Karen Civil saw the potential of the Internet from an early age. Over the years, she has been able to turn a childhood hobby into a career, something many people aspire to do. In Civil’s case, her interest in a popular boy band as a young girl, and the subsequent creation of a fan website for them, led her to become the digital phenom she is today.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Civil said in an exclusive interview with Potential of Us. “I remember I was asked this question in elementary school, and my teacher used to get mad at me because I would say ‘I don’t know.’ I’d say I [didn’t] feel like there were enough options for me to choose from. She thought I just didn’t want to do the work,” Civil said. “There’d be these kids who’d go, ‘I want to be a homemaker or a doctor’ — the regular careers that people knew about. I was like, ‘I don’t feel like I fit the mold for any of these.’ At the time, I would say [my career is] to be determined.”
Years later, Civil began working at Diplomat Records, where she helped create and update their website and attempted to learn everything she could about the Internet. Civil’s goal was to get her hands on as many learning tools as possible. This knowledge would eventually help her launch her own hip-hop focused website, KarenCivil.com, in October 2008.
Civil slowly began to develop a brand around herself as a blogger, digital media maven, and influencer. “I knew I had a love for music. I wanted to showcase new artists and talent — at the time it was [all about] The Source and XXL,” she said. “If you weren’t featured there, you weren’t really heard of. I want[ed] to have my own female version of that and use my voice.” She instituted the phrase, “Entertainment the Civilized Way,” which has become the bedrock for her site, where she strives to give her readers exclusive news and content about both famous and emerging hip-hop artists. The first day her site launched, KarenCivil.com saw 40 visitors. Today, that number has grown exponentially, and Civil’s network has expanded to include fans on social media, an e-newsletter and even a “Be You and Live Civil” college tour.
However, as with any journey, there have been some bumps along the way. “It’s very challenging being an African-American female in the technology space. When you have conversations with your peers, sometimes people don’t really even understand what you do.
I think my biggest struggle was always for people to take me [seriously],” said Civil. “Being an African-American female, it’s very hard because you walk into a situation and already feel like [you] have two strikes against [you]. I just know I have to work harder, I have to push through it and let my work speak for itself.”
Civil intuits the entrepreneurial spirit to a “T.” She has always believed in herself when no one else has; she’s always seen the vision and done the hard work to get there. In addition to KarenCivil.com, her digital media company Always Civil Enterprise has taken off. Civil has worked with many hip-hop artists and music companies to help them build their fan bases through social media platforms, branding and digital strategy. She’s also releasing a book at the end of the year.
If anything, she’s proof that “the Internet can get you what you want,” a notion that’s been attributed to her in the past. Civil surrounds herself with similar mantras that help push and motivate her. “I feel like everyone needs that encouragement because sometimes when you force yourself in work and in [your] personal [life], you need those reminders,” she said. “You need to know to keep pushing, and that’s what works for me. That’s what continuously keeps me going.”
Civil also believes in the power of giving back to inspire a new generation of creators and entrepreneurs. “Creating your own history is about leaving a mark, creating a blueprint for others to eventually find and follow, to let them know this is where it started and hopefully this is where [you] can take it,” she said. Karen Civil has certainly created her own blueprint for others to follow and pursue their dreams just like she did.
SOURCE: verizonwireless.com/#PotentialOfUs/Written by Tara Mahadevan