Jess Weiss — Giving Women A Platform to Have a Voice
Jess Weiss is the publisher and co-founder of Trix — a magazine for women to define success on their own terms. While still working as a full-time strategist for Google's executive leadership development team, she also handles the overall business strategy and brand viability for the magazine she started two years ago. She uses her organizational psychology background to lead the editorial angle of Trix in research about media, gender bias, stereotype threat and the positive impact of visible role models on young girls and women.
Here’s an excerpt from our interview with Jess.
Passionistas: What's the one thing you're most passionate about?
Jess: I would say in this day and age, it's really about giving women a platform to have a voice. And, you know, I think it's a really interesting time to be a woman today. We've seen these remarkable movements over the past few years, such as Me Too, the Women's March and then that has had global reverberations. So I think it's a really wonderful and interesting and challenging time to think about what it means to be a woman. We still have tremendous gaps of all kinds across the world — pay gaps, investing gaps, gender gaps in hiring positions of occupancy and executive
But at the same time, I think more than ever women and girls and allies are really raising their hand to say, let's change the dialogue, let's change how we speak to think about and project power into the hands of women. So, I'm very passionate about doing what I can through Trix and my work at Google to really elevate voices of women and girls around the world in a way that's empowering and demonstrates their agency in a way that is not necessarily tied to their beauty or their looks, which I think has really been the traditional way that we've portrayed women in power.
Passionistas: Talk about how that relates to the work you do at Trix.
Jess: Trix has been my passion project and now official side hustle, functioning, small business that I run with my two founding partners and about a hundred freelancers all across the world. But it started from an idea a couple of years ago. So as many things in life start as, Trix started as a happy accident. I had been thinking about getting more involved in journalism, but being really mid-career and quite advanced in my field, which is not directly tied to journalism, I didn't really know how to get in. I thought, well, I can't really go back and get a master's degree and started as an intern in the mailroom of CNN. That doesn't sound appealing. So, I wonder if there's another entry point.
So, I had that in the back of my mind, then one day on vacation, just right after Christmas day, a couple of years ago, I happened to be sitting by a pool on vacation with my family and my phone died. So, kind of being a busy minded, New Yorker, I not very good at sitting still and doing nothing. So, I had to scramble to pick up the nearest reading material, which happened to be a couple of magazines that I probably normally wouldn't have read. But because I had time to kill, I picked up the first one and it was a typical women's fashion and beauty magazine.
But the title on the cover really caught my eye. It said, "How to have your best year yet. How to kill it in 2018." And I thought, oh, okay, maybe fashion and beauty magazines are creating more content for ambitious hustling women. Maybe there's something in here for me.
And I'll never forget when I opened up the magazine, the first article I saw on this section of how to have your best year yet was called "An ode to liquid eyeliner." And it was like 250 words, praising liquid eyeliners ability to disguise your hangovers. And so, if you're running low on sleep or I'd been out all-night partying, that all you had to do was swipe on this magical liquid eyeliner and all would be well in the world.
And I just remember laughing and thinking, okay, well, first of all, no judgment. I wear liquid eyeliner and I've been hung over before. So that's not really like a problem per se, but the fact that it's packaged as how to have your best year yet to be just felt like an incredibly low bar, almost comical to think about.