The Riveter is rewriting stereotypes of women’s magazines

The Midwest-grown magazine is committed to supporting women-driven storytelling.

Ellie Peterson, social media editor at the Riveter laughs while talking to groups of Lit Crawl attendees

Carter Blochwitz

Ellie Peterson, social media editor at the Riveter laughs while talking to groups of Lit Crawl attendees

Maddy Folstein

When Kaylen Ralph and Joanna Demkiewicz were students at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, a panel of renowned journalists came to speak with students. Ralph and Demkiewicz saw there were no women on the panel, a realization that became the catalyst for the long-form women’s magazine they run today.

“We bought the website domain that day, and we started The Riveter that day,” Demkiewicz said. 

As of today, The Riveter has published six print issues, covering a variety of topics from the Minneapolis-based singer Lizzo to Representative Ilhan Omar to the influence of climate change on refugee women in Somaliland.

In journalism school, Ralph and Demkiewicz spent time in print journalism classes often hearing about how print is dying.

“Part of the crux of The Riveter was this radical idea that we could maintain the print format, and our love began with long-form,” Demkiewicz said.

Instead of shying away from this format, they perfected it into a product they would want to read: a smaller, durable print magazine ideal for reading longer, narrative journalism.

While The Riveter involves an editorial team from across the country, the magazine is proud of its Midwestern roots.

“We grew up hearing how the Midwest is a flyover country, or not a hub for creative ideas … which is something we completely push against,” Demkiewicz said. “We have no regrets from starting out in Minneapolis.”

The Riveter maintains its Minneapolis connections – on Sept. 16, the publication hosted a pop-up shop as a part of Lit Crawl, a one-night Twin Cities literary festival. The shop showcased past issues of The Riveter, alongside “Resist” pins and “Nasty Woman” postcards as other available products. 

The event allowed the team from The Riveter to better connect with their readers, something they hope to continue in the future.   

“In the past, we’ve done other events – as we grow, they’re becoming a little more diverse,” said Ellie Peterson, social media editor for The Riveter and a graduate of the University of Minnesota. “[I’d like] to just do more events and meet our readers and hear what they are thinking and saying.”

While the concept of a women-run, women-written magazine is still somewhat new, The Riveter intends to keep progressing and give a voice to those who may not be able to share their own.

“I’m often aiming to support and cover marginalized stories. I want to do that with a voice from those communities,” Demkiewicz said. “One of our awesome recurring formats is interviews … I think you can cover these types of stories by featuring people who are working in those communities … and they’re using their voice specifically.”

Although The Riveter is more radical than most commercial magazines, the publication acknowledges it still has room to grow. 

“I am definitely always looking to take down the gender binary,” Grace Birnstengel said, an editor for The Riveter and a graduate of the University of Minnesota. “I think that by being called a women’s magazine, or saying that we only feature writing by women, [caters] to that gender binary. I would like to see us cater more to people who [don’t ascribe to] the gender binary, and making sure that we represent trans women, queer women and trans people.” 

Birnstengel thinks this multitude of voices is more important now than ever. 

“I think [The Riveter] has a lot of work to do, especially in this political climate,” Birnstengel said. “It’s not just going to slow down anytime soon.”