Tawana Blassingame from Brooklyn, New York, started her publication, Queen Size Magazine, ten years ago. “I wanted to focus on writing articles for a publication as I love writing, but that of course didn’t happen so I made my own.” Originally stating a publication for the circuit community, she lost interest a year in and decided to create a lifestyle magazine. “I then introduced fashion in the publication from an idea of one of my previous writers, then the magazine grew into a co-ed publication for women and men but now toward the full-figured industry.”
Ms. Blassingame began her publication blindly without knowing any previous knowledge on magazines or publishing. “All I knew how to do was write,” she shared. “When I first started the magazine, I didn’t know anything. All of those things I had to learn, I learned as I grew into the publication.” Ms. Blassingame did not wait for knowledge and the right information to drop in her hands; she simply learned by reading and asking questions and experimenting on her own. “Google is your best friend,” she commented with a laugh. “You’re never gonna know everything about your subject, because things change. You’re always going to be learning.”
When it came to creating and building her team, Ms. Blassingame made sure to contribute her success to putting effort into the people who would be writing the articles. “You want to create a team of people,” she started. “You have to have a graphic designer to put the layouts together, writers, a photographer, and people that do marketing. You have to know how to put a magazine out and the different aspects of it. All of my writers are experts in their fields. For example, my beauty editor is a hairstylist, and my fashion editor is a model. The writers are actively working in their field of expertise. They will make sure to give people what it is they want to read.”
“Thinking back,” she started, “I probably would have waited to start the publication, because I didn’t have all the knowledge and expertise, but I just wanted to do it and I told myself, ‘I’m just going to go ahead and do it.’ Because back then, there weren’t as much full-figured publications as there are today, and I just had to figure it out. Looking back at our old publications, right now I think ‘oh those are horrible!’ but, I see how much I’ve learned and I have learned a lot over the years.”
Despite her busy schedule as a CEO, Ms. Blassingame also has a corporate job, children, and a busy schedule. “I have a 9-5 job in corporate HR for a large healthcare system. I also have a 13 and a 22 year old. My day is going to work, coming home, helping out my mom who currently lives with me, helping with homework, and then doing my entrepreneurial work. Basically I wake up early and then go to bed late.” Ms. Blassingame also produces the FFIA (The Full Figured Industry Awards), an awards ceremony honoring those committed to being excellent and diligent in the full-figured industry.
For obstacles that Ms. Blassingame has encountered, she comments that one is keeping up with the ever constant growing trends on social media when it comes to her publications. “You want people to read your stuff, so you have to make sure that people read your work and it makes sense and interests people. Keeping up with all the algorithms is another obstacle.” Ms. Blassingame is also not a fashion lover, which is another obstacle she has to overcome. “I am such a plain Jane when it comes to what I wear. I have to keep up with the trends because it’s my job.”
Another obstacle is managing a team. “You have to do what you have to do,” she commented. “Dealing with their different personalities and maintaining deadlines; deadlines are extremely important to me. I don’t tolerate late work. I am learning how to be a better leader and how to be a productive team builder. In order to lead a team, you have to want them to stay. You just have to let them do what they’re good at.”
One thing Ms. Blassingame wants the world to know about her company is that “we have a lot of love for the industry so it’s not just about putting out articles. We want to be able to connect with people, not just give them something to read. It’s more of a love for the full-figured industry, rather than just putting out articles. We care about the people that read our content.”
Photo credit for featured image: Photographer: Philip Drew @pdrewphotography MUA: Schanica Pickens @schanicapickensbeauty
Find Ms. Blassingame at her Instagram here.
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