Got something to confess sis…? In Closet Confessions Candice Brathwaite (Author and Journalist) and Coco Sarel (Actress and Online personality) welcome you into the closet, a safe space where nothing is off the table. One moment you’re holding back laughter – concerned your co-workers will hear you – and then the next you are tuned into a therapy session where the hosts remind you of your worth. Within the first couple of episodes Candice and Coco Sarel managed to build a community of listeners who are in on their inside jokes, and who share their own confessions…
As Season 2 is in full swing, I asked the two hosts some questions about their move to podcasting and the community they’ve built.
There is a genuine appreciation and respect for podcasting, I even remember in one episode Candice breaking down the process of getting sponsors. What’s one thing that’s surprised you about the podcasting process?
Multiple things, I think the first is how exhausting recording can be. We typically record for three hours and between the giggles and more often than not the tears, I’m ready for bed immediately afterwards.
Having been in the media space for so long I can say that this desire to now have visuals along with audio is a little grating. The reality is everything has a cost attached as we now expect great quality.
Also as a new pod we decided we wanted all our stats in one place because we knew we would need sponsorship to keep this going for how long our Closet Cousins would want to hear from us. But I can’t say that we haven’t felt the pressure to rush the process – we have.
The success of Closet Confessions was a shock all round and now it feels as though people want us to compete with podcasts that have been going for years. We simply aren’t ready yet. Slow and steady wins the race.
On more than one occasion you’ve been adamant to specifically address black women when giving out advice. Was this a choice you both made or are you just telling your lived experiences?
Funnily enough it was never an actual conversation. The reality is we are black women with very public profiles. The way in which we are treated or the standard we are held to is completely different to our white counterparts so it just feels natural for us to say that we are about to address something that is specifically for us. Whilst this is just our lived experiences we know how hard it is for women who look like us to feel like they are part of a sisterhood or community, so that’s why we are so adamant.
As we know you don’t know each other’s confessions until you sit down to record, what is the one that’s shocked you the most?
No comment! The most shocking ones have been sealed for all eternity!
Both of you have built an audience prior to this show, how important was that to building the community you’ve now?
Candice: I think super important. Stand alone our audience know what to expect from us and we’ve both worked hard for years to build communities that support our work and how authentic we are. I’m not saying it’s impossible but I know for sure it would be so much harder to build a podcast community without having worked at building an audience outside of the space beforehand.
Sarel: It was very important to build our audience prior to having Closet Confessions. The reason for that is that both myself and Candice are opinionated women who are unapologetically themselves and had created a community separate from one another of people who understood us, but had only seen us with short-form content. So by the time Closet Confessions started, our audiences were aware of how we speak, aware of the way we joke, aware of the way we think but had only ever been given advice via videos that were only 1-3 minutes long, sometimes maybe a bit longer.
But with Closet Confessions this is a new side to us where we now get to unpack a lot of things just by having a conversation and that’s why the community has come so strong because when you come into the Closet, not only are we there to have a cackle and a Kiki, we’re there to learn and challenge one another. We’re there to uplift, we’re there to edify and sometimes the conversations can be uncomfortable, sometimes they can be funny, sometimes the conversations can be raw. But at least we have a space and a place that is judgement free for these conversations to take place. And that’s why I think our community with Closet Confessions has become such a powerhouse.
What was the first podcast you listened to? Are there any other podcasts you love you think our readers should know about?
Candice: Oh my gosh The Read with Kid Fury and Crislle West – that podcast set my world alight this was way before podcasts were massive. I think they used to be on Soundcloud. It felt like sitting down with friends. Speaking of which, one of my guilty pleasures right now is the HCPod with Cuckie and Poet. Not that I do but it gives smoke weed and chat shit vibes, which is essentially what I look forward to at the end of the week. Also Pop Culture with Chanté Joseph is very educational.
Sarel: I can’t necessarily remember the first podcast I listened to because when I started the world of podcasting and listening to podcasts it was still very foreign to me but I can remember podcasts that have kept me listening. I’m obsessed with the Hey Babe! podcast with Sal Vulcano & Chris Distefano. I’m obsessed with Cancelled with Clare & Jessie Stephens and I am obsessed with ShxtsNGigs with James & Fuhad. The one common factor with all of these podcasts is that they make me laugh and make me think. But I have to say absolutely second the fact that I love Chante Joseph’s Podcast with The Guardian; the right balance of education and funny.