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Sabor Magazine: One Young Man’s Curiosity Puts A New Twist On A Food Magazine & Begins His Magazine Journey – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Sabor Founder, Fermin Albert

December 11, 2015

“I think they both (print and digital) have their own advantages, but with print you feel more relaxed and I have to tell you the truth; I only read news digitally, but I really don’t have the time to read long stories onscreen. It’s nice, but I don’t have the time; it’s tiresome. But in print, I love to read the longer stories. And I think that’s the advantage of print; you just relax. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. I’m more relaxed when I have a hard copy; it’s so tactile.” Fermin Albert


A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story from the Netherlands…

Sabor 1-1 (2) This is a launch story about a young man with a twinkle in his eye and a dream in his heart. It’s about one of those rogue believers who actually thinks passion for magazines and a strong work ethic can make that dream come true. It’s a story about a genuine magazine maker; one that really sums up what magazines and the art of storytelling and design are all about: the fervor of one’s dream.

Fermin Albert grew up on a small Dutch island called Curacao. He loved magazines from the time he was a very young boy (sounded very familiar to Mr. Magazine™). He tried his hand at his dream several years ago with a Dutch version of the superb magazine that he’s publishing today called Sabor. Unfortunately, several years ago didn’t seem to be the right time for him and as odd as it sounds, since Dutch is his native language, maybe not the right audience for what his dream produced.

Today, Sabor is an amazing contribution to the food category that is uniquely different from everything else, a plump, juicy, ripe tomato growing in a field of corn. Not that the corn isn’t equally as delicious as the tomato; it’s just that the tomato is such a pleasant surprise to happen upon when one is out harvesting corn.

I spoke with Fermin recently about his latest print endeavor and I must say, I haven’t laughed so much in a very long time. Fermin paralleled my own reasons for loving magazines, in so many ways. His sense of humor was contagious and his passion familiar. It was indeed a joyful conversation.

We talked about those early days, when his hope was that a magazine could flourish just on one’s tenacious belief in it alone. Then we moved into the realities of finance and distribution and all of the other stars that must be aligned in order to get one’s dream out of one’s head and onto newsstands.

So, I hope that you enjoy this most delightful interview with a young man who will definitely bring a smile to your lips, but maybe also a resurgence of a dream that you once had. And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Fermin Albert, Founder, Sabor Magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:

Fermin Portrait_cropped On whether the Dutch edition of Sabor that he began in 2012 is still being published: No, I stopped the Dutch issue. The reason I started the Dutch issue is that I wanted to publish it just like the big houses do it. I started with 35,000 copies and the distribution was a mess. (Laughs) I discovered a lot of things along the way like you have to pay to stay in the shops. (Laughs again) And that was a big disappointment to find that out and I just couldn’t maintain the magazine, so I had to trim down and I decided to go with a digital issue just as a test to see how it would work out.

On the early reaction he’s received on the relaunch of Sabor in print:
It’s been very positive. Every reaction that I have received has been extremely positive, which is great, but I want to be challenged. Positive reactions are nice, but some days you just need some hard feedback.

On his background and how he became interested in the magazine business:
My passion for magazines started when I was really young. I remember that I had friends whose parents traveled every week to Miami and they used to bring a lot of magazines back with them: People, Vanity Fair and many others. And I really liked those magazines and I would sit and read them for hours. I grew up in a family of printers; we were in the printing business, but we weren’t doing anything with magazines or anything like that. We didn’t really have the resources to publish a magazine because I’m originally from a small island that’s part of the Dutch kingdom. Resources are limited there and the market is also very limited for publishing a nice magazine.

On the concept of the magazine:
Sabor was intended to be a service magazine, service-driven, just like your typical Bon Appetit Magazine. That was the idea when my partner asked me, why we didn’t do a magazine together, because initially I had wanted to do travel and business magazines. But my life-partner suggested we do a culinary magazine together, a service magazine. I wasn’t really interested because I’m not a foodie. And that’s why Sabor is also different, because it’s all about my own take on the food world, what I’ve seen and discovered.

On the concept of the logo – the letter “O” in the title with two bites taken out of it: The new logo is a combination of imageries that I had in mind for the cover, and doing something that I didn’t set out to do. I had been working on several logo concepts before, but they were too delicate or to serious to appeal to a younger audience. In my mind the new logo needed to be fresh. Dissatisfied with previous concepts, I decided to start playing with bolder typefaces. I found a perfect one that looked kind of doughy — and looked very inviting to take a bite into it.

On what drives him, being a creative director, a journalist, writer, or all of them: It’s a combination of all. Every story you see in the magazine, I come up with the ideas for, and then I find the writers to write those stories. And usually they’re experts in that particular field, which is something that I’m adamant about.

