Lashindra Sam COM’23 spent her childhood looking up to supermodels and the glamorous lifestyles portrayed on television. She fantasized about being part of their world. When the East Orange native arrived at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, she joined every fashion-related student organization she could find. When she learned there was no fashion magazine on campus, Sam decided to start her own. As far as she knows, her publication, Routure, is Rutgers’ first fashion magazine. Routure reaches many different audiences at Rutgers, as the student-led magazine, which is run as a club, includes members from SC&I, the Rutgers Business School, the School of Arts and Sciences, and Mason Gross School of the Arts.
In an article Sam wrote for The Daily Targum published September 4, 2020, she announced the founding of Routure. She wrote, "Fashion is conceptual art that's defined by the artist that practices it. Routure Magazine (a hybrid of both the words Rutgers and couture) is a fashion magazine that promotes beauty, style, confidence, and campus high fashion through magazine writing and editorial photography."
She also explained the magazine's name, writing, "You can’t spell 'couture' without RU. Google defines the word couture as 'fashionable made-to-measure' and that is the exact word to describe Rutgers fashion. Our campus couture is made to measure all 50,000 personalities and aesthetics."
Below, SC&I speaks with Sam about how majoring in Communication prepared her to create, launch, and manage a publication; her work managing Routure magazine; the fashion industry; and the importance of learning how to fail gracefully.
SC&I: Why did you decide to study Communication?
LS: My academic career is rooted in a major in Communication with a double minor in Business Technical Writing and Psychology. Intermingling business and communication as my focal study portrays a piece of me that is passionate about joining the study of people and commerce. As someone who is personable and direct, being a Communication major allows me to foster relationships, strategies, and people-reading skills that diversify my potential and prepare me for any field I choose to go into.
SC&I: How would you describe the atmosphere of SC&I?
LS: I'm grateful to be a part of SC&I. The atmosphere has been designed to push and encourage students; it fights the stigma that Communication is a useless major. SC&I engineers its students to be prepared for the real world no matter what career sector they choose.
SC&I: When did you decide that you wanted to be part of the fashion industry?
LS: The earliest memory I have of being interested in the fashion industry was at age six, right when my little brother was born. I was a mature kid bouncing between Gossip Girl or Keeping up with the Kardashians, mimicking top supermodels like Naomi Campbell, and of course, secretly molding myself into my mother's diva fashion sense. My mom wanted to be the best dressed in the room attending Ghanaian events. Her sense of style is still one to beat. I didn't get my love of fashion from the environment around me, but from dreaming and dreaming BIG. Although underage, I would live out my wildest fashion fantasies on reality games like IMVU, where I would build a top modeling agency for other characters to launch their careers.
I think there are some things that happen to you that are coincidental and then there are things that you are destined to do. I believe everything that I do and have done is always leading me to have a big seat at the table.
SC&I: How and why did you decide to start Routure?
LS: Making Routure was somewhat a mix of destiny and coincidence. The moment I touched down at Rutgers, I was calculated and strategic about how I wanted my college experience to go. My first step was to join all the fashion organizations. When I found out Rutgers didn't have its own fashion magazine, I decided at that moment that I would make it. I also decided it was not going to be some flimsy magazine that was published here and there. It would be the outlet for all Rutgers students regardless of their socioeconomic or demographic status. I wanted to give all students a chance to peel open a magazine, like our grandmas and moms used to do at the hair salon, and see themselves in it.
SC&I: What has been the best Routure experience so far?
LS: The best experience is launch day. On the last day of every academic month, we release a 60+ page magazine with 22 photoshoots. I have a dream team of 30 writers, editors, models, designers, and photographers that produce Routure. The feeling of releasing art that we have spent the entire month engineering is incredible.
SC&I: How has SC&I prepared you for Routure?
LS: Learning how to fail gracefully was something SC&I prepared me for. The most valuable part of creating Routure was how humbling it was. It's not to say I wasn't humble before, being from Ghana, meekness is embedded in our DNA. But dealing with rejection and putting my head between books to learn about publication and fashion laws were things I did not have to deal with before.
It doesn't matter what major you are in, you have to learn how to fail and fail gracefully. Pre- and post-COVID, my SC&I professors were able to lead me academically at a time misery became a global company. Without SC&I and mentors like doctoral student Jorlanditha Austin, I would not have had the knowledge to launch Routure in 2020. I give credit to SC&I for the student I am today.
SC&I: What piece of advice would you give to students?
LS: My biggest advice is to master patience, learn how to fail gracefully, and just do it. Faith without work is dead. Nothing that is worth having is going to be easy to get.
Read the full version of Sam’s article about Routure’s launch in The Daily Targum.
Photo (top): Lashindra Sam
Routure cover photos courtesy of Lashindra Sam