h1

Bake From Scratch Leads Mr. Magazine’s™ 30 Hottest Launches of 2015 – 2016!

December 8, 2016

Bake from Scratch

Bake from Scratch

It’s that time again; time for the 30 Hottest Magazine Launches of the Year and 2016 (October 2015 through September 2016) was an absolutely bona fide year for new magazines. Content was diverse and designs were divine and they just kept coming each and every month. Happily, new magazines have shown no signs of slowing down over the years, even with the naysayers predicting the death of print. That magazines were, are and always will be a reflector of our society and a concrete part of it forever is a fact that Mr. Magazine™ said all along and will continue to say as long as there are human beings to hear it.

Since beginning this very daunting task of selecting the 30 Hottest Launches, considering the love I have for all magazines, many have asked what the qualifications for making Mr. Magazine’s ™ list for the 30 Hottest Launches are and the first and foremost qualifying factor is you have to be a magazine. And if you’re not print, you’re not a magazine. Some might think that consideration is pretty obvious, I do; however, in this digital age, you might be surprised at what some consider a magazine.

mr-magazine-by-robert-jordanThe next qualifying factor is the time frame. The magazines chosen had to be published between the months of October, 2015 through September, 2016, and there were a total of 790 new magazines for that period that we had actual physical copies of, with 217 of those having regular frequency. The quality content and amazing designs were beyond the pale and selecting only 30 out of the 217 with promised frequency was almost impossible. Almost.

But when Mr. Magazine™ has a job to do, he gets it done. How is the actual selection process conducted, you might ask? It’s simple really, yet as complex as the cosmos. Between the months of October 2015 through September 2016, all new magazine titles with a regular frequency and that we have actual physical copies of are carefully considered for this very important list. The chosen magazines are selected based on a certain criteria.

In reaching my decision on what makes a hot magazine, by far the number one criteria point is the audience’s reaction to that magazine. How did the overall marketplace react and how did its intended audience respond to it? And just as important; how did the industry behave toward it? These questions are the first thing I ask upon selection of the hottest 30. And once I’ve answered those initial questions, then I really get down to work. Remember my mantra: Audience First.

For example, major industry leaders’ launching new print magazines certainly is something that must be recognized because it speaks of the power of the medium. These people aren’t in the business of wasting dollars on something that has no value, especially when those new babies are some of the absolutely best of the best. This time around there was new offerings from publishing giants such as Condé Nast, Meredith and the southern-born Hoffman Media. For companies as distinguished and successful as these to create and bring new titles into this digital world signifies the good health and power of print.

And then there are the entrepreneurs, with their vision and determination to launch their magazine no matter the cost to their wallets and their emotions; they are no less amazing. Some of the best titles I’ve seen in a long time are among our Top 30 and they come from relatively unknown publishers who are not without experience, just without the stolid names that audiences know so well. Magazines such as: Kazoo, Jarry and Pallet.

So, the criteria for selection is based on factors that include creativity and audience reaction first and foremost, and then industry trends and as always, those rogue wildcards out there that just won’t be denied and seem to make some of the best magazines around.

Also, something has to grab my attention to be selected as a hot new launch, based on the comparative analysis of all the other magazines that are out there. To me, every new magazine is a good magazine. Any new launch is a good launch. I’ve always said my connection to ink on paper is a mutual one, but one that chose me first, albeit willingly. The passion that I have for magazines is not one that I can deny, nor do I even want to. We are connected and I love it.

So without further ado; here is the hottest launch of the year as presented at the min: media industry newsletter breakfast award on Dec. 8, at the Yale Club in New York City followed by 29 Hottest New Launches for 2016 in alphabetical order:

bake-from-scratchHottest Launch of the Year: Bake From Scratch: Diet-goers beware, there’s a new temptation coming to a newsstand near you. Bake From Scratch is a product of Hoffman Media specializing in all things baking. I said baking, not cooking. Foodies and chefs worldwide know the difference. This delectable art-form-of-a-magazine is portrayed through eye-catching photos that make your inner chocolate and sweet bread addictions come to life. You can almost smell the raw flour and oven heating up through the sharpness of the design and art in the magazine. But don’t fall for it – that’s not actually a peak of dark chocolate frosting yearning to be scooped and devoured; it’s hard to believe, but those photos aren’t the real thing, but this ink-on-paper delicacy makes it seem so. Move over grandma. There’s a new favorite apron-wearer in town.

bB Magazine: For the first time in decades small businesses are thriving, while mega-corporations are seeing an unfavorable decline in revenue. B Magazine is the backbone and lumbar support to entrepreneurs using small and medium-sized business as a force for good. CEO Bryan Welch is a modern day Captain Picard, leading, guiding and directing his adversaries to success and overall fulfillment in the marketplace. This magazine is a purveyor of all things business, including management, merchandising and above all, morale. Read interviews with up-and-coming businesspeople that are not only looking for a profit, but to make the world today in which we buy, sell and trade a better place.

beekman-1802-1Beekman 1802 Almanac: Partners in business, in life and co-editors of Beekman 1802 Almanac, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge may be familiar to you in another setting. They competed in and won CBS’s The Amazing Race in 2012. The duo now lives on the Beekman 1802 Farm in Sharon Springs, NY, which they’ve turned into a national lifestyle phenomenon. The Farm hosts a title as a TV show, Mercantile, bestselling cookbook and memoir, website, tourism destination and now magazine. They named the magazine an almanac because they liked the day-to-day planning of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and they also wanted to encourage people to cultivate every aspect of their lives as freely and creatively as they desired. Designed in an aesthetic manner similar to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, this contemporary magazine gives way to all things DIY – food, wine, décor and gardening. Also – if you’re anywhere near Sharon Springs, NY, be sure to check out the baby goat farm!

celebrity-pageCelebrity Page: Celebrity junkies rejoice! A new magazine, filled with real-life news and testimonials (not the gossipy content that is the norm) is gracing newsstands with its sparkling presence. Celebrity Page magazine branched from Celebrity Page TV, which is broadcast several times daily on the cable network Reelz, after its booming success as a rooted celebrity news purveyor. This magazine displays the essence of Hollywood life, from fashion to ultra-beauty, in just a few colorful and whimsically designed pages. Unlike its mega-competitor People, Celebrity Page has centralized design and in-depth content that will satiate any celebrity lover’s soul. Welcome Celebrity Page to the newsstand’s red carpet, as your well thought-out content will remain in the limelight for years to come.

classic-sewingClassic Sewing: The art of sewing has blossomed from hobby and craft to occupation over recent years, but the love and appreciation behind the art form still rings true. Classic Sewing is the definition of the heart and soul behind application with vibrant, unique patterns and easy-to-follow needle guides on each colorful page. The cover price is robust, $24.99, but the free pattern and mix of simple and intricate design is worth it for any intermediate or advanced sewer looking to advance his or her skills. If you’re interested in smocking, machine embroidery, ribbon work and monograms, it’s all in here, too. Classic Sewing will give you the inspiration and motivation you need to get your foot on the pedal and fingers intertwining.

color-magicColor Magic!: Coloring books bring to mind memories of grade school and hours of childhood fun, but today, adult coloring books have become all the rage. Color Magic! stands above the rest by being a creative artistic exercise in, you guessed it, having fun. Coloring inside the lines of each Color Magic! page will in turn help you think outside the box. Although the magazine’s physical stature is small, each turn of the page is durable and strong. These pages could withstand any 2-year-old, as well as any precise artist! None of the drawings are what they appear to be, so use your imagination and start coloring, highlighting and scribbling!

fabuplusFabUplus: In an era of body consciousness and the oversexualizing of women, the race to be “fit” is almost insatiable in America. Eating healthy, exercising and loving yourself have always been the staples of establishing self esteem, but what if the pounds just won’t shed? The voices of FabUplus say, “Who cares?” You can be fit and fat at the same time, and that’s what FabUplus embraces. Editor Shannon Svingen-Jones is encouraging women to love themselves (and their curves!) wholeheartedly, despite their size. You’ll find finance, fitness, sex and testimonials all from women who have decided loving their bodies is worth more than any BMI score.

forgedForged: Automotive Americana is creating a revolution in downtown squares, dusty, gravel patches and casino parking lots with miles and miles of classic cars for enthusiasts to drool over. Forged is glorifying the automotive lifestyle and culture, as well as promoting those with oil in their veins to hone their rebellious spirits. You’ll not only see classic roadsters and hot rods squealing from page to page, you’ll learn the personalities behind their owners and how they identify with the rough-and-tough lifestyle. Candid photography and comprehensive storytelling give Forged a creative edge on other automotive magazines. And stay tuned: there might be a few pages dedicated to pin-ups.

Galerie-2Galerie: Extravagantly beautiful art and design reigns supreme in Galerie magazine. From breathtaking design visuals to inspiring stories behind famous artists, becoming immersed in Galerie is an all too easy feat. The layout of the magazine is inviting, and the content is empowering for aspiring posh artists and designers. Architecture, home essentials and destinations are also featured in the magazine, with a clarity so precise you can close your eyes and envision yourself there. For each subscription, $5 will be donated to the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a professional provider of social support and programming for at-risk LGBTQ youth. Whatever your creative process may be, Galerie will help thrust your ideas to the next level.

gq-styleGQ Style: Luxury. It’s what the new quarterly fashion magazine GQ Style does, and does very well. Editor in chief Will Welch asks in his debut editor’s letter, “What the hell does luxury even mean in 2016?” He describes it as an empty shell of an idea, but says ultimately he wanted to find thriving in culture. Fashion, literature and celebrity style clout this quality publication by incorporating all things high-end. Flipping through the ultra-color pages of the gender-neutral Style will give you the courage you seek to mosey into Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue and drop your savings account on a wardrobe. And who cares? You look good.

hola-usa Hola!: Hola! magazine is a celebrity news monthly that is geared toward in-the-know Spanish speaking people living in America. And for those who aren’t Spanish speakers, the same publication is also printed in English. The U.S. version is a product of the longstanding and original Hola! founded in Madrid, Spain in the 1940s. Hola! focuses more on celebrity life, but in the sense of remarkable beauty and fashionista living. You’ll never see an actor or actress stumbling out of McDonald’s with sweatpants on. This glossy magazine has breathtaking celebrity photos that pairs well with each detailed travel and entertainment story. Say hello to your newest celebrity magazine.

homesInterior Design Homes: Interior Design Homes is a posh, modern and aesthetically unique publication specializing in displaying glamorous interior furnishings needed in your home. Each finely-made, artisan product is the masterpiece behind a creative, some of which are featured in the magazine. Homes draws from the inspiration of these artists’ products from inception to execution. If you’re content with your living space being run-of-the-mill and altogether common, the uniqueness of this magazine may overwhelm you. Embrace your inner innovative. Read Interior Design Homes.

j14J-14 Decorate!: J-14. Decorate! is a junior version of In Touch Weekly, mixed with the inspiration and DIY aspect of Pinterest. Vibrant pink and purple colors pop from the pages like fresh spring flowers, and the glossy overview makes this magazine a shelf-grabber. For teens who love home décor, this is the magazine for them. The content is made up of outstanding artwork and design, geared toward creative teenage girls. If your teen is more “in the know” then you are and can make Pinterest-type projects come to life, consider subscribing to this magazine next birthday or Christmas – your teen will thank you for it.

jarryJarry: Jarry, said with a long ‘e’ sound on the end, is a magazine for men who love men and food. In fact, Jarry was created because the editors believed a gay food magazine needed to exist in society. And they were right. Jarry is a one-of-a-kind, lighthearted magazine praising the creativity, execution and abundance of food in the lives of gay America. The magazine features chefs, Instagram royalty and next-door-neighbor gay men proclaiming their love for food. Recipes for gay gourmet are littered throughout, and new age cocktails glitter like jovial centerpieces. If you’re a proud member of gay America, love food or just like to peruse the pages of a very handsomely done magazine, Jarry will be a thrill of a read for you.

kazooKazoo: Kazoo magazine is a publication for young girls ages 5-10, specifically created to empower their generation and encourage high self-esteem and confidence that will last a lifetime. Jam-packed with science experiments, puzzles and vibrant cartoons, you and your daughter will anticipate the dive into the next issue, and the next, and then the next. When Kazoo founder and mom, Erin Bried was shopping for a magazine for her five-year-old daughter, who liked outer space and climbing trees but wasn’t much for the frivolous content offered on the stands for that age group, Erin decided to create her own brand of girls’ magazine, one geared toward the younger feminist. Hence, the spunky, artfully creative and very informative Kazoo was born.

live-with-heartLive With Heart and Soul: Strength, durability and passion come together in this quarterly magazine made with Christian women in mind. Enriching stories of travel, food, love and testimony flood this publication and displays its core values – heart and soul. By incorporating scripture with quality storytelling, the Word of God is alive and well in Live With Heart and Soul. Make time for yourself and your relationship with God with this lively publication. Prepare to laugh, cry and be empowered with each flip of the page.

living-the-country-life

Living the Country Life: Picture a quiet setting with a ranch-style home atop rolling hills, barn animals to tend to and a garden to cultivate. If any of these descriptions fit your idea of living, Living the Country Life is your go-to magazine. Sustainability, comfort and class weave together through vibrant photos and in-depth literature in this magazine. You’ll find how to host a good ol’ tasting party, along with how to upgrade your barn and arrange and display your very own flowers. Grab a glass of lemonade and sit comfortably in your grandmother’s wicker rocking chair for an evening of quality reading with Living the Country Life.

lonely-planetLonely Planet: Traveling will forever be a bucket-list endeavor, but are you really going somewhere if you don’t see it through the eyes of Lonely Planet? This magazine is the offshoot of Lonely Planet and lonelyplanet.com, the largest travel guidebook publisher in the world. Editor Lauren Finney reassures readers this magazine was created for the way you really want to travel – immersed, informed and relaxed. If you’re traveling abroad for vacation, be sure to browse Lonely Planet’s pages for a captivating preview. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you’ll go with Lonely Planet.”

misadventuresMisadventures: Misadventures magazine began out of frustration. Most of the big outdoors-tailored magazines tended to focus mainly around men. This unique travel and outdoors magazine caters specifically to women who have wondrous, kindred spirits. Traveling and embracing the outdoors are as natural as breathing to the Misadventures staff, and they portray the beauties of the world through breathtaking photos and heart-wrenching portrayals. If you have mud in your blood, can’t stand an office job and yearn for the great outdoors, treat yourself to an indulging evening of discovery and fun in Misadventures.

