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Feature: Layali, a new fashion webzine for students by students


Layali webzine's latest fashion story (left) and the cover of their very first issue (right)

Layali webzine’s latest fashion story (left) and the cover of their very first issue (right)

 

 

Sophisticated Storyboard. 

By: Hina P. Ansari

 

It was when Washington D.C-native, Rawan Elbaba decided to continue her love for journalism from high school to George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, did she realize the lack of Muslim women in the mainstream media space. This 20 year-old, who was planning on launching a magazine when she graduated, realized that the time was now.  So, along with her co-founder and Omama Altaleb (Editor-In-Chief), Rawan (as the Executive Editor) launched Layali, a digital fashion, webzine  geared towards the young Muslim fashion savvy crowd. Oh, and save your change, college kids, this magazine is free.

 

 

Layali co-founder and Executive Editor, Rawan Elbaba

Layali co-founder and Executive Editor, Rawan Elbaba

 

 

How did this idea to create a “webzine” for Muslim women, come about?

Omama, the other co-founder, and I were an introduction to journalism course about a year and a half ago. After I did my class presentation on “Magazines in the Age of Specialization,” Omama approached me and asked if I wanted to work on our magazine. On the topic of magazine, our professors asked us all what magazines we relate to and to be honest, we didn’t have an answer. As American Muslim women, we couldn’t find any mainstream American magazine that pertained to our interests and issues, so we decided to start our own.

 

What does “Layali” mean what made you decide to use this name for your magazine?

“Layali” means “many nights” in Arabic. First, the name came from spending long hours many nights a week working on layout, content and our website. From that, we came up with our tagline, which is “Growth doesn’t have over one night, but over many.” This could relate to so many different things. For example, the magazine’s growth happened over many, many nights. It could also relate to personal growth. No one is ever born successful or fully progressed. It takes time and patience to truly grow as people (and as a project).

 

Who is the target market? 

Initially, we began the magazine to be targeted towards American Muslim women ages 16-30, because we have several sections pertaining to that large age group including career, school, motherhood, marriage, food, fitness and health.

 

What is the mission statement for Layali?

Layali aims to help girls and ladies alike grow spiritually, emotionally, and physically by discussing issues that relate to religion, school, careers, marriage, motherhood, health and fitness, food, fashion, travel, relationships, politics and the overall Muslim community. Since we have such a powerful and growing community of Muslim women, we are utilizing our resources and creating a platform to help Muslim ladies in our community communicate, express and learn from one another.

 

Layali's trend report

Layali’s trend report

 

For how long has Layali been in business?

We’ve just recently hit our one year anniversary this March. Since we are a quarterly magazine with our first issue published in June, we have three issues currently available and published online.

 

How many people are on staff? And how many are freelance contributors?

So far, we only have 2: myself and Omama, the other co-founder. Most of our magazine content is then provided to us by talents freelance contributors from all over the country and abroad.

 

Why did you decide to have Layali be strictly online?

The media industry is moving more towards using an online platform. Print isn’t getting as much attention as once it did. Plus, online you can reach a lot more people by using social media. We’re able to reach people across the world whereas with print, it’s a lot more complicated with mail-in subscriptions. Also, your audience becomes limited with print. By publishing online, anyone can access the webzine wherever and whenever they want.

 

Layali's 2nd issue

Layali’s 2nd issue

 

Layali Issue #3

Layali latest issue online now

 

I understand that Layali is free and “open to the public”. Why so? In your own words, explain to me the philosophy behind this type of distribution?

As college students, we understand the burden of having to pay for things that we enjoy and don’t necessarily need. We didn’t want the webzine to be exclusive to those who pay for it. Rather, we wanted it to be accessible to everyone.

 

What do you hope your readers would take away from hearing your own story of entrepreneurship?

We hope this will encourage people and show them that no matter how young you are you, can pursue an idea. If you see a need for something in your community that’s missing, then you should pursue your idea. You’re never too young to pursue your idea. So, if you really put your mind to it and find people to help you get there, you’ll get there. Through creating the webzine we also wanted to show other young Muslim women that we aren’t oppressed in our community. Through entrepreneurship we can show them that we are smart, intelligent and can think for ourselves. We are able to produce products for women by women. Essentially, we’re in control of our own narrative. Don’t have other people write your story for you because you should be that one to tell it.

 

From college to career fashion shoot.

From college to career fashion shoot in Layali Magazine.

 

Layali's travel feature

Layali’s travel feature

 

I love that this medium is many ways debunking the stereo-typical view of a Muslim teen/woman in this day and age? What do you hope mainstream readers will take away from reading your magazine?

I hope that by reading Layali, they can better understand the diverse group of Muslim women. We are so different and unique in our own individual way, so it’s unfortunate that so many people are misled into thinking Muslim women are a group of oppressed and underrepresented females. We are in fact strong, independent and creative women who seek to change to the world by telling our stories of triumph and success

 

What words of advice would you give to someone who is interested in launching a webzine? Or even just interested in launching their own passion project, regardless of what is?

I would say definitely to ignore that sense of doubt that we all have. We all have this little voice in our head saying ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ Honestly though, if everyone allowed that little voice to dictate their lives, we wouldn’t have any of the amazing and inspiring ideas spread around the world.

 

How do you balance your studies and the magazine?

It’s really hard to balance school work and the magazine. We’ve had times where we were literally struggling to write papers for our classes and at the same time, design the layout for our feature piece. With each issue, however, we’re learning to better manage our time so that we can set aside time for only school work and only Layali work.

 

Style stories from Layali magazine

Style stories from Layali magazine

 

How are your contributors found? Do you do an active search? Or are people coming to you?

There’s a little bit of both going on. At first, since no one really knew about Layali, we had to reach out to people we thought were doing amazing things (like working at NASA) and ask them if they’d like to write a piece. But as the popularity of the webzine grows, we’re finding that more and more people are approaching us and sending us pieces to put up on the blog or in the webzine itself.

 

I absolutely love the design and the fashion shoots of your magazine. Are there any other magazines that prove to be inspiration to you in terms of design and/or content?

I’ve subscribed to a lot of magazines (I just can’t get enough). I draw inspiration for design from different magazines depending on the section. So, if I’m designing a layout for the health section, I’ll look at my monthly Fitness, Self, or Health magazines. If I’m designing for feature or fashion, however, I tend to look at my fabulously thick InStyle magazine. In addition to drawing inspiration from other magazines, I like to design the magazine based on the content and implementing what I’m learning in my own Graphic Design courses as a Graphic Design minor.

 

Do you have any competition? Or is your magazine one-of-a-kind?

There are other available magazines for Muslim women, but as a legitimate lifestyle magazine, I feel like we have a bit of an edge. We don’t focus on one aspect of the Muslim community alone (like fashion, for instance), rather we shift our focus to the social implications of what’s happening around the world involving Muslims women.

 

Layali's OOTW (Outfit Of The Week) stories

Layali’s OOTW (Outfit Of The Week) stories

 

 

Tell me about your global reach?

Yes. We started out as an all-American magazine, but soon we started receiving contributions and readership from places like the Middle East and Asia. In our latest issue, we collaborated with Citra Style, a UAE-based company, for our fashion trends section!

 

Where do you hope to take Layali?

I hope that Layali will continue to reach more and more people globally. I hope to change the stigma of Muslim women by sharing their stories on a higher, more global platform. Through Layali, I hope to meet more inspiring women who’ve contributed to the advancement of the image of the Muslim woman.

 

Check out Layali on their website , follow them on Twitter @Layaliwebzine and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/layaliwebzine 

 

Photography courtesy of Layali Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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