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Native Sun News: Native Max Magazine celebrates first year

Filed Under: Arts & Entertainment | National
More on: cheyenne river sioux, fashion, kelly holmes, media, native sun news, south dakota

The following story was written and reported by Denise Giago, Eyapaha Today Editor. It appears in Eyapaha Today, a monthly publication of the Native Sun News. All content © Native Sun News.

President/Founder/Editor of Native Max magazine, Kelly Holmes. Photo Courtesy/Derek Nez DNez Photography

Kelly Holmes and Native Max Magazine
By Denise Giago
Eyapaha Today Editor

Native Max Magazine is a publication with purpose and passion.

Marketed as a Native fashion magazine, Native Max incorporates high and urban fashion, beauty, art, entertainment, health and fitness as well as showcasing talented Native America individuals from the U.S. and Canada. The quarterly publication is celebrating its first year with their Fall 2013 Anniversary issue, available online now at

Kelly Holmes, the President, Founder, Editor took time out from her busy schedule to visit with Eyapaha Today editor Denise Giago to talk about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the past year.

It has been a year full of growth and learning for Holmes. Two years ago the 22 year old, Lakota woman from Cheyenne River Reservation first conceived of a Native American focused fashion magazine and in the past year she has worked tirelessly to make that dream a reality. Holmes’ dream was launched into reality last year with the Spring 2012 issue of Native Max. “It took about a year from the time I first conceived of the magazine, then putting together a team and finally publishing our first issue,” explained Holmes.

The first issue was in digital format and available online. Soon followed the Summer 2012 issue, Native Max’s first hard copy printed publication. Three more printed issues followed. “We printed all the way up until the Winter 2012,” said Holmes.

The Spring, Summer and current Fall 2013 issues are available in digital format online for just $3.99. When I asked Holmes if she will to go to print again for next year’s Spring 2014 issue she gasped, “Oh no, we don’t want to wait that long! Our next printed issue will be Winter 2013.”

She continued excitedly, “We have had a lot of interest in the magazine. Our fan bases for one definitely express a preference for the magazine to be in print, even though our online issues have the same content and quality.”

It is true there is something very tactile about a fashion magazine that makes the reader want to hold it and thumb back and forth through the pages, and it could also be said there is something very expensive about printing a full color glossy magazine. “It has been one of our biggest challenges” said Holmes, “but we have a growing advertising base and are getting some new sponsors. We also have many stores across the U.S. and Canada interested in carrying our magazine and not just grocery and drug stores, these are locations as diverse as museums and universities.” Holmes continued, “So we are really pushing to go to print as soon as possible.”

Always looking forward, it is clear that the ambitious Holmes is excited about the future of Native Max, however in the Fall issue her and her teammates take a moment to step back and reflex on the past year.

“I learned a lot the whole first year about business and the publishing industry.” With no formal education beyond high school, Holmes took it upon herself to self-educate. “I went to every free seminar, conference and work shop I could, everything from running your own business, entrepreneurship, to publishing and accounting. I took notebook upon notebook of notes. I also rented books from the library on business, finance etc. It has been a real education for me, but you know, I spoke with many different professors who taught at those seminars and they would say to me ‘there is one thing that cannot be taught in a classroom or learned in a book and that is Drive and Determination.’”

Holmes says the work has also helped to make her a stronger person. “Both working as a model and now in the publishing industry has helped me to grow a thick skin; that was a big lesson for me, to not let the negativity get me down, I have definitely become more resilient.” As Holmes and her team work closely together month after month they too have grown stronger as a unit. “We have all become like family to one another, we joke and care and help each other, we laugh and work hard, in this past year we have truly grown as a team,” says Holmes.

Another valuable lesson for Holmes has been one of connection. “It really is about who you know in this industry, so this past year I have learned more about networking and built some important relationships, but it also reminds me why I started Native Max in the first place and what we strive to NOT be,” Holmes explains. “The fashion industry can very cliquey and I didn’t want Native Max to fall into that scene. We continue our original mission to be an all inclusive entity that works with everyone equally. I also want Native Max to be a place where young, inexperienced models starting out can work and have a positive experience because I know how hard it is starting out in this business, so I want to help them be comfortable, have fun and open up.”

As the Founder/President and Editor Holmes has also had to learn to deal with stress and find ways to stay balanced and grounded. “Native Max obviously keeps me super busy, it is a 24/7 non-stop business. I try to set office hours for myself, but there are always calls and email and things going on at all hours,” said Holmes. “If I was getting paid for all this work I would be rich,” she laughed, “But you know, I don’t complain, I love what I do, I never regret the time I spent on the magazine.”

So what is her trick for unwinding? “I look to my family,” she said. “I turn everything off, all my electronic devices and hang out with my mom and my boyfriend and our 2 year old son. I also play basketball.”

Holmes has been playing basketball ever since she was little and played competitively in both middle school and high school. “I love to go shoot around, whether at the gym or in the park, it calms me down, I can play a game and just forget about work, it really helps me get away.” Basketball also helps to keep Holmes in great physical shape. “In basketball I run and jump, I get my cardio and on some days my arms or my legs will really ache and I feel like I had a good hard work out even though I was just playing and having fun.”

As well as the healthful benefits of the game, playing competitive sports in school gave Holmes a strong foundation for her current endeavors. “In sports there is always a leader who guides the team so they can all pull together and play, Native Max is a lot like that, we operate by those same ethics.”

As the team leader, Holmes is involved with every aspect of the magazine. As the Editor she oversees the content, lay-out and photo shoots. “When directing each issue I always want the overall look to be simple, clean and professional, but also fun and colorful and visually exciting. Next I address the content as a reader first and ask ‘would I want to read that?’ So I keep stories in small bites and cover many different topics. For example, in the Fall issue you will find that Native Max is more than just fashion; we are also doing stories on Health and Fitness, Art, Culture, Education and Entertainment too."

The Fall issue of Native Max features stories about Kiowa Gordon and Andrew Orozco. Read about what the young Native actors have to say about acting, their past struggles to success and upcoming projects, then watch their behind-the-scenes video. Discover adorable children’s clothing in a photo shoot with Rayelle Cassa, the couture designer of kids fashion line Whitegrass Boutique.

Also, from Holmes’ hometown of Eagle Butte, a photo shoot with photographer Danny LeBeau featuring Rez Kid Apparel by Danny Butcher. As well as a story about the Facebook book phenomena Healthy Active Native, a positive social network to inspire and motivate. And, of course find out all the latest style and fashion trends of the Fall. Get your copy of Native Max Fall issue today!

Look for the Fall 2013 issue of Native Max at:

(Contact Denise Giago at Copyright permission by Native Sun News

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