my-herbs-1My Herbs: Health, happiness and herbs is what My Herbs magazine, a quarterly now available in more than 20 countries, is all about. If you’re eager to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and become rooted with nature, this magazine will give you a good start with raw ingredient recipes and natural remedies to common ailments. Herbalist lifestyles have been around for thousands of years, but they were forgotten when the industrial revolution and modern technology involuntarily took hold in our lives. My Herbs is destined to teach you how home growing and home healing can be essential methods of healthier living.

palletPallet: Never drink alone…unless you have good beer to justify it. “Thinking and drinking” is the philosophy of Pallet magazine, which encourages the “thinkers and tinkers” of the world to pair craft beer with each exciting page turn of the magazine. Pallet portrays the world of beer in a detailed and creative manner, just like the original inspiration behind the art of micro brewing. Detailed, long form feature articles accompany each quirky photo in this heavy, colorful quarterly. It’s always beer-thirty with Pallet in your hands, so hone your adventurous palate and drink the best artisan beer that’s ever been created.

permaculture

Permaculture: The food supply on Earth is undoubtedly dwindling, as well as the forests thinning, but one beacon of hope is shining the way for sustainability: Permaculture magazine. Didn’t learn what permaculture is in 8th grade biology? Not many did. It’s a relatively new phenomenon that’s focusing on creative, interconnected solutions based on how nature operates, and it can be incorporated into any lifestyle whether in metropolitan or rural areas. Permaculture moves way beyond gardening techniques into a central essence of the natural human being. This start up just integrated into North America from the U.K. and is packed full of long form articles dedicated to preserving Earth, from farming to water control, Permaculture is a must-read for any sustainability guru.

providenceProvidence: It’s no surprise America’s founding fathers built the country and all its inaugural literature on Christian ethics, morals and principles. Fast forward to 2016. Separation of church and state is practiced deep within the folds of our acting government. Providence is the uniting factor, mixing national security and government policy with our true founding principle – Christianity. Providence reads solidly, is written intellectually and is slated in a Protestant and Evangelical tone, denouncing political correctness and emphasizing Christian morale. It’s published by The Institute of Religion & Democracy and The Philos Project, a group dedicated to promoting Christianity in the Middle East.

cast-iron
Southern Cast Iron: A necessity in any southerner’s kitchen is undeniably cast iron skillet ware. Frying, blackening, baking, you name it. It always tastes better coming off of a hot, seasoned cast iron pan, skillet or Dutch oven (especially if it’s been passed down from your great-grandmother). Southern Cast Iron is a magazine dedicated to promoting “recipes, maker and experts using iconic cast iron cookware to create delicious food.” Its art directors worked fervently to produce a jam-packed collection of entrancing baked goods, and a detailed story pairs well with each turn of the page. From beginners to gurus, every cast iron owner needs to snatch this hot commodity. But, be careful. Use your oven mitt.

spoonfulSpoonful: Spoonful is not your average cookbook, much less your average cookbook-turned-magazine. If Mary Poppins’s advice rings true in “A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down,” then a full dose of Spoonful will diminish all woes, worries and weariness, while replenishing the soul through good food and comp’ny. The thick-bound, durable quarterly specializes in not only food, but also the essence of lionizing artisan cooks and the act of entertaining a hungry group. The simplistic design, coupled with entertaining content and photos are must-sees for any aspiring cooks to fully grasp the inspiring phenomenon’s that are good food and laughter.

swim-swamSwimSwam: Summertime swimming is a leisure activity for most avid beach, lake and pool goers. But swimming to a select few is the essence of success in life. SwimSwam magazine is a photo-heavy quarterly that projects Olympic greats, college hopefuls and dream swimming destinations with finite clarity and delight. You can find training tips and techniques from coaches and Olympians, as well as year-in-review countdowns for all things swimming news. For a magazine that’s just getting its feet wet, SwimSwam is a stroke of media genius.

tabletTablet: Warning: this magazine may not be for you. These words are largely displayed in bold typeface next to Editor Alana Newhouse’s letter from the editor, and she’s right. Tablet is a Jewish news, ideas and culture magazine that is forthright in saying the content in between its covers is vastly different from most of America wielding its blinders. Its online counterpart, The Scroll, also features articles from the magazine. The large fold magazine has the feel of opening a freshly printed map, but with the detail and long form writing similar to the Bible. Tablet’s provocative approach to reiterating Jewish history and storytelling is like a breath of fresh air not only for Jews, but also for those who enjoy a laugh and a cry all in the same read.

the-clever-rootThe Clever Root: Marijuana culture is under much scrutiny in the United States today, but The Clever Root Managing Editor Karen Moneymaker and her comrades are embracing the culture shift and stemming the opposition. This magazine holds both the reader and grower community accountable to value what goes into our bodies and how it’s formulated for consumption. Artisans don’t always come in the persona of traditional means. Marijuana growers are just like local farmers growing cotton and soybeans. Marijuana chefs are just as valuable as those in the local bakery where you snag your coffee and cream cheese bagel each morning. Growing, consuming and advocating for safer cannabis methods is the main concern of The Clever Root, as they strike the match in becoming a recognizable and respected industry.

treadTread: There are two ways to live life: On-road or off-road. Tread magazine is a must-have for those who choose to live life like the latter. Whether it’s a tightly controlled Jeep 4×4 or a mountainous utility vehicle with tires the size of steers, your off-road adventure capabilities are endless. Tread fuses a modern day, mechanical viewpoint with that of simplistic lifestyle and spirit from days gone by. Trek the terrain through pages and pages of visually stimulating layouts and content in Tread. Remember, it’s not where you go. It’s how you get there in an off-road vehicle.

womens-golfWomen’s Golf Journal: Golf is a sport of dedication. It requires quality equipment, sound mind and body and the focus of a monk. The sport has seen a shift in male dominance to female triumph. Women golfers are thriving and taking names in golf, but they’re also mothers, daughters, friends and revelators in the workforce. Women’s Golf Journal empowers women to be better athletes, no doubt, but it also empowers them to be better women through self-love and confidence. You’ll find profiles of famous athletes, travel anecdotes, health tips, food and drink recipes and fashion and beauty aids. Home, career and sport life can be hard to balance, but Women’s Golf Journal is impactful and reassuring in helping women remain a tight grip on the iron.

A Mr. Magazine™ Note: The aforementioned list and blurbs could not have been possible without the help of my able and capable staff Angela Rogalski, Anna Grace Usery, and Austin Dean. Thanks a million.

h1

Stand Magazine: The Tagline Says It All: The Magazine For Men Who Give A Damn – A Men’s Magazine That Promotes More Than Just Looking Good – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Dwayne Hayes, Founder & Managing Editor, Stand Magazine….

December 7, 2016

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“I’m just a huge fan of print. When I read something, I want to grab it in print. When Borders (Bookstore) was opened, I would go there during my weekly Friday afternoon routine when I would get out of work early, sit down with a dozen or so magazines and just read through them all afternoon. And I think that the digital focus and emphasis in our lives actually provides a great opportunity for really beautifully-made print magazines. People enjoy being able to sit down and have a cup of coffee or have a beer and read something beautifully-made in print.” Dwayne Hayes…

stand

With the mission of encouraging men to be much more than just snazzy dressers, Stand magazine challenges all of us testosterone-charged beings to look at everything we do with a bit more conscious thought than we might do normally. To try and be better partners, better fathers, better husbands, better friends and neighbors and better…well, just better men all the way around.

Dwayne Hayes is the founder and managing editor of Stand, but he’s much more than just those adjectives. Dwayne is the vision behind the mission, coming from a long career in social work as a therapist to young males and adult men with a history of domestic and sexual abuse. His compassion and exemplary skills, while no longer being utilized on that personal, one-on-one patient basis, shine through the pages of the magazine, stirring all men, regardless of their ethnicity or sexual orientation, to be better people.

I spoke with Dwayne recently and we talked about the new magazine, which has seen its 4th issue, with number five on its way. The quarterly magazine is not his first attempt at the publishing business, as Dwayne has also had a very notable literary magazine called Absinthe out in the world. But by his own reflections, Stand brings with it a whole new experience for him when it comes to publishing a magazine four times a year. Along with the art of finding his footing, Dwayne is also seeking his audience; as this first year he admits has been more of an experiment than anything else. Planning a thematic format going forward, he’s also gearing up events to further the conversation with his audience around the theme of each future issue.

So, I hope that you enjoy this very thought-provoking and inspirational interview with a man who seeks to be a better man himself with each issue of the magazine that he creates and hopes to encourage other men to do the same, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Dwayne Hayes, founder and managing editor, Stand magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On why he felt the need to start Stand magazine: Well, I didn’t think there was a magazine out there for men such as we envisioned, and that was one that really promoted a different view of what men and masculinity meant. And to encourage and challenge men to reject some of the stereotypes about manhood and to really embrace a view that spurs men to be equal partners in all aspects of life; in raising children; in parenting; in taking a more conscious and ethical look at their work and what they do; reducing violence in the world, violence against women and children.

dwayne

On how the idea actually developed into a magazine: It really happened years and years ago. My background is in social work; I was a therapist for a number of years. I have a master’s in social work from the University of Michigan. And my work was with boys who were perpetrators of sexual abuse. And I did that for a number of years and I also worked with men on domestic violence and anger issues. I ended up leaving social work and got into publishing. I’d always written and was very interested in publishing. And I did that for a number of years; primarily with information and reference publishing, and had started my own literary magazine that I published for 10 years. It was during this time that I began to conceive of the idea of Stand and decided that there should be a new men’s magazine for men who wanted to stand for something besides just trying to look good.

On any stumbling blocks he had to face during the development of the magazine: Everything feels like a stumbling block. (Laughs) As you know very well, doing a magazine is not a walk in the park. I was very fortunate though; when I finally decided to take the step and do it, which happened after leaving my job that I had been doing for about 16 or 17 years, I happened to meet a guy, Carl Johnson, who as it turned out, lived right around the corner from me, and was and is a fantastic designer, and we sat down and I told him about the vision I had for the magazine. He was very interested in it and really got the look I was going for, the design that we had in mind, and began to take it from there.

On why he started a print magazine in this digital age: That’s something that we’re constantly rethinking and reworking. We’re looking at all of this in our first year and we see it as a kind of experiment to see what happens. But I’m just a huge fan of print. When I read something, I want to grab it in print. When Borders (Bookstore) was opened, I would go there during my weekly Friday afternoon routine when I would get out of work early, sit down with a dozen or so magazines and just read through them all afternoon. And I think that the digital focus and emphasis in our lives actually provides a great opportunity for really beautifully-made print magazines.

On the addictive quality of Stand for men: I think it’s a combination of the photography in the magazine and the readability of the design. One thing that we have stayed away from is long form essays and journalistic pieces. I know that can work well in some formats, but I also know that attention spans are perhaps not what they used to be, so we try and provide content in a way that people can grab one essay or one piece and read it, then put it down for a week and come back and want to read another one.

On whether his prior literary experience spilled over into Stand or he had to wipe his brain clean and start over: It was kind of both. When I first started my literary magazine, it was called Absinthe after the drink and it was focused on European writing and translation, so as you can imagine there was a wide audience for that in the United States. (Laughs) But we had a really great group of readers and writers and translators that we associated with. But certainly having that experience helped, Absinthe was not nearly the amount of work that this was and is. Absinthe was published biannually and I think doing a quarterly really steps up the pace.

On whether he’s trying to set the record straight about men with Stand or he feels there is a gap that media isn’t addressing when it comes to men’s magazines: A little of both. We envisioned the magazine kind of turning some of the conventions of the men’s magazine on its head. Originally, our intent was that we would show a regular guy on the cover; there wouldn’t be celebrities. That is likely to change; that’s something that we’re working on, and the change is based upon some feedback that we’ve gotten. But we really want it to be a magazine that the average guy relates to, so for example, the fashion section that we did for the first year; we did it and called it “Curated Thrift” and we focused exclusively on fashion and style that men could afford. And we really tried to do things that men could wear that were under $100, as opposed to what they’re normally going to see in GQ or Esquire or any other men’s magazine.

On what he hopes to accomplish in 2017: In 2017 we’re going to be doing a number of things. We’re going to be adding a podcast and I hope that will have taken off and have found listeners. We’re also going to be adding events that will be part of each release of the issue. Issue #4, as you noted, focused on male body image, and going forward the issues will have more of a thematic focus and we’re going to be developing events around those themes. Hopefully, this will further the conversation among men on the issues that are important to them.

On any changes he’s made to the magazine since the first issue: If you haven’t seen Issue #1, the obvious difference is that we changed the way the logo type is on the cover. We had the logo on the first two issues with just the “S” and the small Stand, and we changed the logo across the cover.

On the magazine resonating with each and every man, no matter race or sexual orientation: The intent is that it’s for the man that you want to become too. Going back to the beginning of the magazine; you do a magazine like this that’s idealistic in a way and calls men to really think more consciously about themselves. As an editor and a founder, you kind of set yourself up for people to view you as thinking that you’re an example of what a man should be. (Laughs) And for anybody who reads my editorials in each issue, I think one of the things that has resonated with our readers is that my editorials are full of failure; the ways that I have failed as a man. And how I’m struggling and learning to become a better man.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly at his home one evening: Typically, the four of us are having dinner together, my wife, Jessica, and our two children, Logan and Savannah. Logan is six and Savannah’s four, and we’ll sit down and have dinner together. And once we take care of what they have going on, and they work off all of their energy and go to bed; my wife and I will sit down with a book or watch a movie, and have a glass of wine to relax.

On what keeps him up at night: It’s ironic that you ask this question now, because last night it was my daughter, who climbed into bed with us, and I have no idea what time it was. If it’s not my daughter; probably like many people I tend to get inspired in the middle of the night and that drives me crazy because I can’t sleep. I’ll come up with an idea and I have to take some time to write it down.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Dwayne Hayes, Founder/Managing Editor, Stand magazine.

Samir Husni: The tagline for Stand magazine is: for men who give a damn. Tell me, why did you give a “damn” so much that you felt you had to start a magazine?

Dwayne Hayes: Well, I didn’t think there was a magazine out there for men such as we envisioned, and that was one that really promoted a different view of what men and masculinity meant. And to encourage and challenge men to reject some of the stereotypes about manhood and to really embrace a view that spurs men to be equal partners in all aspects of life; in raising children; in parenting; in taking a more conscious and ethical look at their work and what they do; reducing violence in the world, violence against women and children.

