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The Shoeholic Addiction Is “Stiletto” Sharp For Its Creator – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Tinu, Publisher, Shoeholics Magazine…

May 8, 2015

“In my case, I guess you could say it’s like putting a beggar in charge of a bank. (Laughs) I turned my passion, my addiction; my love for shoes into a business. I guess it’s part of my African background, take every opportunity possible for survival. It’s just a way of life for us.” Tinu

21307_10153109681061201_5711377935958755971_n Shoes are an important part of all of our wardrobes; most of us wear them without a second thought. But for some, shoes are much more than a necessity; they’re a passion that knows no bounds. Rather than just protect the feet; for the “shoeholic” shoes adorn and grace every podiatric inch.

For a woman simply known as Tinu, the term “shoeholic” fits to a perfect T. Tinu is a New York City based singer-songwriter, designer, philanthropist and publisher of Shoeholics Magazine. Brooklyn-born, but globally raised, Tinu’s sense of style is as dazzlingly-known as her extensive shoe collection.

Her video by the same name, Shoeholic, which went viral, started Tinu on the road to her present magazine publishing destination. She is an entrepreneur who brought something elementally tangible to the magazine media table: a limitless addiction for her magazine’s subject matter. Tinu’s efforts are not only showcasing her love of shoes, but also paying off with some very big-name celebrities gracing her covers. From Cyndi Lauper to Whoopi Goldberg, famous faces are sharing the Shoeholic mania. In fact, on a recent episode of The View, Whoopi showed the magazine and talked at great length about it on the show, which provided a massive spike in sales that day, proving that tenacity and a passionate dream can go hand-in-hand.

Tinu with Samir I spoke with Tinu recently about Shoeholic and her magazine’s business model, which might be described by some as eclectically executed, but is working wonderfully for her, and the fact that collecting shoes and the pages of Shoeholics Magazine is an art form in itself.

Tinu is a free spirit and a businessperson, savvy and sophisticated; her personality shines through the pages of her magazine. I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with a woman who made me laugh and made me think as we talked about the beauty, collectability and success of Shoeholics…

But first the sound-bites:


20150121_151253-01x On how as an individual entrepreneur she’s managed to be successful in the magazine media world:
In my case, I guess you could say it’s like putting a beggar in charge of a bank. (Laughs) I turned my passion, my addiction; my love for shoes into a business. I guess it’s part of my African background, take every opportunity possible for survival. It’s just a way of life for us.

On being one of the first to use digital to cross over to print:
Yes and yes. (Laughs) It’s true. You cannot log into our website and flip through the magazine. It doesn’t work that way; I’m sure you know that. We have the blogs and the regular stuff online, but to be able to just log on and flip through the entire contents of the magazine; no, we don’t have that.

On whether she can envision a day when Shoeholics isn’t in print: Our livelihood and survival is in print. Although we have a great digital following, at the end of the day a lot of them do both. Our magazine is a collectable and we have to have it in print.

On the balance between her budget between advertising revenue and circulation: When we started this magazine, none of us had profit in mind. It was more about feeding our addiction and that of our fellow addicts. Think of it as a main vein. (Laughs) We saw no profit. We started out with little or no ads. We do have ads, don’t get me wrong, but we can go an entire issue without an ad; we don’t care.

On her most pleasant moment since the magazine launched:
My shoe collection grew. Put an alcoholic into a bar and you’ll understand why my shoe collection grew. When I started the magazine, I had 500 pairs; now, I would be pushing it to imagine a number. I’m crossing the line between a collector and a hoarder. That’s the best way I can describe it.

On any stumbling block she’s had along the way:
There was one particular public figure that I wanted to interview, but her people had a different mindset. Some people don’t understand the concept of being a shoe collector; they think it’s a joke.

On what keeps her up at night
: My shoes, of course. A lot of times when I’m at home and bored, I put on a pair of shoes and get into bed and just relax. (Laughs)


And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Tinu, Publisher, Shoeholics Magazine.


10898044_10152916047931201_4724832597722037549_n Samir Husni: You’ve beaten the odds; you’ve started a magazine as an individual entrepreneur about a subject that you love and you’ve stayed in business. How have you managed that? What gives?

Tinu: In my case, I guess you could say it’s like putting a beggar in charge of a bank. (Laughs) I turned my passion, my addiction; my love for shoes into a business. I guess it’s part of my African background, take every opportunity possible for survival. It’s just a way of life for us.

I thought, why should I keep wearing all these shoes and spending all this money and it’s not giving me anything back. Especially as you get older, I’m not 18 anymore; I wondered what was going to happen to my beautiful collection? I knew I’d love to share it with the world.

