organising press launches and liaising with the press. Shortly after giving birth to a son, Keysha returned to Pride magazine as the features and entertainment editor. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Keysha immersed herself into her new role, creating themes and concepts for the magazine, writing cover stories, as well as irreverent features which gave voice to issues of relevance for black British women.

After four successful years at Pride, Keysha became the editor of Blackhair magazine and within a year she transformed the magazine into a dynamic, edgy publication that pushes the limitations often imposed on hair and beauty publications.

You can find Keysha on Twitter at @MsQuiche and over on her blog, The Cocoa Diaries.

I graduated with a BA Honours in Communications from the University of East London.

My first job was a brief stint as an entertainment writer at a free arts and culture listing magazine called Blackout. It touted itself as an Afro-Caribbean version of Time Out and was short lived. But, I learned so much about the world of publishing and it also gave me the opportunity to hone my writing skills.

I got my first big break in my career as an intern for Pride magazine. It was my favourite magazine at the time and I recall obsessing daily about ways to enter the hallowed grounds of the UK’s biggest magazine for women of color. Despite sending copious letters and my CV I never received a reply.

Then one day while reading a copy of the magazine I noticed an advert placed at the back stating that Pride was seeking marketing personnel to hit the streets and try and sell subscriptions to the general public. I saw this as a way in and sent my CV to the contact listed and before you know it I was granted an interview. I attended my interview and within minutes it became clear to my interviewer, shout out to Sonia Reid, that my strengths were rooted in editorial. She made a call to the editor downstairs and I was told to go down and meet her. I was offered an internship on the spot and within months I was promoted to editorial assistant. I’ve never looked back.

Blackhair magazine collage

During my working life I split my time between working at home for two days and working at the office for the remainder of the week. My job is around 70-80 per cent desk bound. Mornings consist of checking and responding to emails, editing articles from staff members and contributors and liaising with PRs and hairdressers.

I also try to attend press launches of new hair and beauty products to keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry and also maintain relationships with PRs and key industry contacts. Every so often we produce photo shoots for hair brands, which I really enjoy doing as it gives me the opportunity to use my visual creative skills. This will often entail me conceptualising the idea and pulling a creative team of hairdressers, a makeup artist, stylist, photographer and models together.

The not so fun but very necessary aspects of my job include the administration side which includes editorial budgeting and processing invoices.

When I’m not working I love to update my arts and culture blog, which I haven’t had a chance to do much with this year due to juggling my full time work responsibilities and pregnancy. I also love reading and attending live music events such as concerts and festivals.

I can’t live without my HTC One smart phone. When I’m on the move I can always rely on my phone to keep me abreast on what’s happening, enabling me to check and respond to emails and also update our social media pages. I even edit articles on my phone during the long commute from home to my work offices in Witham, Essex.

Keysha Davis Twenty Ten Talent - 2

It may sound a bit cliché, but raising my 10 year old son is by far my biggest achievement in life so far. As career driven as I am, it pales in comparison to the sense of accomplishment I feel from raising a healthy, loving, intelligent, compassionate, hilarious boy.

As we all know, parenting is a thankless task, but although it might not be championed in society as much as our career achievements, we shouldn’t underestimate or undersell the mental and emotional strength it takes to navigate the role of child rearing. I’m days away from giving birth to my second child and look forward to embarking on the rollercoaster journey once again.

I’m always inspired by cool, ambitious, intelligent women who go boldly in the direction of their dreams. They inspire me to be better, to push harder, and have fun in the process.

My secret talent is making the perfect cup of English breakfast tea.

My aunt Daph used to continually drill into me the idea of pursuing a career, opposed to simply getting a job. I was only a young girl at the time when she first uttered these words and wasn’t sure what the difference was, but after embarking on a series of tedious Saturday jobs I began to understand exactly what she meant. I’m forever grateful to my aunt for planting the seeds of ambition at such a tender age.

I see the next natural step for me being entrepreneurial, utilising the skills I’ve obtained in publishing, new media and beauty.

I get to hone and honor my creative skills as well as my intellectual smarts. I get to be innovative and utilize and develop an array of skills. I’m fortunate enough to work with passionate, dedicated and inspiring individuals.

After a lifelong passion for hair and beauty I feel very fortunate that I get to explore these interests on both a surface, frivolous manner and on a deeper level. It’s been a joy being at the helm of a magazine dedicated to the needs of black women right alongside the burgeoning natural hair movement. I really look forward to seeing what will unfold over the next few years; I can only envision greater things.

Interview by Octavia Goredema @OctaviaGoredema

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