I remember when I first got the idea for Vilda Magazine. Of course, it wasn’t called Vilda back then. It was called, “this thing that I would like to do but really don’t know where to start from”. I was working in a fashion agency in Milan and, as I daydreamed instead of doing work (as you do), I asked myself if I would ever “get off my butt and do it already, before someone else does”, as my fiancé liked to say.
I wanted to create an online destination that showcased vegan fashion and beauty in a chic, refined light. I wanted vegans, vegetarians and other compassionate fashionistas to feel included and invited, as opposed to what I have always felt while working in the fashion industry – cast aside and left out of the fun, just because I wouldn’t wear fur or leather. I wanted to show that compassionate style can be chic and gorgeous and indulgent. That vegans can wear stilettos, red lipstick, smoky eyes and skinny jeans. I wanted my magazine to be a groundbreaking place where a bunch of stylish compassionistas grabbed a huge bucket of soap and washed away the stereotype of the earthy, dread-haired vegan that smelled vaguely of incense. Not because we don’t love her (really, Dharma, we do) but because conscious living comes in so many different styles and shapes. And I wanted to celebrate that. But, sitting behind my desk in Milan, I had no idea where to begin.
Fast forward a year and I was living in London, the city of my dreams, and working as a freelance writer. An avid magazine reader, I came across something called the Marie Claire Inspire & Mentor Scheme – a programme that paired career women with mentors that could help them make their dreams a reality. Without any hope at all, I wrote down my idea – the very first time I told someone that wasn’t my fiancé! – and pressed “send”. I figured they wouldn’t even finish reading my application: who cared about some niche vegan website, right?
Imagine my surprise when I was invited for an interview. If you can’t imagine it, I’ll tell you what surprised me even more: the fact that Marie Claire and the fabulous web entrepreneur Poppy Dinsey picked me and my idea.
When I got the news, the first thing I felt was scared (well, actually the first thing I felt was, “did they really get the right girl? Maybe they typed in the wrong email?”). How would I do this? I didn’t know the first thing about starting and running an online magazine. It was just an idea, not an entire project. I didn’t know anything about WordPress! What are plugins? How would I get any brands to work with me? Who would write all the content and what about pictures? A million questions arose and I could barely type the “thank you” email.
When the fear subsided a bit, I realised how cool this actually was. I was going to get my magazine – just the way I had imagined it. A hectic few months followed. I posted a “cry for help” on my blog, looking for contributors…and more people that I could ever imagine replied. I emailed brands and lots of them emailed back. I had many meetings over peppermint tea with my mentor, Poppy, who’s amazing. I cried and cursed and cried some more over WordPress (I’m still no expert) and edited lots and lots of content. And now we’re here.
This is just the beginning of the journey, but I feel like I’ve come so far. Just the fact that the site is up and running is a HUGE deal to me. I’m grateful for so many things – the Marie Claire programme (without it, I would still be dreaming about starting an online magazine), my brilliant team (without them, I would still be crying over my WordPress dashboard, not knowing what to do with it), and everyone who will read Vilda. Without you, our journey would be a very dull one. So join us on this crazy ride. And remember to dream out loud. In leather-free shoes.