Editorials — June 18, 2015 10:34 — 0 Comments

A Chat with STACKEDD’s Ma’Chell Duma LaVassar

STACKEDD magazine is a new Seattle publication focusing on the triumphs of female-identifying persons, places and things. They are also in the midst of a fundraiser in the hopes of putting out a print version of their publication.  We had the chance to chat with “Editrix-In-Chief” Ma’Chell Duma LaVassar to talk about the magazine’s origin and who they want their audience to be.


Who was there and when was the moment STACKEDD was born? What was the aim at that second and inspiration?

The idea for STACKEDD was born one afternoon over many tequila sodas at Horses Cut Shop (which would later become Underwood Stables) in Fremont. The original idea was to produce a print, quarterly zine showcasing local women in the music, arts, sex and food scenes in Seattle where we could employ other female identifying writers who were struggling with the limitations freelancing gigs in Seattle offered.

That was in 2011 so I don’t remember everyone who was present (again, with the tequila sodas) but Hannah Levin was definitely there. It was one of those “if I had my own way, this is how I’d run things” conversations. We’d been chatting about a piece a local editor had ran reviewing a concert where he said he’d sat with all the other music editors in town, who didn’t happen to just be all male, but who were so similar in appearance (white, beardy dudes with glasses for the most part) if you were asked to run a note to one of them they would have been impossible to distinguish individually by appearance. This was before Emily Nokes came on at the Stranger, and if you wanted to write about music or pretty much anything else your opinion was going to have to be approved by and filtered by a man, sometimes to the point you couldn’t recognize your own work. That conversation rang true with other women I was chatting with who had notably different experiences with male editors than female ones. After that idea sparked, I thought about it some more and I decided I would move forward and by our next round of drinks on the Cut Shop’s hay bales I’d come up with name STACKEDD, with the DDs to emphasize the boob power of the publication. It took two tries and three years for me to get things off the ground.

What were some of the early struggles and early successes over the first few years?

We’ve only been a real “thing” since January, but early attempts to get going were certainly thwarted by a lack of money. I didn’t want to be another publication or site that asks writers to work for “exposure,” which to me is just the biggest pile of horseshit. I don’t think people are aware of how many sites they visit, local and big ones, who pay their writers, photographers and artists nothing or very, very little. I believe writing, when done well, is an art and people deserve compensation for it. Right now we are at a little more per post than the alt-weeklies and a little less than a site like XOJane.

Because of the housing boom last year, I was able to take a small amount of equity to get things started and had a small investment group who had read my business plan, buy in for 10% which helped me find someone (Aaron Starkey) to build a sexy, highly mobile responsive site for my contributors to play with. Money is the biggest struggle still for sure, I was hoping at the six-month point we’d have our content covered by ad sales, but I also don’t want a splash of crap on every page and a pop-up’s assaulting our strong aesthetic, so it’s a struggle. Right now we are working on corporate sponsorships to fund our efforts and an indiegogo page to help us do a print issue and offset some of the cost of publication that are on my credit cards.

The biggest surprise success-wise has been our immediate readership. I thought it would just be our friends reading us for the first year or so. We’ve also been able to make some really great art (Like our Twin Peaks photo series and what not) on a shoestring budget. I was also surprised when the analytics rolled in and I discovered our readership is almost equally split gender-wise. I honestly didn’t think men would read a comment-free, female identifying publication.

Why not?

My experience has been that some men read things that don’t pertain to them expressly to make a comment – sort of “Because I’m not included in this, I have to include myself as I am entitled to inclusion” and because Seattle has a deeply intrinsic “Bro” Culture. And I don’t mean that white hat, frat boy “Bro” thing we mock on Capitol Hill – misogyny doesn’t always wear a white, backwards baseball cap, it comes in Filson variety too and there is a very specific type of hipster, white male entitlement that often rears its head in our Arts culture.

Can you explain this a little more and how STACKEDD aims to, perhaps, counter this “Bro” culture? 

We pay it no mind and operate without its inclusion. It’s nice if straight dudes like what we write, but it’s not for them and we give zero fucks if they are into it or not.

What’s a project you’d love to have come to fruition with STACKEDD in the next year or so? And what’s coming up in the near future for you? 

We will be starting our STACKEDD Summer Camp this month, which is an online program for female identifying people between the ages of 12-20 who’d like to be mentored in the Arts (criticism, essays, photographer, graphic art and comics) and assign them a mentor who guides them through creation of works we’ll publish and show at the end summer. It’s a free program and the kids will get paid a stipend for their published work. Our photography is being included in the Between Two Worlds a Twin Peaks Inspired Art Show in Greenwood August 14 and we are co-sponsoring several summer music and arts events like the Macefield Music Festival.

Hopefully, we’ll raise enough capital to see the print issue happen. In a perfect world, I’d love to gain another site under the STACKEDD media umbrella. I love Seattlish and wish I could buy them and build them a site as quality as their content. I’d also like to start contracting our writers out for commercial copywriting work as that’s one of the last bastions of writing where people still get paid.


Jake Uitti is a founding editor of The Monarch Review.

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The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney