Remember life before podcasts? It was a dark time! On the Island, there’s one special slice of audio realness that ALWAYS has us in stitches, usually in front of strangers! The Receipts, hosted weekly by Tolani (Tolly T) Shoneye, Audrey Idome and Milena Sanchez, it’s unfiltered girl talk that’s so relatable we actually feel like part of their circle of trust. Sure, we’re in it for the laughs, but how about that open discussion, by WOMEN, of sex, money and success? This week we talk to the voices behind the podcast about turning hobby to (an award winning) hustle...

Could we get a little intro from each of you?

Tolani: It’s your girl Tolly T ...

Audrey: Audrey, formally known as Ghana’s Finest number 2

Milena: and it’s your mamacita Milena Sanchez! 

All: Owwwwww!!!!

How did you each begin 2020?

Tolani: Me and Audrey were actually together in Ghana – her being Ghana’s finest, it was only right. We were at a rooftop party in Ghana somewhere.

Milena: I started off my new year with my daughter and then the next day we were off to Disneyland Paris. Is it wrong of me to say I’d rather have been in Ghana?! 

Did you make any resolutions? 

Milena:  I tried having New Year’s resolutions but now I’m like, whatever man, 2020 body isn’t gonna be that great so it is what it is.

Audrey: For me, I don’t really have resolutions because I know that if I put pressure on myself to stick to something, I’m probably not gonna do it, will power is so, so bad. Life is a free for all for me, whatever happens happens but I do have three things I’ve said I want to achieve. They’re not fully resolutions but they’re goals. I want to buy my flat, I want to learn how to swim and the third is I want to spend less money on wigs.

Tolani: You are a ridiculous human being Audrey!!!

Audrey: It’s a goal of mine because I’ve got a problem.

Tolani: I support it wholeheartedly. I want to be more determined. I have a thing when I say ‘I’m not gonna do this’ and I start doing it and it’s like ‘what’s my problem?’ so I’ve got to stop that. For the first time ever I’m doing Dry January and I can definitely go a whole month without drinking, but it’s harder when I’ve told myself I’m not drinking. I’m going to try and be more disciplined, mean what I say and do what I mean. Oh and I want to make a lot of money this year!

Milena: Amen to that! 

How would you describe The Receipts podcast?

Audrey: I always describe it as a group chat come to life. To me, that is the perfect description because it is just that. It’s literally girl chat, really unapologetic and free. We say what we want and we say things that women wouldn’t usually say out loud.

Tolani: It’s a weird safe place that has been put into the public. It feels quite intimate and it feels like conversations that you’d never hear out loud. Or, imagine when you’ve gone to the toilet on a drunken night out and everyone in the toilet is a really nice girl and everyone tells you ‘you look beautiful babe, don’t worry, ignore him’ – it’s that kinda vibe.

How did it come about? 

Tolani: Basically, I am a huge fan of podcasts and just think they’re great. There wasn’t a voice like us out there and there wasn’t anybody that sounded like me or spoke about things I wanted to hear. There was another podcast I listened to at the time and I tweeted that I thought a girl version would be brilliant. Girls replied back to the tweet, Audrey replied, Milena took a while to reply and then from there I sent emails to everyone and we met up. Originally it was 5 people that met up. One of the girls decided before we even started that it wasn’t right for her and then Phoebe who joined and then later on left was also part of the group as well. So we met up and started a group chat and decide to just see what happened.

Ali Hemsley

Why do you think people love it so much? 

Tolani: I do think massively it is that sense of intimacy. There is something special about being intimate and very honest but also being vulnerable. There is no sense of ‘we are above you’ we want the audience to be a part of our journey as well. We say our stories but we include you in the ‘Our Receipts’ episodes when we listen to your dilemmas. We’ve built a massive community where people have made friendships and learned things about one another.

Audrey: From episode one we were sharing our embarrassing experiences. Just to echo what Tolly said, we’ve never portrayed ourselves as perfect. We very much talk about our losses, the mistakes we’ve made and the embarrassing things that have happened but that just has made people gravitate to it more.

Ali Hemsley

Is there anything you won’t talk about? 

Milena: In terms of like topics there isn’t anything we wouldn’t touch upon but we’re very big about not talking about things we haven’t experienced. In terms of our own personal tea, if it’s hot tea we won’t talk about it. Well, there’s some times when I let things slip but I always make Tolly edit it out because I’m the annoying one. We normally talk about lukewarm tea, like, things that have happened to us in the very far past.

Audrey: Yeah I wouldn’t talk about anything going on in my marriage like, right now, because it’s not just me. If it was just me married to me then I’d talk about everything but obviously I have to be mindful that it’s not just me so I don’t talk about my marriage problems, but I definitely talk about my husband and being married.