On what motivates him to believe that he’ll be making magazines for the rest if his life: I think it’s trying to stay informed with the right information. That’s something that I’m truly passionate about. My big dream is to diversify in the media. My dream would be to have a new site, something news-driven, with information that’s clear. I think news can be terribly biased and that’s what really drives me.

On whether print has an advantage over digital or vice versa:
I think they both have their own advantages, but with print you feel more relaxed and I have to tell you the truth; I only read news digitally, but I really don’t have the time to read long stories onscreen. It’s nice, but I don’t have the time; it’s tiresome. But in print, I love to read the longer stories.

On his life-partner’s reaction when the first issue came out:
Excited, definitely. I was disappointed. (Laughs) I was disappointed.

On why he was disappointed:
I think it was a long, upheld journey, especially when you’re independent. We were supposed to come out in the summer, but my main feature dropped out, so I had to restructure the whole magazine, from March to July. And I think in the restructuring it lost a lot of energy.

On what advice he would give a young entrepreneur about starting their own magazine:
That’s a tough one, because I’ve been discouraged a lot and I wouldn’t want to discourage them. If they have what it takes, I would say just follow the journey and do it. Just do it. And experience it for themselves and if they have the tenacity that will be good, because I didn’t have anyone to help me; I worked hard and my life-partner worked hard. But if they really want it; go for it.

On what keeps him up at night:
Everything. (Laughs) I can’t lie about that. That’s a bad habit of mine; I tend to worry a lot, even about little things. But concerning Sabor, I would say, are people loving it? With the first issue you don’t have any idea about the distribution and sales; it’s crazy how the distribution is. You have to wait months to get any idea how the magazine is doing.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Fermin Albert, Founder, Sabor Magazine.

Samir Husni: Back in 2012, you published two issues of Sabor.


Fermin Albert: Yes, I did, in Dutch.

Samir Husni: Is the Dutch edition still going?

SABOR 2 Fermin Albert: No, I stopped the Dutch issue. The reason I started the Dutch issue is that I wanted to publish it just like the big houses do it. I started with 35,000 copies and the distribution was a mess. (Laughs) I discovered a lot of things along the way like you have to pay to stay in the shops. (Laughs again) And that was a big disappointment to find that out and I just couldn’t maintain the magazine, so I had to trim down and I decided to go with a digital issue just as a test to see how it would work out. After that, I received some positive reactions and so I decided to relaunch it again as a hard copy.

Samir Husni: You’ve done a great job. The first issue is very well done. What has been the early reaction since the magazine hit the market again?

Fermin Albert: It’s been very positive. Every reaction that I have received has been extremely positive, which is great, but I want to be challenged. Positive reactions are nice, but some days you just need some hard feedback. I don’t think it’s perfect; there’s no way the first issue can be that perfect, but I haven’t gotten any harsh feedback yet.

Samir Husni: Tell me a little bit about Fermin Albert. What got you into the magazine business?

sabor 2-2 (2) Fermin Albert: My passion for magazines started when I was really young. I remember that I had friends whose parents traveled every week to Miami and they used to bring a lot of magazines back with them: People, Vanity Fair and many others. And I really liked those magazines and I would sit and read them for hours. So, I guess that was the real beginning of my passion for magazines.

I grew up in a family of printers; we were in the printing business, but we weren’t doing anything with magazines or anything like that. We didn’t really have the resources to publish a magazine because I’m originally from a small island that’s part of the Dutch kingdom. Resources are limited there and the market is also very limited for publishing a nice magazine.

Samir Husni: What’s the name of the island that you’re from?

Fermin Albert: It’s Curacao. So, when I started studying in the Netherlands in 2000; I started researching the magazine industry and I think it was around that time that I discovered your blog as well. I’ve been following you since then.

And I tried very hard to publish a magazine, but getting the capital was hard. It’s very expensive. I couldn’t manage to find any fools to publish my endeavor. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Fermin Albert: After saving a lot, I manage to publish the first issues of Sabor. And before that I tried a lot of other publications, but they never really took off.

Samir Husni: With this hefty first issue, technically you didn’t leave anything out; if you can eat it, touch it or smell it; it’s in the magazine. Tell me about the concept of Sabor and the logo, with two bites taken out of the letter “O”.

Fermin Albert: Sabor was intended to be a service magazine, service-driven, just like your typical Bon Appetit Magazine. That was the idea when my partner asked me, why we didn’t do a magazine together, because initially I had wanted to do travel and business magazines. But my life-partner suggested we do a culinary magazine together, a service magazine. I wasn’t really interested because I’m not a foodie. And that’s why Sabor is also different, because it’s all about my own take on the food world and my curiosity, what I’ve seen and discovered.

sabor 3-4 (2) Sabor is a learning process; what I learn along the way, I publish this as well. So, the concept grew from a service-driven magazine to a more literary magazine. And the literary came about with Darra Goldstein from Gastronomica. I sent her an email asking her would she like to contribute a content-driven memoir to Sabor and the way that I explained it to her she said that she liked my idea for a journal. (Laughs) Of course, it wasn’t intended to be a journal.

