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An Interview With Chiara Mazzucco, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Indie Chicks

By on 08/20/2014

indie chicksWomen’s magazines don’t usually don’t interest me with their barrage of diets and gravity-defying, bun-tightening fitness routines juxtaposed next to recipes and fashion models. Then I came across a women’s magazine and blog that’s trying to be different: The Indie Chicks

There’s no right way to live, no right career path to choose, and no specific way you need to look. When you’re an Indie Chick, you are constantly striving to become the best version of yourself, knowing your inner badass is there to tap into whenever you need her.
~ TheIndieChicks.com

Ok, I thought, an inner badass could be quite useful. Intrigued by Indie Chick’s fresh voice and attitude, I interviewed Chiara Mazzucco, CEO, Editor-in-Chief, to learn more about their concept, mission and current campaign to crowd fund the magazine’s next issue.

How did the idea for Indie Chicks come about?

When I first met my senior editor, Julie Zantopoulos, I was in California but planning to move to NY.  I had been a personal blogger and had gotten my name into the blogosphere, and Julie had a personal blog as well.  She offered to help me fill in for me on my website while I was moving across the country. That’s when we started developing the idea of the Indie Chicks.

As a relationship blogger, women would come to me and say “I broke up with my boyfriend, can you help me get him back?” and I would say, “No, let’s help strengthen you instead.” That developed into the concept of a publication to help empower women.  We launched the website in 2012 and the magazine in January 2014.

Last summer, Julie and I met Chrystal Rose (an indie author whom we featured) in a mastermind group we had started. It was a perfect fit, and she became our President and COO. One partner dropped, so for the past several months it’s been the three of us.

You say that you want to help women tap into their “inner badass.” What does that mean and what is the Indie Chicks’ main mission?

We want to help women identify and strengthen their sense of self. Every woman wakes up and in the 10 seconds before she becomes someone’s wife, mother, colleague - or whatever that role is - for that 10 seconds she’s just herself.

Our mission as a brand is to put emphasis on that core self to create a ripple effect of strength, success and happiness, no matter what role a woman plays.

Most women’s magazines are about “How to Be a Better Girlfriend” or “How to Get that Career,” but no one was really saying, “Hey, let’s talk about you. Let’s talk about what you want in life and what you want in a partner.”  We are bringing the focus back to what women want for themselves.

In “Weighing Your Self Worth,” Chrystal writes how “the number on the scale” would impact her self-esteem.  How is Indie Chicks trying to change the message about women’s weight, health and fitness?

It’s not about what you weigh or what you look like, but that you’re happy and that – more than anything – you’re healthy.  You need to be at peace with your own body because you’re the one that is going to sleep and waking up with that body.

That’s why our campaign is so important.  We need to be next to those magazines that say, “Lose 20 pounds in a week!”  First of all, that’s impossible.  Second, you don’t need to lose 20 pounds; you need to healthy, you need to love your body.

We don’t want to put weight and happiness together. Until you make self-acceptance your priority, you’re never going to happy if you just focus on weight.

When I look at your blog, I don’t see a lot of body diversity.  Have you thought about how Indie Chicks could be more inclusive?

We definitely have.  Our website is actually going through a complete re-branding and we’ve definitely taken note about diversity. Although our articles have one feature image, our focus is on the content. And because we’re trying to tap into so many angles and there’s only three of us, we’re spread thin. We use stock images, we recycle images, and what’s available in terms of diversity or plus size is much harder to find.

So, for us, it’s more about the written content. Our main category is self-esteem and confidence, second category is love and sex, then we move into health and fitness, beauty and style.  For our love and sex articles - or dating - it takes a lot of time to dig up that one photograph of a “normal-looking” couple that really embodies what the article is going to be about.  That definitely needs to change.

What has your own experience with body image been like?

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I actually got bullied pretty severely for looking the way that I did when I was growing up. I developed when I was a little bit young, and kids would say, “Look at her – look at her boobs!” so I had to deal with the feeling like I was wrong to have the body that I did, even though I wasn’t overweight. We all have these feelings when we step in front of the mirror.

I’ve battled with my body fluctuating up and down a bit, and I have Mediterranean anemia. So while I’m now on the skinny side, I’m not fit, and I’ve been complimented for the wrong thing. So while I may look ‘great’ to some people, I actually feel terrible, and I’ve had to clarify the difference between “skinny” and “healthy.”

You’ve responded to women who have said that they want more content and less traditional advertising in the magazine. How will you keep Indie Chicks Magazine on the shelves without a lot of advertising?

indiechickmagazineThe magazine is just one branch of Indie Chicks, and we don’t necessarily see it as a money maker. So, in terms of advertising in the magazine – and one of the things that sets us apart – is our aim to keep it quality over quantity.

One of our strategies with advertisers is we don’t represent direct competitors.  That way, they’re pretty much guaranteed that there will be only one or two ads within a category.

We also offer packages to advertisers so they’ll get to sponsor a podcast which reaches a whole different audience or take advantage of our online advertising.

But we don’t want to sacrifice the quality of our magazine, and we don’t want to be like other women’s magazines, so the few brands advertised have to be aligned with our message.

What has the reaction been to the Indie Chicks blog and magazine?

We’ve gotten people emailing us that they’re just thankful that we exist and that we address certain things that others aren’t willing to talk about. It’s really been a combination from our readership: gratefulness, a sense of community, support, encouragement for one another and our projects - so it’s been positive all around.

We see women in their mid 30′s suddenly bond with women in their early 20′s over something they both have in common.  It’s good because that positivity has been fueling our entire brand. And every step that we have taken in developing our brand has been from listening to our readers and the feedback that we’ve received from women of all ages.

How can women learn more about and support Indie Chicks?

Indie Chicks is evolving, and we’ve been growing different branches: we have the IndieChicks Blog, our podcast or Indie Chick Radio, an author’s services branch called Indie Chick Lit, and our publication, Indie Chick Magazine. We’re crowd funding our second issue on indiegogo, and I think we’re off to a really great start.

We’re also on social media, and that has been amazing in terms of support and sharing; our social media shares are phenomenal as it is - even without our new referral program up and running.

What is the definition of an Indie Chick?

It is such a personal definition for women, but some of our readers identify themselves as a ‘self-empowered badass.’ Other women adopt the concept of being a sub-category of feminism.

There are different interpretations, and that’s exactly what we wanted, because it’s not up to us to define it for you. You define it. For me, personally, it’s a woman who’s confident and strong, who accepts herself and has the sense of an inner warrior.

Are you an Indie Chick?

Is Indie Chicks for you?
Yes, definitely!
Looks promising.
Not sure: I need to no more.
It’s not for me!

Poll Maker

Indie Chicks hopes to be a new voice in media for women who want an alternative to traditional women’s magazines. They take their readers seriously and welcome their input in the evolution of their brand.

While their health and fitness articles may not be completely in line with our own non-diet philosophy, they are on the right track with their main focus being on self-esteem, self-acceptance and health.

Take a look at the Indie Chicks blog and let us know what you think! Leave a comment below or take our poll.

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