We are magazine writers: Lilla Lavankul, Marissa Wu, and the Big Sister We’ve Always Needed
Lilla Lavankul (Dublin High Class of 2016) and Marissa Wu (Castro Valley High Class of 2015) emit the same bright and welcoming personality as their online publication, LIME Magazine for girls. Originally a small project intended to keep summer friends together, LIME has flourished into a platform of empowerment, filled with advice, culture, and career spotlights for people of any age to learn from.
“It’s kind of like a lifeguide,” Wu, the one who pitched the idea for LIME, says.
“Like the big sister you’ve never had,” Lavankul adds.
As the editor-in-chiefs, Lavankul and Wu are responsible for publishing articles, managing social media, and overseeing the girls who write for LIME. They have twelve writers, publish approximately six times a month, and have reached over 10,000 views since their founding in 2013. Their magazine spans eight categories: DIY, Beauty/Style, Books, Movies, Music, Food, Travel, and Limelight.
“We’re always curious about what people will write about,” Wu says.
LIME has articles covering everything from orange palmier recipe reviews, graduation gift ideas, and history lessons on Fashion Week. They also have a section called Limelight, dedicated to career spotlights, interviews, and different organizations.
Limelight’s career spotlights offer great support to high school students asking the question: Who do I want to be when I grow up? They showcase insights of different professions from the professionals themselves. Limelight features an eclectic group, including a fashion designer, a pediatrician, a professor of mechanical engineering, and more. Limelight also helps answer another common question – What can I do right now? – by bringing attention to other exceptional people of our age, like a mission trip volunteer and an Easy Bay Jewish Teen Foundation leader.
All of this inspiring content is thanks to LIME’s editor-in-chiefs and writers, as well as their pure motivations and unbridled determination. They are dedicated to the idea of passionate writing and uncensored expression.
“Even if it’s not ‘super cool’ or ‘college-worthy,’ we don’t care. Share it with us. We want to hear you speak.” Wu says. “We want to be that big group of friends that’s crazy and always cheering for you. That’s what friends do. You should always have that ideal friend that says ‘go do you.’”
LIME certainly lives by the idea of Be yourself, evident from the way direction has changed within the staff. Initially, writers were told what kind of articles to write and when. But LIME broke free from that rigid structure to further embody the idea of teens pursuing their interests.
“[Now] you have total freedom over what you write,” Lavankul says.
This exemplifies one core idea of LIME: to just do what you love. They are adamant about keeping to this principle, even if it means letting people go.
“All our writers are our age, and we’re all going through the same things,” says Lavankul.
High school students are faced with numerous responsibilities, and even though some LIME writers have to leave the publication because of them, Lavankul believes that the heartbreak is worth it if it means that the former writers will be happier in the long run.
“This is about doing what you love,” Wu agrees. “People don’t all share your same passion.”
Both Lavankul and Wu respect people’s wishes, even if it means that Lavankul will have to work twice as hard to find more writers, one of the many challenges that come with working in publication. In addition to recruitment, these two also had to learn the in’s and out’s of WordPress on their own, and struggled with trial and error many times before LIME finally appeared as they envisioned. But through the hectic life of publishing, Lavankul and Wu have both learned valuable lessons that will prove vital to them in any future career.
“Connections are really powerful and helpful,” says Wu. “I’m still in touch with one of my summer program instructors, and he’s still connecting me with people and giving me advice. I ask him about business and life experiences [for LIME], and he gives me really awesome resources for anything and everything.”
All the efforts the two have put into LIME have truly paid off. They have ensured that there will always be a place for people to share their voices and have them be heard.
“One big moment for me was when we first started out as a small magazine,” says Lavankul. “I saw that people were commenting. I saw that people were actually reading what I was writing.”
These interactions between writer and reader attest to the phenomenal strides Lavankul and Wu have taken in the world of writing and publication thanks to their core ideals of embracing yourself for who you are and expressing that through your work.
“Don’t just write because you want people to read your stuff,” says Wu. “If you don’t love what you’re writing about, people can tell. Write for yourself first.”
To find out more about LIME Magazine, visit their website (http://limemagforgirls.com/) or Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/limemagforgirls/). If you to want to read more about students keeping the arts and humanities alive in the Dublin community, check out other articles in our Arts & Humanities: I Am series. And if you know of anyone we should spotlight, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.