Thomasina is a LEGEND in every way. We are glad to have her share her thoughts on IWD 18 Press for Progress. This interview is super inspiring. Got questions for her? Kindly leave them in the comment section below.
Q: Kindly tell us about yourself and your brand?
A: My name is Thomasina R. Legend and I am the founder/Editor in Chief/CEO and Publisher of VMM magazine. VMM stands for ‘VOIX MEETS MODE’ which translates ‘Voice Meets Fashion/Art/Style/Design/Innovation/Creative Brilliance.
VMM is an independent London based bi-annual print magazine created for & dedicated to ‘Creative Minds’.
The magazine is designed as a remedy offered to the creative industry and culture enthusiasts alike, inviting them to a different perspective that seeks to bridge the gap between the beginning of a journey to the elevated stages of success of individuals making strides in their respective fields.
The vision of VMM has always been to inspire, motivate, elevate, celebrate, collaborate and promote the creative mind.
The magazine explores & celebrates the struggles that has led to success for featured talents from all over the world highlighting their backgrounds, challenges faced/encountered, experiences and lessons learned through intricate interviews and discussions along with articles, essays, quotes and poems to inspire & motivate the creative mind and soul.
Q: What’s your inspiration for doing what you do?
A: I started VMM in my first year of university (2013) as a Uni project where we were asked to create a magazine as a final project. As part of my research, I could not find anything on the market that answered personal questions that I had where creative work was concerned. The market was flooded and still currently is with magazines selling celebrity gossip/culture, trends and what not to wear or where to buy the latest item and for me that was not what I needed in my life of questioning my creative potential and abilities and being in the creative industry at the time I just felt inadequate and really questioned how others where doing it and succeeding. I really wanted to read more about people like myself and the struggles they faced if any, how they started their businesses, how they stayed in business through the difficult times; these are things that you won’t be thought in school. School does not open you up to the real world. It teaches you the hypothesis and you have to finish school and struggle on your own with no handbook – no wonder a lot of people give up or don’t bother gearing into business because it is one of the toughest journeys to embark on.
Another inspiring reason was based on this summarized quote by the founder of Social Chain, Steven Bartlett “We are the first generation that has grown up with the Internet as part of our everyday life and with the internet literally attached to us and are always switched on and looking at the data, Anxiety, Depression and other mental health issues have risen at an alarming rate in the last 10 years and they are more prevalent in this generation than any generation in human history. If you look at the data, there’s some terrifying statistics. Looking at searches for Anxiety on Google alone, there’s a huge increase of people searching things like “do I have anxiety” from 2010”.
I chose to focus on the creative individuals’ mind because a lot has changed so much over the years especially where technology is concerned and this has brought about a plethora of platforms that have enabled people all over the world to engage and share snippets of their lives and how they are doing to their audience. As great as social platforms are in getting audiences to various businesses and people to each other, it is having a negative effect on creative individuals who are either in school or starting out. They are struggling to understand why after all they do, they are not achieving the level of success that they can see others achieving and have attained. Whilst it is great to see the highlight reels of others, it is also detrimental to the emotional and psychological well being of the creative mind with a lot suffering depression, anxiety and other forms of mental break down.
The Goal of VMM is to reach out to them by letting them know that success takes time. Success is hard work, determination, failing constantly but never giving up and just believing. Success is learning from your mistakes and or finding other ways to get your creative voice heard and or seen. There is always a way but patience is key. We do this through the interviews we hold with talents from all over the world who are making strides in their creative fields and paving the way for others. We ask intricate questions, which highlight their backgrounds, struggles, challenges and difficulties, encountered, faced, solved and what lessons were learnt to be able to move forward. It is important that we begin to understand that getting to the top of your career or profession has no magic wand and there are so many people making it who have gone through some of the most difficult and unheard of challenges that could break others. It is time to celebrate those journeys and stories of the struggle than to keep promoting lifestyles and fake lives that are killing the youth who think they must have such in a split second.
Q: What bold steps did you take to get to where you are?
A: The boldest step I ever took on this journey was to first BELIEVE that I had something with my idea. Believing in my magazine right from the get-go even when it was rough and the ideas where scattered was a bold step.
In a creative world where trend is king, it is one of the toughest things to not follow the crowd. With the advent of social media platforms and the glories of likes and comments, sometimes you want to follow the crowd and what they are doing. If you post images and you don’t get the likes and followers, you start wanting to do it like your competitors and that is you not believing in your idea. When I started, there were days, weeks even months I would deliberate changing things up just to get the numbers up but I knew what was already out there did not reflect my brand and or the essence of what I was trying to do. I had to stick with it. I have had years of low likes and followers on my pages and even now go through it but the feedback I get via email, DM, WhatsApp etc. are so much more fulfilling than any number of likes I could get on social media. That has kept me grounded and focused.
