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Article: #2 Sofa Series: Yeliz Çiçek

#2 Sofa Series: Yeliz Çiçek

#2 Sofa Series: Yeliz Çiçek

International Women's Day is coming up and in the context of 'for women, by women' we thought it would be great to do something different. That is why we as a female team would like to introduce you to a new recurring item, namely: Eline Rosina Sofa Series!

In this item we chat on the couch every month with a woman who inspires us. In this episode we have a guest: Yeliz Çiçek!

Yeliz is editor-in-chief at LINDA.meiden, she previously worked at Marie Claire, Vogue and Glamour.  She comes (just like us) from Nijmegen and despite struggles and the sometimes inaccessible fashion world, she managed to fight her way to the top! She is known as someone who fights for women, will always look out for others and would like to contribute to society. In short: a true source of inspiration!

Would you like to introduce yourself briefly? Yeliz: I'm Yeliz Çiçek, I live in Amsterdam but I'm from Nijmegen. I am currently editor-in-chief of LINDA.meiden and I have always worked in the magazine world. Before this at Glamour, Vogue and Marie Claire. In the past I never thought I would ever become editor-in-chief, but in hindsight the magazine world makes quite sense. After all, I was already in the school paper, did a lot of writing things in addition to school work, bought all kinds of sheets with my pocket money to tear things out and then I made my own magazine in one fell swoop. But of course your work is not who you are, so I am also a very passionate and curious person who does, reads and watches many things.

Image: Stijn de Vries

So you now work as editor-in-chief for LINDA.meiden. Before this you worked at Glamor and VOGUE. Those are very familiar names to everyone. Of course you didn't just end up there. Would you like to tell us something about your journey? Yeliz: That's right, especially Vogue is really a thing for many. For example, I used to always buy foreign Vogues with my pocket money. But I started with an internship at Marie Claire, then I also started working there and I really got everything out of it from the first minute that I was there as an intern. I tackled everything, went to networking drinks a lot, wrote for blogs for free, I did a summer internship at Amsterdam Fashion Week, so I was very busy building a network. At one point I asked if people wanted to drink coffee and I learned that better and better because I started working at a PR agency (Spice PR), there I had to drink coffee every week with someone I didn't know yet and that is of course fantastic for your network, since they were all people who worked in fashion. After a while I left Spice PR, because I was allowed to work full-time for Marie Claire. At one point I was digital manager there and had been working there for three years when I was asked by a former colleague to come over for coffee at Vogue. That involved a position at the digital editorial office for only two days a week. Then I thought 'Should I do that?' Because I had such a nice position at Marie Claire, but I thought it's time for a breath of fresh air 'let's go!' At least I have it on my resume. Because that place was only for two days a week, I also had to start freelancing. I advised commercial companies on storytelling from a journalistic point of view, so what does the audience want to hear/see/read instead of what do I want to tell as a company. That actually went together very well and after a while I ran into the editor-in-chief of Glamor during Milan Fashion Week, she was looking for a deputy. She said 'I need someone who can take my ideas to the next level and I think that's you!' So that's how I became deputy editor-in-chief at Glamor and there I had my own column that got me picked up in the media. That is how I came into view for the editor-in-chief position at LINDA.meiden and I started applying for it. So actually I wasn't working towards that editor-in-chief at all, but it all turned out that way because opportunities came my way.

When I hear it like that, it seems like you're not afraid and have a lot of guts/dare. Did you already have a network before your internship at Marie Claire or did you throw yourself into the market with guts? Yeliz: Indeed, I literally pushed myself into the market with guts. I've always been a go-getter, because I worked in my father's cafeteria. When I was 16 I actually ran his business and I already managed older men of 50. I really got that entrepreneurial drive to run my own business from my father. That means that I always dared to take a little more risk and, for example, was a real go-getter during my internship. I was always the first one, so I pulled everything to myself and in that way became indispensable for the editors.

For example, at my first job at Marie Claire, my title kept getting longer and longer behind the slash. I was hired as an image editor/editor's assistant, but at some point that became image editor/editor's assistant/online editor/producer and much more! I just said 'let me do that' to everything. Then at some point you will stand out and you will of course learn a lot from it. The editor-in-chief was also really fantastic, she was French and super intellectual. I found how she designed that magazine super inspiring, so I was looking over her shoulder the whole time and asked 'how do you do that?' or 'who are you asking for that?' Fortunately, she was really open to that, Marie Claire had women who were open to the intern and the junior who wanted to know everything. They already had that whole empowering feeling back then.

You are someone who makes the magazine world more human, because you connect people, always look out for others and want to make a difference for women. Many know the industry in which you work as a very hard industry. How is your experience? Yeliz: In general, it is a fairly inaccessible world that has run on the 'us knows us' principle for a long time, but social media is making it more and more democratic. I think magazines really have a social function, they should be inspiring but accessible to readers and really tell a story. The time of just pictures is really over. I've also learned myself that I'm more of a storyteller than a fashion girl. I find fashion super interesting, but writing about fashion all day long is less interesting to me. I would like to show with my stories that this industry can be more accessible. In addition, when I look at where I come from and how hard I had to work to get here, it really wasn't all roses, I would think it strange if I sat here without looking at others. I can't even imagine that! If people ask me something or want to talk, I really try to make time for that, because what is an hour a week of my time if I can help others with that?

