In today’s fashionable Focus interview we chat with StyleAble editor Kiesha Meikle, who tells us about the importance of bringing style and beauty advice to partially sighted women, and how you can help…
About the publication:
What was your initial inspiration for starting the website?
It was whilst working at Action for Blind People within the communications
team, that I found myself being asked if I knew of an organisation/individual who could give advice on fashion and beauty to blind and partially sighted women; I did a bit of research and found that there was nothing much out there. I decided to set up www.styleable.co.uk to bridge this gap in the market. As far as I know, to date, we are the only fashion and beauty website for blind and partially sighted women.
What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?
We cover fashion and beauty – however most importantly, every blog post, article, podcast, interview etc. must be relevant to our blind and partially sighted visitors. Most of what we feature on the website actually comes from working with visually impaired women. For example, all of the products featured on our brand new Tried and Tested page will be reviewed by blind and partially sighted journalists and are graded on accessibility (packaging), durability, ease of application and of course quality.
The blog posts are written by me, however they are based on or around the work I am doing with blind and partially sighted women and girls.
What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector?
I suppose what sets us apart is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be anything out there like us. Our audiences are blind and partially sighted women and girls, but I think there is a lot of ignorance surrounding disability and fashion as well as a disabled person’s right to have a relationship with fashion – and to enjoy it. The fashion media and advertisers seem to want to steer clear of addressing this, which is a real shame. StyleAble is a testament to the fact that just because you are blind or partially sighted, does not mean that you cannot be passionate about fashion and beauty, really enjoy it and actually take control of your image! At the very least, isn’t it the right of every woman to look good and feel great?
How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
Anything that is covered in the blog posts is featured on the landing page. We base our features on whatever is current i.e. fashion and beauty trends, as well as on feedback from our blind and partially sighted researchers.
Do you produce a features list?
Do you use freelance contributions, and if so, are they for any particular section/type of work?
We are constantly searching for blind and partially sighted contributors to work with us. However, we are also open to fully sighted freelance journalists who have an understanding of what the website is all about and what we are trying to achieve.
About you and freelance journalists:
Do you like freelance journalists to get in touch with you directly to pitch ideas? And if so, how?
Any freelancers who are interested in working with us can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Name the three most important attributes that make a freelance journalist stand out for you and would make you use them again?
Enthusiasm. Good ideas. Reliable.
Do you work closely with PRs (e.g. for supplements, round tables, events) or do you keep them at arm’s length?
We are always happy to speak to PRs, especially when it comes to our product
reviews. We are constantly looking for new products for our journalists to review. Each product that we review will be entered into the StyleAble Tried and Tested Awards – the winner will receive a certificate and a write up.
We are also on the look out for new treatments, events, services and venues for our journalists to review.
We respond to all emails and we are open to most suggestions.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
The only thing that we ask is that PRs are patient when it comes to us featuring their products on the website, we usually have a back log, but we will get everything up at some point.
How should a PR approach you about their client?
When is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for contributions?
That is the great thing about StyleAble, we are regularly updating pages depending on feedback and on the relevance of any article to our blind and partially sighted visitors – there is no deadline!
Describe a typical day at work: What are you editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
I wake up in the morning and get online straight away – researching and sending emails. During the day I could either have an interview or an event to attend. (I also work in communications so I have to fit this in too!). I then get onto Twitter to find out what is happening and Tweet about our latest post or features. Writing the blog can happen at any time of the day, I always have my Netbook with me so I am ready when inspiration strikes!
What interests you most about your job?
I love the fact that we are taking something that is so creative and fun and doing something that is really worthwhile with it. A fashion and beauty website is great, but a fashion and beauty website which is providing a helpful resource for blind and partially sighted women – even better in my books!
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I have been a fashion journalist, fashion marketing officer, press officer and now communications officer.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
What have you got to lose?
What media do you seek out 1st thing in the morning?
I am usually reading blogs to be honest. There are way too many to mention but the ones I like include:
Magazines I have on my desk at all times include Grazia (of course!) and Stylist. Online – Net-a-Porter, ASOS magazine.
If you could time travel what time would you go to?
No better day than today…I would stay right here right now, I love what I am doing and where I am – London is just delicious! It is like a drug to me, when I leave, within a few weeks all I want to do is come back. I was born and bred here, London is in my bones and it just keeps on getting more exciting!
Find out more about StyleAble here: www.styleable.co.uk