• Dayna Tohidi

How to be an editor-in-chief

What began as a university project is now the No.1 destination for fashion and culture enthusiasts in Peru. Majo Mundaca Zagal, founder and editor-in-chief of LATEX magazine, tells Plaster how she did it

At only 25-years-old, Majo Mundaca Zagal is the founder and editor-in-chief of Peru's No.1 digital fashion magazine, LATEX. © Majo Mundaca Zagal

After attending Milan, Paris, and New York Fashion Week, Majo Mundaca Zagal returned to her native country, Peru, to launch her own media brand. Titled LATEX, the online magazine spotlights local and global emerging talents in fashion, art, culture, and music for Gen Z and Millennials across the country. Its website attracts more than 16 thousand unique users per month; that's quite the achievement for a 25-year-old. Zagal tells Plaster about her approach to running a digital publication, why you should grow your audience organically, and her advice for young editors in the making.

When and why did you launch LATEX magazine?

Since I was 14-years-old, it's been my dream to create a digital fashion magazine for a Peruvian audience as we didn't have one. I started LATEX in 2019 as a university project while studying fashion styling and photography at Istituto Marangoni in Milan. I decided to call it LATEX because I think people who wear the material are unconventional, bold, and fearless – and I wanted to bring their energy and voices to Peru.

What are your primary responsibilities across the magazine?

A lot of editing! I edit and upload all of the content to the website. I am also responsible for finding and working with our advertisers on advertorial and audio-visual projects. We don't have a massive following yet because it takes time to grow that organically. However, the advantage is that our audience is very invested and engaged in our content, which attracts advertisers like H&M and the Peruvian makeup brand, Yanbal. As the magazine business is not very profitable in Peru, we need the revenue generated from sponsored content to keep our magazine going. We only started to make money in the middle of 2020, but it's just enough to pay our core team and contributors.

Below is a sponsored video that LATEX created in partnership with YANBAL about makeup and fashion trends for Summer 2021.

How often do you have team meetings, and has the pandemic disrupted the day-to-day activities of LATEX magazine?

We meet once a week online to discuss talent to feature in the magazine, themes to concentrate on, ideas for articles, and plan digital campaigns for advertisers. Even before the pandemic, we worked remotely through virtual meetings, so it didn't have much of an impact. In fact, the lockdown made me realise that there is no limit to what we can achieve from home.

What type of content generates the most engagement?

Our monthly digital cover stories because they have a clear purpose for our audience. They are usually based on themes such as empowerment, resilience, creativity, and celebrating difference. My creative director, Cayetano García Sahurie, and I always try to create powerful, meaningful imagery for the cover stories as they help to attract website views and engagement on Instagram.

LATEX magazine's digital cover story, featuring Peruvian actress, Pamela Mendoza Arpi, for April/May 2021. © LATEX

What do you find most challenging about your job?

The fact that it is 24/7. You have to be passionate about your magazine and be willing to put your brain, heart, and soul into it. Giving up is not an option for me because we have a responsibility to our audience. They value LATEX's authentic, inclusive point of view and often ask us to keep them informed about prevalent issues in Peruvian society, such as machismo and discrimination.

In hindsight, is there anything you would do differently?

Yes, I would have created a business model and media kit at the start. Your business model should outline your strategy to grow your readership/audience and generate income. A media kit is a basic but essential document that communicates the purpose of your magazine. It should include demographic information about your target reader/audience and impressive website and social media metrics for potential advertisers. You can get these from Google Analytics and Instagram's Insights feature for business accounts.

You did a bachelor’s in communication at the University of Lima. Would you recommend this subject as a degree to aspiring editors?

Totally. Communication-based degrees teach you the majority of editorial and technical skills you need to know, like writing for different audiences, creating visuals on Photoshop and Illustrator, and editing videos on Premiere Pro. If you can't go to university, YouTube is a great learning resource. Also, I believe that you can learn a lot by reading about and listening to people who are doing the job you want.

What industry experience would you suggest?

My first internship was at a television production company, which taught me how to plan and organise daily content. Afterwards, I did internships with different retail and luxury PR agencies. I encourage people to get work experience in various sectors of the fashion industry to develop an understanding and awareness of not only designers but also art directors, stylists, makeup artists, and modelling agencies.

Do you have any final words of advice?

Running an online magazine requires a completely unique set of technical skills. You can have great content, but if you don't know how to market it, it will go unnoticed. It's vital that you understand Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) because that is how your audience will discover you on Google. Look online for free courses or learn on YouTube!

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