Rachael and Elena Baxter prove that there is strength in numbers. As sisters and co-founders of New York-based publication Conscious Magazine, these rising media mavens are working diligently to revolutionize the way we think about, share, and consume storytelling in this day and age. Both Rachael and Elena attribute life in the city, their respective involvement the arts, and philanthropy as core pillars in all that they take on. Their tireless dedication and penchant for community-building are just a couple of the things we admire here at Coclico. We visited with the duo on a June morning in Long Island City and discussed sustainable fashion, conscious culture, and the importance of unity.
ELENA BAXTER: We are Elena and Rachael Baxter, founders of Conscious Magazine. We are also sisters originally from New Jersey. We set out on this journey together years ago to try and change the media narrative by lowering the volume of sensational media and raising the amount of inspirational media.
Professionally, we both wear as many hats as necessary. As Managing Editor for the magazine, I (Elena) curate most of our articles for our print editions and build media collaborations while being the cheerleader on social media. Rachael is our Editor-in-Chief and works on developing stories, campaigns, and has been extremely instrumental in design and marketing.
RACHAEL BAXTER: The evolution of Conscious Magazine, believe it or not, has excitingly surprised me. We were just one of a few changing the conversation in our social media corner, and then we watched this spur into a beautiful movement where, on the daily, we see rising voices confidently sharing where the impact is happening and where help is needed. From NYC to Malaysia, the need to invite real conversations into media and our social media is permeating across cultural lines. I’m ecstatic!
This idea that we need conscious media more than ever before is where I say, I 1000% agree. I did some reflecting this weekend, and a thought crossed my mind, which was, there have been parts of my life where I’ve dealt with pain. I thought about how that role of pain has significantly pushed me to a low, finding myself debilitated by a kind of suffering. I’m not saying I’ve experienced an extreme that someone else has faced, but I know what pain can do. It makes everything stop – what you’re building and who you are connecting with. When pain is fresh, you are in a battle.
To connect this point, people everywhere are experiencing real pain, and so there is an urgent need to fight for hope, peace, clear thinking, positive solutions, and knowledge that heals and impacts. Because when that one single person is stuck, he or she loses the opportunity to make a difference with their passion, calling and talent. We need every warrior standing strong. We’re obviously in trying times, a silent war brewing in many corners of the world and everyday media headlines are telling of a major loss. And then tears are shed. So, we believe in the kind of victorious media that is going to empower people to find their strength, use their knowledge and launch ideas and conversations for good as we believe great moments are born from acknowledging and acting upon opportunity, we believe everyone has a voice and the power to make a difference.
If I had to choose an article that help represents our manifesto, I would say “STORIES CHANGE LIVES. DISCOVER 5 STORIES FROM AROUND THE GLOBE THAT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO DO MORE” - every day people are giving their all for change.
Sustainable State of Style
ELENA BAXTER: While we aren't experts in this field, we are definitely excited to be part of the growing conversation and ultimately, an influence of how ethical fashion is evolving. We recently moderated a panel discussion during Fashion Revolution Week with Jessica Kelly, Founder of THR3EFOLD and we were so blown away by the many fiercely driven and passionate fashion influencers, designers, makers and more that are joining forces to bring about a real, tangible change.
Everything starts with education, and there is a shift that is starting to gain momentum not just here in America but all over the world. From the "Who made my clothes?" campaign, to where dyes and fabrics are sourced, the pulse is starting to quicken. We want to voice what we are learning. However, I do believe that a lot of change will have to come from reshaping the way that we view fashion and consumerism. Fast fashion is becoming even faster, and we need to work together to reverse that.
Signed with Love
RACHAEL BAXTER: Conscious online absolutely hands down reaches beyond the masses, while Conscious in print speaks to a specific audience. There is something unique about the boutique magazine platform – as well as the stories themselves. Each issue has a specific theme, and we collaborate with a specific community to tell stories that invite you to learn and take action. For example, in Conscious Magazine Issue 05, our Global Goals edition, we worked with 17 incredible leaders who are creating something significant to achieve one of the 17 Sustainable Goals. It was such magic to discover the enormous work being done in various parts of the world.
The Rise of Conscious Culture
RACHAEL BAXTER: We want to take a Conscious Retreat to reflect on the next six months, as well as what we want to achieve big picture wise. We usually take a break during the month of August and prep for the Fall season. We have some travel plans including Canada and Montana. As for reads, I’m doing some studying on Mental Health advocacy, as well as Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Everything else, you’ll find us going for a hike or at the beach. Chill vibes only on the summer weekends!
ELENA BAXTER: I love taking time in the summer to slow down and reflect a bit more. I do have a lot of passions that I want to dig a little deeper into. This season I think I’m going to put aside the inspirational books (not that I don’t love them!), and grab a good novel. I’ve got a couple of that I grabbed at Strand Bookstore. I also have a couple of weekend trips planned with my best pals. One of the best things about living in the city is getting out of it here and there.
The Baxters are always moved by hand-written notes. It’s an old-fashioned way of showing affection, and nothing leaves us feeling more inspired to give love than receiving a thoughtful note of encouragement.
Changing the Conversation
ELENA BAXTER: We have really grown to learn the importance and beauty of community. There really is something special about coming alongside people that share a passion with you. It's been a unique season for the global landscape. There has been a lot of division, a lot of negativity, and certainly, a lot of brokenness. This narrative seems to be growing at warped speed and fueled by our current media state. However, we believe that people want more and that they deserve more. We want to seek those people out and join forces with them. We don't want to push a political agenda because there has been enough of that. Rather, we want to unify to build a narrative that respects one another no matter where you come from, what you believe in or who you voted for. Humanity is humanity, and we want to start conversations that respect all individuals, as well as unite them.
Photos by Bridget Badore for Coclico