Everything actually started with the music video. The video is called Shoeholic and it went viral on YouTube. At the time when I did the video, shoes were much more in the background than they are today. Now you have big shoe stores; places like Saks, Macy’s and internationally too, in Dubai and the Netherlands; all of these kinds of places make shoes a lot grander than they once were.

Shoeholic went viral and everyone was asking about the shoes in the video; were they mine or someone else’s. It was then that my publicist said, you’re getting asked a lot of questions, you should write a book. So, I did that; I wrote a book. The book is on Amazon.com and I also sell it out of my own warehouse and it is doing phenomenally well. It’s called “The Shoeholic.” I’m very excited about it.

It just sort of grew from there. And the next thing you know, retail stores started carrying it in their shoe department. You have a whole floor of shoes and they’re beautiful. Shoes are now in the foreground, as opposed to when I did the video, shoes were in the background. The only shoe song that comes to mind, other than mine, is the 1960s song by Nancy Sinatra: These Boots Are Made for Walking. That was the only shoe song that was out there. And that was years ago.

Then the song got airplay on MTV, along with YouTube, and then it sort of caught fire, I would say. Thousands of people saw it, and then tens of thousands and it just kept growing.

Prior to Shoeholics Magazine, I had a fitness magazine and that was sort of my lead into the publishing world, as it were. And there were really no shoe magazines out there, except for trade publications, and I knew if anyone was going to do a shoe magazine, it had to be me. So, I said; why not? I had the book out and we already had all the necessary stuff to make a magazine, the graphic department, printer and Barnes & Noble was interested and Target; literally the first issue went straight to the newsstand. There was no let’s wait and see the first issue to see what it looks like; no, they wanted it straight so they could immediately stock it.

I remember when we emailed some fashion designers at the time; no one would give us the time of day. No one even responded; they just ignored us. Literally, the first issue, 90% of the clothes and the shoes that we used on the models were from my closet, believe it or not. Yes, we had to make do. It’s understandable though; the designers didn’t know who we were; they had no idea what the creative angle would be.

So, we put out the first issue and it was a blockbuster. First of all, the people in Asia ate it up like wildfire. The Japanese especially and the Koreans; our circulation grew like an addiction. I’ve never been on drugs in my life, but this has to be similar. Yes, this magazine is my drug. We get high on every issue.

How do I put it? I guess it’s kind of hard if you’re not a shoe kind of person the way we are to do this, because you have to have it in your DNA to do what we do. It’s not just a regular fashion print, it’s not just another magazine to pick up wherever; this is an addiction-feeder. We have collectors who are addicted to every issue; the pages have to be perfect because usually they frame them. It’s a collectable magazine and we take it very seriously not to have any issue dated, meaning, we don’t even talk about trends; not a word about what’s coming up for the fall or spring. We want a magazine that comes out today or last year to be as current as possible, even ten years from now. So, we tend to generalize our stories, our articles.

Samir Husni: You’re actually one of the first to use digital to cross over to print.

Tinu: Yes and yes. (Laughs) It’s true. You cannot log into our website and flip through the magazine. It doesn’t work that way; I’m sure you know that. We have the blogs and the regular stuff online, but to be able to just log on and flip through the entire contents of the magazine; no, we don’t have that. You can find it on our app; you can look through it on your phone, but we don’t really want to spoil our readers. Personally, I think that’s what’s killing a lot of magazines; they’re spoiling their readers. It’s giving everything away; it’s too easy to get to online. Seriously, why would anyone buy it in print if it’s already there?

People get our app and see it there and go rushing out to buy the print version. That makes sense, not giving it away, because at the end of the day, our audience is print collectors.

Samir Husni: Can you envision a day when Shoeholics will not be in print and only digital?

IMG_5647 Rx Tinu: Our livelihood and survival is in print. Although we have a great digital following, at the end of the day a lot of them do both. Our magazine is a collectable and we have to have it in print.

We’ve actually changed our model. When you first saw the magazine we were on the newsstands. Now, we’re not there anymore. The reason for that is because first of all, a lot of the stores are dying. It used to pain me to walk into Barnes & Noble and see people reading parts of the magazines: Vogue, Elle, Shoeholics, just whatever. Just sit there in the store and read them and then put them back. I went in one day and literally counted how many people read Shoeholics or Vogue; it happened from the time they opened until the time they closed. And to calculate how much we just lost as a publisher; how much money we could have made if people had bought all the issues that were read and then returned to the shelf. I did the math. One day, in one store 12 issues were read. And they were $7.99 per copy, so, $7.99 x 12; that’s how much money we lost that day.

However, it’s good for the advertisers. Their ads get seen by the world; yes, they put them back, so for the publisher it’s a killer. And do you know what happens at the end of the season? At the end of the issue cycle? They still send them back and say “unsold copies.”

