Firstly can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how ‘Disgraceful’ magazine came about?
My name is Melissa, I am 21 (soon to be 22) years old and I am the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Disgraceful Magazine!
When I tell people Disgraceful was formed from an idea I had in a lockdown queue for Tesco, I wasn’t kidding; yet the force behind the magazine manifested itself years prior. At eighteen I left college with an abundance of ideas but no actual idea of where to take them. I was working at my local supermarket at the time and had recently been made a Duty Manager; the pay was good; I enjoyed the job; and the long shifts were made up for by the people I worked with. However, despite my job role, and the differentiating uniform that came with it, it was made clear that the majority of customers (men) that came into the shop had a very hard time accepting that I could be in charge when I was a woman. From derogatory nicknames to old men who thought they had a right to ‘do as they please’ when around me, my experience in management was far from similar to those of my male colleagues. I left this job after a few years but the small string of retail jobs I had following this role proved to be no different. The expectations set out by my male counterparts at work were to shut up and put up an attitude that I soon came to realise is echoed throughout every corner of our society; a society made in the best interests of men. 64% of women have experienced microaggressions at work including sexism, racism and elusive comments. Women are three times more likely to consider leaving a job due to this issue; an issue that by the age of twenty-one, I had already experienced more than once. This needs to change. Disgraceful sets out to claim space in this world where women are expected to do the opposite; in a world where women are pushed to be thinner, talk less and smile more. Disgraceful is for every woman who sets out to build her own empire; the only expectations in sight, are the ones she sets for herself. For our readers, our writers, and the team who have worked extensively to bring this publication to life, Disgraceful is a place to be brave, expressive, inspired; a place to figure out exactly who you are without fear of societal pressures or constraints telling you otherwise.
I assume you’ve juggled a lot, can you tell us about that and how you stay motivated and focused on various different tasks?
I think, like most people, motivation will always come and go, and during the pandemic I think it has been so important to avoid putting pressure on ourselves to have a certain level of productivity at all times. But for me, planning has always been key – I don’t think I could live without my diary; I am definitely a list maker – and it’s all about balance!
Where would you like to see ‘Disgraceful’ magazine go and what have been your biggest challenges so far (if any)?
I would love to see Disgraceful to continue to grow into the powerhouse it is becoming! After the successful launch of issue one, we received incredible feedback and were inundated with so many kind and powerful words from women who felt inspired, informed and supported by the magazine and its content. I would love for Disgraceful to keep having that same impact!
What is the best advice you have ever been given and what advice would you give to anyone wanting to set up their own business or platform?
If Disgraceful has taught me anything, it is that no idea is a bad idea; my mindset completely changed when I started trusting in myself and it has definitely paid off!
As part of our Notable Success Stories, can you share what success means to you?
Success is a loosely fitted term that can only be defined by yourself; when you think of success it is important to not lose yourself in comparisons, competitions and even more important to not let someone else’s success be a benchmark for your own wins and happiness. For me, one day success could be reaching X amount of downloads for Issue Two of Disgraceful, whereas on another day, success could simply be doing little tasks around the house; getting to the bottom of my laundry basket, running errands etc.
If you could have absolutely anyone feature in your magazine who would it be and why?
I would love to interview one of the women heading to the moon as part of the Artmeis Programme – the first woman on the moon is a pretty cool thing!
If you could have a dinner party with three people (alive or from the past) who would you invite and why?
– Zadie Smith – An incredible author with books defined by young adulthood.
– Michelle Obama – For obvious reasons.
– Ada Lovelace – She was the world’s first computer programmer which I think is pretty badass!
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Your intuition knows her sh*t, trust her.”