Gabrielle Amani Williams and her mom Simone Clarke are building a burgeoning business empire.
What started as a side hustle from their home in Brooklyn has grown into a popular lifestyle and entertainment brand. Launched in 2012, MEFeater Magazine has grown into a successful digital and print publication for all things music, fashion, and entertainment.
Last year was MEFeater’s most successful year yet. Gabrielle landed a spot on the Forbes Under 30 Media List, the pair published an ambitious print edition and also inked deals with the likes of Nike, Sephora, and the VMA’s. The brand is also diversifying with the launch of a cutting-edge talent and marketing agency MEFAgency.
Its bold name MEFeater plays on the controversial association with the drug methamphetamine and the idea of being addicted to music, fashion, and entertainment content; their loyal followers are MEFheads.
Back in 2012, in the era of the blog, Gabrielle founded MEFeater at just seventeen. As a college student studying architecture (Gabrielle later went on to study marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology), MEFeater gave Gabrielle, who describes herself at that time as “dangerously creative”, a focus and a creative outlet.
With Gabrielle working full-time as director of a marketing department on Wall Street and mom Simone Clarke as an assistant principal, MEFeater soon became big enough to demand their full-time commitment.
Gabrielle’s youth at the time allowed her to tap into a world of entertainment and trends and allowed her to take a leap going full-time with MEFeater.
Gabrielle explains feeling “a lot of ageism in the industry at the time.” “I looked young, I was young…” she says, “people used to take me for the intern.” “People wouldn’t respect me because they didn’t feel I had the experience to be respected.”
“The brand has evolved with me. I feel responsible for a generation of readers and, in many ways, I’m a reflection of them.”
Now Gabrielle is the CEO and lead marketer, and Simone is the managing director of MEFeater. When asked about being in business with her daughter, Simone describes it as a privilege to work alongside her “phenomenal” CEO, jokingly adding “my daughter might give you a different answer!”
Struggling more with finding the balance between work and home life than professionalizing their work relationship, the duo had to work on finding their boundaries.
For Gabrielle, “it was a question of finding [her] own identity and legitimacy in an industry that fails to take young, black women seriously.”
“The brand has evolved with me,” Gabrielle says. “I feel responsible for a generation of readers and, in many ways, I’m a reflection of them.”
Simone as managing director oversees running the ship whereas Gabrielle brings her big ideas to the table as CEO and lead marketer. Simone describes them as the “perfect team”; what she lacks, Gabrielle makes up for, the big creative side to her big business side.
With 2021 their biggest year to date, the MEFeater creative output includes shooting content for the magazine, producing their annual fashion show, attending panels at events, and running after parties.
With no agency behind them and a power-house team of seven, “MEFeater has been consistent about its really strong branding, and that has worked for us.”
“MEFeater is 100% about creating content. Not only are we producing fire content, but we’re doing it with a small team who get the job done.”
MEFeater operates solely on revenue-generated income, that comes largely from advertising, with partnership brands including Nike and Sephora.
In 2021, MEfeater launched its first print magazine with a special Women in Business edition featuring Live Civil’s creator and CEO Karen Civil, Senior Vice President of Creative at Capitol Records Amber Grimes, and Ahead Money’s COO Kimberley Morgan and CEO Anu Shultes.
Speaking about the print version of the MEFeater magazine, Simone says “We want this to be a beautiful, very high-quality magazine. We’re producing a coffee-table, collectors-item level publication in terms of our aesthetic.”
MEFeater is “100% about creating content,” says the pair. “That is what marks us out from other online entertainment brands. We are producing all of our own amazing creative content.”
“Not only are we producing fire content, but we’re doing it with a small team who get the job done!” says Simone. The MEFeater team turned their first print publication around in just three weeks, from shoots in New York and Atlanta to interviewing the Ahead Money team for the launch event.
Last year MEFeater produced its own fashion show, and 2022 saw the launch of MEFAgency, the publication’s latest venture, a client-based agency for talent in the media, entertainment, and fashion agency.
The team has been quietly working on their talent agency MEFAgency, perfecting and editing in real time the products and services that the agency will provide for the launch, which is currently set for later this year.