The Best Representation of Haitian Entertainment, Culture, & LifeStyle
Shadine Menard is founder and editor-in-chief of Haitian International Pulse Magazine (HIP), a lifestyle magazine that brings together entertainment, fashion, beauty, music, social and political issues that speak to the Haitian-American community was needed. Menard graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia and Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) in New York. Her achievements have been noted by the media in Haiti, the HMI musicians and the public . She spoke wih Ron from HMI recently about her education, her challenges, and what it was like to run the Haitian International Pulse Magazine (HIP) magazine.
Ron) Tell us a little about your education and background.
Shadine) I studied at Drexel University in Philadelphia and Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) in New York. At F.I.T., I got to study fashion’s different aspects and components such as color, styling, fashion shows, writing, etc. It was while enrolled at F.I.T. that I started to understand that I loved making story boards, fashion palettes, staging shows and styling more than creating a pice of clothing. I fell in love with the story that the clothing was telling and how I could get that story to change based on different syling methods.
Ron) How did Haitian International Pulse Magazine (HIP) magazine begin?
Shadine) While working at Vibe and Vibe Vixen Magazines (I started as an intern and became the fashion and beauty assistant), I got to experience what it took putting a magazine together. It was amazing to me that I’d finally found an outlet that could mesh all my interests and passions together: fashion, music, arts, writing… I knew that I wanted to create a magazine, but didn’t have the entire vision yet.
While at Vibe, I started freelancing and getting more experienced. Then as I was working as the fashion/beauty editor of iStyle Magazine (South Asian publication in North America), I thought “Haitians here need this: a magazine that combines their culture with the one they live in now. A connection of their two worlds in the language they have to use most in their lives in America: English.” I needed to do it for myself as well. It was sort of my final exam for myself: put all my skills to use in one place and have myself be solely responsible for the outcome.
Ron) What were some of the challenges you faced during the first edition of HIP magazine?
Shadine) There were many challenges, but the financial challange was the biggest. HIP Magazine was a project of love. The people who spent the most did not expect money back. I had gathered my savings, donations from family and friends, as well as a business loan to fund the expenses. The labor though was one of love from my collaborators and myself. We all believed in HIP and worked endless hours to see it come to fruitation.
The reason the financial challenge became as big as it was because despite people having seen how much of a step forward HIP Magazine was for our culture, none of the Haitian companies or institutions cared to invest in it. Everyone wanted something in exchange for an ad page, unfortunately, ad pages cost money and can’t be paid for with “I owe yous”.
Ron) What were some of your long term goals for HIP magazine?
Shadine) The long term goal is (and has always been) for HIP to show aspects of the Haitian culture that many (even those of Haitian heritage living here) ignore exist. Our culture is so rich and I am tired of the fact that when Haitian people are shown in U.S. media it is always either the negative aspect or the Haitians that are considered mainstream in the U.S. Our culture is broader than that and when we broadcast it in a beautiful format in a universal language, like HIP aims to do, than it becomes accessible to everyone. This is why the long term goal is also for HIP to be a free publication, but we cannot do that without funding. Although it cannot be done now, it will be done eventually because I’m not a quitter.
Ron) Running a magazine requires an enormous amount of work and dedication. After the first first edition of HIP publication, what stops you to continue to devote the time and energy required to publish the second edition of HIP magazine?
Shadine) I never stopped devoting my time and energy to the magazine. Actually, many people know that I kept working on the magazine after the first issue and even have a complete second issue that I’ve opted to have published article-by-article on KompaMagazine.com instead of in print. A magazine is an all-consuming business. Pre-production, Production and Post-production are time consuming and costly, especially with such a small team and when I am funding it myself. It is also important to remember that life does not wait for you to remember and that although it is my baby, my passion, HIP is not my LIFE. And things happen that make others look small in comparison, so it is necessary to put some things on pause to give priority to other parts of your life. That is what I did, yet I still devote time to HIP by providing the articles and photos to KM.
So publishing the articles on a popular reputed Haitian website gets the articles exposure and allows the public to access the information that is meant for them without the publication cost. It is a temporary solution, but a good one for now.
Ron) What would you consider some of your fondest memories as founder and editor-in-chief of HIP magazine and what is your greatest disappointment?
Shadine) Fondest memories are: sharing love for my craft with such a great network of people (mainly family and friends) who believed in my dream and the whole crceative process of seeing it take shape and become reality. Knowing that I could make my dream come true is a good memory and convinces me that I can do what I set out to and will be better equipped to continue in the future. Specific fond memories are: seeing the magazine for the first time; having an older reader thank me for positively portraying Haitians; seeing the pride of my parents’ faces.
Ron) After the first first edition of HIP publication, how would you evaluate the response of the Haitian community towards HIP magazine?
Shadine) I must say to the media in Haiti, the HMI musicians and the public: THANK YOU. Many of them got on board as soon as I explained my vision and were so enthousiastic and encouraging once the issue came out. Unfortaunately, I was dissapointed in the Haitian private sector that did not support this endeavor as they would a bal or a party. It’s a shame that when it came to HIP, I received more support from foreign companies (such as all the companies of all the beauty products featured in the magazine) that I did from Haitian companies.
Ron) Is HIP magazine geared towards a particular niche haitian market?
Shadine) HIP is in English because I had the North American Haitian reader in mind and also because I want a non-Haitian on a flight or fair to be able to pick it up and say “wow, I didn’t know this about Haiti!”. When creating HIP, I thought of the magazine that I always wanted to read, but could never find because it didn’t exist. However, what I learned while in Haiti is that many in the motherland also enjoy it. That was taken into consideration which is why the articles in the second issue are more diverse in content and language.
Ron) Has the economic downturn affected HIP magazine publication, or does having a particular niche haitian market allowed you to weather these precarious financial times?
Shadine) As I mentioned before, I was the main financial investor for my magazine therefore my finances are what effects it. I am focusing more on other aspects of my life now and until I get the proper funding will be temporarily publishing HIP Magazine’s articles on KompaMagazine.com
Ron) Has anyone contacted you to express interest in HIP magazine since you have decided to stop working on future publication?
Shadine) Yes, I have had readers, artists and certain media ask me about the magazine and its future. I thank them for their interest and hope that they are still as welcoming when HIP can be printed again
Ron) What advice do you have for any one who is thinking of starting an Haitian music, fashion and entertainment related magazine, either in print or online?Shadine) Do your research (I researched the niche market and demographics as well as the costs of a niche magazine for six months prior to starting HIP), seek advice from other professionals, have specific goals, make sure that you have emotional support because you’ll need it and above all think of what YOU want your publication to stand for and never let yourself be influenced into turning your vision into somebody else’s. That applies to a publication in any market, but when it comes to the Haitian market, be aware that it is a relatively small community and that there will be interest in not only your publication, but its publisher/founder/editor as well. Just do your job, be true to yourself and don’t let the little things get to you. Life’s too short not to follow your dreams.