After years of being a back-of-the-mind nuisance, one Cosmo article finally set Mara Schmid off.
“I sent it to one of my friends and said, ‘This is the worst thing I’ve ever read. Why can’t someone make a magazine that doesn’t assume women are incredibly stupid?’” says Schmid, a writer and editor based in Los Angeles.
Schmid’s friend told her to stop complaining and just make one herself if she cares so much. So she did.
Hussy Magazine, which was released its first issue for free digital download on Sept. 24, strives to create “a magazine for and by real women.” It’s a clichéd idea that any pundit with a microphone can preach (and is very similar to what Jennifer Garner comes up with for her magazine in 13 Going on 30)—but what separates Schmid’s magazine is that she’s managed to do it right.
The publication aims not to focus on celebrities and “Help! I have wrinkles” products. Rather, the mission is to foster positivity, diversity, inspiration, and empowerment—all in one glossy little online package.
The first issue of Hussy, which is currently relying on donations to run, features an interview with Angie Aragon, whom Schmid calls “one of the few women in the U.S. who is a tandem skydiving instructor”; sex advice that doesn’t give a sermon along the lines of “how to please your man”; and the story of a lesbian couple’s relationship journey. The models aren’t in crazy high-fashion outfits with birds’ nests on their heads and they aren’t airbrushed beyond recognition—they’re real women talking about how they like to dress.
“Hussy’s fundamental mission is to foster an atmosphere of positivity and empowerment, and to shine a light on the inspirational women among us (rather than celebrities). We believe traditional women’s magazines show a very limited range of women and offer a very limited range of content,” Schmid writes. “Too often, their primary goal seems to be fostering insecurity in order to sell products. Hussy’s team feels we can offer an alternative dialogue that’s thoughtful and empowering, with room for everything from makeup and fashion to science and poetry.”
The Hussy team consists of Schmid, editor-in-chief, Creative Director Kiah Shapiro, Chief Copy Editor Lauren McGregor, Web Designer Anabel Tavera, Photographer and Designer Joel Hindman (Yes! A guy!), Layout Editors Nicole Cherry and Athalia Rahim, and Krystal Vivian, who handles the social media.
The first issue—from the idea stage until now—took about a year to release. Schmid says she wants to get the second issue out within the next few months and aims to release the next few issues for free as well, to gain a fan base. Her team works on the magazine in their spare time—which makes a speedy production a challenge—but they are incredibly dedicated to their work, even though Schmid has only met two of them in person.
Currently, the team works on a volunteer basis, but one day Schmid would love to pay them, she says. She isn’t quite sure how she wants to move forward business and profit-wise, but Schmid knows if the mag ever moves to an ad-based model it “won’t be like the rest of them with those airbrushed models.”
For the next issue, Schmid hopes to diversify even more. Most of the women in the current issue are in the 20- to 30-year-old age group. She also wants to expand the content and create original, varied stories and subjects, as well as strengthen her business model.
I originally wanted a business section with an article each issue written by a woman entrepreneur but we just ran out of time…I also want to have a tech section,” she says. “There’s a few places I think have a gap.”
Even in its start-up stage, Hussy is still aiming to create intelligent conversation on its Twitter and Facebook by asking questions and providing inside, and outside, content that women can be inspired by. And overall, the reception of her idea has been positive.
“[The response] has been pretty much supportive across the board. Almost everyone instantly sees what I mean about the need for this magazine,” Schmid says. “I’ve had actually a ton of support from men which is wonderful…I’ve had men say they want something similar for men.”
She knows there will be those she still can’t please.
“I’m certain there are some people who won’t like it,” she says. “It won’t be there thing but that’s fine. It doesn’t have to be for absolutely everyone.”