With Made Woman Magazine, Lindsey Day ’07 and Serena Watson ’07 set out to create a platform for young professional women to learn, grow and connect. They say Made Woman is more than just an online magazine; it’s a movement.
Day, a USC Marshall School of Business graduate who concentrated in marketing, and Watson, a USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism graduate with a minor in film, launched Made Woman Magazine in August 2011. Prior to that, they spent a year creating email newsletters, what they called Made Woman mini mags, that developed the company’s content, voice and branding while gauging the market for a lifestyle and career guide aimed at women with entrepreneurial spirit. Content on the website, www.madewomanmag.com, covers everything from how to write a press release to how to shop sample sales.
“There are so many negative portrayals of women in the media and elsewhere, and we wanted to counteract that,” said Day, who recently left Interscope Records to pursue the magazine full-time. “Serena and I have met so many amazing women building businesses and careers, and we want the world to see these women. We also want to build a way for these young professionals to connect.”
In their first 10 months, Day as business manager and Watson as editor-in-chief were able to increase unique visitors to their site by 482 percent, Facebook friends by 180 percent and the mailing list by 42 percent. They also have more than 1,500 Twitter followers.
“It took a lot of sleepless nights,” Day said with a laugh. “It was about being persistent and believing in our mission. It was such a passion project for us that if we never made a dime, it still makes sense to do it.”
Watson said their strategy for the first year was carefully planned, with initiatives centered on content and social media, as well as networking and cross promotion with their writers, many of whom are also USC alumni. In addition to advertising on the site, they have been able to generate revenue through merchandising.
In their second year, they are planning to offer access to exclusive content and a networking platform with a membership fee. Set to launch in January, a searchable networking calendar for the Los Angeles area got initial funding from a recent $5,000 Indiegogo campaign. Future plans include mentoring matches and networking events.
“We want to take our mission and make it live and breathe,” said Day, “so it’s not just words on a screen, but building something that affects women’s lives — and careers — in positive ways.”
Both alumni credit their education with nurturing the business acumen necessary to launch and grow a successful venture. “Obviously, the education in business fundamentals is amazing academically,” Day said, “but Marshall is also very good at encouraging a professional approach that makes people really respond to what you’re doing.
“Dean Ellis has always been supportive of his students and is the person who helped me to get involved as a Career Advantage Program mentor, among other things,” she added. “Even back before he was dean, he would take the time to meet with me — a senior at the time — to discuss possible career paths. I don’t think you can find that everywhere, and having that culture cultivated at the highest levels within a university is invaluable.”
Watson, who also holds a full-time job doing digital marketing for film at Sony Pictures Interactive, said: “Annenberg develops great thinkers and fosters the idea of managers. We learn how to manage and communicate, and that more than anything has helped me with Made Woman, and my career in general, to get ahead.”
It is not just Day and Watson, who met during USC Orientation nine years ago, and their writers who make Made Woman Magazine a Trojan business. With a USC intern and a promotional video shot and edited by a USC alumnus and featuring businesswomen who also graduated from USC, Made Woman is quite the Trojan Family — and that’s no accident.
“I get an immediate reaction when I say that I’m a Trojan,” Watson said. “People know that USC grads are prepared for the real world, and we are viewed as professionals.”
Already, Day has shared her business experience with two students through Marshall’s Career Advantage Program, which she benefited from as an undergraduate. “I was hesitant at first because I’m a recent grad,” she said, “but there’s a lot I know now, just five years later, that I wish I would have known then, so I wanted to try to help someone else.
“You only get one life,” Day said she told her mentees. “You should really go for your dreams. At the very least, you’ll learn something along the way.”