April Bowler's Blerd Ties Run Deep

April Bowler

April Bowler is highly dedicated to shining a bigger spotlight on the geek community that's quite prevalent among BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color).

So much so that she's kickstarted a thriving community called The Official Hip-Hop/Anime/Gaming Community, which currently houses 63K+ loyal members that are splintered across their many core factions. What simply began as a social media-focused gathering of like-minded "Blerds" has now turned into a legit business that supports BIPOC content creators, small business owners, and gamers.

Now that she's in conjunction with The Otaku Box, Bowler and her organization have begun hosting boutique gaming conventions across the US that showcases live performers, cosplay contests, gaming stations, and so much more. ONE37pm got some time to pick Bowler's brain about her many creative skills, what goes into building a community, and more.

April Bowler 700x700 1
April Bowler

ONE37pm: So being a longtime gamer, right, streamer and graphic designer comes with many skills. What would you say has been, like, the most challenging when switching from creative to entrepreneur? Is there a big difference?

April Bowler: Yes, there is a big difference. So anyone who is an entrepreneur will tell you - it's very challenging to work for yourself because you're having to figure it all out on your own versus I used to work in a corporate environment under another company. So I was very clearly told what to do and given training by guys on how to do it. Being an entrepreneur is a lot of research and just trial and error, figuring out what works and what doesn't. So for me, one of the most challenging things is becoming a more data-driven person versus doing things based on, say, emotion or passion to please others or because I simply feel like it.

So, for example, I used to be in charge of doing, like, a lot of community-driven activities with H.A.G. So I would be organizing our community game nights and our anime watch parties, making discussions on our Facebook group, and eventually got to the point where I had to step back from those activities even though I really enjoyed them. But because my role in those activities was not necessary, someone else could come in and do those things for me or for us.

ONE37pm: I love that! Well you know building the community isn't easy at all. What's been the focus lately? What is the vision like also three years from now?

Bowler: So I guess we have different visions for the community and also the brand. So, of course, our vision for the community is just to continue to...I wouldn't even necessarily say grow. We're not necessarily concerned with the size of our community. It's more about the quality, right? Like, we'd be content right now - we're at 63,000 members in our Facebook group. We'd be content with staying at that number. As long as the sort of the vibe of our community remains the same, the people are still welcoming, and supportive of not only us but of one another. It continues to provide a great opportunity for the people that are within our community to grow and to get value out of it.

So really, our vision for the community is just to maintain that and continue providing opportunities for people to connect. And then our brand as a business, of course, is to grow. In that aspect, we're still very much a small business. It's primarily me and my partner, Lowe. We have started expanding to have some contractors work for us for certain projects, but for the most part, it's me and him really doing the majority of stuff.

Did you like this article?
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down