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Ravished by Ravishly.com!
Oh, Quail Bell(e)s—you know you're always the first to learn about our latest delights. Right now The Quail Bell Crew is crushing hard on Ravishly.com, our newest sister publication. You've probably already noticed some healthy content cross-pollination with several of their pieces appearing here on the ol' QB and a few of ours appearing over yonder, too. Earlier this summer, I emailed Katie Tandy, Ravishly's whip-smart editor-in-chief about the budding publication. Did I say budding? More like mushrooming.
But enough about what I have to say about Ravishly. Why not have Ms. Tandy spin the yarn? Here's what she has to say about the website with a violet fox for its logo:
Smart and pretty, Katie Tandy herself.
Give Quail Bell Magazine readers a sense of Ravishly's riveting history. What was your role in the website's early days?
Truthfully, Ravishly has evolved quite a bit over the past six months. At the time I was working as a freelance arts and culture journalist, doing some local reporting for the East Bay Express and SF Weekly in addition working as a content marketer for a supercool software start-up, Sparkcentral.
When Sparkcentral (then TwitSpark, ha!) first started, I was with these three guys in a small sweaty room and watched the company grow into a 15-person juggernaut with a huge office beside Union Square in San Francisco. I became totally smitten with the start-up world; it truly feels like this neo manifestation of the American dream. Amazing ideas get to be actualized instead of languishing inside a notebook somewhere.
Anyway, about seven months ago, I answered a rather nebulous Craigslist ad (as many of our core members did) that was searching for writers and editors to help found a brand new website dedicated to women.
After months of wrestling with different models, names and honing our team of writers, we finally launched Ravishly this past February.
How has your role at Ravishly changed? How is Ravishly changing?
At first, when we were still playing with an aggregation model, I was one of the staff writers; we were really interested in a very egalitarian team with no editor in chief per say. As things evolved however, our founder decided it might be best to have a couple people that were responsible for maintaining the voice and vision of Ravishly; Marisa Belger and I were paired up to do so. Marisa and I laugh all the time that it was like a straight-up god-send that we get along as well as we do. For a long time it was just the two of us nose to nose in coffee-shops all over Oakland trying to figure exactly what the hell we were doing.
We really "got" each other, shared similar humor (although I swear a lot more) and generally were looking at Ravishly's horizons in a very similar way. I was incredibly lucky to have her as my initial partner.
We eventually moved away from the concept of aggregation and instead into a realm that was a bit blurrier and much more interesting to us and (hopefully!) our readers; Ravishly not only collects amazing articles and stories à la Digg.com or Jezebel.com, but also creates a larger conversation and context around the topic at hand.
We also recently rolled out a series of ongoing personal essays (everyone loves a dirty secret!) a profile section—Ladies We Love—which highlights women and their badass projects (from environmental scientists to sex-doll sculptors) and a street style section.
Marisa and I hand-picked an amazing group of writers that are incredibly versatile and have a wide variety of backgrounds and voices; they inspire me every day. Nikki Gloudeman—who was a Mother Jones denizen for a while—was initially hired as a writer and now shares all editorial responsibility beside me. (Marisa now heads up our profile section and personal essay efforts.) Nikki's obvious writing talent coupled with her organization and strategy have been a huge boon to us. All in all, it's an epic group of brilliant women and I couldn't do it without them.
So wow, yeah. Things have evolved a lot in a very short time.
What are some of the things that frustrate you about many women's websites and magazines?
My elevator pitch—which I continue to hone!—is basically that women's content is highly polarized. It's either pandering and pink—10 ways to please your man or minimize underwear lines—or it looks at the entire world through the lens of gender. And while many of us are painfully aware of other women's sanctioned oppression, subjugation and strive to give voice to that struggle in word and deed, our gender isn't eclipsing our entire experience.
The ravishing Ravishly ladies.
How does Ravishly cater to smart, empowered women?
