Oprah Winfrey once said: “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”
32-year-old Andréa Butler, who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and later received her masters from Kent State University in Ohio, is doing just that.
However, as a 15 year-old African American teenager, Butler felt as though little advice was available to people like her. Black teenagers have separate issues with regards to hair and makeup for their skin is much darker and their hair is a different texture than that of white girls. Butler made it her mission to create a magazine in which black teenagers could receive the advice they may need in regards to makeup, hair, school, prom, gifts, and career opportunities.
At the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Butler focused all of her time and effort into magazine journalism, and as she moved onto Kent State to receive her masters, the first version of Sesi came into the works. As part of her masters project at Kent State, Butler decided to create a magazine focusing on black teenagers and the issues they may face. She was required to create a prototype, business plan, and then defend her creation.
After this project and her graduation, Butler decided to become an English teacher. Butler taught English for five years, only to return to her dream of publishing a teen magazine for black girls. Butler decided on a name: Sesi, which means sister, with the tag line “covering the black girl’s mainstream.” Butler decided the name and tag line were appropriate because it was her goal for black girls to look back to Sesi as a type of sister to give them advice on daily issues that a mainstream black girl may face.
The first Sesi was printed on December 4, 2009. Butler used websites to hire freelance writers to cover articles in this magazine. The first edition of Sesi was adorned with Keke Palmer on the cover. Butler turned her biggest dream into a reality with the publication of this magazine. Shortly after the first publication of Sesi, Butler took a job working for Living Social, where she continues to work from 8 to 5:30 daily. In December of 2012, the second publication of Sesi was presented with Alix Leppri on the cover.
In the second edition, new ideas came to life, as the style, color, and theme of the magazine changed for the better. The third edition of Sesi was printed with the OMG Girlz on the cover just this spring and covered which prom dresses, hair styles, makeup, and shoes are in style for black girls this prom season. Sesi also discusses more serious topics such as the “Work It Girl” section, which discusses interesting job opportunities that black girls may not think to pursue such as engineering jobs. Sesi also discusses whether a historically black college would be more beneficial than a historically white college.
On April 19, 2013, Butler came to Bullis as part of the entrepreneurship speaking series. She spoke with students about her experiences in starting a business. Butler told of her greatest challenges and successes. She also told of her greatest supporters throughout this process, and encouraged students to always follow their dreams. Butler’s next edition of Sesi will be presented in June, as the summer edition.
Currently, Sesi Magazine is printed seasonally, but Butler’s hope is that as Sesi grows in popularity, she will be able to complete close to 10 editions a year. Butler will be presenting Sesi Magazine at the National Association of Black Journalists convention this summer. Butler’s determination to follow her goals and succeed taught Bullis students how important following your dreams can be.