Why i started VMM
“Do not read success stories, you will get only message. Read failure stories, you will get the message coupled with ideas to get success” Abdul Kalam. This quote coupled with a few others have greatly shaped and defined the ethos of VMM
In 2012/2013, students on my university course were asked to individually create a magazine of their choice for a final-year major project, and so it was then VMM was birthed. A deeply-embedded love and passion for fashion books and magazines and the desire to work within the fashion media industry propelled me to assert myself and bring to life all the creative ideas and visions within me. However, finding a niche and describing my target reader, I had to search my soul.
With thousands of magazines flooding the market, I had to ask myself if there was room for another. Did I have something different to offer? It's an understatement to say I'm an avid reader of magazines. The myriad of publications on the market have flooded my home (from the big gamers to those aimed at independent, niche audiences) since I was a small girl. Despite great variety and being spoilt for choice, over the years, I became bored with magazines, finding what I call 'inspirational and educational gaps'. It seemed they all sold the same message, images and ads and I began to feel empty, uninspired and longing for opportunities to learn, improve myself and get motivated. I decided to use myself as a target reader.
I noticed the magazines I did stick with focused on celebrities and celebrity culture but, as influential as celebrities can be, the motivation and advice they offered was limited. Don’t get me wrong, celebs have their individual stories of struggle and challenges faced to rise to the top but very few magazines bother to touch on this in any meaningful way. I get it: glamour sells. Publications have progressed a bit compared to 7/8 years ago and are touching on the emotional part of the journey of creative talents but there is still so much unsaid.
As an ordinary/unknown (not famous) young woman starting on the creative, entrepreneurial journey, I needed seasoned and hard-earned advice on how to start a business, how to build from the ground up and what the pitfalls were. I had this great desire to hear from those who had been there, suffered, overcome and made it happen, as well as from those who were on the mid-point of the journey. I needed to know what it took and how they stayed on course when the storms came. I wanted to hear from regular people about what they had had to go through to get to where they are today, how they coped with the challenges and survived within the fashion/creative industry. I wanted to flip a page and have the words speak to me. I wanted to sink into the pages and absorb the stories of struggle and challenge, loss and triumph. I needed to read about the real trials of the journey, the effects mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually and even psychologically to better understand my own journey.
With these thoughts on my mind, I had to figure out what I wanted to create.
WHAT DID I WANT TO SEE IN MAGAZINES? OF WHAT DID I WANT TO READ MORE? REASONS FOR WANTING TO CREATE MY OWN MAGAZINE
· I want to be empowered by what I read
· I need to be motivated and inspired by what I am reading
· I want to feel connected to the documentation & the people featured
· I want to learn something from what I read
· I want to find out how others like me have been able to succeed in their prospective fields. When you are young and hungry, you go for the soul food that will satisfy your hunger. I want to know
o How they started
o Their inspiration, motivation, drive, passion, goals, desires and dreams
o What sort of struggles they face? How did they overcome these barriers and the numerous stumbling blocks they faced?
o How to succeed and stand out from the ever saturated crowd of the creative industry
With the above penned out; I immediately knew who my target reader was. It was me.
· 17 – 40 (a wide age because there are young ones starting college and confused and there are even over 30 years old that decide to change career paths and delve into the arts/fashion/design)
· Fashion and media enthusiast
· Creative influencer
· Art-oriented & driven
· Work in the creative industry
· Aspires to work in the creative industry
· Appreciates poetry and literature
· Appreciates tech & innovation
· Appreciates minimalism
· Passionate about learning new things and historical facts
· Has a great love for print
· Start up business owner
· Aspiring to start up on their own
· Appreciates culture & diversity
I was told my submission that year had been a tremendously great effort for a first-year student. That feedback fuelled me with determination to pursue a career in the industry. I knew then, and I still believe now, I have what it takes to make it. My department head and course leader urged me not to abandon what I had started but to seek out internships with media/magazines. This would help me gain more experience, propel me further and be a great portfolio-builder. I applied to numerous magazines and media houses but to no avail. Those that eventually called me for an interview offered me something full-time with no pay (understandably as interning was never paid and occasionally just transportation would be compensated). As a mature student with daily bills and financial responsibilities, it was impossible to give up full-time work to intern. The roles I found and applied for wanted full commitment weekends especially Saturday, which I couldn’t do due to being at University on Saturdays as timetabled. I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Another thing I realised during these back and forth with interviews at some of the more prominent media houses was the fact that not only was I competing for internships with young 18 – 20 year olds (me being in my late twenties to early thirties at this point), expensive fashion enthusiasts with Daddy's credit cards wearing the biggest labels and me a struggling mature student living hand to mouth, not skinny or Caucasian, I felt I did not stand a chance and after a while, I became disheartened by the emails saying no not at this time and all that. I started questioning myself, my worth and if I was good enough. It crippled my confidence and made me retreat into a shell until my tutor asked how things were going and I explained the situation. I was encouraged when he said not to let it get to me, that there will be more no’s and rejection before there is acceptance, and better still, why not focus on what I created and work on it. That idea made a whole lot of sense to me. What was the point of killing the vision of the magazine and keeping it just a school project? I figured it would be a great way to learn hands-on and at the same time apply everything I learned from my degree course and build up my portfolio in the process. It was genius and a great plan to kill numerous birds with one stone.
So even though VMM was birthed as a school project, it has evolved into something so much bigger than my vision and it keeps evolving.
Over the years, my passion and determination has helped me to keep working, creating imagery, collaborating with other industry creative talents and creating a unique brand. The first two volumes were online productions with my first transition to print being the third volume, 'Fearless' (a story I will share another day, how the transition came about and why the title) and with printing I have stayed. It has been a hard, painful, emotional roller-coaster of a journey but one I would not change for anything. I have learnt so much on this journey. I have lost even more, some good and a lot very bad, particularly financially but you live and you learn and you make mistakes, then you learn from the mistakes, apply the lessons and keep it moving. Giving up is not an option and I will keep chasing my dream and vision until it is fully manifested.
Voix Meets Mode, VMM, was created because I needed something different. It was time for different. It was time for the voices of struggle to be heard. The world needed a platform that gives an exceptional voice to the struggles of creative artists who have dedicated their time, art and passion to make it through to the top. It is imperative to know what they have been through in order to be able to appreciate their success and also be enormously empowered by their journey to continue on our own.
The fashion, Art and Design industry is a cut-throat world, where only the brave dare tread but these featured visionaries teach us we, too can overcome whatever may lay ahead. VMM exists not to be another pretty book but to bring the voice of the talented and creative individuals who have defied the odds and made their dreams come true to the forefront. By hearing their voices through their journey via interviews and articles, it will inspire, educate and motivate another creative starting out in the industry not to give up. It is crucial in this day and age of social media highlight reels that we not compare our lives or struggle to that.
Successful people have been through the same or similar struggles we face. They started this journey of creating or starting a business, just as we are. We need to hear more voices celebrating their struggles within the industry and telling others how to survive and cope within. Failure is inevitable. We need to go through the tough moments with support and encouragement. We have to face failure to earn success.
So i urge you also to seek out your WHY no matter how irrelevant you may think it is, believe me, it will be significant to someone else and will help them in ways you would never imagine. Whatever you want to start, figure out the why and go for it. I figured out mine at school and have used it to inspire many others and hopefully many more to come.
Thanks for taking the time to read my WHY. I appreciate it.
Image photographed by Edvinas Bruzas and featured in our online showcase issue