Issue for is on self care and wellness. It is meant to contribute to the overall conversation on health and wellness! Thank you to Ashley Uzer, Naria Symone, Genail Mckinley, Kendall Alexander and Chandler Ponti for contributing such beautiful writing pieces. Thank you to photographer Morgan Mosley for shooting the cover girl / model / poet Swaizi Vaughn. Thank you to Raina Asid for slaying the graphic design and layout! Thank you to Angelica Fuentes and A Complete for sponsoring the collaborator commissions.
Watch me talk all things Violet Summer Zine & digital content! Thank you ISSUU for the platform and tools to create fulfilling content.
Update on Zine
Violet Summer Zine is in a different place than it was in 2015 and even eight months ago when the team started to form on weekends and on holidays. Each year I allow myself to be vulnerable as I write what I think is a reflection of the culture - even if it’s a small percentage. There have been over 14 collaborators who really contribute to the overall all vibe of the zine. They always take the topics so seriously and really do their best work! That’s SO rewarding for me as a creator -- for others to also put their passion into your passion. Many of them, I met up with for coffee or drinks to discuss their pieces which make it even more personal and fun.
At the end, VSZ aims to inspire through stories told in an urban chick-lit perspective. I love the Dressing Up & Normcore story ( in issue 2) , A Glamourous Nightmare ( in Issue 3) , I also love our biography about Meghan Markle in Issue 3 as well! Each year the content gets really robust with information.
Also, did I mention it’s very personal? Sanity Addiction is all true. Some of my friends read it and be like “Damn Mel I can’t believe you want through that.” Well, I’ve been through a lot of disappointment that … blah blah and some of it is my friends and colleagues stories. So that’s why I like Sanity Addicition to be like super honest. Aramide helped me edit Sanity Addiction Part 3… I felt like I had to write at least part of the story. I am thinking about doing like meet up with all these characters in a story. They all work or have aspirations to be in the fashion industry but like their careers, things get fucked up on the way to success. That’s what I’ve been dealing with and so I just felt like why not tell the story. In 2018, black women and women of color are experiencing a heightened sense of representation in the media community. I hope it stays like that.
And speaking of Black women, I'd love to do a cover shoot production with someone super fierce. So far, it’s just been me on the cover. But I’d love to shoot someone dope for the cover and really plan for it! Issue 5 I’m gonna do it. Someone so devastatingly chic ( Laina Rauma) , she’ll snatch your edges. Either that, or I definitely want a HOT dude on my cover with me in a thong bikini. he he
One area of the zine I’d like to improve is our “research” section. I want to conduct and report on studies about of the moment topics and then compare them to the millennial lifestyle. I get emailed survey results all the time! So I want to look into having a sponsor help me with researching.
Where are we Going:
VSZ has grown into this urban literary magazine that is read by a millennial to mature audience. When I say mature, I’m speaking of 40+-year-olds that are young at heart or really curious about the millennial interactions and experiences. Some white dude who is a veteran tweeted me about how he read my piece in Issue 1 and on my huff post column “Black Girls Tan Too” He loved it. VSZ always gets good feedback on the content. It’s still shocking. I want it to always include long realistic fiction articles to advice and pop culture short features that are both trendy, intellectual and feel-good. It is STILL a beach read!
On Social Media:
Our Instagram is definitely growing and videos still are the most engaging thing online right now. That and memes. Social media in general though is overwhelming. I never know where my audience is coming from and feedback is everything. That’s why it’s important to be like on every platform. It’s exhausting. However, I have so much content from previous issues that didn’t get much play.
On ISSUU we have 30,000 reads and over 7 million impressions so people are definitely tuned in, ya dig?? When I started I don’t think I had anyone reading other than my family. So keep spreading the good news.
Follow up on new and old relationships
I get a lot of compelling emails each week that I don’t answer or I am not attentive to. There are literally free products and interview ideas in my inbox, but I just forget or get too lazy to respond. It’s so bad. I need to stop being super picky about it and realize that it’s an opportunity that other writers may not have, so now I make it a point to answer all emails. A collaborator told me this so thanks Kipenzi. Even if it’s saying “hey! I’ve love to run a contest!” to “yes, I’ll sample the product for my publication.”
Being Honest makes me totally vulnerable but it’s worth it
Another reason why I started the publication is I wanted to be honest. But sometimes, I have to be so honest it’s literally nerve-racking to push publish. If you’ve read my work you may have cringed at some lines, but that’s what makes a good story. When I started writing highly suggestive content, friends, family and even dating prospects couldn’t understand my work. Sanity Addiction Part 2 garnered the most press and helped me legitimize my brand and it was also the most controversial. It’s about revenge porn, drugs, sex and out of control relationships. A lot of people could relate but it’s not a story with a fairytale ending. But not all stories end horrible. So SA is written with "a light at the end of the tunnel." And that’s why I felt so passionate to put it out there because most of it is true. It was a period after I released SA, that I toned down my work. I regret that because the momentum slowed down. I was caring too much of what people would think. That’s until I had another awakening when I realize that people will have their say, but what I say matters.
Dealing With Shitty Relationships
Since forever, I had to cut off people and people have definitely stopped talking to me for their own reasons. GREAT, SEE YOU AROUND. People don’t ever really disappear especially when you’re in the same industry. So the one thing I’m good at is NOT burning my bridges. My mentor says, you’ll go farther if you carry less baggage.
Editor's Note: I loved writing this piece. Enjoy!
In this special Behind-the-Scenes moment, the Violet Summer Zine collaborators sent Kish a 35MM disposable camera from Duane Reade in hopes of creating something a little exciting when it comes to snail mail, diy, and photographer. Nicole suggested this art direction since our photo shoot budget was like none existent (ask Devin), a tight printing deadline and Kish was touring Russia, which is where my zine she gave me was all about! This feature will definitely be returning in Issue 3 of the zine, wonder who we'll send a 35MM disposable camera to next! Not to mention, it took me forever to develop the film (again, Ask Devin) and come to find out there's a Walgreens that develops film in one hour right in Times Square!