Andréa Butler, M.A., '05
Growing up, Kent State alumna ANDRÉA BUTLER, M.A. ’05, was much like any other young girl who loved to gush over the latest trends in magazines. But she realized when she was about 17 that a huge majority of teen magazines didn’t cover the beauty necessities of black girls. So she made herself a promise: If nothing changed by the time she graduated from college, she’d start her own magazine. And so, the journey to create Sesi began.
As a Kent State graduate student in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Butler created a business plan and prototype for Sesi for her master’s project. But she knew that if the magazine was going to be a success, she would have to invest a lot of money into it – money a newly minted graduate student wouldn’t and didn’t have.
After spending five years as an English teacher, she went on to work as an editor at LivingSocial in Washington, D.C. It was there that Butler got the last boost she needed to really reboot and relaunch Sesi. At LivingSocial, she had learned about the importance of freelancers: how to hire them, manage them and how they could capture the essence of local voices. She quit her full-time job in 2012 to focus on Sesi. Five years later, she secured a distributor, and since June 2018, the magazine has been on shelves at Books A-Million stores across the country. The summer 2018 issue featured “This is Us” actress Lyric Ross as its cover girl.
As an editor and entrepreneur, Butler’s day-to-day includes selling ads, getting distributors, creating content for social media, finding influencers, attending conventions, forming surveys and staying authentic. She also travels to school librarian expos, which she has found to be an effective way of getting the word out, because librarians will often subscribe on the spot.
As she continues to define Sesi, she said that today the magazine sees 10,000 readers, and those readers share their issues with four to five other people. However, what Butler prides her magazine on the most is just encouraging girls to get involved, to have a voice.
(Adapted from article published August 2018)