Why it is our mission to push Female Empowerment | Cloudy Zakrocki, Editorial Director, Refinery29Germany

Before diving into the world of fashion journalism, at 15 years-old Cloudy began her work life as a dishwasher. Today, as Editorial Director at Refinery29 Germany, she reflects on how everything you do in life defines what you are.

Even at her very first job, she learned how to overcome fears and simply get things done even if she didn’t always know how. After her German studies, she confidently followed her intuition and started writing. Encouraged by her then boyfriend, Cloudy started her own blog during a time when now prominent German blogs LesMads, Stil in Berlin, Anna Frost and Katja Schweitzberger were in their early stages. A chance to visit Fashion Week 2009 shortly after, opened her doors to a new career. First at LesMads, then at Interview Magazine, Cloudy ultimately took over as Editorial Director for the millennial women’s digital magazine Refinery29 Germany. As a digital junkie, she was honored to be handed the opportunity to build up the New York media startup in Germany. Today, together with Nora Beckershaus, she leads a team of 12 in Berlin.

In times of generational change, women’s workplace issues, and Instagram perfectionism, Cloudy wants to make sure her contribution to female empowerment with Refinery29 Germany is both honest and at eye-level with her readers.

“For Refinery29, female empowerment was already important 12 years ago, encouraging women to live a self-determined life. Today, the topic receives, even more, attention, which makes it crucial for us to keep it as an integral part of our mission. We want to portray women in a natural way and cover topics that women are genuinely interested in. To do this, it’s important we accept and value ourselves the way we are regardless of outer appearance and decisions that might go against the social grain.”

We find ourselves in an interesting time in which new role models surfacing and stereotypes no longer matter. For Cloudy, the reason the new generation is so exciting is that they have grown up with a different type of freedom and naturalness that pushes against sexual and gender norms. Simultaneously, we need positive influences of self-reflective responsibility, especially among young women.

“As a medium as well as Editorial Director, I have to ask myself, what kind of image of women do I want to portray? What does it mean to portray a strong woman? Do we always have to be strong? It is okay to be weak, to have days where we don’t look perfect and speak about our fears?”

Cloudy finds that the self-love that reaffirms you’re living your dreams has to be stronger. The writer remembers the early stages of her blog when she learned how to deal with criticism and to support her own work.

“You have to imagine that I started the blog in the era of mirror selfies. I often got asked the question, why are you doing this? My inner drive told me that I had to do it and my friends and family also defended me in the face of criticism. Everyone who does something controversial needs somebody in their corner. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. I wouldn’t have had the courage to simply start doing something. For Refinery29 Germany, I hope that it’s a platform that fearlessly approaches topics which are on our minds — from anal sex to streetstyle and politics.”

Originally published at www.humansofnewwork.com.