Tricia English: Creating Space for Women's Stories
"UNUM aspires to raise awareness of extraordinary women through words, photography, and art, to show that despite what divides us, we are stronger together." - UNUM website
I met Tricia through a photographer friend of mine who was featured in UNUM. I knew right away I wanted to know more about Tricia's vision and desire to share the experiences of women worldwide! And here she is! She is truly a woman of courage.
Name: Tricia English
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Business/Organization: UNUM Magazine
How did UNUM get started, or what was your inspiration for the magazine?
It was really a combination of things, from my upbringing to my life experiences to things I've encountered in my professional and educational endeavors.
For instance, I grew up in Kansas in a family that was heavily male, so as one of the only girls in the family I was always seeking more of a connection with other girls and females. In high school and while living in Chicago, where I moved shortly after high school, I started developing close bonds with a group of really strong, inspiring women — and that's been something that has continued to this day. I am continually meeting women whose stories amaze and inspire me, and these aren't women who are famous or well-known; they're just really strong women whose stories I felt deserved to be told. So I've found a network of women who support and encourage each other as they go through their own lives and their own challenges.
Conversely, as I've gotten older I've also seen how women oftentimes *don't* support one another and are really unnecessarily competitive with each other and tear each other down as opposed to building each other up.
Then in my education, I've seen how women are negatively impacted by the portrayals of women in the fashion industry when I studied product design and business in the fashion industry. Also, I recently returned to school to pursue a degree in environmental planning and design, but was saddened to discover that I was one of just two women in my architecture class. This is what ignited my desire to start a conversation about the lack of diversity in many career fields, like in our forthcoming issue that focuses on women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
All of those things sort of coalesced earlier this year, and inspired me to start a magazine to showcase strong women and encourage women to support and inspire other women and young girls. Right now the magazine is an online quarterly magazine, which really helps gets the word out on a global level, but my hope is to print one annually every year with all four quarters in the printed copy. I believe the further we spread the stories the more people are inspired which generates a greater impact.
Given all that, what do you see as UNUM's mission, or how do you see it effecting a change?
UNUM Magazine grew out of my desire to create a platform that showcases women and their stories. I am continually inspired by the women I meet, their courage, dedication, and triumphs. It is important for women to have a place to share these stories, because I believe that we really can do incredible things if we support one another. In the beginning my goal was to share stories that would inspire women to pursue their dreams, but as I began to curate the first issue and started speaking with other women about this, it quickly became a medium to give voice to women’s stories that too often go untold. I was just amazed by the unbelievably personal, intense, and meaningful stories women shared with me for that issue and by how strongly the opportunity to tell their stories resonated with many of them. We all need to tell our stories so we can inspire others and hopefully have an impact on other women who may recognize themselves in them.
We took the name UNUM from the Latin phrase "e pluribus unum," or "out of many, one," that is the motto of the United States. It's meant to be firmly apolitical, but the idea of one coming from many resonated with what I was hoping to achieve with the magazine. So UNUM centers around the idea that though we are many and individual, as one we are stronger than we can be apart.
You've finished one issue and are working on the second; how is it progressing or developing?
The funny thing is, I just started this as a sort of quiet little passion project to do on the side — I don't have a background in writing our journalism or publishing — but once I said something about it on social media the response was far greater than anything I'd imagined or anticipated. It quickly turned into something much bigger and much more public than I'd ever dreamed.
UNUM really started as something I was doing for myself and for whoever might stumble upon it, but the response from people who've seen it has really changed what it is and its evolution, in some ways. I'm very determined that it will remain true to that original mission, but instead of featuring women I know personally or the friends of friends, I'm already talking to and writing about women I'd never met before and women in fields far outside my own experience. It's already been an amazing journey. It's going to be challenging to continue as I progress further toward my degree, but I hope to see it really grow and touch as many women and young girls as it can. Our next issue on women in science incorporates interviews with young girls about their attitudes toward science and math and their experiences in pursuing those fields, and then features women from an incredible range of scientific fields, from epidemiologists to astronomers to scientific illustrators. And then I'm looking at doing issues centered around women in food and women in art and design, for the next two quarters. It's a little daunting, given that it's so far outside my realm of experience before now, but it's so exciting and rewarding to hear these women's stories and share them with everyone. It's really been an incredible experience so far, and I can't wait to see what the future holds.