Stella, star of the Pacific

Amanda Donigi_web
Editor and Publisher of Stella Magazine, Amanda Donigi. Photo: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women Support Unit.

A fitting tagline for a Papua New Guinean magazine that has been steadily garnering popularity in the Pacific, and the world over, since its launch just two years ago. Dubbed the ‘thinking woman’s magazine’, Stella brings you stories of women, art, fashion, health and lifestyle. With stunningly artistic photography and design, Stella is not only aesthetically appealing but its stories inspire a deep appreciation of life and Pacific cultural heritage.

At the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation’s second Pacific Women in Business Conference in November 2014, Stella’s Editor and Publisher Amanda Donigi shared with the participants the magazine’s vision, as well as some helpful marketing and branding strategies.

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“I was really inspired when I attended the last Pacific Women in Business Conference two years ago and it’s really great to be back here to share my story.”

For writer Amanda, Stella was the ideal platform to feature the kind of stories she wrote. The trouble was, Stella didn’t exist and no other publication satisfied the vision she had for her stories. So “with necessity being the mother of invention”, Amanda decided to start a magazine.

“I knew that if I was going to create my own magazine, it had to be of top quality and second-best to nothing. This meant putting a hundred percent into it. I wanted our magazine to sit on any magazine rack in the world and be of the same quality if not better”.

Such was the commitment to focusing on creating a space where Pacific writers and artists could express themselves, Amanda, a Bachelor of Arts graduate in German, with a Certificate in Teaching English from Cambridge, and a Graduate Diploma of Arts in Writing, Editing & Publishing from The University of Queensland, left her job.

This move proved to be the right one for Amanda and the change needed in the perception of Pacific women and culture.

“At Stella we want to show the world that our culture and heritage is something to be envious about. We have amazing stories coming out of PNG and the Pacific and it’s important to focus on that and not just stories of domestic violence, rising crime rates and tribal warfare, as the Western media is prone to doing. We wanted the stories to be done in a smart way and we felt like that wasn’t being done by other publications, especially our newspapers. ”

“It was important for us to encourage creative like-minded people to work together and to create something really excellent and to push people to reach their potential. If you see people doing things you want to do it yourself.”

With a print circulation of 4000 and massive Facebook following of around 40,000, Stella just published its 12th issue.

“Before we started the magazine we did a lot of research on the look and style because both design and content are critical when telling stories. Through our content we showcase role-models. We don’t objectify women.”

Amanda stressed the importance of having a business plan, a marketing strategy, networking and grabbing opportunities when promoting a product.

“Knowing your audience is very important. When we were setting up Stella, we did lots of surveys to see the stories people where interested in”.

Consistency is also very important. At Stella, anything the team puts online has to have a purpose.

“Having a strong online presence as well as a magazine has worked well for Stella. Websites offer a place for people to get more information on the product. It has contact details and can also be interactive. As Stella has a substantial following on Facebook, we have advertisers collaborating with us for more exposure. And because we have a following, we always try to use it sensibly.”

Stella is published bi-monthly. For more information visit their website and/or Facebook.

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The second Pacific Women in Business Conference was successfully organized by the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation at the Sheraton Fiji Resort Nadi. With the theme Building Women Entrepreneurs – Building Nations, the Conference brought together around 187 women business leaders from 13 Pacific Islands Countries and featured over 40 inspiring regional speakers who shared stories about their journey in business.  The three-day conference also featured parallel workshop sessions on marketing, financing, export opportunities, training and networking, growth strategies and product development.

The Australian Government, through its Pacific Women initiative, provided significant financial support towards the event, with Westpac as the official private sector gold sponsor. Other conference supporters include Mai Life Magazine, the Greenhouse Studio, Kriz Corp and DJ Works Fiji.