A few weeks ago, I got to sit down with Managing Editor Emily Zachry and talk to her about all things GrrlPunch: from the origins of her involvement to the incredible progress the magazine has made over just two and a half years. Get to know a little more about one of the founding members of the magazine we all know and love!
Chelsea: What’s your official title for GrrlPunch?
Emily: The managing editor
C: So, what all do you do as managing editor?
E: I kinda do everything that I need to. I’m more of Lucy’s assistant than I am anything else. Honestly, when GrrlPunch started to get bigger and Lucy wanted to promote me, we went on the Rookie magazine site and looked at their editor roles, and managing editor was right underneath editor-in-chief. So we were like okay, you can be managing editor. I don’t really know what that means, but it just kind of stuck. So, I basically try to communicate with all of the girls. I do the whole calendar system. I’ve tried to revamp that and try to plan two months ahead instead of one month, which I think has really helped in the last couple of months. I make all of the accounts for the GrrlPunch people. I do all of the website stuff that isn’t challenging, like making sure everything is scheduled and that everyone’s name is credited to the article, on the right theme. So, behind the scenes stuff but not the coding part. There’s a different person for that.
C: Yeah, I could never do that.
E: Me, either! We tried! Lucy and I have both tried to teach ourselves coding because it would save so much money. It’s just too complex, too much for us.
C: Y’all both do so much!
E: I know. We put too much on our plates definitely, but it’s really beneficial. We’ve both gained a lot of skills that we didn’t have three years ago.
C: You’ve been with the magazine since the beginning, right?
E: Yeah, I was one of the first people to join. Lucy sent out hand written notes to all the people she wanted involved to the girls at our school. Originally, it was just St. Agnes, and I was one of the founding members. And then we just kinda became best friends after that, after seeing each other so much.
C: So y’all didn’t know each other before at all?
E: No, we had a couple classes together, but we definitely ran in different circles. Lucy was kind of more popular than I was because she had gone to St. Agnes and I had come from White Station, so I was definitely the outsider. We both, after talking, realized we were obsessed with each other. We both drove jeeps, we both were obsessed with MGMT, and we were like the same person. We were just too scared to talk to one another.
C: Do you do any work with the art?
E: Um, I downloaded Illustrator kind of as a last resort when we didn’t have a lot of people on the magazine. So, I taught myself Illustrator just so we would have another artist on the team. But I’ve always kind of been a writer, that was always my thing in school. So, I do both of them just to make sure we have enough per month. Like, if we have a surplus of articles for a specific month, I won’t write. But if we don’t have enough I’ll write two or three if I need to. Same with art.
C: I loved your recent article on fake news.
E: Oh yeah, that was definitely a necessary one! I have so many Facebook friends that shared this viral fake news article that was specific to Memphis that said 300,000 people were confirmed to have HIV in this area. That’s almost half of the population. That’s so not true. And if you clicked on it, it said at the bottom that it was a prank, and people were sharing it thinking it was real. It went viral the same day my article went out. I was like, ya’ll gotta do better.
C: Wow, yea, so many people rely on those kinds of websites for their primary news source.
E: I know, and that’s crazy. You need to be reading at least two other news sources to get the whole picture of what happened.
C: So your main focus is writing?
E: Yeah, I guess. I mean, I enjoy doing art. It’s just I don’t think I’m that great at it. I’m still learning!
C: It’s so fun to see how your art evolves from when you started to where you are now.
E: Oh yea, that’s one of my favorite things about GrrlPunch, actually: getting to see how much the long term members have grown.
C: So you go to the University of Memphis, right? Did you start out there?
E: No, Lucy and I both started out UT Knoxville because we wanted to get away from Memphis for a little bit and neither of us had enough money to go anywhere fancy. We were initially gonna be roommates, but UT kinda screwed us over and messed it up. So, we both had a horrible first semester, and I came home to U of M for the spring, and she came home for this coming fall.
C: Why didn’t you like it there?
E: Um, there just wasn’t enough to do, to be honest. There was definitely a music scene, but it wasn’t a very impressive one like the one here in Memphis. Here, there are places like the Hi-Tone where you can go listen to good music, and there just wasn’t anywhere like that there.
