One of the youngest entrepreneur we met lately, brave, funny, chatty and really smart. She is the founder of MessMagazine and also an International Speaker, creative director that took part in several Fashion Week around the world and a contributor of Conde Nast.
She was featured on Forbes as Under 30 Entrepreneur and now she is here, on Déshabillé Magazine.
Dominika Perek, so young…you achieved so much. Would you tell us more about how you started your business?
I feel like, there have been so many important moments or even breakthroughs in my life, when I was younger, that ultimately paved the way for what I do and who I am today. When I was 9 years old I created first online platform (a fanpage) and slowly, but solely I started to learn how to build an online community, create content, gain and exchange traffic, establish partnerships and most importantly, how to make a place for everyone that keeps them coming back for more news… To fastforward a bit, when I was 17 and I already have had two platforms built up (one of them was successful eCommerce shop), I started a blog, which turned out to be one of the top ranked fashion blogs back then, and I began writing for couple of magazines and websites about fashion, entertainment and luxury. At some point I decided to close my fashion blog as I realized that I achieved all my goals with it ( I had very specific targets such as scoring 3 biggest international ambassadorship programs etc) and I wanted to ultimately find what I like the Most in fashion and what I am the best at.
I started to write lots of articles and send it to magazines, asking to include me as their contributor or even… editor. That was my next goal – I wanted to be published and eventually, become a journalist. Very soon after that, I was proposed to intern for one of the big Swiss magazines, and I took that opportunity. Since that magazine was one of the first magazines that actually published online, adding to their business model a digital strategy, it really kicked my career as it gave me an opportunity to learn all-things-digital. After that internship I got hired to be marketing and strategy manager for one of the biggest e-commerce fashion stores in LA. From being a blogger, I transitioned into writing, then managing bloggers to sum up. I was still discovering myself. I took extra freelancing jobs, that evolved around e-commerce, marketing, strategy and content making etc I pretty much, saved up a lot of money from those opportunities and wanted to create my own business, from my own resources and experience and knowledge which I have gained so far. I felt like I had everything except the idea. I was rooting towards opening another e-commerce store online with my own designs and utilize my following, as well as contacts and strategies which I learnt, to launch it with my team, however it didn’t really work out, because I met one woman, which asked me to join her to start a magazine. And the rest is history…
I feel like in 2013, digital era was just about to grow and shortly, overflow us with horrendous amounts of online content. There was not much of an awareness of what an online magazine is and can be, and only few magazines publishing out there and doing it greatly. So we found a gap in the market, where a new title could have amazing branding done and interesting international collaborations to be set up. Creating a magazine felt challenging, extremely ambitious and nearly impossible. I think that’s why we did it. Completely new title, not supported by any of the big groups, publishing the new and upcoming talents. The first issue, released January 2014, gained an audience of over a million of people reading it. My strategy of creating organic traffic by featuring artists with bigger followings, creating lots of buzz and backlinking worked out very well. Our second cover we did with cooperating with Chanel. It felt like success to me.
What is driving you? What convinced your clients, Forbes, Conde Nast in looking at you and saying ” We want her”?
I think my drive and my story. I wasn’t following anyone. I was crazily following my instincts and doing things nobody has approved back then. My mom, my school, my peers – none of them could have thought I’d have enough courage to create such a vision and actually execute it.
Of all the wonderful trips around the world and business collaborations you had, which ones have elevated you professionally and left a mark on you?
There were many. I think working with great partners has been crucial to us. I received a lot of support early on from FashionOne group, where we did content exchange and its promotion. To me it felt like one of my first huge things I accomplished. I’d say working with Chanel or Moschino for one of our first print covers was groundbreaking for me. Having collaborations with 13 global fashionweeks, being invited to speak internationally about what we do; having trust in us means a lot to me. Expanding to Middle East and China felt really big to me as well. Personally, I also enjoyed a lot working with RTL4 TV channel on my own fashion show. And of course, Condé Nast and their opportunity to create with them and work with amazing creative directors.
What obstacles have you faced in order to be who you are today?
Personally, I met a lot of people which tried to have a piece of me. Since literally all my ideas worked out and since I was a teenager I had the ‘Midas touch’, there were people behind companies who tried to really take advantage of me. And in some cases, they did. I think that’s where I suffered greatly, but at the end of the day; it gave me even more confidence.
The goals to reach in 2020 are…
To focus on conscious business and sustainability aspects, as well as create a community option on our website, where creative people can sign up and use it for their own benefit (cannot disclose the full functionality tho as of yet)
We all need to be inspired… please, share a positive insight of your life or a quote that you believe can enlighten someone today. Especially a new entrepreneur or artist.
Oh, I really love what Melanie Perkins (CEO and co founder of CANVA) told me during our interview at websummit last year – ‘Don’t be afraid of dreaming and visualizing what will this world look like in 5, 10 years and how you can give something from yourself, add value, build something, unknown, innovative and great’ – I think Melanie is an amazing example of an extraordinary leader and visionary, that created something that literally changed the way anyone can create graphic designs online and use them purposefully. I’d add from myself / always believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to fail coz that moment of weakness can become your biggest strength.
If you never had the chance to read MessMagazine, this is the perfect opportunity!