An award winning media company committed to sharing the perspectives of people of colour from marginalised genders

gal-dem in conversation with Linda Graham, the creator of Zuri Magazine

10 May 2016

A black British hair magazine has launched a crowdfunding initiative to raise £25,000 to help keep it on our shelves. Zuri Magazine is the UK’s leading natural hair and holistic health magazine that explicitly focuses on natural hair, holistic health, and spirituality. The magazine was founded four years ago and is the brainchild of its founder and editor-in-chief Linda Graham, 24.

Speaking about her decision to start her crowdfunding initiative, Ms Graham said: “The crowdfunding campaign is a great way to market the magazine, who I am, what I do, and how long we’ve been going for. Most importantly, we are trying to raise £25,000 to help sustain our company, staff and office so we can continue to grow and expand.”

At the heart of the campaign is the desire for the company to remain independent publishers, to ensure they have control over the all-important content that goes into Zuri Magazine. The magazine has grown over the years and with a huge natural hair movement here in the UK and across the pond in the US, Black women have turned to Zuri Magazine as their new BFF for all the latest natural hair and holistic health news. The magazine has hundreds of regular subscribers, distributing across London, Derby and Birmingham. But the interest in Zuri Magazine also spread around the world and the company secured international distribution in the USA, Bermuda and even Japan.

The money raised from the campaign will be used to expand their core team, their website, purchase new equipment and increase their print run by a further 1000 copies. Ms Graham also plans to use some of the money raised investing in her team by sending them to workshops for them to become stronger journalists, editors and staff members.

Raising the money is one of the main objectives of the campaign, but Ms Graham also hopes to increase the awareness of topics related to veganism, alternative health and spirituality. She said: “I hope that people will finally know that there is a natural hair print magazine in the UK by naturals for naturals, so they know that they are not alone.”

Zuri Magazine was previously known as ISIS Mag, after an Egyptian goddess, but due to the terrorist group now known as IS, the name was dropped. Under the name ISIS Mag, the company was growing, but it did not feel right to Ms Graham. She finally made the decision to change the name of her company in July 2015, to “ZURI” which means beauty in the Swahili language. According to Ms Graham, the magazines slogan: “Because your beauty is unmatched”, was a perfect fit for the re-brand and name change of the company.

Zuri Magazine aims to continue where ISIS Mag left off; promoting beautiful images, thought-provoking articles and informative features from expert writers, bloggers and vloggers for natural hair and health lovers all around the world. With the final touches almost complete; Ms Graham told me with great excitement that they will launch its first issue as Zuri Magazine in autumn 2016.

The investors of the crowd funding campaign will be able to get a number of great rewards, including back copies of their former title (ISIS Mag), natural hair hampers, plus their first issue of Zuri Magazine. They also have rewards for those looking to advertise or become a sponsor too.

As we know, black women come in many different shades, and they also have very different hair types.  From Ms Graham’s first magazine, the company has helped many women to understand the science of natural hair alongside hair care. Past issues of the magazine have explored topics related to hair texture, to the feel, curl type and volume- issues which are not really spoken about. Ms Graham strongly believes in the need for positive representation within printed media, and that is her main focus for Zuri Magazine. They aim to be the alternative voice to magazines that are already out there for women of colour.

Women’s magazines have often been criticised in the past for promoting unrealistic images and superficial content of women, but Zuri Magazine is doing the complete opposite. The images of women that are published in their magazines are images we can all relate to. You’ll see women with braids, locks, curly hair, Afro hair and women with head wraps. In the past, the magazine has featured many celebrities, including model and neo-soul artist N’Dambi, model and entrepreneur Nerissa Irving, George the Poet and Guinness World Record holder Aevin Dugas, who has the world’s largest Afro.

Ms Graham has expressed a great deal of passion for her brand and said: “If you are looking for a magazine that has articles relating to; natural hair, spirituality, children, holistic beauty tips, and vegan brands then Zuri is the magazine for you.”

Like most businesses, Ms Graham has also experienced challenging times too. The company has not only had to undergo a complete rebrand after the name change last year, but her business partner of 4 years decided to quit without notice this January, leaving the company almost at a complete standstill. She is, however, taking these challenges and new changes in her stride and has amazing support from her family, team and readers and is looking forward to start the first edition of Zuri Magazine with a bang.

She said: “People have emailed me with kind messages of support and continue to buy back issues of the old magazine. I have received random messages of motivation and good luck with the campaign even from people I don’t know”.

The crowd funding initiative was set up on the gofundme website and all money raised will go to Zuri Magazine even if they do not reach their target.

So far, they have raised £515 and they still have a long way to go but with a super savvy editor, a dedicated team of writers and your donations, Zuri Magazine has all the makings for being a returning champion for promoting natural black hair within the magazine industry.

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