Refinery29 gets our Pass The Mic superlative in our first-ever #MGTop8. The #MGTop8 highlights fearless changemakers that are making an impact on elevating Muslim women’s voices. To view the rest of our #MGTop8, click here.
Refinery29, a leading global media company founded by Justine Stefano, Philippe Von Borries, Piera Gelardi and Christene Barberich in 2005, is taking incredible editorial and journalistic strides to inspire women from all walks of life.
Championing diversity and inclusion at its finest, Refinery29 aims to relay the stories and experiences of women, from their point of view. The team behind Refinery29 use their platform as a catalyst for women to “feel, see and claim their power.” The modus operandi is clearly imagination, individuality, inclusivity and impact. Their website is an encyclopaedia for all things women and they have set the bar for inclusivity and equal representation, which can only be deemed a celebration of women.
Piera Gelardi, executive creative director and co-founder, tells MuslimGirl.com:
“When we started Refinery29, we wanted to celebrate style, self-expression, and these unique voices in fashion that weren’t getting airtime in mainstream media. From very early on, we were challenging the standard of beauty — questioning it, pushing the boundaries and not taking things at face value, when so much media to that point had been very reductive and one note for women. That philosophy has grown and evolved, but everything that we did has been and will continue to be tied to the celebration of individuality and identity — elevating underrepresented voices, reaching beyond the expected and showing women as the complex beings they are. It’s at the core of everything that we do.”
With a global audience of 550 million people, Refinery29 has made a mark on the media industry. Setting the stage as the “original next-generation women’s media company,” they have delivered on that goal with several groundbreaking initiatives. They launched The Shatterbox Anthology to increase the number of opportunities available for women in the currently male-dominated film and media industry. They aspire to enable 12 creative young women to realize their potential every year, releasing short films on a monthly basis. Recently teaming up with Golden Globe nominee and ‘Precious’ star Gabourey Sidibe and multi award-winning A-lister Kristen Stewart, Refinery29 is packing a powerful punch with the impact it aims to make on the Hollywood film industry with their female led productions.
Another Refinery29 initiative you may have already heard of is The 67% Project, which aims to overhaul the misguided representation of women we see in the media. With most women in America being what is termed as “plus-size” and only 2% of the women we see in the media actually reflecting this, Refinery29 has redesigned website illustrations and reshot photo stock in the overhaul of their media platform. In an attempt to put a stop to unconscious bias, Refinery29 now works to ensure that at least 67% of the images, illustrations and photos they publish include plus-size women, in all their different forms. Partnering with Getty images, among the world’s most known stock image company that is also working closely with Muslim Girl to promote greater representation, they have been working hard to enable other media outlets, newspapers and companies to follow suit and #SeeThe67.
Strong Opinions Loosely Held is Refinery29’s podcast series where they say feminism meets pop culture. Discussions are vastly different and a good reflection of the many issues faced by their widely varied 550 million-strong audience. Topics like; male bosses, misrepresentation of women, birth control, Donald Trump and Islamic feminism to name a few are all covered and available in one eye-catching hub.
According to Piera, “For us, it’s all about creating a trusted space every day for people to feel safe, seen, and heard. Right now, we’re in this incredible time where people who previously haven’t been able to tell their stories are finding their voices, and there’s so much power and responsibility in being a platform that shines a light on those crucial narratives.”
As a Muslim woman who is also a huge advocate for women’s empowerment, seeing the inclusion of Islam and how it ties in with feminism is something I appreciate as it impacts me personally. Refinery29 was also one of MuslimGirl.com’s inaugural partners for #MuslimWomensDay, helping to take the grassroots initiative to new audiences and ultimately make it a success.
Refinery29 made New York Times’ headlines with their immersive art experience, 29Rooms. In its third year, the project became so popular that it attracted 18,000 art-loving New Yorkers last September, causing the event to sell out before the featured artists were even announced. Due to its popularity, the exhibition — held during New York Fashion Week as a cultured alternative to the array of afterparties — recently launched in Los Angeles, marking yet another milestone in Refinery29’s growth.
Soon after, Refinery29 made The New Yorker’s headlines with ‘The Money Diaries,’ a series of user-submitted diary accounts. With comical self-reflection, eight women with similar salaries itemize their monthly expenditure in a touching attempt to gain an intimate insight into the worlds of the women around us, and help with our finances while we’re there. This segment has been a very popular tool for readers, with past diaries ranging from Rome to Shanghai with the Americas being the 75thMoney Diary.
Refinery29 has been recognized with prestigious accolades and a slew of awards for their coverage, including seven Clio awards and several Webby Awards across multiple categories for their photography, film productions, podcasts and social content. Refinery29 has hit the mark with their brand and what it aims to achieve.
While the company’s founding offices are based in New York, Refinery29 has gone global with over 450 employees worldwide and offices now in Los Angeles, London and Berlin with accompanying platforms.
It’s safe to say this global media giant has made major strides for women in the media industry, with its bold mission statement that it doesn’t shy away from creating wave after wave.
We see you, Refinery29. Thanks for always #PassingTheMic!