Interview with author, speaker and entrepreneur Lisa K. Stephenson
Can you please introduce yourself?
I am Lisa K. Stephenson, author, speaker and entrepreneur. I own Kombination Kouture Company which houses two independent entities: She’s SINGLE Media and Wilson Book Group. I grew up in The Bronx and currently reside here with my puppy.
What was your inspiration behind launching She’s SINGLE Magazine?
My inspiration behind launching She’s SINGLE Magazine came from watching the Hugh Hefner documentary on Amazon Prime. I am a huge fan of documentaries, from animal docs to murder cases I can sit and watch them all. The Playboy Documentary was particularly interesting to me because I am a survivor of mental and physical abuse during one of my relationships. I was able to come out on the other side, but unfortunately, I know there are many women today who may not have the same success story. As a single woman today and trying to find myself again, rebuild my self-esteem, love myself again, I realized that there is no doubt a market for women like me, the only question was, how do I reach them?
Before She’s SINGLE Magazine I started a non-profit called, Tau Iota Mu Psi which translates to, The Independent Millennial Woman. My message to women was the same, How to Have it all: Healthy Intimacy and Independence. The issue with the non-profit is that we weren’t garnering enough interest despite having such a powerful theme centered around it: scholarships, sisterhood, employment. Watching Hugh Hefner’s documentary made me realize that in order to be successful and educate women on this very important topic, especially millennials as I myself am one, it needed to entertain. I needed to find a way to include these women, showcase their talents, because 9/10 women who end up in abusive relationships are smart, ambitious, benevolent and empathetic, it is usually their empathetic characteristic that lands them in the abusive relationship in the first place.
She’s SINGLE Magazine is for the girl next door, the woman who thinks she may have lost her sexy, got her heartbroken and has given up on both herself and life. I learned through entertainment you can teach and so we’re doing both with She’s SINGLE.
Who are some of the people you admire or draw inspiration?
I am a huge fan of women like Issa Rae and Ava DuVernay. I admire their tenacity and the support they give to our community. As a writer, innovator and creative, I hope to one day be able to give back so heavily in the entertainment industry that not only are we providing black news about empowering women, but also employing African American actors and actresses by producing quality films and television shows as well as publishing African American writers. The scope of where Kombination Kouture can go is extraordinary, and make no mistake, we’re going there.
What’s your favorite part about She’s SINGLE thus far?
My favorite part so far is Jazz for The Millennials, I am obsessed at this point with artists like Nina Simone, Otis Redding, Miles Davis, Minnie Riperton and so many more gems. I am at peace listening to their music and I am ecstatic about the opportunity to have these wonderful artists continue to live on in the pages of She’s SINGLE. Each issue features 1-2 prominent African American Jazz Musician. It’s valuable music that has been sampled for decades and yet many of us coming up have no clue who these marvelous men and women are. It hurts me, in comparison to the music that sells today, we can do better, as a people, as a culture, I feel like it’s time we educate our brothers and sisters on classics.
Do you ever find yourself relating heavily to the articles written in the publication?
Yes, the journalists here at She’s SINGLE are exemplary writers and their ability to evoke a variety of emotions from their reader is jaw-dropping. I’ve learned a lot since working with many of these women, they do the research to back their opinions and their writing styles are all so unique and fresh. I sometimes find myself having flashbacks of my past, but only thinking of the things I should have done differently.
When it comes to your writers, how do you train upcoming journalists on long-form journalism?
I do not have a strict approach with the journalists here because I am all about growth. My friends call me a computer because I download information, I don’t just see something and that’s it, if it’s intriguing enough to me, I will capture it, nurture it and create something exquisite from it. I am not lazy and do not rely on others to keep me motivated, I look for that same kind of passion in my team. Training wheels do not live here, we have meetings and sometimes I will purposely serve them breadcrumbs in hopes that they express enough interest to either populate questions surrounding something I have assigned for further clarity from me or they will take initiative and apply their own creative spin to it. I am molding leaders, to one day perhaps own their own offices, oversee a team. I see leaders in almost everybody but the question is some don’t see it in themselves and that can’t be taught. But for those who choose to stick around me, pick my brain, have a genuine interest in learning, they will.
What’s next for She’s SINGLE when it goes live on newsstands this August?
We hope to have a successful launch and from there continue to educate and entertain millennial women. We’re bringing something new to the table and inviting everyone around us to partake, growth is not about selfishness, it’s about unity, we’re only strong together.
What advice would you give young women who are interested in owning a copy of the publication?
Be prepared for change. Yes, you will find new music suggestions, beautiful photos, learn of black businesses in your neighborhood or even online that you can support, but most of all, take in the content. About 75% of our publication consists of articles, Why We Empower, Why We Teach is important because being entertained is fine, but being educated, now that’s the real power. No one can take that from you.