I love men’s magazines. I grew up reading GQ and Esquire and others, and I just felt like there was a place for a men’s magazine that encouraged men to think a little bit more consciously about the decisions that they make.

stand-2

Samir Husni: Take me back to that moment of conception, when you said to yourself: this is what I feel and I want to put it into a magazine and call it Stand. How did the idea develop into an actual magazine?

Dwayne Hayes: It really happened years and years ago. My background is in social work; I was a therapist for a number of years. I have a master’s in social work from the University of Michigan. And my work was with boys who were perpetrators of sexual abuse. And I did that for a number of years and I also worked with men on domestic violence and anger issues.

I ended up leaving social work and got into publishing. I’d always written and was very interested in publishing. And I did that for a number of years; primarily with information and reference publishing, and had started my own literary magazine that I published for 10 years.

It was during this time that I began to conceive of the idea of Stand and decided that there should be a new men’s magazine for men who wanted to stand for something besides just trying to look good. But I was doing all of these other things, so I didn’t have the time to do it then. I thought it was a good idea, but couldn’t do it at that time. Later however, my career changed and I made some other decisions, and I ended up having some time to develop it.

Samir Husni: Were there any stumbling blocks that you had to face during that development, and if so, how did you overcome them?

Dwayne Hayes: Everything feels like a stumbling block. (Laughs) As you know very well, doing a magazine is not a walk in the park. I was very fortunate though; when I finally decided to take the step and do it, which happened after leaving my job that I had been doing for about 16 or 17 years, I happened to meet a guy, Carl Johnson, who as it turned out, lived right around the corner from me, and was and is a fantastic designer, and we sat down and I told him about the vision I had for the magazine. He was very interested in it and really got the look I was going for, the design that we had in mind, and began to take it from there.

It’s difficult to get a new magazine out there, I’m not Condé Nast or some other large company, so we don’t have all of the resources that some of their startups might have, so that’s certainly a stumbling block. And to answer questions like: how do we reach our readers; how do we find our audience?

Samir Husni: We live in a digital age, so why did you feel the need for a print magazine and one with such an expensive cover price, $15?

Dwayne Hayes: That’s something that we’re constantly rethinking and reworking. We’re looking at all of this in our first year and we see it as a kind of experiment to see what happens. But I’m just a huge fan of print. When I read something, I want to grab it in print. When Borders (Bookstore) was opened, I would go there during my weekly Friday afternoon routine when I would get out of work early, sit down with a dozen or so magazines and just read through them all afternoon. And I think that the digital focus and emphasis in our lives actually provides a great opportunity for really beautifully-made print magazines. People enjoy being able to sit down and have a cup of coffee or have a beer and read something beautifully-made in print.

And that’s what we wanted to do. Make something in print that’s really beautiful that people would want to keep around and put on their coffee tables and come back to. The content that we’re envisioning for the magazine is pretty timeless; it’s not something that once the new issue comes out you feel the need to discard the other issues.

Samir Husni: I must admit I have taken Issue #4 of Stand home with me; I bring it back to the office; then I take it home again. I really can’t put it down. What’s the secret recipe in Stand that makes it so addictive for men?
Dwayne Hayes: I think it’s a combination of the photography in the magazine and the readability of the design. One thing that we have stayed away from is long form essays and journalistic pieces. I know that can work well in some formats, but I also know that attention spans are perhaps not what they used to be, so we try and provide content in a way that people can grab one essay or one piece and read it, then put it down for a week and come back and want to read another one.

I’ve had people tell me that they sit down and read it straight through from beginning to end. Some people flip through it, almost like it is a website. We’re still figuring out how people read it and how they prefer to read it.

Samir Husni: What’s the impact of your previous experience with the literary magazine; did that somehow spill over to Stand or you had to completely wipe your brain clean and start over with Stand?

Dwayne Hayes: It was kind of both. When I first started my literary magazine, it was called Absinthe after the drink and it was focused on European writing and translation, so as you can imagine there was a wide audience for that in the United States. (Laughs) But we had a really great group of readers and writers and translators that we associated with.

When I first started it I went to a reading by a Greek poet, Dino Siotis, who has published a number of literary magazines and newspapers. And he was speaking about his publishing experiences and about how you had to be a little bit crazy to start a magazine. And I knew that craziness, so I think that’s why I resisted doing Stand for a while, because I knew that it was going to be a quarterly and I knew it was going to be bold and have a big vision for where it was going to go and for what it was going to do. And I was a bit scared to take those steps and try something new and reach out.

But certainly having that experience helped, Absinthe was not nearly the amount of work that this was and is. Absinthe was published biannually and I think doing a quarterly really steps up the pace.

stand-1

Samir Husni: One of the things that I noticed about Stand is that you seem to be going against the norm; I mean you have an article about men, body image and the media. Are you trying to set the record straight when it comes to men or do you feel there’s a gap that media isn’t addressing when it comes to men’s magazines?

Dwayne Hayes: A little of both. We envisioned the magazine kind of turning some of the conventions of the men’s magazine on its head. Originally, our intent was that we would show a regular guy on the cover; there wouldn’t be celebrities. That is likely to change; that’s something that we’re working on, and the change is based upon some feedback that we’ve gotten. But we really want it to be a magazine that the average guy relates to, so for example, the fashion section that we did for the first year; we did it and called it “Curated Thrift” and we focused exclusively on fashion and style that men could afford. And we really tried to do things that men could wear that were under $100, as opposed to what they’re normally going to see in GQ or Esquire or any other men’s magazine.

But we’re going to expand that; it’s not going to be quite the same as we move forward, because we also want to highlight the work of a number of ethical and sustainable designers out there, so that will change.

You’re not likely to see women in bikinis in Stand either. (Laughs) In Issue #4 we have the swimsuit portfolio, which was literally suits swimming on a beach. We are attempting to turn some of the things upside down that is usually in men’s magazines. And similar to what you might see in GQ or Esquire and some of the others; we’re going to highlight a woman that we admire and that woman is going to be someone we admire for the quality of her character; who she is and what she does, rather than how she looks in a bikini or lingerie.

Samir Husni: If you and I are having this chat a year from now; what would you hope to tell me that you’ve accomplished in 2017 with Stand?

Dwayne Hayes: In 2017 we’re going to be doing a number of things. We’re going to be adding a podcast and I hope that will have taken off and have found listeners. We’re also going to be adding events that will be part of each release of the issue. Issue #4, as you noted, focused on male body image, and going forward the issues will have more of a thematic focus and we’re going to be developing events around those themes. Hopefully, this will further the conversation among men on the issues that are important to them.

Samir Husni: If you can go back to Issue #1; is there anything different that you’ve done with the subsequent issues since that first one?

Dwayne Hayes: If you haven’t seen Issue #1, the obvious difference is that we changed the way the logo type is on the cover. We had the logo on the first two issues with just the “S” and the small Stand, and we changed the logo across the cover. We’ve made some tweaks along those lines.

Right now we’re really looking at the first year as an experiment. What can we do to make it better and what can it become? For example, I think the mission of the magazine is very clear to readers, but we also want to touch on other issues that our readers are interested in.

Samir Husni: When did you decide on the tagline: the magazine for men who give a damn? And is that for all men; all races; all sexual orientations, because it seems the magazine is a mirrored reflection of society? You do not exclude any man in the magazine.

Dwayne Hayes: No, not at all. The intent is that it’s for the man that you want to become too. Going back to the beginning of the magazine; you do a magazine like this that’s idealistic in a way and calls men to really think more consciously about themselves. As an editor and a founder, you kind of set yourself up for people to view you as thinking that you’re an example of what a man should be. (Laughs) And for anybody who reads my editorials in each issue, I think one of the things that has resonated with our readers is that my editorials are full of failure; the ways that I have failed as a man. And how I’m struggling and learning to become a better man.

The magazine is really about that struggle that we all go through to live as the men that we envision ourselves to be and as the men that we’ve always wanted to be as well. So, the magazine is a way to call us to that vision and to encourage us to that. And we realize that men have various interests. The magazine is really for guys who want to look good; who want to feel great; and who want to do the right thing.

Samir Husni: From the masthead, it looks like you have the entire Hayes family working for you?

Dwayne Hayes: (Laughs) They’ve been involved to various degrees, yes. There’s a bit of fudging on the masthead though, because you’re probably seeing the names of my son, who is six, and my daughter, who is four. Their primary roles are inspiration, but my brother has been involved; he writes a piece on the content of character that we have at the end of each issue. And my nephew, Steven, has managed our social media presence.

stand-3

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine; reading your iPad; watching TV; cooking; having a glass of wine; or something else?

Dwayne Hayes: On a good day, I’m able to do all of those things. Typically, the four of us are having dinner together, my wife, Jessica, and our two children, Logan and Savannah. Logan is six and Savannah’s four, and we’ll sit down and have dinner together. And once we take care of what they have going on, and they work off all of their energy and go to bed; my wife and I will sit down with a book or watch a movie, and have a glass of wine to relax.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Dwayne Hayes: It’s ironic that you ask this question now, because last night it was my daughter, who climbed into bed with us, and I have no idea what time it was. If it’s not my daughter; probably like many people I tend to get inspired in the middle of the night and that drives me crazy because I can’t sleep. I’ll come up with an idea and I have to take some time to write it down.

Coming up with ideas for the magazine; coming up with thoughts about how we’re going to build the audience and reaching people who would love the magazine is what I’m thinking about.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

ChopChop Magazine: Inspiring & Educating Children And Families On Cooking Real Food Together For A Healthier Future – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Sally Sampson, Founder And President, ChopChop Magazine

December 5, 2016

chop-chop-2

“We don’t hear from the people that are using the magazine that they’re dying for it to be digital. In fact, I will tell you that we had a digital edition that we stopped doing. It cost us more to produce it, because no one ordered it; no one wanted it.” Sally Sampson

“I honestly could not begin to understand why people feel that way. I still read paper books and I love magazines. I just think that there is something really special about print. I have an iPad and I read The New York Times on it; I read little things on it. But I think there is no sensuality to digital. Touching and feeling the paper is amazing. And I think for a child, for the magazine to be theirs, is pretty incredible.” Sally Sampson (on the myth that digital natives have an aversion to print)

The mission of ChopChop is clear and precise: To inspire and teach children and families to cook real food together. The non-profit brand believes strongly that cooking and eating together as a family is a vital step in resolving the obesity and hunger epidemics that are in the world. It’s an absolutely brilliant idea and one that has grown the magazine and its brand into many different areas of need. The magazine is a useful tool for doctors, teachers and anyone who wants to see a change in the eating habits of children and their families.

The founder and president of ChopChop is Sally Sampson, a seasoned writer of cookbooks and many, many articles. Sally had a reason very close to her heart for starting ChopChop and trying to make a difference in the eating habits of children, one of her own children had a chronic illness growing up and Sally felt the need to help and give back in some way by using her considerable talents to further this wonderful and needed mission.

I spoke with Sally recently and we talked about that mission and about the past, present and future of the ChopChop brand, or maybe movement would be a better description. Thanks to Sally’s efforts, doctors are including cooking and the values of good eating habits into their well visits for children, and teachers have a curriculum that they can utilize to further this education of food in the classrooms. It’s a movement that shows no signs of slowing down, as soon there will be another magazine geared toward older adults who also need help in the kitchen when it comes to eating healthier. And the grandest thing about all of these wonderful titles? They’re all in print. Mr. Magazine™ is definitely smiling.

So, without further ado, here is the Mr. Magazine™ interview with a woman who knows her way around a healthy kitchen, Sally Sampson, founder and president, ChopChop magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

ss

On her motivation behind ChopChop magazine: My career experience has been as a cookbook writer and a magazine contributor. I wrote different cookbooks and I contributed to a lot of different food magazines and other magazines. And I also had a child with a chronic illness. She needed to be on a very, very low-fat diet, so as a result I learned a lot about obesity. I began to feel that writing cookbooks wasn’t what I wanted to keep doing. I wanted to give back in some way. And I thought that I could use my skills as a cookbook writer to help address obesity by getting doctors to prescribe cooking during well-child visits. So, I don’t know if you have children, but it’s now mandated that you take your kids at certain times and that doctor’s talk about healthy eating and physical activity during these appointments.

On expanding the mission: We’ve expanded the mission to obesity, poor nutrition and hunger. Unfortunately, that covers a huge portion of the population. Poor nutrition is an obesity effect, rich and poor, and hunger affects the poor and we’re focused in our brains on those most at risk, but ChopChop is written to appeal to any children. We hope that the Whole Foods moms pay for it and the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) food moms get it for free through their SNAP program.

On whether she sees the niche market of children’s food magazines as growing: Well, it’s definitely grown. We’ve quadrupled in volume since our first year. And we have a bit of a strange business model. We’re a non-profit and we don’t take any ads. So, it really is 39 pages of content. There is one page where we have sponsors.

On any stumbling blocks that she’s had to overcome: If you asked my staff if we had stumbling blocks, they would say yes more than I would. I’m just the sort of person who puts one foot in front of the other and I don’t worry too much. Having had a chronically ill child, I don’t worry too much about anything other than my children being sick.

On the most pleasant moment she’s had throughout this magazine journey: We went to the White House and we interviewed Mrs. Obama; we did sort of a shared 5th anniversary of “Let’s Move” and ChopChop. We both launched within a month of each other and that was really incredible. We brought two kids to the White House and they interviewed her and she was amazing; she gave us way more time than she said she would. She was beyond charming with the kids. That was an amazing experience. We also won the James Beard Award, which was also incredible. So, those things are not insignificant, but I would say that the letters that we get from kids are just really moving and very real.

chop-chop-5On whether anyone has ever told her she was out of her mind for launching a print magazine in a digital age: Oh yes, all of the time. Of course, the people who ask us if we’re out of our minds are not our readers. I think for a child to get this beautiful four-color thing that they can hold and touch, where they see a child who looks like them is important. We show kids of every color, adorable, braces, in wheelchairs; we just featured a child with Down Syndrome. We show real kids, and we don’t put makeup on them; we don’t tell them to smile. So, your grandchildren, and I don’t have grandchildren yet, but my grandchildren someday; the idea is that any child should be able to open the magazine and feel like they can relate.

On the myth that digital natives do not want anything to do with print: I honestly could not begin to understand why people feel that way. I still read paper books and I love magazines. I just think that there is something really special about print. I have an iPad and I read The New York Times on it; I read little things on it. But I think there is no sensuality to digital. Touching and feeling the paper is amazing. And I think for a child, for the magazine to be theirs, is pretty incredible.

