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Three Lessons I Learned From Starting My Own Magazine

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Last December, I began coming up with ideas for my Emerging Media and Communications Capstone. For a while, I played with the idea of shooting a documentary on the fashion and identity of Muslim-American women. However, I wasn’t quite satisfied. I wanted to do something bigger; so I came up with the idea of creating a fashion and lifestyle magazine geared towards Muslim women. I called it Demure — which means modest — because that is how we, as Muslim women, are expected to dress. I felt that when it comes to fashion, Muslim women do not have many examples to look up to in today’s society and pop culture. There was a demand in an untapped market that created an opportunity for me to capitalize on, in a field that I am very passionate about. I would have the chance to use what I had learned for both my EMAC and marketing degrees and combine them in a special way.

Creating Demure came with several challenges. For one, I needed help. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it all on my own. The process of planning content, interviewing subjects, scheduling photo shoots, along with actually designing the layouts, writing the stories and managing the stories was too much for just one person to handle. So I enlisted the help of friends, family and classmates. I had to learn how to delegate tasks so that I wouldn’t drown doing it all myself. This way, I could focus on the bigger picture without having to worry about all the little details completely on my own.

Delegating, however, led to other difficulties because it was my first experience in a management role. I had to keep others on track to make sure each of them met their deadlines for photos, articles and other assignments. This created an uncomfortable situation for me because I wasn’t paying anyone. I had to make sure I wasn’t bossy yet ensure I was getting everything in on time, as I was on a very strict deadline.

I’m currently planning issue two of Demure, and the challenges continue. While at times these challenges have not been easy, it’s a good feeling knowing that when it comes to Demure, I am my own boss, and I can continue to use lessons I learned in JSOM to further my business.

Some of these lessons included being both organized and flexible at the same time. I came up with a detailed plan paired with a specific timeline at the very beginning to help keep me on track throughout. Although sticking to the plan was important to me, I learned with time that there would be barriers and restrictions to reaching each of my goals. It was at these times that I often had to shift gears and adapt to the situations that arose.

Most importantly, and perhaps the most fulfilling thing I’ve come to learn is that this has not been work. I’ve spent countless long days and sleepless nights working on my magazine, but at no point has it ever felt like work. All of this has been, and continues to be, fun for me. The immensely positive response from my readers has been one of my greatest sources of joy. The biggest take-away and advice I could give anyone looking into starting a business would be to do something they truly love because with that passion will come success.

Laila Mir

Laila Mir graduated from UT Dallas with a BA in Emerging Media and Communications and Marketing in May 2015. She is the editor in chief of Demure Magazine, a Muslim women's fashion and lifestyle magazine. Read more articles

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