Daily Record – June 27, 2010

Magazine's message: Accept, appreciate, achieve Identity online magazine edited by Susan Vernicek, Wharton NJ By MARY ANN McGANN • CORRESPONDENT • June 27, 2010

Live link: http://www.dailyrecord.com/article/20100627/LIFE/100623043/-1/LIFEFRONT/Magazine-s-message–Accept–appreciate–achieve

Most voicemail messages ask you only to leave your name and number after the beep. Call Susan Vernicek, and you'll be asked to finish the sentence "I love my . . ." before leaving any pertinent information.

"I can hear a lot of people giggle before they leave me a message," says Vernicek, 29. "It could be 'I love my red shoes and my sexy feet today.' You can be creative and have fun. Just say something positive about yourself, because we have so much trouble doing it."

Tired of what she calls the "in-your-face ads and useless information about diet fads, fashion trends and celebrity gossip" she says monopolize some traditional women's publications, Vernicek decided to launch Identity, an online magazine that "celebrates real women with everyday issues."

"It's OK to not be perfect. It's OK to have bunions. Or wrinkles. Or thin lips," she says. "The more you stress about that stuff, it just takes a toll on you mentally."

As a graphic designer for a medical company, Vernicek created illustrations for plastic surgeons and other medical professionals to help patients decide what level of cosmetic work might be right for them. Asked to use her own fair-skinned visage as a model, Vernicek found herself staring at her image day after day, as she electronically adjusted it to craft the different levels of comparative graphics — more lip volume here, fewer wrinkles there; a more defined chin, a less prominent nose . . . you get the picture.

"It made me very critical and not just about myself," Vernicek says. "I couldn't pay attention to the conversations I was having with people because I was comparing their face to my face — what levels they were, the wrinkles they had at their age. It was a vicious cycle."

So, while still holding down her day job, Vernicek set up a home office in the room she rents in her sister's Wharton home, from which her vision of an online magazine that motivates women to "accept and appreciate themselves, flaws and all" was born. The first issue of Identity went online in August 2006. Last November, she left her graphic design job to devote full-time attention to her new website, www.identitymagazine.net, which gets roughly 2,000 hits per month.

On Identity, you'll find "Nobody's Perfect," where readers can post something they've done of which they're not proud. "Scratch the Surface" provides interviews of interesting women and their personal and/or professional achievements. You can ask questions of Identity's fitness, wellness and relationship experts or take time to appreciate the small things in life in "It's the Little Things." Or just "Unwind with a Laugh," where readers might share, for example, the best pick-up lines that have come their way. (One reader was told she had "very nice-looking feet.")

"I want women to share their stories and embrace who they are — to embrace their imperfections, which is what makes us who we are," Vernicek says.

Vernicek turns 30 on Oct. 25. Through her "30 Wishes Campaign," she hopes to get 1,025 Facebook fans to donate at least $5 each to the nonprofit One Simple Wish by her birthday.

"One Simple Wish is a charity that grants wishes to children and families in need — anything from a backpack to a laptop to a dinner for the family," she says. "I've been working with them for about a year now, and a percentage of my sales are donated to them. But I wanted to do something for my 30th birthday, and I wanted to grant 30 wishes."

Vernicek's personal mantra is to work "day-by-day and breath-by-breath," while Identity seeks to "empower women to Accept. Appreciate. Achieve."

"You can't really achieve if you don't appreciate or accept your situation," she says.

As for "I love my . . .," recently on Identity was a simple post that reads: "I love my energy this morning. I can already feel it!" Aptly written by Susan Vernicek, who says the "two driving forces in her life from a young age have been to run her own business and to have a positive influence on others."

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