On why she thinks it took the magazine industry so long to discover that print is not dead: I think it’s human nature and that people just have a tendency to go to extremes. First it was: no, you can’t eat any fat. Now you can eat fat. It must be the nature of human beings. I don’t know. I never felt like paper was dead and as you said in the beginning, we launched when people thought we were nuts. We launched within a very short time of Gourmet closing. Everybody asked why we were doing paper? But it just seemed like the right thing to do.

On whether she feels now that ChopChop is a movement rather than just a magazine: I do. If you think about it, we’ve got the cooking club; we have the curriculum; we’re not just a magazine. And also, when I started, not only did people ask was I crazy for doing print, but they also asked are you crazy; kid’s cooking? Like, who cares? But you look at it now and everybody sees kid’s cooking as a pipeline to many different things, whether it’s teaching kids about math or teaching them manners or teaching them to be responsible for themselves; really cooking is everything. There’s nothing that you can’t learn in a kitchen.

chop-chop-6On what she would say if this interview were conducted one year from now: I would tell you that we launched a third magazine called “Seasoned.” And that magazine is for older adults. And you would say to me, but you’re focused on kids, and I would say to you, we’re focused on people who need help in the kitchen. “Seasoned” is launching in February, 2017. The AARP Foundation gave us a grant and I believe we’re actually launching in Mississippi as one of four southern states. It’s a smaller magazine and it’s for adults who need to cook from scratch instead of buying junk, and who are downsizing.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: I cook a ton. This sounds crazy, but whenever I’m emptying my dishwasher, I’m sort of amazed at how much I cook. I cook all of the time. I don’t eat anything prepared; I make every single thing from scratch.

On what keeps her up at night: Not ChopChop. The direction of the country keeps me up at night, or if my children are having a problem, that concerns me, even though they’re in their 20s. That’s the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Sally Sampson, founder and president, ChopChop magazine.

Samir Husni: Six years ago you founded ChopChop as a bit of an experiment, but since then it has turned into somewhat of a movement. I see that you’re now worldwide and in two languages; you have different editions, one for the woman, infant and child, and one for the schools. If you can, go back six years and tell me what motivated you to begin this ChopChop journey, and then briefly bring me up to date.

chop-chop-7Sally Sampson: My career experience has been as a cookbook writer and a magazine contributor. I wrote different cookbooks and I contributed to a lot of different food magazines and other magazines. And I also had a child with a chronic illness. She needed to be on a very, very low-fat diet, so as a result I learned a lot about obesity. I began to feel that writing cookbooks wasn’t what I wanted to keep doing. I wanted to give back in some way. And I thought that I could use my skills as a cookbook writer to help address obesity by getting doctors to prescribe cooking during well-child visits. So, I don’t know if you have children, but it’s now mandated that you take your kids at certain times and that doctor’s talk about healthy eating and physical activity during these appointments.

And what doctors were telling me was that they were talking about healthy eating all of the time, but they actually had no tools. So, I conceived ChopChop as a tool for doctors, but right after we launched, suddenly other kinds of organizations were coming to me and saying that they wanted it too. After school programs, Indian reservations, food banks; just wherever you could find kids. So, we expanded it from doctors “prescribing” it to anyone that worked with kids.

Samir Husni: So, you started it for a specific reason and now you’re all over the map with it.

Sally Sampson: Well, I wouldn’t say that we’re all over the map. We’ve expanded the mission to obesity, poor nutrition and hunger. Unfortunately, that covers a huge portion of the population. Poor nutrition is an obesity effect, rich and poor, and hunger affects the poor and we’re focused in our brains on those most at risk, but ChopChop is written to appeal to any children. We hope that the Whole Foods moms pay for it and the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) food moms get it for free through their SNAP program.

Samir Husni: There are a lot of children’s magazines out there, but you were one of the forerunners when it comes to a food magazine for kids. But there are some imitators; even the Food Network publishes a special one once a year.

Sally Sampson: Yes, and that’s all ads. We have no ads.

Samir Husni: Do you see this niche market as growing?

Sally Sampson: Well, it’s definitely grown. We’ve quadrupled in volume since our first year. And we have a bit of a strange business model. We’re a non-profit and we don’t take any ads. So, it really is 39 pages of content. There is one page where we have sponsors.

The way we operate is you can get a subscription; so let’s say it’s you; you get a subscription for one of your grandchildren at $14.95 per year; done. Then the next step up is you could decide that you want every child in your granddaughter’s class to have a copy of ChopChop, so then you could order a teacher pack. And anyone can order that teacher pack. You pay for that and it’s very heavily discounted. It also comes with curriculum, so the teacher can use ChopChop in the classroom for math, science, social studies; now we’re doing some Spanish language skills, and that’s the next level of sponsorship. And the reason we did teacher packs is because teachers said to us that they were using ChopChop and wanted to continue to do so in the classroom, but that they were really busy, could we create curriculum? So, we’ve been doing that.

Then the next step up is you could be a doctor’s office or anything really, and you could order a case, which could be either 50 copies or 100 copies. Then the next level is a bulk order; we have people who buy 10,000 copies and they distribute them. Above that, we have people that the magazine is customized for, so we do about 12 customized versions. For instance, there are land grant universities that work with the U.S.D.A. and they use their SNAP education funds to pay for ChopChop as educational material. So, the University of Kentucky buys, and it varies from quarter to quarter, so plus or minus 150,000 copies. So, the bulk of our business is bulk. We’re not on newsstands; we do subscriptions, but that’s not the main part of our business. And, unlike other magazines, we don’t give away subscriptions because we’re not trying to get our numbers up to get advertisers.

Samir Husni: The way you operate allows you to stay truly honest to your mission.

chop-chop-4Sally Sampson: Exactly. And I’m very, very strict about that. Everything goes through the mission for us. Does this fulfill our mission? Now, that’s not to say that sometimes we don’t say this or that might be an interesting thing to experiment with, but it would never be against our mission in the first place, if that makes sense.

Samir Husni: Throughout these six years, has it been a stroll through a rose garden for you, or have you had some stumbling blocks that you’ve had to overcome?

Sally Sampson: If you asked my staff if we had stumbling blocks, they would say yes more than I would. I’m just the sort of person who puts one foot in front of the other and I don’t worry too much. Having had a chronically ill child, I don’t worry too much about anything other than my children being sick.

But there are things that have happened, such as we lost a major sponsor about a year ago. I know this may sound Pollyannaish, but it really does seem like when one door closes another door opens. There was a time when money was tight, obviously, but it doesn’t seem to stay that way. I’ve never had to lay anyone off or to make compromises that I didn’t want to make.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment for you throughout this magazine journey?

Sally Sampson: We went to the White House and we interviewed Mrs. Obama; we did sort of a shared 5th anniversary of “Let’s Move” and ChopChop. We both launched within a month of each other and that was really incredible. We brought two kids to the White House and they interviewed her and she was amazing; she gave us way more time than she said she would. She was beyond charming with the kids. That was an amazing experience.

We also won the James Beard Award, which was also incredible. So, those things are not insignificant, but I would say that the letters that we get from kids are just really moving and very real. For instance, we got a letter recently from a nine-year-old, and they’re always drawn, there are always pictures on them. And the child wrote: I told my mother that I would give her one million dollars if we could just test one recipe. And that’s incredible.

It’s just incredible. We get these very sincere letters from kids and it feels like we’re changing their lives.

Samir Husni: We live in a digital world and yet you launched the magazine in print, and in really, the height of that digital age. And you continue in print six years later. Has anyone approached you and told you that you were out of your mind for launching a print magazine in a digital age?

Sally Sampson: Oh yes, all of the time. Of course, the people who ask us if we’re out of our minds are not our readers. I think for a child to get this beautiful four-color thing that they can hold and touch, where they see a child who looks like them is important. We show kids of every color, adorable, braces, in wheelchairs; we just featured a child with Down Syndrome. We show real kids, and we don’t put makeup on them; we don’t tell them to smile. So, your grandchildren, and I don’t have grandchildren yet, but my grandchildren someday; the idea is that any child should be able to open the magazine and feel like they can relate.

And I think that’s really important. We’ve been very diligent about that. And particularly with low-income kids and all of the Xeroxed copies of things that they receive, they don’t get that glossy and beautiful magazine. And we don’t hear from the people that are using the magazine that they’re dying for it to be digital. In fact, I will tell you that we had a digital edition that we stopped doing. It cost us more to produce it, because no one ordered it; no one wanted it.

That said we have an online cooking club, which you should get all of your grandchildren to join. It’s free. And it’s really more about skills. So, it’s not as if we have no digital presence. This year we’re also going to do an app.

Samir Husni: You’re not the first to tell me that the younger generations crave print and want to have something in their hands. I see it with my own grandchildren. They get their magazines, whether it’s Highlights or Hello for my one-year-old, and they love them. So, why do you think that there’s this myth that because we live in a digital age, the digital natives don’t want anything to do with print? Do you think we’re lumping all of print together in the same pile; the newspapers, magazines and specialty things?

chop-chop-1Sally Sampson: I honestly could not begin to understand why people feel that way. I still read paper books and I love magazines. I just think that there is something really special about print. I have an iPad and I read The New York Times on it; I read little things on it. But I think there is no sensuality to digital. Touching and feeling the paper is amazing. And I think for a child, for the magazine to be theirs, is pretty incredible. That’s the feedback that we get. So, I don’t really know.

Samir Husni: I’m starting to hear more editors in chief and more CEOs say that they’re starting to think print first again. Why do you think it took the magazine industry so long to discover that print is not dead?

Sally Sampson: I think it’s human nature and that people just have a tendency to go to extremes. First it was: no, you can’t eat any fat. Now you can eat fat. It must be the nature of human beings. I don’t know. I never felt like paper was dead and as you said in the beginning, we launched when people thought we were nuts. We launched within a very short time of Gourmet closing. Everybody asked why we were doing paper? But it just seemed like the right thing to do.

Samir Husni: Do you feel now that ChopChop is a movement rather than just a print magazine?

Sally Sampson: I do. If you think about it, we’ve got the cooking club; we have the curriculum; we’re not just a magazine. And also, when I started, not only did people ask was I crazy for doing print, but they also asked are you crazy; kid’s cooking? Like, who cares? But you look at it now and everybody sees kid’s cooking as a pipeline to many different things, whether it’s teaching kids about math or teaching them manners or teaching them to be responsible for themselves; really cooking is everything. There’s nothing that you can’t learn in a kitchen.

You learn cooperation; a respect for other cultures; it’s science. We teach kids about fermentation and we teach them about emulsification, and we teach them how to multiply. We teach them, oh, here’s this dish and it’s eaten in 10 different countries, except in this country they put cumin in it and in that country they put dill in it, and it has a slightly different name, but it shows how people are the same all over the world.

I think about when my children were small, they’re in their early 20s now and we live in Watertown, Mass., which is very Armenian. My kids would bring hummus to school. And Watertown is so diverse, and they were teased for bringing hummus, but now hummus is like ketchup. (Laughs) So, the world changes around food.

Samir Husni: If you and I are having this conversation one year from now, what will you tell me? What are your future expectations for ChopChop?

chop-chop-3Sally Sampson: I would tell you that we launched a third magazine called “Seasoned.” And that magazine is for older adults. And you would say to me, but you’re focused on kids, and I would say to you, we’re focused on people who need help in the kitchen. “Seasoned” is launching in February, 2017. The AARP Foundation gave us a grant and I believe we’re actually launching in Mississippi as one of four southern states. It’s a smaller magazine and it’s for adults who need to cook from scratch instead of buying junk, and who are downsizing. It’s like a cousin to ChopChop. It’s not going to look just like ChopChop, but you will look at it and get it.

Samir Husni: If I showed up at your home unexpectedly one evening after work, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine; reading your iPad; cooking; having a glass of wine; or something else?

Sally Sampson: All of the above except for the wine. I cook a ton. This sounds crazy, but whenever I’m emptying my dishwasher, I’m sort of amazed at how much I cook. I cook all of the time. I don’t eat anything prepared; I make every single thing from scratch.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Sally Sampson: Not ChopChop. The direction of the country keeps me up at night, or if my children are having a problem, that concerns me, even though they’re in their 20s. That’s the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Geraldine Magazine: A Unique Experience In Wedding Inspirations – Curating Original Concepts With Every Beautifully Done Page – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Daniel Tran, Editor In Chief and Creative Director, Geraldine Magazine.

November 30, 2016

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story

geraldine-october

“I’ve always believed in print and I don’t think it will ever go away. About eight or nine years ago when I was still in design school, they were saying that since the industry was moving toward digital, if you’re a designer you need to make sure you know how to make a website, but I always believed in print and that was my passion. There’s nothing like picking up a book and feeling and smelling that beautiful paper, and the beauty of the cover. You don’t get all of that on a Kindle; you don’t get that experience. So, I created this magazine for print and not for digital. We never offer a digital version of the magazine, because the experience would not be the same. For me, I feel like print will never go away.” Daniel Tran

The story behind the wedding is vital to the powers-that-be at Geraldine magazine, namely Daniel Tran, editor in chief and creative director. According to Daniel, Geraldine is a wedding publication that serves as an inspiration for couples who want to create a refined and intimate event. The content between its covers is both thought-provoking and uplifting, and the photographs are nothing short of brilliant. The magazine is a breathtaking venture that proves talent and dreams certainly go hand-in-hand. The passionate entrepreneur is certainly alive and well inside of Daniel Tran.

I spoke with Daniel recently and we talked about Geraldine. It was as edifying a conversation as the magazine itself is. Daniel’s love for the world of visual design is definitely apparent as you flip through the pages of Geraldine. Having attended the Academy of Art of San Francisco, he was torn between heading for New York after graduation or staying in San Francisco and creating something uniquely different on his own. And with the artful Geraldine, we see his choice and appreciate it. Daniel calls it an inspirational force and Mr. Magazine™ would have to agree with him.

The magazine is a visual masterpiece and the young man behind it a true entrepreneur. So, I invite you to relax and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Daniel Tran, as you come inside the world of dreams, talent, and wedded bliss.

But first the sound-bites:

geraldine_danieltran_-768x1018

On the genesis of the magazine: I graduated from design school about six years ago, the Academy of Art of San Francisco, and it was my intention to do something related to page layout and design in print. So, I was deciding if I should go to New York and work for the Martha Stewart brand, because they do amazing work and I’ve always appreciated the beautiful typography in the layouts coming out of Martha Stewart, but instead of going to New York I decided to stay here in San Francisco. That was when I started to think about whether I wanted to do branding, design, or if I wanted to start something on my own. I had been following Kinfolk magazine and Darling; these independent magazines that focused more on storytelling in an artful way. So, when I looked at what I could do that was sort of in a similar vein, but that I could tap into, I looked at the wedding industry and realized that people were spending so much money in their own weddings, but it wasn’t being displayed or communicated in an artful way. So I felt like that I could somehow take that subject and turn it into an art form. And that’s how I started the magazine.

