Motif Founder Shanetta McDonald On Storytelling, Healing, And Connection

"So often we leave little room in our lives to acknowledge our own evolution and accomplishments. We must remember to put ourselves first, and that includes celebrating our journeys."
Photo by Retha Ferguson

Photo by Retha Ferguson

Storytelling is a powerful tool. It can offer release, solace, understanding, and community. Motif founder, Shanetta McDonald, concurs: "Storytelling is an expression of culture, and has the power to influence, inspire, and empower."

This is why she founded Motif, a platform to uplift BIPOC women. It's a vessel to honor their stories and have authentic conversations, a space where women of color can feel seen, heard, and connected to one another by controlling their own narrative. We spoke with Shan a few weeks back about the launch of the Motif site, the podcast of the same name and the necessity of spaces like it for women in the BIPOC community.

Please tell us how Motif came about and what people can find when they visit your online space and listen to your podcast.

Motif is a by-product of my personal healing journey. Growing up, I experienced quite a bit of trauma which left me feeling deeply alone. As time went on, I gained the courage to share this element of my story with close friends, many of whom were women of color, and I discovered that they too had similar experiences. 

So I sought out to create Motif, an intentional, safe space for women of color to share their personal stories along with how they navigate the world in hopes of empowering one another. We heal when we see ourselves in others and storytelling has the power to break isolation and build that community.

Our intention is to hold space for conversation, culture, and connection within the Motif community. The Motif Podcast serves as a vessel of this foundation, by highlighting the stories of our BIWOC Storytellers. 

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Why do you feel that storytelling is a powerful tool? What healing opportunities does controlling the narrative offer for women in the BIPOC community?

Storytelling is an expression of culture, and has the power to influence, inspire, and empower. As a Black woman, my experience in America has been very different from my white counterparts, from our upbringing and family dynamics, to how we’re seen and perceived by others. By opening up about these unique experiences, women of color build esteem and lift the shame of hiding their true selves from the world. We’re able to be seen, and feel heard, and that is healing.

What’s the best way for allies to support the mission of Motif?

Allyship plays an important role in advancing the mission of Motif. Allies can support by spreading the word about Motif to friends and family and contributing financially if called to.

Last month was Black History Month, but I would like to know who you think we should all be honoring year round?

Last month, I honored my ancestors who have paved the way for my existence, resilience, and abundance. And year-round, I encourage women of color to honor themselves! So often we leave little room in our lives to acknowledge our own evolution and accomplishments. We must remember to put ourselves first, and that includes celebrating our journeys.

How has Motif been received by its community? What’s the most rewarding feedback you have received this far?

The response to Motif has been overwhelmingly positive. Members in the community have expressed immense gratitude for Motif existing as a safe space for our stories to be told, which is incredibly fulfilling.

You have just launched, but I would love to know what your long-term goals are for Motif?

While we are currently focused on continuing to amplify the voices of our community, we hope to evolve into a resource for women of color to help them thrive in all areas of their lives. How that unfolds is to be determined, but it will align with our mission of supporting the healing, well-being, and connection among women of color by sharing their stories.

Motif founder, Shanetta McDonald. Photo by Tracy Nguyen

Motif founder, Shanetta McDonald. Photo by Tracy Nguyen


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