Inspired by her friends at the University, Rachel Keller’s Miss Miami magazine pushes the envelope and recently took first place at the UDisrupt Women Empowerment Business Competition.
Frustrated by male-dominated spaces and topics peddled to young women by the mainstream media, Rachel Keller took matters into her own hands when she created an online magazine to cater to college women—written and illustrated by college women.
Keller, a junior studying finance at the University of Miami, said that what makes her magazine unique is the deeper, innermost issues and experiences she and her peers face on campus, and beyond. The publication was created to tackle topics about protecting women, reproductive rights, addressing unattainable beauty standards, and sexual harassment and assault prevention.
“We’re expected to adhere to the standards and expectations that have been laid out in the past when there’s time for a change,” said Keller. “I thought a good way to really start the conversation was to create this magazine.”
Aiming for a printed magazine, Keller ended up with an online flip-book in an effort to deliver readers a full, cohesive package instead of one or two articles per month.
Recently, she heard about UM Hillel’s UDisrupt Pitch Competition, a “Shark Tank”-style contest funded through the Women’s Impact Initiative of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. The mission of the competition was to empower women students to create a product that will help address needs specific to women in the workforce. Keller submitted her idea just a few months before releasing her first edition in February. In April, after a laborious application and development process—that included professional help and guidance from a mentor—she was selected as the winner of the competition.
“I applied because I figured that this could be a great way to get some extra support and possibly some funding,” said Keller, who took home the $3,000 first place prize.
Tamara Zishuk, director of strategic initiatives at UM Hillel, said Keller’s project was incredible and met the judges’ criteria.
“Rachel had the most fleshed out idea and strategy for growth,” Zishuk said. “Overall, the pitch competition was incredible and showcased remarkable female talent on campus.”
With the prize money, Keller looks forward to upscaling her brand and investing in more marketing to expand the magazine. She is pleased with the magazine’s growth so far and thanks her writers for revealing their innermost struggles and experiences.
“I found it important to find different writers on campus to contribute to the magazine, because it was really important to me that I included a variety of women’s ideas and passions,” Keller explained.
Trenitee Wesley, a junior double majoring in marketing and management, decided to work with Miss Miami Magazine because of her passion for advocacy, an interest in social issues as they relate to women’s issues, and her love for writing.
“There is so much anyone can learn from our magazine because it gives a voice to issues we were previously too afraid to speak on,” said Wesley. “Magazines like Miss Miami give me hope for society. Women coming together to speak about not only our issues but our experiences and ways to combat some of the problems we all face—we should build a safe space for women to be women, whatever that means to them, however they would like.”
Keller noted that her knowledge in entrepreneurship stems from her courses at the Miami Herbert Business School coupled with her leadership position within the TAMID Group, a student organization that develops the professional skills of undergraduate students through experiential learning that includes hands-on involvement in startup projects, summer internships, and more.
“I created Miss Miami magazine so that female students from every part of the University can relate,” said Keller, who wants her magazine to be a source for women who don’t feel they are represented. “I want to counteract those feelings by writing and giving others a platform to break down issues in a simple way that doesn’t make anyone feel like they aren’t enough.”