Q: If you had an opportunity to do anything differently? What would it be?
A: Eliminate FEAR and second-guessing myself. I have been afraid of being out there, worrying constantly what people would think about my work especially in comparison to all the other magazines out there. I let fear be a hindrance, and in fear being a hindrance, I second-guessed my worth, my entire being and you can’t do that in business. I am now learning to let go and be free, learning to do it afraid and not care what others say or think. Learning that people will say no to you and not to take it personal because they don’t even know what they want how much more being able to appreciate a great opportunity to collaborate. So to answer your question, I would definitely step on fear and bury it alive 😉
Q: What does pressing for progress mean to you?
A: In the simplest form: Pushing forward regardless of your shortcomings. Pushing forward regardless of the struggles. Championing ahead no matter what.
Q: How can women in the fashion industry press for progress?
A: By believing in ourselves. As women we are a force to be reckoned with. We are more than special and for years we have been suppressed in so many ways imaginable and unimaginable. We are in an era where being a woman is super lit and one of the most exciting things ever. Being a woman is more than a super power. We are so much more than we believe and in the creative and fashion industry, we can use our voices to change a lot of things. Fashion is not just about the glitz and supposed glamour. It’s not about wearing pretty clothes and having the trendiest things or trying to show off to the world that you are the most beautiful. It’s not about trying to knock the other woman down or just being petty and jealous that another woman is doing better and you are not. Anyone that thinks like that is just really ignorant. The creative and fashion industry is so much more than that and the sooner we understand and appreciate that this platform is bigger than we can ever imagine, we will begin to understand and really utilize our superpowers as women to evoke change. So many women have exhibited what it means to believe in yourself and evoke change within this industry and have set viable examples that it can be done. They have paved the way for the rest of us and shown us exciting ways in which to voice our opinions and channel our vision in the service to others that the future is so so exciting. I am excited about my future contributions because if these women can do their bit, so can we all.
Another way women can press for progress is by supporting each other. The women supporting women should not just be a hashtag but a real thing. I am sick of this fake social media impressions that make us think that things are changing but in the real world, you still have women hating on each other, trying to pull the other down and just be downright ignorant and petty. We really need to come together and support each other. If we do, like the quote says “Amazing things happen when women come together and support each other”
Q: What is your advice to young ladies who are aspiring to be like you or walk down your path?
A: Believe in yourself. Believe in yourself. Believe in yourself. I cannot stress this enough and this is coming from experience. You can have the best idea, concept or business plan but if you lack the vital confidence to believe in yourself, everything fails.
Believe in your ideas. Believe in it so much that it keeps you going when the tough times come. Just like a boat on water, it sails off steady against the water and when the tides rise, no matter how horrendous the weather, you can sail through.
Q: What’s the greatest goal for you?
A: I don’t really have a greatest goal because all my goals no matter how small or little are consequently intertwined. Right now I am focused on getting my brand, business and magazine to next stage. Even though I have been doing this for a few years now, my magazine is still very much a startup and am focusing on bringing my gigantic vision to life alongside being a mum to a very energetic and active toddler and being the best wife and best friend I can be to my husband who is undoubtedly one of my greatest support systems.
Q: Do you think the fashion industry in Ghana is viable career path? And what is your number one advice to an amateur looking forward to being a part of this industry.
A: I believe anywhere you find yourself is viable enough. I haven’t been home to Ghana since 2002 so can’t say too much and I know a lot has changed. As the world changes and evolves so does where you are. I have seen so much change in Ghana compared to when I was there studying and in school. The opportunities there are now presently all over the world in terms of technology and mobile connectivity were not there back then and thus the changes. I strongly believe that Africa is a beehive for success and right now is the time to utilize your voice at home and channel it into a force of action to drive your passion to life. You have some amazing women in Ghana doing great things and using their platforms to drive and evoke change no matter how small and bring a positive limelight to the country. From the likes of Gloria Buckman Yankson of Plan It, Akosua Afriyie-Kumi of A.A.K.S bags, Afua Rida, Debra-Jane of Mahogany Events, the great Anita Erskine, Renee Q, Amoafoa, (these are just the females so you can imagine the number of male doing phenomenal things as well using their social media platforms) just off the tip of my head and so many others that I am aware of doing phenomenal stuff just by using their social media platforms to designers in Ghana trailblazing the way and setting Ghana on the map, our famous celebrities from the music and film sectors and more. These people are doing it there in Ghana. That’s enough to say that it can be done. It just takes patience, determination, dedication and passion to see it through and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Q: Have you ever encountered a situation where you were being limited because of your gender and how did you overcome it to be recognized for your work?
A: Fortunately I haven’t and I am hoping I never have to.
Instagram: @voixmeetsmode @editorsmusings