Jackie May is director, founder and editor of Twyg, a magazine focused on storytelling, content production and networking to champion kinder, fairer, inclusive and nature-friendly futures. She initiates projects and stories that promote the circular economy. Jackie creates learning material and regularly publishes stories about designers and creatives who use circular and sustainable design practices. In 2019 Jackie launched the annual Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards to celebrate designers using circular and sustainable practices (the awards are good for educating the consumer market too). In collaboration with The Beach Co-op, Twyg runs an annual campaign to raise awareness about problem plastics.
Twyg hosts a monthly clothing Swap&Mend activation event in Cape Town. Jackie launched the Africa Textile Talks in 2021 and co-founded the Refashion Lab. Refashion Lab aims to support a viable textile waste recycling system that creates jobs, reduces textile to landfill and creates awareness about circular design and conscious consumption. Previously Jackie worked in multiple big and medium-sized mainstream media organisations. She edited the South African edition of the international women’s fashion magazine Marie Claire and was the Cape editor of the national newspaper, The Times. Jackie holds an MA in Philosophy from the University of London and currently is an MPhil student at Stellenbosch’s Centre of Sustainable Transitions, researching cotton farming.
You were a journalist for over 20 years in mainstream media and in 2018 you launched Twyg, why did you decide to make that shift?
I left my last corporate job unhappy with what I was doing. As a lifestyle and features editor I was propping up a system that isn’t sustainable. At the time, I felt that we need to offer people a world view that is kinder, fairer and sustainable. We do this at Twyg, and we actively support a sustainable transition through inspiration, information and education.
Twyg magazine focuses on sustainability of fashion and the environment and ethical consumerism. How do you keep your content new and fresh and how do you find new approaches to story ideas?
Globally, there is a frenzy of activity to innovate and reduce our impact on the planet. People are trying very hard to meet the targets set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to limit the devastation of climate change, poverty and inequality. By being inclusive and including the entire fashion value chain – from farm to fibre to fashion – we have so many story ideas. But we have to figure out what is relevant to our readers in South Africa, be mindful of our context and we think carefully how we can contribute to the conversation here in a positive way.
In terms of readership and your audience, who mostly engages with your content?
It’s a small audience but it’s a very broad one. It’s mostly women (70%) between the ages of 24 and 35 across all races and cultures.
Do you think there is an appetite for content that focuses on the topics that you do in South Africa?
South Africans have so much else to worry about and what we do might seem unimportant. But South Africans are very fashion and status conscious, and many would like to see social and political change. The fashion system is one of the most complicated manufacturing industries and touches many people’s lives. Through talking and writing about this industry we can create awareness about the cultural relevance of clothes and how they can contribute to job creation. We see fashion as a proxy for the larger social-economic-environmental context.
Twyg also hosts workshops and campaigns. Can you tell us more about these workshops and what do they entail?
These events and campaigns are extensions of our content creation. They help us reach more people and they amplify what we are trying to achieve. Like our content, we use these workshops to inform and educate our community about the circular economy, regenerative practices and sustainability. And everything we do is about helping to create communities of care.
What are the plans for the future for Twyg?
Our primary concern is to reach as many people as possible so we can positively change behaviour. We want to take up media space so that we can shift the narrative. We have so much to do, in such a short space of time.
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