Two years ago, SLiNK was born. It didn't happen anywhere glamorous, (St. Pancras station Starbucks pre-refurb) with photographer Dave Wise. I’d decided I wanted a magazine, not just any magazine, but one that shot plus size models in a non-dull, non-commercial and non-cringey way.
Half an hour later, Hughes Model Agency had agreed to sort us some models and I was second hand smoking a cigarette, whilst we tried to convince a Vodafone sales assistant to help us find a name for the magazine - he failed miserably, luckily SLiNK didn't.
Fast forward two years and I'm the Editor of the UK's only aspirational fashion and lifestyle glossy aimed at women size 14+. We've been featured in the UK's biggest national newspapers, countless blogs, a TV show in the USA and I've become an opinionated radio voice and appeared on the Daybreak sofa - not bad for a newbie.
SLiNK magazine aims to emulate the slickness and on trend style of its skinnier counterparts such as Elle and Vogue. We work hard to ensure that our written and lifestyle content is on par with our beautiful photoshoots.
The question I get asked the most is ‘What made you start SLiNK?’
Well to start with I'm a magazine junkie. Even now I binge on monthly glossies, celeb-filled weeklies and slick, bi-annual editorial publications. For me, magazines are the ultimate escapism and a source of inspiration for hundreds of thousands of women the world over.
While trying to ‘make it’ as a freelance stylist I decided to supplement my income by taking a retail position in a plus size boutique. It wasn't exactly how I'd imagined my career developing - a fashion design graduate, folding frumpy clothing for a living. I was determined to stay for a month – I was there for over three years.
Styling women up to a size 30 was such a buzz; working with women who often didn’t feel great about themselves and transforming their mood through clothes was amazing and I built a great relationship with some of my personal clients. They wanted to be fashionable and to be able to keep up with their friends and teenage daughters, although many seemed unsure about how to achieve this and worst still it seemed the industry wasn’t ready to give it to them.
As a size 16/18 I’m borderline enough to be able get away with high street and a few designer brands and so a lot of the problems in the plus size industry had passed me by. I’ve always been a dedicated follower of fashion and I’ve never been bothered by size 6 models (I've seen them when they rock up to a shoot before the glam squads get to work on them - I feel no jealousy). It never really occurred to me that so many women were bypassing fashion altogether as they just didn't feel they fitted in.
The more I spoke to customers the more I realized that my “But it’s so next season Valentino and…This jacket is so Christopher Kane" sales pitch was falling on deaf ears.
I did some research and realized that there were no publications that specifically targeted this market - women who embraced the glossy and edgy nature of mainstream fashion media titles and women’s monthlies. What I really wanted was a magazine that ‘happened’ to feature plus size fashion rather than obsessing about size on every page. Society scrutinizes that enough for us, without making a whole magazine about it.
I gathered a team of freelancers who all believed in the ideology of the magazine and together we created a publication that could be enjoyed by women of any size, while the clothing had a strong plus size bias. We work with some of the top plus models and have created incredible fashion stories that include a 3D fashion editorial, a boy/girl shoot and a fantastic collaboration with Gok Wan’s lingerie (requested by Mr Wan - great recognition for the work we do).
For 12 months we ran the magazine as a free online publication. But I realized very quickly that it was not enough. We had email requests for print copies and as a lover of print, digital - however convenient it is - simply wasn’t cutting it for me.
Exactly one year after our first issue, we launched a print edition, alongside a downloadable, digital version. Within a few weeks I was being interviewed by the Daily Mail and speaking on radio stations across the country, even across Europe.
We’ve had an extremely positive response from some potentially harsh critics. For example, Liz Jones, normally the fiercest journalist at the Daily Mail, gave us a glowing report.
We make sales on a global scale and have emails pouring in daily from an army of fans, women who suddenly feel inspired and to be honest that’s my favourite bit. Every time I get an email that simply says ‘thank you’, or a reader feels they can tell me their story I feel truly honoured that SLiNK has become a sassy and curve championing voice in a society that has a very negative position on body size and image.
Photography : Charlotte Bibby Model: Stephanie S - Milk Model Management