On the name Geraldine: When we came up with the brand, my team and I, we tossed around a bunch of key words and we looked at the audience that we wanted to reach out to. There were common words and key words; meaningful words that resonated with us. So, it was this big process to come up with a name that was memorable and also strong. And we wanted a name instead of a word, so Geraldine was somehow part of the list. For me, when it comes to a brand, it can sound beautiful, but for me it also has to look beautiful written out. Or look beautiful as a logo. It has to make sense, so Geraldine was where we ended up. And there wasn’t any personal relation to the name. It wasn’t my grandmother’s name or anything like that.

On the most pleasant unexpected surprise that happened during the journey of launching the magazine: The most unexpected surprise was that the industry people were very interested in the creation, and when we shipped over a sample copy to some of the industry leaders, I didn’t expect them to respond to me in one day. They were so interested and loved the creation and the execution of the magazine. That was one pleasant, unexpected surprise.

On the biggest stumbling block that he had to face and how he overcame it: One thing was to figure out the execution part. We were working with a printer in Canada because we wanted the magazine to be printed in an artful way and executed in the same vein that the publication was offered, so we put up a huge investment in getting the light printer to print it, but after two issues we realized that the cost was way too high. So, we had to figure out another way to lower the cost of the printing and the production of the magazine.

On how he is trying to make the magazine more of an experience for his readers:
It’s not about the most expensive wedding out there; it could be a farm-to-table type of wedding that someone put together for $15,000. So, it’s not so much about money as it is about the story behind the wedding. This couple has an interesting background and the way they put together the wedding is interesting. The way they hired the team that produced the wedding for them is unique; just things like that. So, we want to communicate that to new brides who are putting together their own weddings and we want to educate them in all aspects of the wedding, from working on their stationery to working with their wedding planners and florists in these capacities.

On how he feels about the future of print: I’ve always believed in print and I don’t think it will ever go away. About eight or nine years ago when I was still in design school, they were saying that since the industry was moving toward digital, if you’re a designer you need to make sure you know how to make a website, but I always believed in print and that was my passion. There’s nothing like picking up a book and feeling and smelling that beautiful paper, and the beauty of the cover. You don’t get all of that on a Kindle; you don’t get that experience.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly to his home one evening: You would find me on Pinterest. Before even the social media came out, I was always looking through magazines and other things for ideas. But in this day and age, I come home and after dinner I go on Pinterest. That’s my sort of downtime. I want to be inspired and so I go on Pinterest. I also collect books, so many books. I love books. I love typography books. The one element in design that I truly love and am passionate about is typography.

On what keeps him up at night: How the magazine could be evolved. In the beginning, I had a lot of angst and sleepless nights because when we first released the preorder of the magazine there were only like 50 orders coming in and I was nervous. It might look easy to sell 500 copies of a book, but believe me, it’s hard. (Laughs)

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Daniel Tran, editor in chief and creative director, Geraldine magazine.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the genesis of Geraldine.

geraldine-issue-1Daniel Tran: I graduated from design school about six years ago, the Academy of Art of San Francisco, and it was my intention to do something related to page layout and design in print. So, I was deciding if I should go to New York and work for the Martha Stewart brand, because they do amazing work and I’ve always appreciated the beautiful typography in the layouts coming out of Martha Stewart, but instead of going to New York I decided to stay here in San Francisco.

That was when I started to think about whether I wanted to do branding, design, or if I wanted to start something on my own. I had been following Kinfolk magazine and Darling; these independent magazines that focused more on storytelling in an artful way. So, when I looked at what I could do that was sort of in a similar vein, but that I could tap into, I looked at the wedding industry and realized that people were spending so much money in their own weddings, but it wasn’t being displayed or communicated in an artful way. So I felt like that I could somehow take that subject and turn it into an art form. And that’s how I started the magazine.

I began by reaching out to a group of industry leaders in the wedding business. What I did was reached out to laser photographers that shoot more film, but also work on brands like Martha Stewart, and I really hand-selected some of the people to share the vision I had for the magazine and asked them would they like to work with us.

It’s a very candid magazine; I didn’t want to be sneaky or creep up on people with the concept. It’s pretty direct. So I just reached out to them and explained what the magazine was about. And I did reach out to a lot of the major leaders in this industry, and I received a lot of closed doors in my face, to be honest. Then some people didn’t respond at all.

We also did a test project first because I wasn’t sure if people would even be willing to spend $30 on a magazine. But while Geraldine is a magazine, it’s more like a softcover book, where there was no advertisement. Basically we highlighted the industry, hand-selected people who were doing beautiful work and has that organic and classic aesthetic.

We were also thinking about where we could sell the magazine. The first place that came to mind was Anthropologie because they sell a hand-selected number of publications, Kinfolk is being sold there. So, I thought there is a space for us there, because they don’t have a wedding publication yet.

Initially, after finishing crafting the magazine, I sent it over there and they loved it. We only sent a sample copy with 20 or 30 pages; at that time we hadn’t gone to print yet. So, we sent it over to the buyers and they loved the magazine. And they were really interested in stocking it. So really, everything just came from there.

Samir Husni: How did you come up with the name Geraldine for the magazine?

Daniel Tran: When we came up with the brand, my team and I, we tossed around a bunch of key words and we looked at the audience that we wanted to reach out to. There were common words and key words; meaningful words that resonated with us. So, it was this big process to come up with a name that was memorable and also strong. And we wanted a name instead of a word, so Geraldine was somehow part of the list. For me, when it comes to a brand, it can sound beautiful, but for me it also has to look beautiful written out. Or look beautiful as a logo. It has to make sense, so Geraldine was where we ended up. And there wasn’t any personal relation to the name. It wasn’t my grandmother’s name or anything like that.

We got a lot of people curious about why we chose that name. In fact, the first thing people ask me is why I picked the name Geraldine.

Samir Husni: You have managed to create a beautiful, coffee table book/magazine. Tell me what was the most pleasant and unexpected surprise that happened during the journey of launching this magazine?

Daniel Tran: The most unexpected surprise was that the industry people were very interested in the creation, and when we shipped over a sample copy to some of the industry leaders, I didn’t expect them to respond to me in one day. They were so interested and loved the creation and the execution of the magazine. That was one pleasant, unexpected surprise.

And there were others. You’re creating this masterpiece and it’s your baby, and then you spend so much time and you get so many people involved and you keep asking yourself whether people are going to pay $30 for it. That’s a lot because we’ve almost doubled the price of Geraldine compared to some other magazines. And that was a scary part.

One other surprise was when we went to the U.K. because the shipping costs were so expensive, the magazine sold for $40 and the fact that people were willing to pay $40 for it was awesome. That was another surprise for me.

Samir Husni: What was the biggest stumbling block that you had to face and how did you overcome it?

Daniel Tran: One thing was to figure out the execution part. We were working with a printer in Canada because we wanted the magazine to be printed in an artful way and executed in the same vein that the publication was offered, so we put up a huge investment in getting the light printer to print it, but after two issues we realized that the cost was way too high. So, we had to figure out another way to lower the cost of the printing and the production of the magazine.

But once the brand was out there, people loved so much about the magazine that they would send us content without asking for payment or without us having to produce it, because when we produce an editorial it’s very costly. But of course, that doesn’t mean that we take just anything for the magazine.

We’re now working with different collaborators and partners in the industry, which is another way for their work to be featured, but we do it as a collaborative process, and not selling anything. And then the other struggle that we have is with advertisement. In this day and age, and in the digital world with Instagram and Facebook, a lot of brands do not want to advertise because the wedding industry is a little different than fashion. The wedding industry really doesn’t understand the value of advertising and with the advertisement model; it doesn’t really work for us because our magazine is more about storytelling.

In Issue #3, we tried some ad things, but it’s more like we collaborated with the brands and we produced editorial for them and then we advertised their advertorial. But we got pushbacks from our readers saying that they loved the magazine for what it stood for, and it was distracting for the magazine to feature wedding dresses and other things, so that was another roadblock for us. It wasn’t an easy task to break through.

And now we’re working on Issue #5, number four was released a couple of months ago. And we’re continually keeping the magazine without advertisements, because we’ve decided that’s the best route for us. We went from $30 to $25, because we want to reach a wider audience, where people can afford the magazine. So, we lowered the cover price by $5. And if it makes sense to do so, we’ll lower it a little more, but with no advertisements inside the magazine, I think we’re now at the right price. As I said, it’s a coffee table book more than a magazine.

Samir Husni: As you’re creating, and to quote from your mission statement, “this refined and intimate event,” how are you trying to make the magazine more of an experience for the audience, rather than just ink on paper?

Daniel Tran: When we get submissions, editorial content or real weddings, basically our magazine is to inspire new brides, and not just brides, but also industry people because they’re the ones who are working with us. So, throughout the entire process we don’t do this alone, we can’t. We have to rely on industry folks who give us the right type of content that we like to feature.

It’s not about the most expensive wedding out there; it could be a farm-to-table type of wedding that someone put together for $15,000. So, it’s not so much about money as it is about the story behind the wedding. This couple has an interesting background and the way they put together the wedding is interesting. The way they hired the team that produced the wedding for them is unique; just things like that. So, we want to communicate that to new brides who are putting together their own weddings and we want to educate them in all aspects of the wedding, from working on their stationery to working with their wedding planners and florists in these capacities.

But it’s different than how Martha Stewart weddings would guide someone during the whole planning process. We’re not trying to guide anyone in the process, because everybody has their own way; it’s a very personal thing. It’s whatever that particular couple wants for their own wedding. We always focus on intimate events and events that are unique and relatable.

We also stay away from over-the-top weddings, the ones with extravagant chandeliers and things. That’s not really our thing. We really strongly believe in our curation process. I have a managing editor that helps to filter through the content. And now that we’re working on Issue #5, I think the industry understands what this brand is about. And if there’s a certain wedding that they know doesn’t make sense for the brand, they don’t send it our way.

Samir Husni: With your background as a creative designer and art school, and now that you’re more of a storyteller and magazine maker; do you think that the future of print is going to be this combination of art, photography and beautiful things, or there’s still room for anything in print?

Daniel Tran: I’ve always believed in print and I don’t think it will ever go away. About eight or nine years ago when I was still in design school, they were saying that since the industry was moving toward digital, if you’re a designer you need to make sure you know how to make a website, but I always believed in print and that was my passion. There’s nothing like picking up a book and feeling and smelling that beautiful paper, and the beauty of the cover. You don’t get all of that on a Kindle; you don’t get that experience. So, I created this magazine for print and not for digital, so we never offer a digital version of the magazine, because the experience would not be the same. For me, I feel like print will never go away.

And yes, right now, with the social media impact, we are very conscious about what we put on our social media and it has to be in brand with the print publication. We’re actually working on our blog and our new website that will have content from our magazine. It’s another way we’re using digital to grow our print publication. It’s not going to replace our publication. But we are adapting to the digital age as well. Print is my passion though, and if people stop buying print, that is when I want to stop.

There are a few independent wedding publications out there, but for us I want it to be educational without dictating that things have to be any certain way. It’s an inspirational force. If something doesn’t inspire me, then I won’t put it in the magazine. Every issue we produce a vital fashion editorial because we want to educate the bride. We’re not telling her what to wear; we’re telling her that there are other unique gowns to choose from as a bride. And we show that through the way we style our models; the way we have the photographer that we hire shoot the story; we’re always challenging ourselves to make our bridal fashion editorial as unique as possible.

In Issue #4 we went to Aspen, Colorado, which is another wedding destination, so we used Aspen as a backdrop. We shot the two models in the snow with beautiful dresses; it was a lot of work, but we were all really inspired by it. And that’s what makes us different. We push the boundaries; we don’t follow in anyone’s footsteps.

A lot of people ask me how I started the magazine, because my background isn’t in weddings. I came into this as a designer; as a person with very little knowledge about the industry, but because of that I bring something new to the industry. I’m not following the Martha Stewart grid or I’m not following any bride’s magazine format. I’m just doing what I feel this industry needs and wants, which is this beautiful book that comes out twice a year.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly one evening at your home after work, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine; watching television; having a glass of wine; or something else?

Daniel Tran: You would find me on Pinterest. Before even the social media came out, I was always looking through magazines and other things for ideas. But in this day and age, I come home and after dinner I go on Pinterest. That’s my sort of downtime. I want to be inspired and so I go on Pinterest. I also collect books, so many books. I love books. I love typography books. The one element in design that I truly love and am passionate about is typography. It’s doesn’t make a magazine without beautiful type or typography. A book that has only photos and no type in it, then it’s a photography book; it’s not really a design. So, I love Pinterest and design blogs and that’s what you would find me doing at night.

Samir Husni: And my typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Daniel Tran: How the magazine could be evolved. In the beginning, I had a lot of angst and sleepless nights because when we first released the preorder of the magazine there were only like 50 orders coming in and I was nervous. It might look easy to sell 500 copies of a book, but believe me, it’s hard. (Laughs)

So knowing that you’ve created something really beautiful and you want to share it with the world, and people can’t afford it or don’t appreciate it and aren’t willing to pay for it makes you nervous. But there has been a lot of good feedback so far. We have photographers who buy boxes and boxes of the magazine and they give them to their clients as a gift because they want their clients to be inspired by the beautiful work these shoots create.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Howler Magazine: After Four Years The Distinctive Magazine About Soccer Is Still Kicking & Scoring With Its Audience – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Founder/Editor George Quraishi…

November 29, 2016

“The thought of starting just a website and the monetary factors of that felt very uncertain to me. From day one, I didn’t see a way to do what we wanted to do with that model. What I’m trying to say is that it was half a business hunch and half a nostalgia play that led us to do it in print. And I think that it’s worked out from what I’ve seen since we launched. I was in London recently at Jeremy Leslie’s magCulture, and I saw all of these wonderful-looking magazines. And none of them, including Howler, should probably even exist. They’re all really heartfelt attempts by people who want to do and say something that’s important to them, but there is no spreadsheet that’s going to say that this is a great business. You have to be a bit of a crazy dreamer to try and do it.” George Quraishi

howlerSince 2012 there has been a voice on newsstands “howling” the joys and passions of soccer, and one that is inimitable in its style and stance on creativity and storytelling. That magazine is Howler. And the powers-that-be behind the brand are dedicated professionals that know a thing or two about magazines and magazine design.

