Today we have an interview with Jennifer Reitman, founder and publisher of
damemagazine.com. The first time we saw DAME it was more an experience than anything else. To explain: we've grown up with magazines that tell us how to make ourselves beautiful; how to apply makeup, even how to seduce a man and make love to him. And every month it was the same, which only served--over time--to make us feel bad about ourselves.
"...which only served--over time--to make us feel bad about ourselves."
Enjoy this interview and start your own experience with Dame magazine.
Q.: What was the impetus for damemagazine.com? And whose brainchild is it?
J.: There are a ton of good sites reaching women, but I felt like there wasn’t one that
editorially really reflected the many kinds of conversations I was having with my friends. I wanted a destination that wasn’t just lifestyle, or just politics, or just entertainment or just gender issues.
We wanted to create a site that “gets” today’s woman - combining everything she cares about into one sharp, current, clever and opinionated destination.
Q.: Who is your target audience?
J.: We’re focused on reaching an “over 30” audience composed of women who are smart, successful, complex and curious but who also know not to take themselves too seriously. Every one of my girlfriends has an amazing sense of humor. We think the world is full of Tina Feys, Amy Pohlers, Kristen Wiigs - clever, talented, ambitious women who are also funny as hell.
Q.: How did you determine what type of content to focus on, were you not satisfied with the mainstream offerings?
J.: It wasn’t that I wasn’t satisfied with the mainstream offerings, but more that I found myself gravitating towards media that wasn’t inherently “meant” for women - Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Onion. Turned out, lots of women I knew (and lots of women they knew) felt the same way. So I thought, why not combine the offerings of those outlets, their humor and reportage together with content that is more traditionally thought of as “women’s interest”.
Q.: How do you feel the media paints a picture of today's working woman?
J.: I think pretty accurately for the most part. All of my girlfriends are career women, some working moms, some single, some married - but we all share something - juggling the work/life balance - and I think we see that fairly well reflected in pop culture media even if exaggerated at times.
Q.: What do you have to say about men?
J.: Of course I love them, and I probably don’t have anything different to say about men than any other woman would say. I have been incredibly fortunate to have amazing, smart men in my life as friends and mentors, including my father. I’m fascinated by the dynamics between men and women. How gender roles and gender perceptions from both sides still play such a significant role in all aspects of our lives; relationships, the office, politics, family.... For instance, we did a piece on gender bias in the science world and what needs to occur to bring more parity. At the same time, we also have a series running on older women dating younger men. We are running the gamut on the types of gender-based
stories we feature.
I love that part of what we get to do every day at DAME is explore a wide swath of issues around gender topics and present those ideas and conversation starters to our readers.
"We are running the gamut on the types of gender-based stories we feature."
Q.: Your logo is "For women who know better"--where is the divide?
J.: It isn’t about a divide between women who know better and those who don’t, but rather women who identify themselves as having reached a certain level of achievement in her life.
When I was turning 40, I was actually excited because I felt like I earned the right to say it like it is, to not question myself as much, to confidently handle just about any situation. And while for some that sense may come at 30, or even 25 - this sensibility, this attitude is what we mean by “knowing better”.
We also think our audience is always striving to learn more, so there is an active aspect to our tag line as well.
Q.: Are we happier today?
J.: If you mean, by “we” women, I’d like to think yes. Women have more choices, more opportunity, more voice than ever before. But with that, at least in my experience with friends and colleagues, comes more pressure and more stress, so I often wonder if we are indeed “happier” in the truest sense of the word - I hope so, though.
Q.: Did you prepare a mission statement? Is this a Beta thing?
J.: We’re a tiny little start up, so a formal mission statement isn’t really our thing. But we are on a mission, that’s for sure - to inform, entertain and inspire women with provocative, slightly irreverent and always intelligent editorial.
In today’s digital age, I think we’re always in beta - changes, tweaks, edits and pivots can all be done in real time.
Q.: Your articles may have a lot of tongue-in-cheek but the one about anti-freeze
in cosmetics is just plain scary.
J.: We’re about the whole woman, not just the part of her that has a particular sense of humor or irreverence. She wants to be informed - to “know better”, and sometimes information is scary, but it’s our job as a media outlet to make sure our readers know the facts about things, and sometimes those facts just aren’t funny.
Q.: Is Dame always going to be digital and when do you succumb to what type
J.: Yes, DAME will always be digital. While I come out of the print magazine business, and have a passion for it, I believe that media will continue to evolve “on screen”.
I am not sure that “succumb” is the right word - we want to connect the brands targeting women to our premium audience. One would assume that we’d be focused on beauty or fashion advertisers, but in fact our readers are also just as interested in products from the financial, home improvement, travel and automotive sectors.
Q.: What would you like to tell Lifestyle Examiner readers?
J.: There isn’t a day that goes by that isn’t a roller coaster for me, but I love what I do. I’m proud of our team for the content that we’re bringing our readers and the conversations that we’re all having with each other. So, I’d say for your readers who may be contemplating launching their own business - go for it. Sure, starting a new company comes with great risk, but the reward of growing a brand, working with people you genuinely admire and creating something you’re proud of far outweighs those risks.