Marissa came to Explo to take classes she couldn’t take in school, and to meet people from around the world. She left with a business idea, an international cadre of friends and collaborators, and a desire to make a difference for girls everywhere.
The Origins of LIME
“I wanted to create a space where other girls can see how girls are making a difference in their communities,” Marissa says, “and find that there’s a place for them to connect, gather, share, and express themselves.”
Marissa (in pink, above) is an 11th-grade high school student who loves baking and writing, and who hopes to work (and write) for a fashion magazine. After one summer at Explo, she and her new friends decided to create their own magazine online.
The website is called LIME Magazine for Girls — Laugh, Inspire, Motivate, Encourage — and the mission is to create a content-driven site that both empowers girls and gives them a space to express themselves, their interests, and their passions.
Touching on topics ranging from music, travel, and beauty to books, DIY, and movies, LIME is a forum where girls can gather online to talk about what matters most to them. As Marissa put it, “cute but not too cute, not too girly, not too tomboy. Basically, a place where a girl can see herself and want to be part of it.”
By inviting her Explo friends on board as editors and contributors, LIME brings in differing perspectives from around the world, as well as Marissa’s personal tastes and loves. Namely, food. “I’m a huge baker — that’s why there’s a recipe section on the site.”
The question became how to distinguish themselves from other (teen-run) sites online, like Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie magazine, which Marissa cites as a huge influence, along with such food blogs as The Pioneer Woman (which served as inspiration for the banner slideshow).
“We have a different approach, I think,” Marissa says. “Rather than tailoring our content to certain themes, we let our writers decide, and give them the freedom to write about what matters most to them. Even if it’s about something (a movie or music) from 20 years ago.”
And then there’s Limelight, a section of the site that features girls who are impacting their communities and the world, from starting your own non-profit to taking an educational service trip to India, by doing what they love. "It's a way to highlight what they're doing, and give them and their work the attention they deserve. And show that we're all really invested in making our world a better place to live."
Each month, when Marissa and her fellow editors gather online (from such locations as Dubai, Brazil, France, and the U.S.) to check in and make sure they’re all on the same page, the Limelight feature is always at the forefront of their discussions. They talk about new content, catch each other up on new ideas and perspectives, and, because they’re all friends who originally met at Explo, they also take the opportunity to, well, hang out, laugh, and be friends.
The Explo Influence
“When I first went to Explo,” Marissa said, “I was really excited to see and meet new people, but I had no idea that I’d get to become friends with people from all over the world. My roommate was from Ecuador, and my friends came from everywhere.”
Marissa also got to take advertising, marketing, and business courses — subjects not offered at her school — which gave her an introduction into fields she’s been curious about for years.
“Because of how they were taught, and because of how much we were able to participate and really drive the direction of the courses,” Marissa says, “it let me become more comfortable talking and working with new people, in a way I wasn’t before. It really helped me feel more confident.”
And thanks to the courses, the program, and her international group of friends, Marissa’s focus (and future) is starting to shift.
“I’ve been thinking of majoring in international business,” Marissa says. “And I really like learning languages. I’m taking French now, and it’s challenging, but I love it. So I think some combo of the two might be a good fit for me.”
That knowledge — of who she is, what she loves, and where she envisions her life going — comes from one key factor: “Believing in myself,” Marissa says.
“Getting ready for college,” Marissa says, “all the counselors and teachers and parents are saying you need a good GPA, test scores, extracurriculars… You need to be perfect. And that’s impossible. But after Explo, I realized that I don’t need to follow the beaten path. It’s okay to step off and do your own thing. If you’re happy in what you do, that’s all that matters. And if I wasn’t following that advice, I’d be miserable now.”
With her eye on what LIME will look like in the months (and years) ahead, Marissa says she and her fellow editors see LIME growing and changing as they do, but always staying true to their founding mission: a place “to encourage, motivate, and empower girls to take life by the reins — and just own it.” We love it already.