Mark Kirby and George Quraishi, two of the original founders of the magazine, are former editors at GQ, Condé Nast Portfolio, National Geographic Adventure, and HarperCollins Publishers. Both are soccer fans, but more importantly they’re all fans of great magazines that are prone to providing audiences with great artwork, great content and even greater connections with the people the magazines serve.

I spoke with George recently and we talked about Howler, where it has been, where it’s at, and also where it’s headed. The magazine was first funded by one of the earlier Kickstarter campaigns and is proving that passion, fortitude and a little bit of crazy can go a long way when you’re finding your footing on the path to launching a great magazine.

So, pull out your favorite chair, grab your soccer gear and join Mr. Magazine™ as he picks the brain of a man who loves the art of storytelling and a good game of soccer, George Quraishi, Founder & Editor, Howler magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

427433_872144273724_1862295105_n

On the genesis of Howler: There are four founders, and it was a group that in a sense I guess, I brought together. Mark Kirby was my coeditor, and he and I; we never worked together, but he offered me an internship at National Geographic Adventure when I was still in college. And then the art directors for Howler were the art directors that I had worked with at Condé Nast’s Portfolio after I finished up at National Geographic, and so the four of us came together to make Howler. And then we launched it on Kickstarter as a project in June, 2012. And we funded it, and it was very exciting. Then we had a few months to actually finalize the issue and it came out in October, 2012. So, that was the timeline.

On funding Howler through the crowdsourcing platform of Kickstarter: I have to say that my inspiration for the magazine was because I saw a friend of mine do a very similar thing. My friend Jamin Warren was an arts and entertainment reporter at the Wall Street Journal who loved videogames and he quit his job at the Journal and he did a Kickstarter project to fund a print magazine about videogames called Kill Screen that still exists, which was redesigned and relaunched. And he came to Kickstarter even earlier than we did, when it was a much smaller ecosystem.

On why he thinks there is an audience for a soccer magazine in the States when the sport isn’t as popular here as it is in places like Europe: You’re right; soccer in the U.S. isn’t as mature as an industry as it is overseas. It’s not as mature as other American sports, but it’s not as mature globally either as it is in countries like South America and Europe. But rather than putting us off, that was the opportunity that we saw. There are plenty of people here who love and follow the game, but we weren’t seeing the type of coverage that we as readers and fans wanted to see.

On any stumbling blocks that he’s had to face and how he overcame them: It has been a constant learning experience. I can only speak for myself, but I left college and I went abroad to teach English for a year in South Korea and I came back and worked as a writer and an editor at magazines and at HarperCollins Publishers in New York City. But nothing that I did prepared me for entrepreneurship or managing a “staff” of people. And those have been things that I’ve had to try and learn how to do.

On how he moved from the idea maker to the idea executioner: You go from having an idea for a magazine and then the questions become how do you found it; how do you build an audience for it; and then how do you sustain it? And those are all related questions. A lot of it was intuition and step-by-step decision-making, as opposed to a grand master plan, such as in four years we’d like to be where we are.

On the most pleasant moment he’s had throughout this experience: That’s a good question. We’ve been lucky; there are several to choose from. I would probably say one of the most gratifying moments happened two years ago when Longform Podcast had a contest. And I vaguely knew the guys who did it, but I wasn’t aware of the contest. They asked their readers what was their favorite all-time soccer story and a Howler story beat out several others. One I believe from The New York Times and one from ESPN, and a couple of others. And a Howler story actually won.

On whether he feels the Howler brand could have accomplished as much as it has without the print component: That’s another good question and something that we considered from the very beginning. Like I said before, when we went public and launched with Kickstarter, we really thought about this. We asked a lot of people that we knew for their advice and people in the soccer business. And a pretty common question that we heard from people was why were we making a print magazine? It needed to be online. This was in 2012. Our thinking and my hunch was that while this might be kind of crazy, for this to be viable and for us to deliver the kind of journalism and artwork; to make the kind of magazine that I wanted to make, there had to be a model where the reader was supporting what we’re doing.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-7-34-08-pmOn what his future expectations are for Howler: I would say that right now my goals are to diversify the ways to make money. The ways now are reader, advertising, which is a small, but healthy chunk of how we make money, and the marketing work that we do for third parties. They come to us; brands like Gatorade and Nike, especially in the early days when I quit my job, that was a big help so that I didn’t go homeless.

On anything else he’d like to add: Our website has been getting a lot of attention lately. We just relaunched our website and we changed the name from howlermagazine.com to whatahowler.com. Whatahowler is our official handle for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Our attempt there was to realign the website as its own digital property and shift it a little bit away from being just a place where people go because we’ve been talking about the print magazine. And we’ve partnered with a really fantastic blog that predates Howler by a few years; it’s called Dirty Tackle. It was acquired by Yahoo in, I believe, 2009, and it had a good five year run with Yahoo before regaining its independence, so now whatahowler.com and Dirty Tackle cohabitate.

On having no advertising on Howler’s website: The types of advertising that we could get, with the page views and the readers and the metrics that we have for this small website, we would be making pennies really. The digital advertising game is really for websites that can scale or have scale and that have extremely large numbers.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up at his house unexpectedly one evening: My wife comes home, she’s doing her Ph.D. in education right now; she’s exhausted, so she’s sitting on the couch working and I’m next to her with our dog. And I’m reading or working myself, or doing something that needs doing, because there is always something.

On what keeps him up at night: Like anyone who does what I do, I think, just thinking about where media is going and can we, in some small way, latch onto some of these trends? That’s why we’ve placed some of our bets on podcasting as a low cost, but highly personal way to reach our audience. The media landscape is so exciting and I think that’s where a lot of the big players present a real challenge to us. For a company our size, it also presents real opportunity. Not only is it harder and harder to reach the mass audience, but you don’t necessarily have to in order to be a viable business.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with George Quraishi, Founder/Editor, Howler Magazine.

Samir Husni: You’re getting ready to celebrate four years of Howler; can you recreate the launch of Howler? I know that you had other founders, but your name was the name associated with the magazine from the very beginning. Tell me about the genesis of Howler.

3566138George Quraishi: There are four founders, and it was a group that in a sense I guess, I brought together. Mark Kirby was my coeditor, and he and I; we never worked together, but he offered me an internship at National Geographic Adventure when I was still in college. By the time I took it, he had moved on to GQ. So, he and I just stayed in touch and started playing soccer together.

And then the art directors for Howler were the art directors that I had worked with at Condé Nast’s Portfolio after I finished up at National Geographic, and so the four of us came together to make Howler. We did a lot of work in the beginning before we ever took it to the public, to figure out what the magazine would look like, sound like, who would be writing for it, and structurally just putting together that first issue.

And then we launched it on Kickstarter as a project in June, 2012. And we funded it, and it was very exciting. Then we had a few months to actually finalize the issue and it came out in October, 2012. So, that was the timeline.

Samir Husni: And I think you may have been one of the earlier crowdsourcing entities, because now it is becoming the norm rather than the exception. If someone has an idea for a magazine, they simply go to Kickstarter.

George Quraishi: I have to say that my inspiration for the magazine was because I saw a friend of mine do a very similar thing. My friend Jamin Warren was an arts and entertainment reporter at the Wall Street Journal who loved videogames and he quit his job at the Journal and he did a Kickstarter project to fund a print magazine about videogames called Kill Screen that still exists, which was redesigned and relaunched. And he came to Kickstarter even earlier than we did, when it was a much smaller ecosystem.

I think we had a much easier time fundraising Howler, because there was just more people familiar with the platform and I’m sure that today the audience for Kickstarter has grown and the familiarity with it has become so much more prevalent that people who are funding through Kickstarter now would probably look back at our campaign and be able to tell it was quite a while ago. (Laughs) But it’s such a wonderful platform.

Samir Husni: Soccer is getting bigger and bigger in the United States, but it’s still not as popular as it is overseas. When you hear the word football there, you know that people are referring to soccer. Why did you think there was an audience in the States for an international soccer magazine when you launched Howler? And why did you decide to publish it in its oversized format and with all of the stunning illustrations?

George Quraishi: You’re right; soccer in the U.S. isn’t as mature as an industry as it is overseas. It’s not as mature as other American sports, but it’s not as mature globally either as it is in countries like South America and Europe. But rather than putting us off, that was the opportunity that we saw. There are plenty of people here who love and follow the game, but we weren’t seeing the type of coverage that we as readers and fans wanted to see.

And I would say there are so many things you can look at to measure soccer’s growth and the maturity of the game just in the last couple of years, but one that I would point to and that I feel a bit of pride, in terms of helping in some small way to push along, is the fact that by the 4th or 5th issue of Howler I began to see more coverage of the game the way we aspire to do it in the major and more established publications.

You’re seeing more illustrations such as Howler uses; you’re seeing people realize that there’s an audience for long soccer stories. Just recently ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight site posted a new podcast on their Hot Takedown about a guy named Charles Reep, who was sort of the father of soccer analytics. And when I heard about it I knew that it sounded like an episode of Howler Radio, which is a podcast that we started a few years ago. Now, I would never take credit for any of these things (Laughs), but it’s been very encouraging to see the type of stories that I wanted to see created and that gave us the impotence to start Howler in the first place, become more prevalent in the culture at large. I don’t know if it’s our influence or just a correlation, but I just think that it’s fantastic to see.

Samir Husni: Have you had any stumbling blocks along your journey and if so, how did you overcome them?

George Quraishi: It has been a constant learning experience. I can only speak for myself, but I left college and I went abroad to teach English for a year in South Korea and I came back and worked as a writer and an editor at magazines and at HarperCollins Publishers in New York City. But nothing that I did prepared me for entrepreneurship or managing a “staff” of people. And those have been things that I’ve had to try and learn how to do. And we do have a large team now of what we call semi-professionals, most people do have other jobs, but they work on Howler as well; our editors and our copy editors; our creative director and our editorial assistants, and our podcast producers. So, it’s quite a large team.

Along the way there have certainly been challenges, in terms of just the basic tasks of running a business that I think anyone who starts a small organization has to learn how to do. Cash flow and reconciling the books; all of these foreign processes that are totally unfamiliar to someone who enjoys sitting down and editing and working with good stories. I have had to learn how to do all of that. So, yes, there have been quite a few challenges along the way.

Samir Husni: You were a journalist before you became a businessperson. As someone who is passionate about creative ideas and the subject matter of Howler, how did you move from the idea maker to the idea executioner?

George Quraishi: You go from having an idea for a magazine and then the questions become how do you found it; how do you build an audience for it; and then how do you sustain it? And those are all related questions. A lot of it was intuition and step-by-step decision-making, as opposed to a grand master plan, such as in four years we’d like to be where we are.

We started with the Kickstarter fund, which was around $70,001; something like that. And that was our capital. We’ve never taken on investors and we’ve never been in the red for longer than maybe a day. Overall, we’ve been very fortunate to have had a print magazine startup that has been at most times at least a break even proposition. And the magazine business is all about scale, and for us it’s about trying to grow the audience, which we’ve done by, up to this point, basically social media and by earned media. We were fortunate in the early days to get great reviews from some other much larger publications. We’ve built our audience via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and just by really focusing on reaching our small audience. We have a small, but very passionate audience. And I think that what we’ve done and what was smart on our part was really focusing on what we knew that audience wanted, instead of trying to be all things to all soccer fans.

Samir Husni: Are you doing this full-time now?

George Quraishi: Yes, I quit my job as soon as we funded the Kickstarter actually. So, for the past four years I’ve done this full-time.

Samir Husni: What would you consider the most pleasant moment throughout this experience?

George Quraishi: That’s a good question. We’ve been lucky; there are several to choose from. I would probably say one of the most gratifying moments happened two years ago when Longform Podcast had a contest. And I vaguely knew the guys who did it, but I wasn’t aware of the contest. They asked their readers what was their favorite all-time soccer story and a Howler story beat out several others. One I believe from The New York Times and one from ESPN, and a couple of others. And a Howler story actually won.

And it was a story from readers and I wasn’t surprised that that was a popular story, but the fact that a Howler story had penetrated the consciousness of this other audience, the Longform audience, was kind of amazing to me. And it was a wonderful feeling. It felt good just to be in the same conversation with these other venerable publications and to actually beat them out in some small way. I just wanted to pump my fist in the air and shout, “Yeah!”

Samir Husni: Do you think that you could have accomplished what you have with Howler without the print component?

George Quraishi: That’s another good question and something that we considered from the very beginning. Like I said before, when we went public and launched with Kickstarter, we really thought about this. We asked a lot of people that we knew for their advice and people in the soccer business. And a pretty common question that we heard from people was why were we making a print magazine? It needed to be online. This was in 2012.

Our thinking and my hunch was that while this might be kind of crazy, for this to be viable and for us to deliver the kind of journalism and artwork; to make the kind of magazine that I wanted to make, there had to be a model where the reader was supporting what we’re doing.

The thought of starting just a website and the monetary factors of that felt very uncertain to me. From day one, I didn’t see a way to do what we wanted to do with that model. What I’m trying to say is that it was half a business hunch and half a nostalgia play that led us to do it in print. And I think that it’s worked out from what I’ve seen since we launched.

I was in London recently at Jeremy Leslie’s magCulture, and I saw all of these wonderful-looking magazines. And none of them, including Howler, should probably even exist. They’re all really heartfelt attempts by people who want to do and say something that’s important to them, but there is no spreadsheet that’s going to say that this is a great business. You have to be a bit of a crazy dreamer to try and do it.

But I think that what we’ve learned is that people who recognize that and who love these magazines are willing to support them. It’s not easy, but finding that audience and seeing that support makes it totally doable and necessary.

Samir Husni: I’ve always said that there is a sense of community when you’re holding a print magazine, it’s like your membership card and if you’re not willing to pay for that membership, you can’t be in the club. I was in New York recently and picked up some new magazine and the cover prices were anywhere from $25 to $34.

George Quraishi: Yes, and you know, Samir, when I was in New York and looking around at new magazines, I noticed that most of the covers were Issue #1, Issue #2, Issue #3; there were definitely a few that were more mature, but a lot of them were very young and to me that just validated the fact that while this business is tough and not easy to sustain on the financial side for a new magazine; I really admire the people who try. I know how difficult it is and seeing that people still believe in print and are willing to pay for quality work is really heartening.

