Kaylene Peoples, Founder and Editor in Chief - Up Close and Personal Reflections on Agenda Magazine
It's been five years since the start of Agenda Magazine, www.agendamag.com. That very first issue back in summer 2004 featured actress Bai Ling on the cover as well as a list of prestigious fashion professionals: J. Alexander (ANTM), Coco Kliks (designer), Sue Wong, and more. We were still feeling our way around this online publishing world. Being the first fashion webzine to stream video, that trend caught on like wildfire. And as you can see, it's everywhere now. We've featured now famous designers (Rami Kashou) who at the time were just starting their careers, and we've seen some (Anand Jon) rise to the top then fall from grace.
Agenda Magazine's list of distinguished interviewees include handbag, fashion, and jewelry designers, actors, actresses, musicians, kitchen designers, chefs, wedding gown designers, doctors, autism and breast cancer survivors, entertainment, fitness, dance companies, beauty and fashion professionals. And many contributors have come and gone, but their legacy will always live on in Agenda. Those who've contributed regularly in the past are as follows: Devino Tricoche (photographer), Natalie Martin (political writer), Patricia Lee (writer), Kevin Foster (writer), Ali Saam (spokesperson) and Sherman Hill (columnist). Each has gone on to successfully pursue other avenues.
What was my highest high?
I ask everyone I interview that very same question. And honestly, I can't even answer that question because there have been so many highs with this magazine. I could say the highest high was getting this issue together, or I could say the same thing about our Spring 2005 issue. Every issue has been a high; and once that issue is done, it's on to the next. I think the highs are the fact that our readers love us and they're loyal.
Hurricane Katrina hit, and as we know, several people were devastated by this natural disaster. Photojournalist (Leslie Lormann) was invited to go on the Oprah show because of her photo-journalistic spread that we ran in the magazine. And we're very proud of her for that. She put herself out on the limb to contribute to such a horrifying situation. She put her life in danger to document what was actually going on over there.
Raun Kaufman, an autism spectrum survivor, was interviewed back in Spring 2007. He continues to help children with autism, cerebral palsy, and Down's syndrome recover and lead normal lives. We did a pod cast, and a lot of people started researching alternative methods of recovery for their affected children.
Pooja Batra (Bollywood Star), Apollonia Kotera, Keith Munyan, Sheryl Lee Ralph (HIV awareness), non-invasive plastic surgeons, celebrity stylists offering tips to the average woman, eco-friendly designers, and everyday heroes that we just don't hear about have all graced our pages.
The lowest low has been time. We get so many requests to interview, run editorials, or feature things in the magazine, and there's just not enough time. There weren't enough issues to actually accommodate all those who have been asking. Agenda Magazine has been quarterly for five years. That means only four issues a year. Those issues were jam-packed. But unlike a monthly or bi-monthly, we had to really select carefully what actually went into each issue. That was something that I wanted to change, I wanted to rectify this year. We're going to be putting out monthly issues, and we will be trying our best to focus more on things that we haven't been able to feature in the past.
Green fashion has been a very big thing for the magazine. We are trying to stay proactive. And we're trying to do the right thing in this crazy world that we're in where our natural resources are being depleted and our economy is in a mess. By supporting the green movement, we feel that maybe our readers will start buying eco-friendly fashion, eco-friendly cars, and maybe the rest of the world will follow suit.
Agenda Magazine has a spokesmodel. How did I come up with that choice?
Lindy Flowers is our spokesmodel who came onboard about a year ago. She's a mother of two and is still modeling after ten years. I felt she really represented the real world as opposed to someone who is just starting to model. Lindy continues to model and is working almost daily. She just recently did a Volkswagen campaign in Europe. I think she represents what modeling should be. You shouldn't have to stop modeling when you turn 24. They say if you're 12-15, you're just probably the right age to start modeling. If you're 18 starting, you just might be over the hill; and by the time you're 24, your career is over. Well, I don't know if I agree with that. I'd like to be one to help change that, and I think Lindy is the perfect representation of what modeling should be. Because, you know what? We're living longer. We're not dying off at 55 or 60 anymore. This world is getting older. I believe there are those who want to see more mature models. Fashion comes in all shapes and ages.
Where Do I See Agenda Magazine in five years?
I see Agenda Magazine on the shelf in five years. I see it being a voice of fashion and human interest in five years. I don't see it being gone in five years. I definitely see the magazine thriving. And I feel that it will continue to grow.
One thing that was born out of the magazine is our non-profit Agendafoundation.org. We started the filing process over three, years ago and now we are a 501(c) 3. It is an accelerated film school for foster youth. We are trying to bring some consciousness to this particular group of children.
How did the magazine come to be?
You know it's funny, because the magazine came to be based upon my own desires, really. I'm an entertainer, jazz singer/flautist, I used to model, and I'm a filmmaker. That's where the streaming media came in—that's where the fashion came in, and one of our most recent additions, the Indie Hotspot, which caters to independent musicians and film—and that's where that section came in. I've been an entertainer for a long time, and it has been a struggle to make it in this industry. And I know that a lot of people also struggle. If I did, I know they did. The answers are not always so easy when you're an entertainer—and an independent one at that when you don't have a label. And there's really only a small percent that actually get signed to a record label. It's so small that it's laughable. There are more artists out there than you know. With the advent of Myspace, and now Facebook and Twitter, and some of these other online outlets, a lot of that talent is now finally being heard. But I thought that it would be very proactive if we actually did something, too, to help the cause of the independent entertainer, singer, actor, filmmaker. That's why the Indie Hotspot was born, as a result creating another demographic. We ended up bringing in the 18-30-something male readership by introducing that section.
What advice would I give to someone trying to start his/her own online magazine?
Content is the biggest thing that will keep your magazine going. We've never had a problem with content here at Agenda Magazine. There's plenty of it. The secret for me was I just wrote about what I loved, or I let our writers write about what they loved. As a result, the magazine has thrived. Instead of chasing the audience, I let the audience chase us. And that's probably the best advice I could give to someone who wants to start his/her own online magazine. Find the things that you're interested in. Find the topics that you love and that you're passionate about and write about those because those will never go away, and there's always something to write about. But if you're chasing an idea that you're not 100% sold on or even sure about, you're sure to fail. It's better to just go with what you feel and what you know and be eager and curious to learn more. So here's to the next five years!
Kaylene Peoples, Agenda Magazine's Founder and Editor in Chief
To Learn more about Kaylene, visit: www.myspace.com/kaylenepeoples. Visit Agenda at www.myspace.com/agendamagazine and www.twitter.com/agendamag. To give a donation to Agenda Foundation, visit www.agendafoundation.org.