An urban literary magazine exploring the theme of self-care and wellness amongst millennials and people of color.
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What is the mission of your company or project?
The mission of VSZ is to publish personal essays, features, and interviews with up & coming talent that are not mainstream and focus on the urban experience. Each zine focuses on a theme that is relatable to pop culture IRL. We want to feature collaborators from all over the world to contribute their art in a meaningful way and safe space where the truth is always welcomed. VSZ is meant to provide a global perspective on culture. It is a conversation starter. The stories are written with the utmost passion, research, and love. We want our readers to feel excited to share this great piece of literature with their social circles and provide a call to action related to the theme.
This year’s theme is on self-care and wellness. There is no denying that everyone is focusing on bettering themselves, mentally, physically and financially. We will explore how the term self-care is exploited in social media in relation to dating and maintaining relationships. This year’s collaborators include writers and creators from New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Nairobi, and London.
Describe the problem you are solving.
There is a lack of highly suggestive, unfiltered stories told from the perspective of people of color. Magazines are very rare and hard to find if they do exist. There are very few urban literary magazines that welcome long and short form stories exploring and emphasizing urban dialectics, way of life and true culture. VSZ aims to showcase new voices that could be the next James Baldwins, Pablo Neruda's or Maya Angelou's of the 21st century. VSZ is an outlet for content creatives to showcase their work and be celebrated for their skill set at any level.
What is the market size/opportunity?
Urban lit is one of the most under-rated and under-marketed genres in the media publishing space, yet so many authors and books could probably fit in this category. There is a huge opportunity to build and give an even bigger platform to the urban lit and POC writers in the US and abroad through the VSZ platform. Urban lit has been defined as a literary genre that is set in a city landscape, defined by the associated socio-political culture and “realities.” This may be characterized as the use of explicit and descriptive urban language detailing the experiences of black, Latina, non-binary people of color.
Writers who have made urban lit popular are Nikki Giovani, Sistah Soulja (The Coldest Winter Ever), others prominent figures reaching as far back as the The Renaissance Era, including writer Langston Hughes.
What is your company/product about and how does it solve the problem?
Today VSZ is proud to be identified with the Urban Lit genre that holds the weight of stories from the diaspora. Since Issue 1, VSZ has focused on essays that tell the truth about what it means to be a POC in America, written in the point of view of pop culture, love, and a liberal political stance.
VSZ has featured creatives and writers from around the world including the UK, France, the US, Kenya, Canada, etc). We are proud to collaborate with new and up & coming voices who have to make art by any means necessary.
VSZ has also developed and featured Sanity Addiction, a mini-novel series, featuring a female protagonist who is going through a socio-political dilemma that does not have a fairytale ending. Each story is based on a true story. Sanity Addiction Part 2 focuses on the horrors of Revenge Porn and the hip hop culture. Due to the explicit content and crazy outcome, the story was picked up in XO JANE, Yahoo.com, and the UK Daily Mail.
Our stories are real. They inspire. They are conversation starters. They depict the cultural zeitgeist and capture urban millennial history in a meaningful way so that all ages can identify and understand.
Why are you seeking funding and how will you spend the funding?
I ( Melissa Henderson) am seeking funding to expand our distributor and contributor network. I’ve been self-funding the zine and associated marketing and sales activations on my own for the last 4 years. While this method has been sustainable, my money alone cannot grow the business to reach new audiences and develop products that compete with the media publishing landscape.
Each zine contributor is paid $50 for published work. That’s a token of our appreciation.
The story is only as good as you promote it. The goal is to print at least 500 copies of VSZ Issue 5. We want to distribute these books in select cafes, health centers frequented by millennials and boutique hotels and BNBs around the country.
Who is on your team?
Chandler Jay Ponti
Thank you for reading!
The Project FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions:
Who is Violet? Violet is Melissa Henderson's great-grandmother.
When was VSZ founded? In June of 2015.
Who published VSZ? Mel Writes LLC
If the project is not backed, will Issue 5 of VSZ still be published? YES. Limited quantities of the zine will be sold.
Can I buy a print zine after the campaign has ended? We can't guarantee zines but a select quantity will be sold at select vendors to be released in June.
Do you edit and write all the content? The majority of the content is written and edited by Melissa Henderson. This year, we have a guest editor/mentor who will also weigh in on the content to make sure it is presented in the truest, grammatical correct - ish form.
Do you have sponsors? We only partner with brands that believe in the VSZ. We don't take sponsors for money as the VSZ in an independent media outlet and can do and publish want we want. However, past partners have been: RUNA Energy Drink, Fashion Nova, Air France, Alexandria Greenwood / Intuition.LA, Lagos Jewelry & Enjoy Flowers.
Just Because I Care
Receive a Print Copy of Issue 5 by June 21 2019.
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You know the brand and want to own all 5 copies of the zine.
You will receive all 5 copies of Violet Summer Zine.
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If you own a business and need exposure, this is for you. We will feature your product or brand in Issue 5 of VSZ. This could be a short form article. You will also receive 5 copies of Issue 5.
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You believe in the mission. You will receive 1- 5 copies of the zine. You will be recognized in Issue 5 as an investor.