Samir Husni: If we talk again in two years, what would you hope to tell me that Howler has accomplished? What are your expectations?

George Quraishi: I would say that right now my goals are to diversify the ways to make money. The ways now are reader, advertising, which is a small, but healthy chunk of how we make money, and the marketing work that we do for third parties. They come to us; brands like Gatorade and Nike, especially in the early days when I quit my job, that was a big help so that I didn’t go homeless.

Right now we’re looking at other ways. We’ve launched our Podcast and we’re in the process of trying to make them user-supported; we’re exploring a few other things that refocus our efforts and attention on the audience we already have, while trying to grow that audience, but not at the expense of the people who are already paying attention to us.

For instance, could we go on any more trips, which might be something that we could do; it’s a great way to connect with readers, but also explore interesting things with soccer and also gain experience, rather than a product. Could that become a part of our business? I’m exploring things like that and hopefully in a couple of years I’ll have good news to report. We’ve tried to make the business a little more stable by not relying on one thing.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-7-34-22-pmGeorge Quraishi: Our website has been getting a lot of attention lately. We just relaunched our website and we changed the name from howlermagazine.com to whatahowler.com. Whatahowler is our official handle for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Our attempt there was to realign the website as its own digital property and shift it a little bit away from being just a place where people go because we’ve been talking about the print magazine. And we’ve partnered with a really fantastic blog that predates Howler by a few years; it’s called Dirty Tackle. It was acquired by Yahoo in, I believe, 2009, and it had a good five year run with Yahoo before regaining its independence, so now whatahowler.com and Dirty Tackle cohabitate.

This is our first move in trying to bring in other voices, those other soccer blogs that I love, but like Howler online, find it difficult to reach a big enough audience to make a living off of it. My thoughts were to put our readers together, Howler’s and Dirty Tackle’s, and maybe have a more meaningful share of the soccer world’s attention.

We moved the website from Word Press.com to Medium.com, which is a very exciting platform because it’s half CMS and half social network. We’ve already seen a really cool uptick in the enthusiasm of our readers to come and participate on our website in a way that we haven’t seen before. They’re leaving comments and highlighting things they like and part of that is due to just the tools that Medium gives them. And certainly the marriage of Dirty Tackle and Howler has helped. Bringing those readers together in one voice has been great.

Samir Husni: I see that there is no advertising on the website. Is that intentional?

George Quraishi: This is sort of a strategy question for us. The types of advertising that we could get, with the page views and the readers and the metrics that we have for this small website, we would be making pennies really. The digital advertising game is really for websites that can scale or have scale and that have extremely large numbers.

My theory is that any monetary benefit that we would get from serving up those ads would be very, very small compared to the inconvenience and the bad experience that we would be providing to readers when we had those ads. It’s actually not even a choice on the Medium site now to serve up those ads, but it was our choice to move to a platform that didn’t. It is such a vastly better experience for our users that I don’t miss seeing those little ads being served on our website. They weren’t doing much for us anyway and I think that it really aligns with our strategy to really double down on the idea that our users and our readers and our listeners are going to support Howler in more ways than just buying the magazine.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly one evening at your home after work, what would I find you doing: reading a magazine; reading your iPad; watching a little soccer on television; or something else?

George Quraishi: My wife comes home, she’s doing her Ph.D. in education right now; she’s exhausted, so she’s sitting on the couch working and I’m next to her with our dog. And I’m reading or working myself, or doing something that needs doing, because there is always something.

But I’ve been really involved with TV shows like “Mr. Robot” and I’ve reached the point where I feel like watching one of these TV shows is as satisfying as reading a great book. So, that’s become part of my evenings too.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

George Quraishi: Like anyone who does what I do, I think, just thinking about where media is going and can we, in some small way, latch onto some of these trends? That’s why we’ve placed some of our bets on podcasting as a low cost, but highly personal way to reach our audience. The media landscape is so exciting and I think that’s where a lot of the big players present a real challenge to us. For a company our size, it also presents real opportunity. Not only is it harder and harder to reach the mass audience, but you don’t necessarily have to in order to be a viable business. And when I say viable, I’m leaning more towards doing what we do, rather than making the money that we make. As long as we can pay for the work that we do and keep writers and editors in print and keep them doing what they love; I’m extremely satisfied with that.

When I think about running Howler and what that gets for us as a part of the soccer culture, it’s stories. Ultimately, we’re trying to maintain that positive balance until the next issue.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine: Not Just Another Cooking Magazine; New Ideas, New Recipes, & A New Way Of Looking At Cooking – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Chris Kimball, President & Founder, Milk Street Magazine

November 22, 2016

Print

“You can cook off of a screen or a Kindle or an iPad, or whatever you want, but most people don’t. And so print is extremely useful. It’s like everything else, certain areas of print are perfectly suited, and cooking is one of those things. That’s why 97 percent of all cookbooks bought are printed on paper. So, I don’t buy this whole notion of print is dead; it’s not dead at all. Bookstores are making a comeback; they’re smaller and more community-oriented, and they’re doing other things to make money, but they just had to reinvent themselves. So, I’m perfectly happy and there’s a lot of support for a print food magazine.” Chris Kimball

“I don’t think the digital world is a particularly good place to develop a long-term relationship for obvious reasons. But if you pick up a magazine or a cookbook, and you look at the paper and you experience the feel of it and actually spend five minutes with it, I think that’s the best brand ambassador that you can create. If you go online people can jump around; I mean, you can go to our website and we have recipes up for Thanksgiving, and I think we’ve done a very good job with that, but online is not the first place I would go to explain to people who you are and get them to spend time with you. The whole thing that you really want to do is to get people to spend time with your brand and with you. And that’s done best I think in television, radio and print. The legacy media is where you’re going to get that time.” Chris Kimball

Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street is the new home cooking. It’s a unique concept on how we create those fabulous flavors and smells that permeate our kitchens and tantalize our taste buds every time we pull out a pan. And of course, Chris is no stranger to the kitchen or the world of magazines, having founded and launched Cook’s Illustrated magazine in 1980.

Today, he is reinventing the art of cooking with his Milk Street brand; from the print magazine to the cooking classes; from the road tours to the upcoming non-profit partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to teach kids how to cook; Chris is making sure that Milk Street is on every corner of America and not just in Boston.

I spoke with Chris recently and we talked about his new venture and how important and unique these new cooking ideas and methods are when it comes to ease and flavor in our kitchens. This is something that Chris believes in wholeheartedly and is a passion that could only be realized through actually becoming a brick and mortar entity that takes the brand to new levels when it comes to extending Milk Street’s message and mission. He is adamant that teaching people a new way to think about cooking and to also help them in their daily lives is one thing that he will never ease up on or change. The magazine is also ad-free and Chris loves it that way, ensuring that with every font or designed page the magazine is all about what the reader wants.

So, come along with Mr. Magazine™ inside the kitchens of Chris Kimball’s Milk Street and enjoy reading the interview with a man who certainly knows his way around them.

But first the sound-bites:

christopherkimball

On the genesis of Milk Street magazine: That’s my thinking. I want to reinvent or change the way people cook, not by brilliantly reinventing it, but by looking around the world and getting new ideas and trying them. Every culture has chicken soup; American chicken soup is probably the dullest version. You can go anywhere and get really interesting chicken soups, so that’s the idea.

On whether he felt hesitant about launching a print magazine with no advertising in this digital age: I feel quite the opposite. If you look at, and I’m sure you have, at circulation figures for magazines; advertising is hurting certainly, no question, but the circulation isn’t hurting as much. And in fact, cookbooks for example; three percent of all cookbooks are digital, 97 percent are on paper. And I believe a few weeks ago there was a report that said digital books were down 21.7 percent, so I think a magazine for cooking is actually a great idea, because if you want to cook in the kitchen, cooking from a piece of paper is actually very useful and easy to do.

On when it was that he recognized that he didn’t have to depend on advertising to survive in the world of magazines: It was in 1993. I founded Cook’s Illustrated in 1980 and The New Yorker came in in 1983 as a partner. Newhouse bought The New Yorker in 1985 and in 1986 The New Yorker’s share of the magazine was bought out by a Swedish company, Bonnier, and at the end of 1989 I sold out my last interests. And then in 1990 Bonnier sold Cook’s to Newhouse, who folded the magazine at that point into Gourmet and combined circulation. By 1993, the trademark had expired and I bought it back and I folded it into what I was doing in Boston. I was publishing Natural Health magazine at the time. I decided at that time, after modeling it out on spreadsheets for a couple of days, that if you got rid of the advertising, which was something I never liked, then you could design the publication entirely for the reader. I could get rid of the travel and the restaurants and all of the other things and just focus on cooking, which I felt would give it a better pricing structure and also a better renewal rate. And it would be designed entirely for the reader and that would support the kind of circulation numbers that I would need.

On being a journalist, businessman and chef, and how he’s put these three passionate ingredients together to produce the magazines he has: I have always believed that everything is about the content and so we have a system, which I got from boarding school when I was in high school. We’d sit around the table and we’d argue about content and we developed a system to make sure that what we were doing was going to be of interest to the reader.

On whether he feels that print is the only medium where people can be surprised by the content and find something that they didn’t know they wanted at the time: No, I think there are other ways to surprise people. On radio, our weekly radio show and we’ve started filming our TV show for next September on public television; so, no I think you can do that in all areas. I don’t think print is the only place that you can give something to somebody that they didn’t know they wanted. I do, however, and I feel very strongly about this, feel that print is an excellent way to develop a relationship with someone.

On whether he felt that he was biting off more than he could chew with all of the many platforms the Milk Street brand implemented so quickly: At this point in my career, I really felt that it was important to build out all of the platforms quickly because I’ve done television and radio for years; these are all things that we know how to do. And we’ve actually done them. The radio show is up and running; the cooking school is up and running, I’m already teaching classes; I was on the road for a month doing Sessions; all of these things are launched. Did it look like I was biting off more than I could chew? Yes, a lot of people said that, but we did it. In this day and age, if you just have one or two platforms, I think you’re at a huge disadvantage.

milkstreetmagazine_charterissue_frontcoverOn choosing Milk Street as the name of the brand: Milk Street was chosen last December. We had looked at a number of places in Boston and we found this place on Milk Street where we are now, 177 Milk Street; it’s the old grain exchange building and it’s just perfect. We spent time talking about names for the business, actually my wife, Melissa, is my media director, and she pushed for the name. And the reason is because I’ve always wanted to have a place that was real and actually existed, where people could come and take classes, and that it would be on the map somewhere.

On whether he had any stumbling blocks along the way that he had to overcome: There were a lot of challenges. I think the biggest challenge was to figure out the editorial point of view. It took a lot of time and a lot of work and a lot of recipe testing to really figure out how to do this, because we couldn’t afford to be off by 10 percent here. You need to deliver recipes to people that they’re comfortable with, but they have to also be exciting and a mix of different things in our formula. And getting that formula down and figuring out what works and what doesn’t took quite a few months. It wasn’t until this summer when we were really working hard on the first issue, that it started to come together. We set the bar high; we only had so many recipes in the edition, so we really had to deliver.

On anything else he’d like to add: I think that it’s really important that when you do something like this that the people here are really excited about the idea. I know that sounds like a lot of promotional hype, but we are all cooking differently now. My cooking has totally changed; it’s better. And so, we really believe in this and think that it will generate a better way to cook. It’s also easier for people. Ultimately, we really think that this is really a good and useful idea.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: Not watching TV. Definitely having a glass of wine, and most nights, yes, cooking. I do a lot of cooking on weekends, but I also do it during the week. And it’s simple. But yes, doing all of that. And reading a book; I do a lot of reading. I’d say drinking, cooking and reading are probably the three things you would find me doing in the evenings.

On what keeps him up at night: Probably not much. I go to bed at 9:30 p.m. and I fall asleep in about two minutes. There was a wonderful piece a few years ago that I loved, written by the guy; the scientist, who wrote about mistaking his wife for a hat; just a great guy. And he was turning 80 and he said that he was happier than he’d ever been in his life. And he went on to explain that he didn’t have anxiety anymore; anxiety just kind of disappeared at some point in his life. I have a lot of work to do, but I like that. As I think I said at the beginning of this project in June in a New York Times piece, what’s the worst that could happen, public humiliation? I mean, we’re doing what we like to do and it’s going well. So, I don’t really worry about it anymore.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Christopher Kimball, president and founder, Milk Street Magazine.

Samir Husni: What was the genesis of Milk Street?

PrintChris Kimball: American cooking is originally Northern European; it’s changed a lot, but it’s French, English, German, Scandinavian, and for the most part that’s the editorial area that I’ve been in for 35 years. And that style of cooking is very specific geographically to a region that has a lot of fuel; coal and wood, and a lot of meats that were inexpensive; also dairy and root vegetables. It was a certain way of thinking about cooking, which was a sort of melting pot idea that was to use heat for a long period of time to create flavors, and the textures and flavors at the end of the day would be fairly homogenous, like a beef stew.

But if you look around the world, and a few years ago I started cooking out of other books, not my own; Turkish cooking; Moroccan cooking; Szechuan cooking, and I realized that most of the world doesn’t cook the way that Northern Europe does. There’s a very different approach. It’s not just the ingredients that are different; it’s the whole notion of cooking.

And too, the other thing I thought was that there was American cooking and ethnic cooking, but that’s just stupid; it’s not ethnic, it’s just cooking. So, I was thinking something like Mexican cooking is ethnic cooking, but if you live in Mexico City you don’t cook Mexican food. (Laughs) The notion that, and the fashion world and the music world have done this already; they look around the world and get inspiration and they do mashups, and they’re not replicating Reggae from Jamaica, they’re using some of the influence from that style of music to create their own music.

My feeling was let’s get rid of this ethnic idea; let’s get rid of this idea of trying to authentically reproduce something from Mexico or Marrakesh, because you can’t replicate it exactly the way it is for a whole bunch of different reasons. But, let’s look around the world and get ideas. In Szechuan they use hot oil, and they put hot oil on greens with ginger and scallions and it blooms the flavor, so there’s an idea and we can bring that idea back.

It was a matter of looking around at other ideas and seeing that there were a lot of different ways to think about cooking, with a lot of different ingredients and techniques. Let’s go investigate and talk to people and then bring those ideas back here, and try to create a different repertoire, which is a more exciting repertoire of cooking. And this happened to me a few years ago, and I found that you can actually produce and it’s less technique-based. You know, French cooking is very technique-based because you have to do a lot of things in the right order to get the flavor you want. But the French only have fines herbes; they add no spices. Spices and wine don’t go together too often. And herbs; they use a sprig of something. In the Ukraine, they put handfuls of herbs in the stew, and in the Middle East, literally handfuls of herbs; hot chilies, fermented sausage, and strong flavors like ginger.

