Hook’d magazine gives students creative platform

Catherine Cahn, Life & Arts Reporter

Dana Tran’s fingers drifted over the different items in her mother’s closet — colorful shirts, skirts and dresses. As she scavenges through this space, something she began doing as a child, Tran said she always hopes to find her next best outfit.

“I think expressing myself through what I wear and how I present myself is something that I’ve always been super passionate about,” said Tran, a management information systems sophomore. “(This is) something that my mom instilled in me; she was also a fashionista when she was younger.”

When Tran began her freshman year at UT, she scoured UT’s campus, looking for an organization related to the fashion industry. With a long-standing “passion for fashion,” Tran said she wanted to find a place where she could express herself creatively. However, each student art organization Tran came across required prior experience and a portfolio submission — which Tran did not have.

Tran set out to solve this problem for herself and others like her by founding Hook’d Magazine, a student-led culture and fashion publication, which prints one magazine per semester. Since its inception in fall 2020, Hook’d grew from 30 members to a group of more than 125. Last semester, the issue garnered 50 pre-orders. Tran said Hook’d offers creatively inclined students an opportunity to flex their fashion and design skills while growing their professional experience.

“We let all members get in (to Hook’d),” Tran said. “As long as you have a passion for photography, videography, design, styling, writing or anything within the publication field, you’re allowed to come in and use (Hook’d) as a platform to expand your portfolio and gain hands-on experiences.”

Design junior Nandita Malhotra said she discovered Hook’d on social media early in the magazine’s first semester. Malhotra said she had goals of working in the fashion and or beauty industry after graduation and joining Hook’d offered her a way to pad her resume despite having no prior experience.

“They gave me the lead (makeup artist) position,” Malhotra said. “I wasn’t sure I could do that, but I learned on the job. Then I applied for creative director and I’d never done something like that (either). There, you’re thrown into the deep end, and everyone was super helpful.”

Despite many students’ successes as a part of the magazine, Tran said she continues to face internal difficulties since Hook’d’s founding, but she encourages herself to spin these problems into a positive light.

”There’s always going to be creative differences within the team — differences in visions, on how to approach different shoot concepts, styling or writing,” Tran said. “Although that is a challenge, it’s also such a good thing, because it leaves room for discussion about creative concepts and topics. It helps people see other perspectives and come together in compromise.”

Hook’d’s marketing director Claire Blanchard said she joined Hook’d with prior experience in a marketing committee on a different campus magazine. Blanchard said she appreciates the opportunity Hook’d presents for creatives to show their talents and interests.

“It’s inspiring how students can publish something so tangible, for everyone to see and create,” Blanchard said. “I think school is very important, but to have that creative opportunity as well is just as important.”