New lifestyle magazine connects with women on campus

A senior journalism major started REFINE, a new digital publication.

Sarah Madaus, senior journalism major, has created Temple's first women's lifestyle magazine, REFINE. The magazine's first issue will be released this fall. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Sarah Madaus found the name of her new magazine in Temple University founder Russell Conwell’s speech “Acres of Diamonds.”

The senior journalism major didn’t want to name her magazine “Diamonds,” but then discovered diamonds are made through a refining process, which she said is the whole point of Conwell’s speech.

“You come to Temple as a piece of carbon and you leave a diamond,” Madaus said. “In this process of stress, intense pressure is on you, and that’s what happens in the refining process. There is so much pressure on this carbon and that’s what turns into a gem.”

This fall, Madaus is launching REFINE, a women’s lifestyle magazine with sections like love, fashion, health and fitness, an advice column, student features and Philly nightlife both on and off campus.

“We want to attract the fun and the bold,” Madaus said. “Something like Cosmo, ELLE. We want to recognize everything that’s going on in a Temple student’s head.”

The digital magazine will publish its first issue between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Madaus aims to publish at least twice a year, and for REFINE to be available in print by next school year.

Madaus wanted to break into the magazine industry since she was 13 years old. She originally wanted to be a writer but realized she’s too much of a perfectionist.

“I would never turn things in if I was a writer,” Madaus said. “I want to be an editor and I figured that out through college.”

Larry Stains, the assistant chair of the journalism department at the Klein College of Media and Communication and REFINE’s faculty advisor, thinks the magazine is a great idea.

“I’ve taught here for 18 years and in those 18 years I’ve always had female students who have said to me, ‘I’d love to start an intelligent magazine for women that I can’t find on the newsstand,’ but very few actually [do it],” he said. “With Sarah, she’s a force of nature. If anyone can start this magazine, she can.”

Twenty-four students make up the REFINE team, including editorial board members and photography, videography and social media teams. The group held its first meeting on Sept. 9 to brainstorm for the first issue.

Senior communication studies and environmental studies major Megan Platt, the magazine’s design director, said REFINE’s beauty lies in the team’s diversity.

“We’re not a bunch of 40-year-old writers and editors and our pieces are going to represent that,” Platt told The Temple News in an email.

Madaus wrote for the Temple chapter of Her Campus, an international publication written by college women, beginning in Fall 2015, which inspired her to start REFINE. The following semester, Madaus joined the chapter’s editorial board as secretary.

She went on to write for Her Campus’ national website and served as president of the Temple chapter for one year until the end of Spring 2018.

“All of the women leading [Her Campus] were the most amazing women I’ve ever met,” Madaus said. “Her Campus basically gave me everything.”

In Fall 2017, Madaus interned for the wellness section of Philadelphia Magazine, which she said gave her experience writing web content. She then interned at Reader’s Digest in New York City over the summer through the American Society of Magazine Editors internship program, a 10-week program for rising college seniors at major magazines in New York and Washington D.C.

During her ASME internship, Madaus said she met many notable industry professionals and leaders, including Danielle McNally, who started an award-winning student magazine called Distraction at the University of Miami in 2007.

“Being around some of the best magazine journalists in the country all the time is constantly motivating and really inspiring,” she added. “I spent a lot of my time [there] thinking and brainstorming.”

Madaus said she wants Temple women to relate to REFINE through its fashion section, which will focus on versatile styles that work for a student’s busy life between classes and internships.

“You’re not going to see Versace [or] Givenchy in our pages,” she added.

Stains said REFINE is an opportunity for journalism students to develop a different kind of voice to carry into the media profession.

“I would really like to see this magazine grow and prosper and be for students who want to write with more point of view and more sass,” he said.

After graduation, Madaus said she hopes to move to New York City and work for one of her favorite magazines, Women’s Health or ELLE.

“This is just the beginning,” Madaus added. “I’m not expecting anything to be perfect. This is just my passions thrown into this publication.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated where Madaus wants to work after graduation. She wants to work at Women’s Health or ELLE. 

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