During a fall 2016 tour of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Caroline Farrell saw a copy of Coulture on an office desk, and knew she wanted to be a part of it.
Farrell applied, was accepted and joined in the spring semester of her first year at UNC.
“It’s pretty much what I do, all day, everyday. It does consume my life,” Farrell said, three years after she joined Coulture. “It’s stressful, but it’s rewarding at the same time.”
Coulture Magazine is a fashion and lifestyle magazine for UNC's campus. The publication is entirely student-run and publishes a print edition at the end of each semester, along with blog posts year-round.
Farrell, now a senior, has risen to the rank of editor-in-chief at Coulture. To her, working at the magazine is a creative outlet that offers a continuously unique experience.
“I'm always just incredibly impressed by the talent, and I think everyone's really impressed with what they've been able to do,” Farrell said.
With a staff of nearly 200 people, communication at Coulture can sometimes be difficult.
“In the past, there wasn't a structured internal communication process,” Farrell said. “Over the past two years, we’ve really emphasized that in terms of fostering collaboration.”
Since its founding in 2015, the publication — through the Hussman School of Journalism and Media — has worked to increase diversity and discussions of social issues within its writing and photography.
The team is currently working to rewrite their mission and values statement to be more reflective of who they are and what they believe in, Farrell said.
The Coulture team encourages nonconformity to social expectations and aims to represent everyone with relatable content.
“The big thing with our themes now is the ability to share a story and have a reader on campus be like ‘Oh, I can see myself in this person,’ or ‘I didn't know this before,' and learn a new thing about an experience," Farrell said.
To empower its readers, Coulture has a three-prong approach: a global view of fashion, relatability for readers and accessibility to everyone.
“There’s a lot of general awareness of how the media doesn't represent everyone, and I think UNC students are very cognitive of that,” Farrell said. “They enjoy work that reflects who they are, who their neighbor is or who their suitemate is.”
Over the past few years, features co-editor and senior Chloe Williams said the magazine’s vision has shifted to telling more serious stories instead of talking solely about clothes and entertainment.
In its latest edition, writers explored everything from the fight for health care in rural North Carolina to the history of Black people in the U.S. and at the University.
“We’ve been really trying to hit the nail on the head to get rid of the idea that if you're a fashion writer, you can’t talk about anything serious,” Williams said.
The magazine's content should strike a balance, she said. Stories about the Grammys are great, but Williams said they can coexist with stories about in-depth news.
"We've moved a little bit in terms of vision," she said.
Carly Christensen has been a Coulture health editor since 2018, and was on the team when the original founders graduated.
“When I first started, the magazine was smaller, I think nobody really knew about it,” Christensen said. “But now, it’s grounded in the scenes of the alternative community and also within the MEJO school, providing opportunities for people who are interested in the arts and fashion.”
Christensen said she sees a large contrast from her first article, on holistic health healing with vegan diets, to her more recent one, on AIDS impacting Black men in the South.
“Coulture's definitely moved to try to be more insightful, talking about important issues and how they fit within the framework of arts, beauty, fashion and lifestyle and not necessarily how to style your hair or ways to wear a certain thing in the fall,” Christensen said.
Senior Serena Singh, a South Asian woman, was a model in Coulture’s most recent issue,"Roots." As a part of the shoot, Singh had the opportunity to model pieces of clothing from her culture.
“To see that representation is so important,” Singh said. “To help be a part of that in any way I can is a big part of why I like to model.”
At Coulture, Singh said her culture is celebrated and that is a way she feels can embrace her origins.
“It’s genuinely such a great organization to be a part of,” Singh said. “I've met so many wonderful, creative, passionate people who really love what they do and commit themselves to the work they do.”
As a model of South Asian descent, Singh said she is proud to be able to show off clothing from her culture.
"Modeling for Coulture has definitely lifted my confidence and helped me fully embrace what I enjoy doing," Singh said. "It allows me to be my full, authentic self."
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