Women’s magazines have come along way since The Ladies Mercury first hit our shores in 1963, and even though the magazine only lasted four issues, “women” had become a specialist interest niche. Now titles such as Stylist, Cosmopolitan and Grazia are common place, but where do black, minority and ethnic consumers fit into this model?

Deborah Marie believes there is a gap in the stands for a title that caters for BME consumers, a title which strays away from American hair magazines, and this is where Afronoire comes in.

Deborah founded the online lifestyle magazine for black women in November 2012, and this April it is destined for a print edition and even a male counterpart, L’homme Noire.

Deborah says: “Afronoire celebrates the black woman’s naturalness, success, beauty and sensuality. We want to unite, empower and inspire the black women and embrace who she is.”

“The aim is not only to entertain you as readers but to also inform you. We want to create a conversation about the different issues that are directly part of our environment and bring awareness to the different matters that affects you as a black woman.”

Prior to Afronoire’s launch, Shades of Noir were invited to a focus group at Carlow House in Camden, here are UAL graduate Montana Williamson’s thoughts on the evening.

Montana said: “As I flicked through the magazine it included imagery and topics which differed from the social norm for black magazines. It discussed issues such as culture and politics, topics of substance.”

“The focus group itself consisted of a range of individuals from various backgrounds within the creative industries who fitted the definition of Shades of Noir. It was an eclectic group of people who are making a difference within their fields.”

“There was only one individual who wasn’t of ethnic origin, which I feel was a great idea as Deborah was able to gain an understanding of how different target groups viewed the magazine.”

“Everyone’s perspective was different. For me, the topic of race is an underlying issue which all depends on how you chose to deal with it. Across the board it was said that being aware of your colour is important, however the way in which you go about discussing it will be very different depending on the individual.”

“Meeting Deborah was inspiring and hearing her views on the media sector and what she believed was a niche within the magazine industry. I also realised it is very easy to judge others perceptions on black, minority and ethnic individuals but sometimes it can come down to a level of ignorance or poor understanding.”

“Deborah mentioned a focal message to the group which I have taken on board which was we ‘must educate the ignorance and turn the unknown knowledge into shared and understood knowledge.’”

“As a community it is for us to provide understanding, and break down the barriers of the social representations of ethnic minorities. I loved Deborah’s aim which was to showcase and inspire others about black culture.”

“For me, the magazine is about breaking down these social barriers, as well as providing some form of education. It is a very powerful magazine which can be shown to children to help them aspire and see their fellow peers. It is also a great learning journey for many individuals who are intrigued and want to know more about black culture.”