Being the creator of a top digital source for plus size fashion news is a dream shared by many, but only a few can actually do. Luckily, a brave woman came forward to do it all for us. Selina Weekes, editor-in-chief and founder of Manik Mag, currently one of the top global plus size fashion mavens, opens up and shares her thoughts on her magazine, the industry and of course, Erzullie.
#1 So how did you come about with the idea for Manik Mag?
Writing for a magazine and eventually having a magazine is something I've always wanted to do. I discovered life through reading and writing and I've always been a fiend for fashion and style. In my sophomore year of college I finally decided that I would begin research and cultivating content for a magazine.
One day, I was sitting on my cousin's couch, reading Bazaar Magazine. I walked out to go to the bathroom, and returned to the living room with her holding the magazine in her hand asking me what the magazine was about. I told her it’s a fashion and style mag- she flipped through the pages and said, "This ain't for big girls!". At that moment I knew that I was going to create a magazine for plus size women.
In naming the magazine, I thought about all the things that I am- everything in my life that drives me; and that’s how and the name Manik Mag was birth. Most people associate Manik with negative connotations. You know it's most used when referring to people as manic depressants. However, “Manik” means having unreasonable enthusiasm. It just fit. A lot of people always look for plus size women to be complacent, lazy, uncomfortable, depressed. But we are vibrant and highly enthused about life and for those who are not--- through Manik we aim to inspire women to be.
#2 The magazine only started 2010, but it has quickly developed strong readership. What’s the secret?
The Manik Mag reader is a hautie who is worldly and fashionable and pays attention to socially relevant concerns that impact women. She takes pride in herself, her body, her intellect and understands she sets her own standards. As such she needs a magazine of her level. That is why we strive to be so dynamic.
We focus on both the fantasy of fashion and the real life of every day women. We deliver- not just fashion, but beauty, health, and pop culture content. We push socially relevant content and we're highly engaging with our readers/followers. Our social media posts aren't just filled with ads or marketing posts for other brands. We actually build relationships with our readers and followers through on and offline interactions.
#3 Business wise, what’s the story about the magazine itself?
Manik Mag started in January of 2010. We had a bunch of problems with our first website that was financially draining for me. After a slew of tech issues and having the website crash a few times, I got fed up and decided to take the website down for a while. I had to decide at what cost was I willing to be successful... if Manik was something that I really wanted to do no matter what.
Throughout Manik's existence I've always had a great team behind me who have inspired me and who have driven Manik forward.
When I first created Manik it was just me. I had no models. No writers. Once I began taking crawling- taking Manik from an idea to a project- to a full fledge business, I've been blessed to have some of the most creative people to help in the evolution of Manik Mag.
Jason Thomas- our senior photographer has been extremely influential to Manik's aesthetic his eye for photography is one that is unmatched. Raymond Jones our Promotions Manager has been key to Manik touching so many people's lives. His ability to connect with people both on and offline has aided in extending Manik's visibility from the U.S. to the U.K.
More recently, we've name two editors Brandee Joyner on the West Coast and Jamila Pierre on the East Coast who have split my position in the role of Editor-In-Chief. I work very closely with Brandee and Jamila in setting forth Manik's tone.
For me, I'm totally devoted to our visual and written content. I now hold the title as Editorial Director and I develop the editorial calendar. I establish and set the short and long-term goals of our editorials. Write and edit articles; develop written, video, and social media content. In addition to these responsibilities, I also develop concepts for photo shoots.
#4 Speaking of business, what are your thoughts about the global plus size fashion industry?
I think the plus size fashion industry in general has a lot more growing to do. We're still lacking fashionable options from major retail brands. More importantly, the industry is lacking collaborations. There's no reason why there shouldn't be more big brand retailers collaborating with indie-designers.
Right now, for me, there aren't enough options. Much like any woman. Plus size women live fashionable lifestyles. We are preppy. We are grunge. We are urban. We are elegant. We are chic. We are sporty. We are eccentric. The plus size fashion market is a billion dollar industry. That's just the surface. Imagine if we were really given all options to communicate our style.
If there is one thing that I would improve on it would be to change the marketing of plus size fashion. There are so many times where you see a dress offered in plus sizing, but the brand doesn't hire a plus model for the campaign- and so the idea of buying into the piece becomes more of a challenge to sell. Plus size women want to be able to see themselves wearing a particular fashion or style. That's what makes plus size bloggers more important than any other type of blogger. Plus Size bloggers cater to a market that is underrepresented and mis-marketed.
#5 In relation to plus size fashion, what are your thoughts of the current global plus size modeling industry?
I do believe there is a growing acceptance for plus fashion modeling because there is a slight demand for plus size models in ads and on television. However it is nowhere near what it should be with 75% of women in the United States alone wearing a size 14 or larger.
I can't say that I have any favorite international plus models. However, I can say that love Hayley Hasselhoff, Suzette Michelle, Jeannie Ferguson, and Jenni Runk. All of these models- serve on the runway and in photo shoots. They're gorgeous and intelligent. I respect that in models.
#6 From global to our Islands, any thoughts on Erzullie?
I was actually introduced to the brand by way of our Promotions Manager, Raymond Jones. He told me that I should check you hauties out. I did- and I've been keeping an eye on your brand ever since.
There are a few pieces that I would love to shoot for an editorial in Manik including the basic shift dress. I love the simplicity of it and the chiffon hem which gives it such a feminine appeal.
I believe the Erzullie has the potential to be a leading plus size fashion brand with consistency, innovative designs, and with the right team. It's not enough to have great designs- you need great people working with you, connecting you with more people who will help extend your brand's visibility.
Erzullie is a fierce plus size fashion designer brand from the Philippines dedicated to serving the style of the empowered Erzulliesta. Shop online: www.erzullie.com