Women—like all humans—have incredibly varied interests. I might go to ten websites a day to satiate my brain's curiosity: I want current events, pop culture, feminism criticism, juicy fashion photos, a heart-wrenching memoir, and a "holy-shit is that true?!" history moment. It's time-consuming and frustrating. We wanted to create a place that tried to reconcile these seeming disparities of the female mind.
We will more-than-happily get our hands dirty when misogyny rears its ugly head, we will salivate over Lupita's latest Vogue cover, but we will also squeal in delight over an underground ocean on Mars. I like to think of Ravishly as this badass kaleidoscope that we're constantly twisting to get a different view; it's filled with sex and science and history and politics and yes, even the occasional animal video. We really aim to get a cross-section of life's tumult and beauty. And fast. I really believe you could come to our site for 40 minutes and get a tremendous amount of information, humor, and insight.
Do you identify as a feminist? What's Ravishly's relationship with feminism?
I do indeed identify as a feminist and happily take all the loaded connotations that go with it. I have of course, been blessed by the universe's arbitrary delights of being a white, middle-class girl raised by liberal parents in New York City. You can't get luckier than that in terms of leveling life's playing field. "Feminism" is of course incredibly complicated and boasts more than 300 years of sordid—and sensational—history. We've made leaps and bounds that would make Armstrong green to the gills, and yet the struggle rages on; in some ways misogyny has grown more subtle and in others, it's the same child-bride nightmares that have always existed.
To me, feminism has always been about negating my gender to a certain degree. I never wanted to "act" or "sound" like a girl. It sounds trite, but I just wanted to be. I didn't—and don't—want to consume my decisions with "what that means," questioning my motives or how other people might perceive them. Feminism is about self-posession, about personal freedom. If I want to shave, not shave, wear fuchsia lipstick and dirty dance with a stranger, write about orgasms and black holes, curse like 18-century sailor, mountain bike, and talk boys over margaritas...I feel like I can. I love slipping like shadows between gender "norms"; I think we're living in amazing time when things are getting increasingly slippery about what it even means to be a man or a woman.
And with that increased awareness about gender relations, I'm crossing my fingers and toes (and feel hoarse from talking about!) that other countries and cultures will inevitably follow suit and the kind of personal freedom I posses will follow. I don't know. I could be drinking my own idealistic Kool-Aid, but you have to believe.
Going back to what you were saying about start-up culture begs the question: How did San Francisco become Ravishly's birthplace? How does having Bay Area roots color your content?
We're actually semi-based in Oakland, in Chinatown in fact; we sublet this scrappy awesome office from a Chinese tutoring center for kids. There are Winnie the Pooh stickers on the wall, it's hilarious. We all work around this big wooden dining table; it's very collaborative. But several of our team members live in San Francisco and video-chat with us throughout the day and we've recently expanded our writer base to New York and have even begun translation efforts into Portuguese and French...so we're trying to slowly spread the good word internationally, which is really exciting!
But being this close to San Francisco and Silicon Valley imbues us with that kind of start-up exhilaration. I think it's important to know that you're not operating in an echo chamber; there's a lot of cross-pollination with other small companies. The Bay is also at the forefront of progressive politics and gender relations so we're certainly steeped and supported by those evolving, modern morays.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I feel like every job and desire I've ever had has been slowly colliding and has led up to this very moment. I just want to just knock this thing right out of the damn park. I can't lie; it's really daunting and some days it feels like you'll never get the world to truly notice you...but then some amazing woman agrees to be interviewed or we get fist-pumping traction on a story and it reminds me that what we're doing could be huge and you've got to keep your eyes on the horizon. Having a platform to showcase the things we care about, the shit that really keeps our gears turning; having a place to celebrate women who take no prisoners and inspire us (and of course openly rant about people like Terry Richardson)...it's really humbling and I'm honored.
Also, we're growing incredibly fast and are always on the prowl for talented female writers to join the fray, so drop us a line!
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