Samir Husni: (Laughs too). That was a polite way of telling you that she didn’t want competition.

Fermin Albert: (Continues laughing). But she did it anyway. So, I thought if people are taking me that seriously, why not go all the way with it. So, I transformed Sabor. As I said, it’s my own curiosity and I love doing it.

Samir Husni: And the concept of the logo?

Fermin Albert: The new logo is a combination of imageries that I had in mind for the cover, and doing something that I didn’t set out to do. I had been working on several logo concepts before, but they were too delicate or to serious to appeal to a younger audience. In my mind the new logo needed to be fresh. Dissatisfied with previous concepts, I decided to start playing with bolder typefaces. I found a perfect one that looked kind of doughy — and looked very inviting to take a bite into it. Combined with cover concepts that I had mocking-up, of which all had teeth and sultry lips…well, eventually everything came together, just naturally, you might say.

Samir Husni: What drives you, Fermin? Are you more of the creative art director, or are you the journalist, the writer, or is it a combination of all of the above?

Fermin Albert: It’s a combination of all. Every story you see in the magazine, I come up with the ideas for, and then I find the writers to write those stories. And usually they’re experts in that particular field, which is something that I’m adamant about. I really try to go to historians and professors, at least to the source. I wouldn’t hire a blogger to write a historical piece; instead I would go right to the source.

Samir Husni: Do you consider yourself now an independent publisher in the Netherlands?

Fermin Albert: (Laughs) Independent I am, yes, but I’m not established yet.

Samir Husni: What makes you tick and click and motivates you to believe that you’re going to spend your life doing this; making magazines?

Fermin Albert: I think it’s trying to stay informed with the right information. That’s something that I’m truly passionate about. My big dream is to diversify in the media. My dream would be to have a new site, something news-driven, with information that’s clear. I think news can be terribly biased and that’s what really drives me.

And with the magazine, I may drive some of my writer’s crazy, but the facts have to right. They have to be correct and that really drives me.

Samir Husni: Do you think that’s an advantage of print over digital? That in print, we can’t afford mistakes, but with digital we see a lot of mistakes?

Fermin Albert: Of course. I think they both have their own advantages, but with print you feel more relaxed and I have to tell you the truth; I only read news digitally, but I really don’t have the time to read long stories onscreen. It’s nice, but I don’t have the time; it’s tiresome. But in print, I love to read the longer stories. And I think that’s the advantage of print; you just relax. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. I’m more relaxed when I have a hard copy; it’s so tactile.

Samir Husni: When the first issue of the magazine came out, what was your life-partner’s reaction?

Fermin Albert: Excited, definitely. I was disappointed. (Laughs) I was disappointed.

Samir Husni: Why?

Fermin Albert: I think it was a long, upheld journey, especially when you’re independent. We were supposed to come out in the summer, but my main feature dropped out, so I had to restructure the whole magazine, from March to July. And I think in the restructuring it lost a lot of energy. I think it’s only natural though after a long process to be tired.

Samir Husni: And what’s next?

Fermin Albert: The second issue, of course. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: When is the second issue coming out?

Fermin Albert: It’s due June 2016. It’s biannual.

Samir Husni: What advice would you give a young entrepreneur, such as yourself; if they had an idea they’re passionate about and wanted to start their own magazine? And I don’t want to guestimate your age, but you’re young.

Fermin Albert: I’m in my mid-30s.

Samir Husni: So, if someone in their 20s came to you for advice about starting their own magazine, what would you tell them?

Fermin Albert: That’s a tough one, because I’ve been discouraged a lot and I wouldn’t want to discourage them. If they have what it takes, I would say just follow the journey and do it. Just do it. And experience it for themselves and if they have the tenacity that will be good, because I didn’t have anyone to help me; I worked hard and my life-partner worked hard. But if they really want it; go for it. Some people think I’m crazy, but Sabor is my stepping-stone to hopefully bigger projects.

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

Fermin Albert: Everything. (Laughs) I can’t lie about that. That’s a bad habit of mine; I tend to worry a lot, even about little things. But concerning Sabor, I would say, are people loving it? With the first issue you don’t have any idea about the distribution and sales; it’s crazy how the distribution is. You have to wait months to get any idea how the magazine is doing. And I worry a lot about that.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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One comment

  1. […] art of storytelling and design are all about: the fervor of one’s dream,” (so says Samir Husni, Mr. Magazine). From cover to cover, you’ll […]



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