What has always been your motivation/vision? And has it changed over time? Yeliz: That's really making that accessible again. It's really not like I had a vision board at 21 and I set goals for myself every year, not even at all. But I'm always very driven in what I do, so when I do something I do it with 3000% and I think the underlying reason is that I don't feel too good for anything. I always felt like if a job doesn't suit me or I don't feel comfortable with it, then I just don't do it. Because I would just as easily stand in a coffee shop on the corner and just serve coffee and talk to people. The question I always ask myself is ' what's worst case scenario? ' That I have to sell coffee here on the corner? Fine! If that means I don't have to sell my soul and do something that doesn't make me happy, then fine! My motto is therefore 'don't talk, but polish.'

What does your working week look like? Yeliz: The nice thing about this job is of course that every week looks different. A common thread is to collect as much information as possible, so read a lot, look a lot, but also to museums, to press events, to exhibition openings. Based on that information, you decide what to write. A kind of typical week for me as editor-in-chief consists of many meetings, brainstorms and one or two events (due to Corona that is unfortunately not possible now). So managing the magazine, talking to people a lot, watching what they are doing, thinking of things for the future and looking to come up with fun ideas. I start my day by looking at all the front pages of newspapers, often go to other websites, see what's happening on Instagram. You are of course a medium, so you create content from news.

Are there any character traits you must possess to become an editor-in-chief? Yeliz: I don't think so, because every editor-in-chief has his own interpretation of being editor-in-chief. But I do think that you have to be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, because you have to be a good journalist, good manager and team player. It is important to know how you gather news, what is going on in society and how you remain relevant in this way. You can't be an editor-in-chief who isn't a team player, because it's a creative product and you really have to do it together. As editor-in-chief you have to be able to manage different teams, so that management role is very important. In addition, you must be able to switch quickly and have an open mind.

You are really a busy bee and have a busy job. How do you make sure it doesn't get too much for you? Yeliz: That is indeed super difficult, because I also really enjoy doing and seeing a lot of things and I think that also makes me a good editor-in-chief. I don't have children yet, so all my love and time will really go into my job next to my husband and dog. But when I'm at the opening of an exhibition, for example, and I'm talking to people, I really enjoy that myself and it really doesn't feel like work. So I also think it's okay to work a lot. When I started as editor-in-chief at LINDA.meiden, I promised myself never to schedule anything on Sundays, that's really my day, then I'm just really nice at home with my husband and my dog.

Do you have any tips for women who would also like to work in this industry? Yeliz: You can of course go in two directions, namely text and fashion. In terms of text, if you are young and you already know that you want to work for a magazine, I would advise you to do an internship if there is room in your studies. You don't have to be picky about which magazine that is, because editorial work is actually the same everywhere. The experience you gain within an editorial team comes in very handy, it is super useful for any other magazine. If you are a bit older and no longer have the opportunity to do an internship, it is important to write a lot, so for example to start a blog, ask for feedback and follow a creative course. Once you have written some pieces, you can pitch them to magazines, which you do to the deputy editor-in-chief. If you want to go into fashion, it's very important to build a portfolio of your own work so that you can pitch it to the creative director. In general, it is especially important to make a lot of flying hours.

It's almost International Women's Day now. What does International Women's Day mean to you? Yeliz: I think it's super important that International Women's Day is celebrated, for me it's actually International Women's Day every day. It is very important that we become aware again of the fact that the issue of equality is still an issue, because we often think that we live in a progressive country and many assume that the distribution in the Netherlands is quite equal, but that is really not the case Where. That's why I'm always a big celebrator and try to draw everyone's attention to this, because we have to stand up for our rights and they are still far from equal.

You have a channel on Instagram called THE FEMALE INITIATIVE. Would you like to say something about that briefly? Yeliz: We actually just started The Female Initiative from scratch, I was talking to Omar, a friend of mine, about whether we couldn't mean something for female entrepreneurs. Over the years I have made many contacts in the media including major influencers and I thought maybe we could do something with that. For example, using their reach to increase the sales of those female companies. Suddenly there were about 15 major influencers on the list with a total reach of millions of people, so that suddenly went very well.

In addition, there is now a campaign against street harassment in which you are involved. Would you like to tell us a bit about the campaign and what your role is in it? Yeliz: Every year around International Women's Day, LINDA.meiden publishes an issue in which we stand up for an important cause. This year it is street harassment, because it still happens every day. Women and members of the LGBTQI community are afraid to walk down the street, because it often happens that they are called after, for example. In this campaign, well-known women share their story and stand up against street harassment. In addition, there is also a men's campaign featuring familiar faces. Most campaigns only focus on women and that is great, but something has to be found about addressing men to teach them to do the right thing and thus reduce street harassment. My role as editor-in-chief is to come up with the entire campaign, of course together with the editors. Together we come up with what we are going to do and how we are going to implement it, all the trimmings.

Are there women who have inspired you? Yeliz: There are a lot of women who have inspired me, I could name 100! For example, Agnès Michot, the editor-in-chief at Marie Claire when I worked there. How she designed the magazine and was already so busy with diversity at the time. She was very intellectual, read everything, saw everything and I really thought 'how can I do that too?' In addition, Michelle Obama, she breathes women empowerment. You see that's not an act or something she does because she was first lady. She is like that, she does it with her heart. So I find her really inspiring. And I find Victoria Beckham, for example, very interesting how she managed to develop her own brand from a girl group into a multi-million dollar company, I think that's really amazing. I used to not like it, but now I think she's so stylish. Although I don't find her very inspiring in terms of speaking. And I could actually go on and on. ;-)

Where do you see yourself in 5 years if everything were possible? Yeliz: Not really anything else, I'll just do this. I can still do and mean so much in the magazine world. But as I said, a magazine has a very important social function, so you can do a lot with it. In addition, I will always continue to do things like The Female Initiative and I would like to host major events and maybe support a little more women in the business in a different way.

Click here to view the interview.

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