We just realized that that wasn’t the way for us. We have a high number of subscribers and we have our digital and our app. We talked to our distributor and said, hey, we want to check-out. (Laughs) We canceled that section; here’s the check and we’re done. (Laughs again)

Now, we have them printed and delivered directly to us and we have some very highly-placed venues around the world that we ship boxes to and they give them to their clientele for free. So, it gets into the right hands and it still makes the connections around the world. We’re in a better situation today than we were.

Samir Husni: Are the venues retail stores?

10984162_10152997832016201_3481924300470859236_n Tinu: Yes, top retail stores, higher end, independent places that are higher in traffic. We send them boxes of the magazine and in the box are 100 copies. A higher end store might be in Chicago, we send them a box; we have another big store here in New York City that’s uptown, we send them two boxes. In Australia, we might send them four; in Russia; we might send two, but we’re still getting our international circulation.

In fact, we just came back from Japan where we shot our first international editorial, for our upcoming summer issue in July. So, at the end of the day the boxes that the stores get around the world get the magazines to key people and we don’t have to worry about copies that aren’t sold.

And here’s the kicker; we offer them for free this time.

Samir Husni: The stores buy them and give them away for free?

Tinu: No, we don’t sell to the stores; they get them for free. The way we make our money is when people get addicted to that first issue they see and then subscribe. They subscribe and then they get it automatically every two months.

Samir Husni: How’s the balance in your budget now between advertising revenue and circulation?

Tinu: When we started this magazine, none of us had profit in mind. It was more about feeding our addiction and that of our fellow addicts. Think of it as a main vein. (Laughs) We saw no profit. We started out with little or no ads. We do have ads, don’t get me wrong, but we can go an entire issue without an ad; we don’t care. We don’t care, because we’re not thinking profit, profit, profit. As long as we have enough money coming in from circulation and subscribers to pay for production costs and to get the boxes to as many people around the world as we can, we’re good. If advertising money happens to come in; it’s icing on the cake, but it’s not our main goal.

Samir Husni: One of the topics that I use in my seminars is for us to create a magazine in this day and age, we have to create elements of addiction and we have to be the drug dispenser and the doctor who prescribes the drug.

Tinu: Exactly. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: And you’re a prime example of that.

Tinu: We’re sort of built-to-order for that description. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: If I gave you a magic wand that could turn Shoeholics into a human being with one strike upon its cover; would I see Tinu?

Tinu: Of course.

Samir Husni: Since the inception of the magazine until today; what has been the most pleasant moment in this launch story?

Tinu: My shoe collection grew. Put an alcoholic into a bar and you’ll understand why my shoe collection grew. When I started the magazine, I had 500 pairs; now, I would be pushing it to imagine a number. I’m crossing the line between a collector and a hoarder. That’s the best way I can describe it.

My big beautiful living room with its18-foot ceiling; one wall is literally covered with shoeboxes. Yes, it grew.

My taste in shoes also changed. Instead of the conservative, high heeled pumps; now I’m starting to get a bit more whimsical. I like odd-shaped shoes and retro-looking. Unusual heel shapes. Just something that strikes a conversation the minute you walk into a door. Every time I turn around, someone wants to talk about what I’m wearing.

I’ve been on Instagram for about a year now and I find I post my shoes more than anything. Recently, I posted a picture of me in thigh-high boots. I’ve become more daring with my shoes; I guess is what I’m trying to say. Thigh-boots, laced all the way up the front to the thigh, that’s seductive.

I met my friend in the park and we took a picture of me in those thigh-high boots and a one-piece swimsuit with a high-waisted cinch belt and I posted it and the picture went viral. It was shared almost 200 times in the last five days. That’s the beauty of what I do and it’s very pleasant.

Samir Husni: If someone is reading this interview, they’re going to think that you’re living the dream, that you’ve never had any stumbling blocks and everything has gone your way. But was there a stumbling block that you had to overcome?

997085_10152678117466201_2409483018856811511_n Tinu: There was one particular public figure that I wanted to interview, but her people had a different mindset. Some people don’t understand the concept of being a shoe collector; they think it’s a joke. But this particular person happened to have a gatekeeper who didn’t get it when came to fashion, because I Googled her and researched her.

So, that’s a downside to the business; when you want to interview someone and you can’t get them. But I don’t think it’s unique to me; it happens a lot.

Samir Husni: If someone like me, who has an addiction besides magazines, neckties; 1800 of them so far, comes to you and says, Tinu, you took your addiction and started Shoeholic Magazine, should I start a Tieholic magazine?

Tinu: I don’t see why not.

Samir Husni: (Laughs) I don’t have time for one thing.

Tinu: I understand that.

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

Tinu: My shoes, of course. A lot of times when I’m at home and bored, I put on a pair of shoes and get into bed and just relax. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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One comment

  1. […] The Shoeholic Addiction Is “Stiletto” Sharp For Its Creator – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview Wi…. […]



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