C: So what do you study?
C: Do you know what you want to do with that?
E: I would like to stay on GrrlPunch for as long as possible until it becomes something, but it’s all kind of in Lucy’s hands, I would say, like if we want it to become a career or sell out whenever it does get big. But definitely working for a magazine would be the number one thing I would want to do, whether it’s GrrlPunch or somewhere else. But GrrlPunch will definitely always be my first commitment.
C: I know GrrlPunch has changed a lot over the last three years, but what are some of the changes that have really stood out to you?
E: Wow, it’s changed so much. It’s definitely gotten bigger, and the writing and art have gotten better. I would say that’s number one. As well, the website has changed drastically in how it looks. We had a web designer completely design us our own thing, so everything on the site looks the way it does on purpose. Lucy and I literally stayed up one night and drew it out on a napkin. So the actual appearance of the magazine has changed a whole lot from our original WordPress theme that we just selected from the internet. So, those would be the biggest things. Other little things would be the number of editors that we have has grown drastically from Lucy in the beginning. Then she added me and Samantha and Jada, and now we have Abby, Isabella, and Ruby as the leadership team. So, the management has changed, too, which is really cool. Also, it’s grown from just Memphis to a much wider community. Like, we have people in Canada and Wales, which is awesome.
C: So GrrlPunch is all over the world. That’s awesome!
E: I know, and I don’t know how we reach those people. They always say, “Oh, we were just on Instagram or Facebook and we found it on our discover page!”. It’s always so random but really cool. It’s interesting to see how different people find us. It definitely puts the pressure on. Sometimes, I forget that people are actually reading it everyday and really looking forward to our articles. Like, I’ll press publish and be like okay and then remember how many people are really reading it. It definitely puts the pressure on.
C: How would you like to see GrrlPunch evolve in the future?
E: I would say having it get even bigger and having the website develop even more would be my two biggest, which both of those coincide with how it’s already grown. Those are two really important factors, like, the aesthetic and the writers and artists. And just reaching a broader community. I would like it to get more recognition than it does. I think we kind of get the short end of the stick a lot of times, as far as, like, publicity. Like, a lot of bands from Memphis get so much attention, and we don’t quite get that attention. So I would love for GrrlPunch to get more attention in the community. We’re doing a lot of good and people don’t always know what GrrlPunch is. So many people say to me that they thought GrrlPunch was a band. Like, we’ve been here for almost three years. You should know who we are! My main end goal would see me and Lucy working for GrrlPunch as, like, 30 years olds and it getting to the point of magazines like Refinery and ManRepeller. That would be my biggest goal.
C: So what do you want to do to get the GrrlPunch name out there more?
E: Definitely more events! We struggle with finding a venue. There aren’t a lot of venues in Memphis, and the ones that do exist are pretty expensive, but I think events are really important, especially for showing off our girls that have musical talents. I love being able to promote that and being able to show off what they’re really good at because not everybody is a writer or artist – everyone has different talents. Events are also a time when we can partner with different organizations. Last time we partnered up with a couple other Memphis organizations and donated all of the proceeds to Afripads, which is an organization that sends reusable pads to girls in Africa. So I love being able to do stuff like that because it has an actual visible effect on the community, while our articles can have a more emotional affect.
C: What is the purpose of GrrlPunch, to you?
E: To promote girls’ thoughts and ideas, to relate to other people. When Lucy started the magazine, she wanted girls to not feel quite so alone and uncomfortable with the thoughts and ideas they had. She wanted anyone to be able to write in and submit stuff, like we’re all going through similar things growing up. It’s kind of a platform for us to voice those things.
C: If there was one thing you could say to the readers of GrrlPunch and everyone that’s involved, what would that be?
E: Ooh, that’s tough. To our readers, keep reading, keep submitting and keep making an impact on your community, doing whatever it is you’re good at.
It was awesome getting to hear about how much Emily does for GrrlPunch and everything the magazine means to her. I hope y’all enjoy getting to know Emily a little better and the insight into her thoughts about how far GrrlPunch has come and where we hope to be in the future!