Tell me about MEFeater.
MEFeater stands for Music-Entertainment-Fashion eater and basically the "MEF," music, entertainment, fashion, and "eater" is just what we need to fulfill ourselves in life. That’s what we love and that’s what will sustain us. I created it when I was 17, so about five years ago, and I was on and off with it for a while. The reason my friends and I started it was because we went to an engineering high school and then when we went to college, we all ended up at engineering colleges. We were all unhappy because we loved the arts, music, fashion, and entertainment and we weren’t really studying that. We weren’t taking that career path and it sort of made us angry. We started MEFeater to release our creativity because we felt really depressed.
Did you always know you wanted to be the Editor-in-Chief of a magazine or did you have other plans?
I kind of always knew. My favorite move was The Devil Wears Prada and I loved Meryl Streep’s character. Yes, she was mean but I loved her. I was like, “oh my gosh, that’s what I want to be.” I just loved that so many people depended on her and on her opinion. Her words were raw and I was just inspired by that. When I was younger, I used to sketch. So, from a young age, I knew I was into fashion. At first I wanted to be a fashion designer and I used to watch Project Runway. I used to sew, I had a sewing machine and I was really pursuing that. I’ve always loved to write, always kept a journal, and I loved to read books.
In middle school, one of my teachers said, “wow Gabby, you’re a really good writer.” I didn’t really think I was a good writer, at that point I thought I was just okay, but I was always a good student. So, I just associated writing with being a good student. She said, “you know, you should really look into being a journalist.” I was just like, “really? Do journalists get paid?” She said, “I don’t know but you’re a really good writer and you have a great voice.” I looked into different ways that I could incorporate writing and at that point, I really started to fall in love with it. Then I realized that I could be a Fashion Journalist. Once I read what an Editor-in-Chief was, I was like “I can be an Editor-in-Chief of a fashion magazine.” That was always my dream.
Were there any women that have been influences to you?
I was always inspired by Anna Wintour because she’s the Editor-in-Chief of VOGUE. She just seems to be this very put together person. Her father was editor of a newspaper in England. I guess literature was just in her blood and I liked watching her. She really inspired me. I also look up to business women like Tyra Banks because even though she started off as a model, now she has this huge empire and she created so many avenues for herself. I definitely look up to a lot of women but Anna Wintour was always my idol. My favorite magazine is Teen Vogue and Anna Wintour basically created Teen Vogue. I always wanted to work for Teen Vogue or intern there, but unfortunately when I was in school, that’s when they cut their internship program because they got sued that year from an intern.
Did you face any hardships or have any doubts when coming up with ideas/concepts when creating the magazine?
All the time and I still do now. I have crazy anxiety about the magazine and I’m always nervous. Like, “are people going to like this, are they going to want to read this, or are they going to be upset if we write this?” I always have a struggle because with magazines and blogs, they take so long to get popular. While doing it, it’s like, “oh my gosh, is it going to pop? Are people going to like this, is this idea unique enough? Is our audience strong enough?” I always have struggles. With me, I can’t dedicate my whole work time to being in charge of MEFeater, unfortunately. I used to work on Wall Street and I quit that job last year because I said, “okay, I need this to be something, I need to focus on it.” I did that but that was a huge financial struggle. I feel like if you want your dreams to happen, you have to make sacrifices and that was the big sacrifice I made. Once I made it, I saw a lot of success happen. A lot of popularity happened. But trust me, I have ups and downs everyday. Literally everyday I have a meltdown.
What are some of your favorite magazines?
When I was younger, I used to read a lot of Seventeen magazine, I liked NYLON. I liked Harper’s Bazaar, that’s a really fun one. I loved ELLE, they were really nice, and I’ve always loved W Magazine because their photoshoots were always really nice to me. Of course VOGUE is a big one. But my top three would be Seventeen, Teen Vogue, and NYLON.
How do you feel when you see all the support you get on social media?
It makes me feel so good. It really reinsures me that what I’m doing is the right thing and that I’m on the right path. I have a lot of anxiety and I have a lot of insecurities. When I see people supportive in that way, retweet a bunch of our stuff, and see celebrities interact with us when we write about them or when we post something about them, that really makes me happy. It makes me feel like, “okay, if they like this, and what we’re doing is good, let’s keep it going.” I get really excited and honestly, for the people that read us, I’m so grateful to them and I’m so happy to have them. Without them reading us, tweeting us, or interacting with the magazine on any social platform, it really wouldn’t be one. Without people that like your magazine or read it, why do you even have it?
I know that NYLON just recently followed you guys on Twitter. How did that make you feel knowing that that’s one of your favorite magazines?
I felt like, “okay, that’s awesome, we’re moving on up!” When a big company like NYLON acknowledges you with a follow, that inspires you because they have about over a million people following them and they don’t follow that many people. So that’s really exciting. I think the Editor-in-Chief of Essence magazine follows us too, that's very exciting to me as well. Essence isn’t one of my favorites but I do look up to Essence and I love what they do.
Would you ever consider doing prints of the magazine?
That’s a great question, yes definitely. I do want to do print but we want to do it when it makes sense because print is very expensive. You have to pay for the paper and pay for the ink. For us, we definitely want to move into print but we want to make sure when we do, people are going to want to buy it. Our marketing plan was once we get to a really large circulation on the web, of readers and fans, we will put out two magazines per year during each fashion season. One for spring/summer and one for fall/winter. A few magazines have the same format.
Where do you see MEFeater in the next few years?
I'll say In the next five years, I definitely want us to have a print edition. I see us interviewing celebrities and having them featured on the website. Doing photoshoots with celebrities. I see maybe a few sister companies attached, like how VOGUE is under Condé Nast. I sort of see other magazines under the MEFeater brand but still their own entity. I see an office for us, like a really big office. Maybe two offices, one in New York and one in LA. I see us doing way more on Youtube, that’s something we’re getting more into. I see a lot. I know things happen but that’s the goal. Hopefully we can get a MEFeater tv production, we can do tv and we can do movies. I kind of want to be like Oprah, like how Oprah has so many different networks.
How many people are currently on your team?
It’s a small team. We have a few interns. We have a writer, two editors, a Social Media Manager and intern. We also have a photographer, videographer, a stylist, and I’m in the process of hiring a makeup artist.
As a girl boss, what is some advice that you have for other female entrepreneurs?
I just say stay persistent and stay consistent. A lot of people ask me how did we grow so fast and the honest truth is that we just stayed consistent and we understood our audience. Whatever you want to do, make sure you know your crowd. If you want to do interviews, make sure you always do your interviews because that’s what your readers expect from you. Make sure that your readers are happy but don’t try to be everything for everybody. Make sure if you say something, you stick to it. Sometimes when you set goals for yourself and you don’t reach them, it makes you somewhat depressed, but make sure you try to do everything in your power to reach your goals so that you can stay positive and happy.
My biggest tip for anyone, don’t hire your friends. In the beginning, I hired friends and I still have a few friends on the team, but it’s just too confusing. We’re too young to really separate business from personal and unfortunately, some people just don’t know how to separate it. If you really love them as a friend, the best thing to do for them is not work with them. If they want to come help you on a few projects, that’s okay, but it shouldn’t be an ongoing thing. It’s going to kill you, I promise.
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