Tolani: If we’re talking negatively, we don’t mention names because we don’t want the problem. People can fight you, so we don’t want that! I don’t like saying anything that involves other people. I don’t like telling other people’s stories. We never try to act like we are a podcast about politics. We don’t know about that. We say our opinion and we’re also happy to be corrected. 

Audrey: Which we have been many times!

At what point did you think, this isn’t just a hobby…

Milena: The first time it actually dawned on me that ‘oh my god, this could actually be something’ was after our first live show. It was when we had 200 people who bought tickets to come and listen to us talk recklessly and listen to our stories. 

Audrey: For me, it wasn’t a big milestone thing like that but it was when we started getting emails to our inbox. I was like ‘oh wow, people actually care about this and they rate us and rate our opinion.’

Tolani: It was seeing the magnitude it had on people's lives, like, ‘I’m sorry what? You quit your job because I said so?’ This is huge!

Did you set out to have an impact on listeners lives or is that just a side product of the podcast?

Tolani: Yeah, it is a side product. I think it shows ‘the magic in storytelling’ when you tell your story people feel more inclined to share their stuff as well. We went in it to start a conversation and it just shows the magic of what starting conversations does.

Audrey: I always say I went into this for selfish reasons. It was an opportunity to get into a room and air my grievances. I’ve always been an opinionated person so that was the main focal point for me. When people started to gravitate towards it and it started influencing people, that was a really nice side effect to everything we were doing.

Milena: And seeing how many people relate to you is crazy. People are like ‘oh my god I actually thought I was the only person in the whole world that went through that’ and it’s like ‘no, actually, me and ten others’.

Audrey: I never ever thought I’d share the story about me pissing myself at 31 years old! There are so many things that I’ve said that I thought I’d take with me to the grave and yet here I am sharing it with thousands of people every week.

Tolani: Or sometimes I say something and in my mind I’m like ‘I’m going to edit it out’ and when it comes to editing, I just leave it there.

What are you most proud of?

Tolly: I honestly think the thing I’m most proud of is my growth and not seeing my vulnerability as a weakness. I’m very proud that i’m like ‘this is who I am’.

Audrey: I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve been able to do something later on in life and represent the girls that are in their thirties because not everyone is 21. I’m really proud that older women, women in my age bracket, can relate to me and I’m giving them something that still makes them feel cool and that they don’t have to be in a box by a certain age. I’m just really proud of the podcast and how hard we’ve worked. From being in the studio with 3 girls that didn’t know each other to being mates and running a business.

Milena: All of that as well as I’m proud of being the world’s coolest mum, ever! My daughter is going to look back and be like ‘my mum was the shit’. Also getting into the business side of things as well and learning new things. On a smaller scale, I’m proud of staying in hotel rooms on my own when we were on tour because I get home sick so quickly and I thought I was going to have anxiety attacks but I did it. 

What advice do you have for people who want to take a different kind of career path?

Tolani: Honestly, you just have to come at life and just do it. It is scary, I always think it's important to add logic to your actions so before when I went freelance, I made sure I had saved a lot of money. Sometimes we can talk like ‘the sky’s the limit’ and it's all airy fairy but bills have to be paid and money has to be made. 

Milena: You have to remember as well it is going to be hard work, you’ve got to be consistent and it’s not going to be an overnight success. I mean, it might be and that’s great for you if it is but if it isn’t don’t be disheartened and just carry on. Save up that money so you know you have that back up plan and freedom so you’re not thinking about other things when chasing your dreams.

Audrey: I think it's really nice when you’re able to turn your hobby into a career. I never thought I’d be making money off the podcast, it was always supposed to be my side hustle. I’ve always had a 9-5 and something on the side to fulfil my passion. You should research ways you can make money with your passion too, because there are so many different avenues we are making money from the podcast now. 

Tolani: I know it sounds like we’re talking about money a lot but for me and for us, it’s a purposeful thing because a lot of times women are not allowed to say they want to earn money or make money out of their hobbies. So, I do think it is important for women to bravely say ‘yes I want to do something that earns money’.

How will you boss 2020?

Tolly: Absolutely to not limit ourselves. It can be so much bigger than it is. This is not just three girls randomly chatting into a mic, this is a business. I don’t want to sound big headed but it’s changing media!

Audrey: I’m just going to be more open to everything and hear people out because before I’d be like ‘no, there’s no way’ and limit myself. Now I’m more open minded to seeing what opportunities come my way and taking them.

Milena: Definitely. I’m definitely going to be applying that to the podcast and personal life. Just being more open minded because you never know what opportunities will come your way.