SexyFeminist Co-Founders: Keep it Simple. Master a Plan. Have Fun

“Keep it simple. Master a plan. Have fun.” Those are just three core pieces of advice that Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudulph, co-founders of SexyFeminist ("the no guilt guide to being a modern feminist") discuss in our exclusive interview.

Their co-authored book, “SEXY FEMINISM: A Girl’s Guide to Love, Success, and Style” is out this week.

TNW: What advice would you give entrepreneur women just starting out in this industry?

SF:

The wonderful thing about web businesses, and online magazines and blogs in particular is that anyone can start one.

All you need is an idea and drive. Of course, management experience, knowledge of how web business works and an education in how to monetize and publicize your work are critical too. When we launched as SirensMag.com in 2005, we had an overabundance of the former, and very little of the latter. It took many mistakes to figure out who we were and how to make that successful. We often share some of our worst mistakes when asked for good advice. You can read our complete list here, but we’d say our core three are:

1. Keep it simple—concept, layout, etc. 

2. Master self-promotion. Talk endlessly about your product to everyone , all the time.

3. Have fun. Most of us start online businesses or blogs because of something that inspired us. It should be fun and fulfilling always.

TNW: What’s the hardest part about maintaining Sexy Feminist? 

SF: Finding the right level of commitment to it. We both have busy, over-scheduled lives that pull us in many directions. The website can often get bumped down the priority list. But one of the great advantages of having a business partner is that there are two of us. If Heather is sidelined with a sick baby and stacks of papers to grade, Jennifer steps up. If she’s in the middle of book edits or travelling for a conference, Heather can hold it down. We divide work equally and miraculously always know when the other needs an assist.

TNW: How has your community changed and evolve since you launched (over 7 years ago?)?

SF: Our business—and content—has evolved with us. And so, too, have our readers, many of whom have stayed with us from the beginning. We launched as a women’s magazine that sought to offer new ideas and voices not represented in the glossies, and through our work with diverse writers, our own research, and basically just growing up and becoming more aware, involved citizens, we transformed into a feminist community. We re-branded as sexyfeminist.com in 2010. The new name essentially became our mission statement: show our readers—and everyone else—that feminism is important, relevant and a term all women today, especially young ones, should own and embrace. That is why it’s sexy.

TNW: With over 2k followers on Twitter, how do you successfully scale and keep engagement high?

SF: It’s all about engagement.

We value the thoughts and opinions of all of our followers, as well as so many more in the Twitter community.

We seek out their comments, engage in debate, and look for any way to extend the sexy feminist conversation.

TNW: What specific events or situations lead you to create Sexy Feminist (formerly SirensMag)?

SF: When we started, it was as a direct reaction to women’s magazines: Both of us wanted to write about women’s issues but found that our ideas didn’t fit into the product-obsessed, male-centric, heteronormative world of women’s magazines. (This, despite the fact that both of us love beauty products and men.) We wanted to write more meaningful pieces, so we decided to start our own publication. The web was the way to go since we had less than no money.

TNW: I heard you speak at the BlogHer convention in NYC in 2012. Can you recap about your BlogHer experience and what you covered, please?

SF: At BlogHer, we talked about how to turn blog posts into published pieces. We always love connecting with others in the BlogHer community — there’s so much energy and reminds us why we do what we do. We also love sharing the experience that we’re fortunate enough to have. Both of us have journalism degrees and came up through traditional media — newspapers and magazines. That experience gave us a great depth of knowledge about the big-name business of media — that is, getting stuff into national magazines, anthologies, and the like. In a way, we’re coming at this blogging thing backwards compared with a lot of other members of BlogHer. We were both toiling in traditional media but had to start a blog to do our own thing and find our own voices, while many others want to use their blog to break into more traditional publishing. Luckily, we know enough that we can help others along.

With a new book launching globally on March 12th, “Sexy Feminism a girl’s guide to love, success and style”, The Nextwomen Magazine is honored to provide a sneak peek review by Contributing Reporter, Laura Greb based in NYC. 

There’s something about the way she moves, he can’t figure it out but there’s something about her. She walks and talks like a boss. She’s got her own thing - the way she shines. To paraphrase a singer by the name of Ne-Yo, maybe he's onto something.

I was well into reading “Sexy Feminism a girl’s guide to love, success and style” by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudulph, page one hundred and twenty-one to be exact, when lyrics to the song "Miss Independent" popped into mind and circled around my head for a good duration of the day. I started to think, perhaps this song isn’t so bad?


I also started to wonder, are independent women more feminist than those who are not? “That’s what this book is all about: looking at the history, behind and the pros and cons of some of the most common consumption and lifestyle decisions that have been tripwires for feminists.”

The book from cover to cover is genius as both writers never speak down to readers,

especially when backtracking to the early years of feminism up to our society today. Not only are questions asked but stories and opinions are equally shared.

I couldn't help bypass a quote said by a beauty care and make-up product women who was commonly known as “Power Beauty” or by name, Helena Rubinstein. She said, “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” The writers say, "…while this sounds like a motivational speech, it’s insulting. Women who choose not to spend any time at all — much less hours — slathering on creams, concealers, and colors to look more like a Maybelline ad are ostracized for not fitting into society and possibly even subjected to discrimination at work."

Of course, this begs the question: have you ever felt this way?

I positively enjoyed this read and am going out on a limb to say men should definitely pick this book up as well.

Not so he can go on a chest-beating tangent but so he can gain a different insight to the feminism world. I’d be curious to know what men think about the book at some point. However, I can say this is a well-intentioned read for both men and women, feminist or not.

Laura Greb lives in New York and foundedArtmeme, investing time in emerging to mid-career creative entrepreneurs to help develop and market their professional brand effectively in order to connect with their target audience. She also provides business resources and workshopsAlong with the above, she meets, interviews and writes about an array of entrepreneurs, founders, mentors and investors. She also covers art and tech conferences, pitch competitions and startup news for Artmeme and consults entrepreneurs for Rising Tide Capital.

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