New magazine Mahogany targets young, savvy multicultural women

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After Crystal Cunningham graduated last year from the University of Buffalo, she found it impossible to land a job in the magazine industry. All she could find were unpaid-intern positions. So she did something about it - she employed herself as editor in chief of her own magazine.

It's called Mahogany, and it's currently an online-only publication that targets young women of color age 17 to 34. Ms. Cunningham plans to make a print edition available next year.

"There wasn't anything out there for me," she said. "Essence isn't for me because it's still stuck in the '70s and not catering to people who are 24 like me."

Mahogany magazine could be compared to Lucky or Glamour in its coverage of fashion, entertainment, beauty, relationships and health issues.

Mahogany, however, also features full-figured women within its pages.

The Web site,, receives an average of 180,000 views a week.

Ms. Cunningham is looking to acquire additional advertising interests to launch the print edition.

"We are out there for every savvy woman of color," she said. "There is not a publication out there that is so multicultural and not just for one demographic."

To market her title, Ms. Cunningham created a profile on MySpace, reached out to university newspapers and featured a banner ad on gossip blog ConcreteLoop.

Mahogany has a media kit available on request.

"It has been a lot of word of mouth," Ms. Cunningham said. "We are using the Internet and the online aspect of marketing to the best of our capabilities."

Mahogany caters primarily to multicultural women in a Vogue-like manner, with high fashion and real-people stories targeted at young, intelligent women.

"The goal is to have the magazine on the newsstand by the time I'm 27 or 28," Ms. Cunningham said. "It would also be nice to have actual offices and a small, paid staff."

Current contributors are unpaid but remain dedicated to the publication.

"I will keep the people with me who have helped me when no one else would give me a job," Ms. Cunningham said. "I've had mentors from Jane and ElleGirl magazine, yet I still had to create my own job."

Ms. Cunningham also works in the English department at Monroe College in New York.

"The biggest challenge is that I have to wear many hats," she said. "I don't just write, because I have to organize talent, photo shoots and the business aspects, but at the end of the day this is my dream and what I want to be doing."

This is a 40 Under 40 Profile. Click here to see all profiles as well as previous year's winners.

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