So, when we’re using all of these different techniques and ingredients, we can get really big flavor, but the flavor isn’t all dependent on heat. And it’s not dependent on slow technique; in five or ten minutes you can get all sorts of wonderful flavors.

And that’s my thinking. I want to reinvent or change the way people cook, not by brilliantly reinventing it, but by looking around the world and getting new ideas and trying them. Every culture has chicken soup; American chicken soup is probably the dullest version. You can go anywhere and get really interesting chicken soups, so that’s the idea.

Samir Husni: The business model that you’ve followed: no advertising, good cover price for a good-sized magazine and good subscription price; did you feel hesitant about launching yet another print magazine with no advertising in this digital age?

Chris Kimball: I feel quite the opposite. If you look at, and I’m sure you have, at circulation figures for magazines; advertising is hurting certainly, no question, but the circulation isn’t hurting as much. And in fact, cookbooks for example; three percent of all cookbooks are digital, 97 percent are on paper. And I believe a few weeks ago there was a report that said digital books were down 21.7 percent, so I think a magazine for cooking is actually a great idea, because if you want to cook in the kitchen, cooking from a piece of paper is actually very useful and easy to do.

You can cook off of a screen or a Kindle or an iPad, or whatever you want, but most people don’t. And so print is extremely useful. It’s like everything else, certain areas of print are perfectly suited, and cooking is one of those things. That’s why 97 percent of all cookbooks bought are printed on paper. So, I don’t buy this whole notion of print is dead; it’s not dead at all. Bookstores are making a comeback; they’re smaller and more community-oriented, and they’re doing other things to make money, but they just had to reinvent themselves. So, I’m perfectly happy and there’s a lot of support for a print food magazine.

Samir Husni: You were one of the early adapters to this new business model, which is 100% circulation-driven. When did you recognize that you didn’t need to depend on advertising to survive in the magazine world?

milkstreetmagazine_charterissue_frontcoverChris Kimball: It was in 1993. I founded Cook’s Illustrated in 1980 and The New Yorker came in in 1983 as a partner. Newhouse bought The New Yorker in 1985 and in 1986 The New Yorker’s share of the magazine was bought out by a Swedish company, Bonnier, and at the end of 1989 I sold out my last interests. And then in 1990 Bonnier sold Cook’s to Newhouse, who folded the magazine at that point into Gourmet and combined circulation. By 1993, the trademark had expired and I bought it back and I folded it into what I was doing in Boston. I was publishing Natural Health magazine at the time.

I decided at that time, after modeling it out on spreadsheets for a couple of days, that if you got rid of the advertising, which was something I never liked, then you could design the publication entirely for the reader. I could get rid of the travel and the restaurants and all of the other things and just focus on cooking, which I felt would give it a better pricing structure and also a better renewal rate. And it would be designed entirely for the reader and that would support the kind of circulation numbers that I would need. And also you don’t have to print 200 or 300 pages; I was printing 32 pages both covers, so the physical cost of the magazine was much lower and the price of the magazine was higher.

Someone said to me, one of the Bonnier people actually, told me something that I thought was brilliant, which was, “It’s not how many recipes; it’s which recipe.” So, the idea that you needed to give someone 150 recipes every month was crazy. You don’t. You only need to give them like 10 or 12 good recipes. A lot of magazines are about quantity because they’re advertising-driven and they publish a lot of pages. You have to get that idea out of your head and realize that less is more. Google is the biggest recipe search database in the world. Nobody needs more recipes; more cheesecake recipes or whatever. People want the right recipes for them, so it’s not about pages; it’s about the content.

Samir Husni: On one hand you’re a journalist and on the other hand you’re a businessman, and then you’re also a chef or a cook, so I’m assuming these are three passions that you have. What’s your recipe for putting these three ingredients together to produce the magazines that you have and are still doing?

christopherkimballChris Kimball: I have always believed that everything is about the content and so we have a system, which I got from boarding school when I was in high school. We’d sit around the table and we’d argue about content and we developed a system to make sure that what we were doing was going to be of interest to the reader.

You know that great story when Newhouse bought The New Yorker, I think Steve Florio, who was the publisher then had lunch with Bill Shawn. And he asked Shawn how do you decide what you put in The New Yorker; how do you know what the readers want? And Shawn said that he didn’t really care about that, he chose stories based upon what he was interested in.

My feeling is always if you’re going to have advertising, it’s your job to really understand what the reader’s want, not what the editor wants. So, you have to be very, very disciplined about understanding your brand and what that brand promises, and make sure that you deliver on it.

My former life at America’s Test Kitchen; I did that very scientifically to make sure that I was giving people what they wanted. At Milk Street I’m not doing that. I’m changing a little bit. I was always behind the curve for 25 years; that is I’d figure out what people wanted and I’d give it to them, because I felt that made the most sense. I think where I’m at now is quite different because we’re a little bit ahead of the audience and so we’re going to have to give them things they don’t know they want because these recipes are somewhat familiar, but somewhat unfamiliar. So, we’re about a half step ahead hopefully of the audience. We’re taking a bit more risk because we’re depending on our own experience to decide what we think people want.

But I think that we’re at the moment where you can’t play that game anymore. I don’t think that you can just give people stuff they say they want because people are much more sophisticated about food; restaurants have changed tremendously; supermarket aisles are very different; TV shows are all over the place; the web. You’re dealing with people who are much more interested in a lighter variety of recipes, instead of different styles of cooking. And so, they know they want more, but they just can’t figure out how to get it. And that’s the problem. Our job is to say, OK, here’s how to get what you want in a way that’s going to work for you. Instead of the classic: here’s an oatmeal cookie and we’ll tell you how to make the best one, which is still of interest, we’ll say, look around the world, there are hundreds of cookies and they’re all very different. So, let’s step back and think about what a cookie is and come up with some different solutions for you.

So, we have to be more editors than we were before. We have to actually take a little bit more of a risk, but I feel that’s what the market is now. It wants to move on. It’s moved on in restaurants and supermarkets; it’s moved on in television and it’s moved on everywhere; it just hasn’t quite moved on yet in home cooking. And I think home cooking is ready for a whole new approach, because we’ve sort of run the course of where we came from.

Samir Husni: As I look at the magazine and listen to what you just said about that element of surprise; can you find that surprise any other place besides print? In digital, I know it from my own wife and children; if they want something there, they Google it. But they never find anything that they’re not already looking for, unless they’re reading a magazine.

Chris Kimball: No, I think there are other ways to surprise people. On radio, our weekly radio show and we’ve started filming our TV show for next September on public television; so, no I think you can do that in all areas. I don’t think print is the only place that you can give something to somebody that they didn’t know they wanted. I do, however, and I feel very strongly about this, feel that print is an excellent way to develop a relationship with someone.

I don’t think the digital world is a particularly good place to develop a long-term relationship for obvious reasons. But if you pick up a magazine or a cookbook, and you look at the paper and you experience the feel of it and actually spend five minutes with it, I think that’s the best brand ambassador that you can create. If you go online people can jump around; I mean, you can go to our website and we have recipes up for Thanksgiving, and I think we’ve done a very good job with that, but online is not the first place I would go to explain to people who you are and get them to spend time with you. The whole thing that you really want to do is to get people to spend time with your brand and with you. And that’s done best I think in television, radio and print. The legacy media is where you’re going to get that time.

Samir Husni: I noticed that in addition to launching the print magazine, you’re also doing the cooking school, the Milk Street Sessions; the Milk Street Tours; the radio show; the television show; Milk Street on the Road; are you biting off more than you can chew for such a new project with all of these venues, or do you think you can have your cake and eat it too at the same time?

Chris Kimball: At this point in my career, I really felt that it was important to build out all of the platforms quickly because I’ve done television and radio for years; these are all things that we know how to do. And we’ve actually done them. The radio show is up and running; the cooking school is up and running, I’m already teaching classes; I was on the road for a month doing Sessions; all of these things are launched.

Did it look like I was biting off more than I could chew? Yes, a lot of people said that, but we did it. In this day and age, if you just have one or two platforms, I think you’re at a huge disadvantage. I once talked to a guy in major league baseball who was in charge of their marketing. He told me that his job was to make sure every time someone turned around that major league baseball was prevalent and everywhere. And I feel that my job is that every time someone turns around they can find Milk Street. You can find it on TV; on the radio; you can get your Podcasts, we’re up on iTunes and Stitcher now; we have the magazine; you can go to the bookstore and get the book. You can find us everywhere and I think that has a multiplier fact. In this day and age, with all of the noise out there, if you don’t do that I think you’re hard-pressed to really launch a brand. I wouldn’t just launch a magazine, it would be too hard.

Samir Husni: When did you decide on the name Milk Street? And it’s the first time that you’ve actually used your name as part of the title: Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street.

Chris Kimball: Milk Street was chosen last December. We had looked at a number of places in Boston and we found this place on Milk Street where we are now, 177 Milk Street; it’s the old grain exchange building and it’s just perfect. We spent time talking about names for the business, actually my wife, Melissa, is my media director, and she pushed for the name. And the reason is because I’ve always wanted to have a place that was real and actually existed, where people could come and take classes, and that it would be on the map somewhere.

I did that with Cook’s Country; I bought a house in my town and fixed it up and we used that for the TV show. And I felt that investment was important because it was a real place. And so having a real place for me is really important. It goes back to years ago when I did the public television special on Fannie Farmer and we cooked a 12-course meal on a coal stove in Boston, replicating a Fannie Farmer dinner. The Fannie Farmer Cooking School; the Boston Cooking School, was obviously a real place in Boston, and I have always wanted to recreate that. I think Boston having a real place that you can go and take classes is part of a bigger brand and it’s important.

In this day and age, being real is very important. Just being digital is too ephemeral. I think if you really exist it means more. We had people this summer, during construction, who would just stop by. And they would ask if that was where Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street was going to be. They were interested. So, I think that’s just part of being a real place and inviting people into the brand. It feels right to me, so that’s why.

Samir Husni: Did you have any stumbling blocks along the way that you had to overcome?

Chris Kimball: There were a lot of challenges. I think the biggest challenge was to figure out the editorial point of view. It took a lot of time and a lot of work and a lot of recipe testing to really figure out how to do this, because we couldn’t afford to be off by 10 percent here. You need to deliver recipes to people that they’re comfortable with, but they have to also be exciting and a mix of different things in our formula. And getting that formula down and figuring out what works and what doesn’t took quite a few months. It wasn’t until this summer when we were really working hard on the first issue, that it started to come together. We set the bar high; we only had so many recipes in the edition, so we really had to deliver.

We killed a lot of recipes because they just didn’t do what they needed to do for us. It’s much more difficult than doing a really good recipe for roasted chicken, or whatever. We have a number of other things that we have to do, so getting that formula right and knowing when we’re on target and when we’re not is important. Recently, we just killed two or three recipes in development because they didn’t really meet our standards, in terms of what we wanted to do. So, I think that was the hardest. When it comes to doing a TV show, a radio show; we know how to do that. Crafting the editorial content so that’s it’s consistent with Milk Street was another matter. That took the most amount of time.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Chris Kimball: I think that it’s really important that when you do something like this that the people here are really excited about the idea. I know that sounds like a lot of promotional hype, but we are all cooking differently now. My cooking has totally changed; it’s better. And so, we really believe in this and think that it will generate a better way to cook. It’s also easier for people. Ultimately, we really think that this is really a good and useful idea.

The woman that runs my education part; she comes from a lot of non-profit work and in January we’re launching a non-profit with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to teach kids how to cook and it will be for free. And that’s part of our mission. We’re really excited about this because it is very different; it’s not just another cooking magazine. I think there is a better way to cook and part of our mission is to reach out and help people. Again, I know that sounds a little promotional, but we do really believe in this, and I think that’s really important.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly one evening at your home, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine; watching television; cooking; having a glass of wine and just relaxing; or something different?

Chris Kimball: Not watching TV. Definitely having a glass of wine, and most nights, yes, cooking. I do a lot of cooking on weekends, but I also do it during the week. And it’s simple. But yes, doing all of that. And reading a book; I do a lot of reading. I’d say drinking, cooking and reading are probably the three things you would find me doing in the evenings.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Chris Kimball: Probably not much. I go to bed at 9:30 p.m. and I fall asleep in about two minutes. There was a wonderful piece a few years ago that I loved, written by the guy; the scientist, who wrote about mistaking his wife for a hat; just a great guy. And he was turning 80 and he said that he was happier than he’d ever been in his life. And he went on to explain that he didn’t have anxiety anymore; anxiety just kind of disappeared at some point in his life. I have a lot of work to do, but I like that. As I think I said at the beginning of this project in June in a New York Times piece, what’s the worst that could happen, public humiliation? I mean, we’re doing what we like to do and it’s going well. So, I don’t really worry about it anymore. I have a wonderful cabin on top of a mountain in Vermont and I’m leaving soon for hunting season; so I always have that.

If you visit here, which I hope you do someday, we genuinely love doing this and the people here are enthusiastic and it’s fun. So, I don’t worry about it.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Anniversaries Show That The Power Of Magazines Is Like No Other Medium…

November 22, 2016

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Join me to celebrate the power of print and the power of magazines as we proclaim a loud congratulations this week for several magazine anniversaries ranging from 15 to 150 years.

For someone who treats magazines like friends, I am privileged to have both younger and older comrades. I never get tired of celebrating with both the new, the young and the old.

So regardless of the fact that we live in a digital age, these ink on paper (which, by the way, is a great technology yet to be replicated successfully) magazines have survived the test of time and the test of all the innovations that came after the invention of paper.

I invite you to celebrate the following magazine anniversaries and to witness the power of print and the power of magazines. Other inventions may come and go, but magazines are here to stay.

Celebrating 150 years Harper’s Bazaar:
harpers-bazaar

Celebrating 125 years Scholastic Teacher:
tefa16cover

Celebrating 50 years Ranger Rick:
ranger-ricks-1

Celebrating 40 years Horse Illustrated:
horse-illustrated

Celebrating 30 years Lancaster County:
lcmnov2016

Celebrating 25 years Heavy Duty:
heavy-duty

Celebrating 20 years Latina:
latina

And celebrating 15 years Donna Hay:
donna-hay

Until the next round of celebrations, relax and get ready for there is more to come. The power of print, the power of magazines.

%d bloggers like this: