For my MEJO 121: Digital Storytelling course, I created an infographic and video interview expressing the history and values of the UNC student-led Coulture Magazine.
Coulture Magazine is a fashion and lifestyle magazine that challenges beauty standards by encouraging readers to accentuate their best features rather than conform with unrealistic societal expectations. Coulture delivers this message through the lens of UNC-Chapel Hill students by way of relatable content and superior design. It started in 2015 when Alexandra Hehlen had a small vision, and has grown into a team of 200+ students recently creating the 8th issue. The magazine consists of a 90-page spread of student-organized photo shoots and articles with inclusivity and internationality as the primary inspiration. Coulture takes a three-prong approach to empowering its readers:
A Global View of Fashion
Coulture takes a global, open-minded approach to fashion and lifestyle. Coulture features models of different races and sizes, delve into cultures around the world and confront current societal issues.
Relatability for Readers
Team Coulture consists of down-to-earth people who are speaking up, standing out, making waves, traveling the world and educating themselves.
Accessibility to Everyone
Coulture makes high fashion accessible to anyone. The magazine enables readers to embrace the power of style without the unrealistic beauty standards.
The infographic, which is laid out in the shape of a magazine, tells important information, data and analytics about the magazine. This includes a timeline of the issues (left), the top nine Instagram posts made by Coulture in 2018 (top right), analytics for Coulture’s Instagram in 2018 (middle right) and data for all of Coulture‘s social media when the infographic was constructed (bottom right).
For my video portion of the project, I interviewed Coulture Magazine‘s Co-Editor-in-Chief Cassandra Cassidy in the Coulture office. In the interview, she talks about how Coulture was founded in 2015 by Alexandra Hehlen, and how it took off to be the successful magazine it is today. She then moves to explain exactly what the magazine is, including what it features and what its core values are. “I’ve learned a lot about being an ally, being authentic and being real with people,” Cassandra says. She explains it is a lot of hard work, but in the end everyone comes together to make the magazine happen.
Video transcription at bottom of page.
For more information on Coulture Magazine, check out our…
(Cassandra Cassidy): Let me take you back to the beginning!
Alexandra Hehlen is the founder and she was the first editor-in-chief of Coulture. She was always really into fashion, really into writing and she used to do like a fashion column in her high school newspaper and then she got to UNC and she was looking for something that was similar and didn’t find anything. So she just started the magazine.
Originally it was printed on like really crappy paper and they didn’t have like any production budget and like not a huge staff and so it was kind of much lower quality than it is now. And she started it because she wanted to see people in fashion magazines that weren’t like models and weren’t like naturally considered “pretty” or didn’t have perfect skin and weren’t tan and blonde or whatever. She wanted people to be really real!
So she started the magazine, and then Dana McMahan, who is now the advisor, she found it and then we got kind of taken into the Fashion Mash group. So that’s like the class, and then the magazine and then there’s a club called Fashion Mash.
But the magazine itself is a combination of not only fashion… it’s a little bit of fashion but a lot of health, beauty, features that are just like personal stories.
So it’s a combination of all that and the goal is that it talks about and shows people that aren’t ordinarily shown in like Vogue.
So that’s kind of our mission… to be accessible, to be diverse. Those are like the two words that we bounce around all the time.
And our like “tagline” is that our values are accessibility, diversity and commitment. And so I’ve learned a lot about how to authentically be diverse and accessible and not just like say we’re diverse and accessible and I’ve tried really hard to engrain that in things we do rather than try to do it for the sake of doing it. So I’ve learned a lot about being an ally and being authentic and being real with people.
So that’s kind of what Coulture is. We’re funky, we’re funny. It’s a lot of… I’m normally getting up at 6 a.m. to go do a photoshoot that lasts 12 hours. Or I’ll be in this office till really late working on the magazine. So it’s a lot of hard work, but everyone makes a difference. That’s so cliche, but everyone does! It’s really important that everyone shows up and does their work… and I love it a lot.