10 Questions for Melissa Magsaysay, hard working mom, author, fashion consultant, and member of I Am A Voter.
Melissa Magsaysay is a wonderful person. She’s an accomplished writer and fashion insider, whom I had the pleasure to work with at 11 Honoré for two and a half years. After my time there, we have continued to collaborate and support each other on our respective projects. She truly is as nice as she appears. I Am A Voter is a well regarded and well known non-partisan movement that she is a member of, along with another fashion insider, Mandana Dayani, who created I am a Voter. We wanted to know how she got involved in this organization, what she thinks is important about it, and what’s going on with her.
AK: Right now it feels very of the moment to have a voice, but there was a time when it wasn't as safe to be outspoken about your views. Have you always been a political person, despite that it wasn’t always in vogue?
MM: I have definitely always spoken out for what I believe in, but in my own way. Whether that’s through organizing, volunteering, donating when and where I can and now also on social media. Everyone has a role to play when it comes to being anti-racist and exercising their civic duty, but everyone’s methods are different. Being outspoken is not the only way to use your voice. Use it effectively and in a way that makes sense to you and your life, but do be sure to use it.
AK: How did you meet Mandana Dayani, Founder of I Am A Voter initially?
MM: Mandana and I met through mutual friends and because we found ourselves speaking on a lot of the same panels and attending the same events. She is such an engaging and uplifting person who creates a very effortless connection with people.
AK: Why did you get involved in I Am A Voter? What is different about it to you vs. other organizations out there that you could support?
MM: Mandana, (co-founder of IAAV) Tiffany Bensely and I happened to all be in New York at the same time a couple of years ago and we met for a late night drink. They started telling me about I Am a Voter and the IAAV pins that celebrities and fashion figures were wearing during fashion week. I thought it was a great story and wrote about it for The Hollywood Reporter. The pins started showing up on the red carpet during the Oscars and I wrote about IAAV again. I realized the swell of support and the amazing message of the organization. To me, it felt natural and made total sense to build a brand around voting and making it feel a part of one’s identity. Plus, in addition to Mandana and Tiffany, the 20+ other women who comprise the I Am A Voter team are publicists, marketing experts, entertainment executives who I admire greatly. I believe that there is literally nothing that the team can’t do.
It's not too late to vote! Even if you're not registered. Learn how to vote in your state through election day on November 3rd.
AK: You’re an accomplished author and editor in the beauty and fashion worlds. How do you integrate your experience there to I Am A Voter?
MM: The I Am A Voter team is full of amazing and super successful branding and PR experts. I am in awe every time we meet or witness the progress happening because of them. I think that my ability to recognize and tell a good story is something I am able to offer. Also, my brand relationships and love of collaboration with brands is valuable and something I try to bring to I Am A Voter.
AK: I Am A Voter has wide support within the industry from organizations like CFDA to designers such as Prabal Gurung. How much do you attribute that to you and Mandana’s personal networks and how much do you attribute that to the fashion world’s commitment to change?
MM: The fashion world (especially Prabal and the CFDA as you mention) are so committed to progress and supporting true change within the industry. I think it is truly the interest on their part. Myself, Mandana or anyone on the I Am a Voter team may have the relationship, but if the brand or designer is not willing or passionate, they would not take to this message and put it into action so fervently and effectively as they do.
AK: You sell merchandise that highlights the group and its message on your site as well as on others’ like ShopBop. How does the merchandise work into your cause to get the word out?
MM: I Am A Voter was created in an effort to “make voting cool.” Chic clothing and accessories are certainly effective in spreading that message. It also reinforces the concept of making voting very much a part of your identity. Our personal style choices are reflective of our identities, so expressing the importance of voting sartorially effortlessly puts voting top of mind.
AK: Both you and Mandana are overachieving, working moms! I am always amazed by how you do it. What is one thing you do for yourself in the morning that sets your day on the right course?
MM: Ha! It’s certainly always a work in progress. I try and walk or workout as many mornings a week as possible. Also, it sounds simple, but I make a thorough to-do list either right before bed or first thing in the morning. That really quiets my mind and helps me be as present as possible when getting my son ready for school.
AK: To follow up on the last question, how do you create balance for yourself during this abnormal time?
Sticking to my workouts and getting outside in nature hiking and walking through the neighborhood really help me achieve some semblance of balance right now.
AK: What current issues are the most important to you right now as an Angeleno?
MM: Certainly voting. This election is arguably the most important of our lives and there is so much at stake.
AK: What would you like the SameSide audience to know about I Am A Voter?
MM: The team is truly the most inspiring group of women that care deeply about voting and working toward being a more unified nation.
AK: Once the 2020 election is passed what’s next for the organization? What’s next for you?
MM: The message of voting will always be important. I think that after this election, regardless of the outcome, people will feel this. I will continue to use my voice to amplify the voting message for future elections (local and national) and also for social justice related issues in general. The articles I write, editorial roles I play with brands and the other projects I am involved in are rooted in ensuring there is more diversity and inclusivity in fashion and beauty.
Still unsure on how to vote? Join SameSide Founder, Nicole àBeckett, for a rundown of everything on your ballot in California and how to safely vote!