Featured photo: The first issue of Triad Voice launched in June 2022 and highlights Dana Suggs, the owner of Body & Soul in Winston-Salem

Triad Voice is a new quarterly magazine that launched in June. The magazine focuses on stories that highlight women of color and was founded by Chelsie Smith, who has lived in different cities in the Triad for years. Learn more at triadvoicemag.com and on their Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tell me about how the vision for the magazine started. What’s your background?

Basically when the pandemic hit, I was reading more community magazines because I still wanted to stay connected to the community, but a lot of what I was seeing did not represent myself or my colleagues. I sat down and I thought about it and talked to some of my friends who said, ‘Don’t you think it would be amazing if there was a magazine that was more representative of communities of color? Like highlighting the things that are going on every month.’ And that’s not happening; it doesn’t exist; it’s never existed. So, I sat down and said, ‘I want to change that.’

As for my background, I have a degree in biology, but have always enjoyed writing and have done freelance writing in the last couple of years.

Once you decided you wanted to start a magazine, what did the timeline look like?

I started talks with my family and friends in January and launched the website in May and our physical copy launched in June. It actually launched on Juneteenth. We’re quarterly at this time, but in the next four to six months, I foresee us being bimonthly, until we can gain additional community partnerships and support. Then I can see in the future us becoming monthly. Our next issue comes out Oct. 1.

Chelsie Hart-Smith is the founder of Triad Voice Magazine (courtesy photo)

Tell me about that very first issue in June.

We sat down and made an avatar of our Voice readers. We asked ourselves, What does she like to read? We wrote those topics down: cuisine, food, fashion, health, physical wellness, spiritual, community events, what’s going on locally. We also found great interest in horoscopes and learning more about community leaders like women in the community who are doing exceptional things. We want to highlight art, do Q&As for beauty, as well as a ‘Girl Talk’ Q&A that’s like a ‘Dear such and such,’ sort of thing. Then we talked about Juneteenth and why it’s important and the appropriate ways to celebrate it. 

For the first issue we also talked about mental health and about imposter syndrome. That’s where we started. We also talk about financial literacy and business. We just really want to continue to lean into self-care and what that looks like physically. One of the big things about Voice that I’m really proud of is that we want to be positive and uplifting so when you put the magazine down you learn something that will help you in some way.

Also, because we’re quarterly, we did think it was important to address weekly content, so we try to update the online blog weekly and social media accounts daily on community events and things like that.

The first issue of Triad Voice launched in June 2022 and highlights Dana Suggs, the owner of Body & Soul in Winston-Salem

What has the reception been like?

The response has been phenomenal and at times, overwhelming. I did not expect the level of response that we’ve had so far. It really leads me to believe that the community wanted this. We had 800 copies gone in the first 14 days. A lot of community leaders have also reached out who said they loved Voice.

Who is currently writing for Voice?

At last count Voice has over 21 contributors. If you know someone who’s a writer, please connect them to myself. We have writers from all over who would send their friends. We have some very amazing contributors including Nikita Wallace, the founder of Winston-Salem Fashion Week. She writes about fashion tips. Ja’Net Adams provides financial literacy tips. Toni Shaw, an  award-winning photographer did our cover photography. And then we have some people who write about issues who are a little more heavy. So we have a pretty extensive list of women who are well known in the community.

Why did you decide to start a magazine here in the Triad? 

Before living here with my husband, I spent many summers coming to Winston-Salem because my father is born and raised here. Coming here was some of the best times of my life. Winston-Salem has always been my home. One of my proudest things is that there is a magazine filled with people that look like him that his daughter helped create. 

Before, the representation was not there, you know, there was sprinkles of it, but I could get on social media and see people celebrating wins for people like me, but I wasn’t seeing it reflected in our community publications. So I felt really strongly, Why not here?

That really propelled me. Opening up a magazine and not seeing anyone that looks like you, it’s hard to relate. I wanted to change that narrative.

Now my daughters were the first people to get a copy of Voice. And after that first issue, my son walked up to me and said, ‘Congratulations on the magazine, mom.’ They don’t know that what their mother did was not something that their grandmother could have done. 

Inside the first issue of Triad Voice Magazine

Tell me about the importance of having Voice in the community.

We started with women because especially minority women are often overlooked when we work really hard. I love the culture and what we bring to the community. Personally, I know the pressure I’m under. Then 2020 happened but 2020 was what Black Americans knew was going on for years. I see a lot of minority women who aren’t given their flowers until they pass away. Why don’t we give her celebration here and now? We’re also very inclusive. Voice isn’t just for Black people. That’s not who it’s for. Voice caters to people who are unheard. We have Latina writers; we have white writers. Anyone who has a voice that is not being heard, that’s who we’re catering towards. That’s Asian culture, Black culture, Hispanic Latino culture, that’s all of us. We’re always looking to share the experience of people in the Triad, so if you have something you want to share that you think is of interest, reach out to us.

What do you hope for the future of Voice?

I purposely set Voice up so that if one day I’m not here, someone else can take it over. Voice is greater than I am; it’s about going to the grocery store and seeing the magazine and picking it up and seeing someone that looks like them.

A lot of the time people say, ‘Oh, don’t copy me.’ But I say, copy me! I hope that there’s another woman out there that says, ‘I really want to do whatever for the community, I see that this woman can do it, so can I.’ 

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