Yasmine El-Safy, a 13 year old American-Egyptian Muslim girl decided to do something productive with her skills and talents. In the following article Marwah El-Azhary interviews Yasmine El-Safy to discover more about mg magazine and how what started as an idea, came to reality.
Why did you start mg? How did you get the idea for it?
I started a Yahoo! Group for Muslim girls! I was really excited and I had fun with it. It led me to wonder if we could start our own magazine. So we started an online magazine. Then I decided I wanted a real live magazine! So I found a printer and some girls and started it!
Who were the first girls in the team and how did you all bring the first issue together?
I got a few of my friends, Sarah, Tahiyya, Noor, Sindus, and Laila to help me. After I created a Yahoo! Group I met some other people, Marwah, Shayma, Aya, and Amal. I work with other girls too, but they don’t have the same leading roles in producing the magazine as the girls above.
Why a magazine?
I’ve always loved writing and I didn’t see anything in the media that really represented Muslim girls. We are thought of as a minority, but we’re not.
What age group are you iming mg at?
I want mg to be a magazine for Muslim teen girls. I’m not going to create an age restriction, but we generally aim at girls around 12 to 18. I do have girls of all ages working with me…even some older than 18. But most article writers are within that age range. I thought our magazine would be more appealing if it was written by Muslim girls so that readers could relate to the subjects, instead of it being put together by adults for Muslim girls.
What made the idea come to a reality?
I designed some things on the computer and found a printer. It was hard. I wasn’t prepared for it but we did it!
How did you organise the making of the magazine when you first started?
It took a long time to get it off the ground. I got some advertisers and a tiny group of girls to help.
What kind of articles do you publish on mg?
It’s got all kinds of articles! We’ve got quizzes, book reviews, poetry, short stories, essays and other articles having to do with everyday life.
What are your hopes and objectives for mg?
I hope that mg will become popular among Muslim teen girls. I want to inspire them and give them ideas, and get them thinking about what’s going on around them. I want them to question and seek answers, and prosper into successful people. I believe that by giving them something to be part of, they can create identities for themselves and be more confident with their religion and their work. I also hope to make mg bi-monthly by next year- if we can get enough contributors and funding.
What experiences are you gaining?
I’m gaining lots of experience, obviously, in the business world. I had to learn how to talk to potential advertisers and how to deal with people. It doesn’t sound hard, but it takes practice. It’s difficult for me, though. But it’s all worth it.
Whose experience did you learn from in order to create this magazine?
I mostly had to make big mistakes to figure everything out. My mom gave me lots of business advice that really helped, though.
What recognition have you received so far? What kind of response have you had to your first issue?
Bridges TV did a short news spot on us. They will be airing 30 adverts daily on the magazine, starting soon. People like the idea of our magazine. The people I have talked to have been very excited.
Tell us about your family, your schooling and how you fit it all in with your student schedule.
My dad is from Egypt and my mom is from the United States. She became a Muslim six years ago. My younger brother, Yasser is ten, and my little sister Sumaiyyah is two. I went to private school until fifth grade. Then my mom decided to home-school us. At the beginning we experimented with classic schooling, where we sat on desks and worked from textbooks, and then we tried not having a schedule, and after a while we found something that suited all of us. I sometimes do math and science.
My mom really likes history, so we usually do read a lot. I do believe that the magazine is my education though. I don’t think education is about preparation, I think it’s about life itself. I didn’t wait to prepare to create a magazine. I just did it. I learn lots of things through the magazine anyway. I’m a writer, photographer, a graphic designer, a publisher, a salesperson, and a publicist. That’s quite a bit. And I think some of these are skills you can’t gain through a textbook. This is my training and I hope to continue the magazine through my years.
My mom supports me with business advice and drives me everywhere I need to be.
What is the drive that makes you continue to be a successful editor-in-chief?
I love what I do. I want to be successful. I’m willing to do the work. You have to love what you do and be committed to it if you want to be successful.
What has been the most fun in publishing this magazine? What has been the most difficult so far?
Publishing does get difficult. I’m a bit of a control freak. I have to do certain jobs. Not because I like them, but because I feel like I’m the best one at doing them. And I trust myself to be committed.
Getting advertisers has been the most difficult part. We rely on funding from them, because publishing a magazine is hugely expensive. You can’t charge subscribers for the exact cost of printing, because it would be way too expensive.
Deadlines are hard, too. In general, we’re good with meeting deadlines but there’s all the little technical stuff that gets in the way.
The thing I love most about the magazine is that I can express myself through it. I love to write, and mg allows me to use my talents and ideas in a way that can benefit other people.
I love being “The Boss”, too. I get a good idea and I can give out assignments and prepare everything. I feel like I’m running a business.
And I really love what I do. I feel so wonderful, feeling like I’m this big important person running a company. Aren’t I, though?
Yasmine also takes part in fundraising activities for mg magazine, and the latest fundraiser is helping Palestinian farmers by promoting their olive oil.
It is clear that mg magazine has come a long way since its first issue in October 2004, and with the determination of these young girls, the magazine will prosper and grow into a fruitful experience for both the organisers and readers.
Contact mg Magazine!
For more information on mg magazine visit www.mgmagazine.net
For general enquries e-mail:
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