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WOTH Magazine: “Wonderful Things” Happen Between The Pages Of This New Dutch Launch – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Publisher, Toon Lauwen & Founding Editor, Mary Hessing

September 22, 2016

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

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“We decided to make a print magazine because we wanted it to be a beautiful thing and we thought about design and designers and the way they work, for them materials are very important. We also thought about their skills and the stories behind their ideas for the product. We figured for the magazine, for the media in which we’re telling these stories, it’s the same. So, this is something that you want to hold in your hands, something that materializes. It’s not that we don’t want to have any digital additions, but we want it to be something that you can cherish and keep and something that you can hold and feel the paper, because it’s the same with design.” Mary Hessing

“We also want to reach out to a larger community than the Dutch one, because that’s the reason we took it into an English version too, to have a larger exposure and make it possible to be more European. And that’s also a twist of the necessary optimism it takes to move forward. We tried to show the quality of the magazine with the paper, the lettering and the typeface, etc.” Toon Lauwen

Woth Wonderful Things is a new lifestyle magazine focused on interiors and design, but one done in a more personal way, with strong visuals and content about people and objects that are so interesting they make you wonder about them and the innovative creativity they display that stirs imaginations.

Real-life couple, Toon Lauwen and Mary Hessing, who are based in The Hague in the Netherlands, created this beautiful new publication, and between their support network of longstanding Dutch designers and professionals they have both been involved with for decades, Mary is a former editor in chief for Dutch design magazine Eigen Huis & Interieur, and her partner Toon has been in the business for decades, they started a crowdfunding campaign and made the design dream magazine a reality.

00000663portraitmaryhessingvoorinternet-photo-brenda-van-leeuwenI spoke with both Toon and Mary recently and we talked about their vision for this outstanding new magazine. The deep sentiments of a personal relationship with both the reader and the subject matter that Mary so strongly believes in, and the focus on good content and magnificent writing that Toon strives for with each and every word and page; it’s clear the two of them have a passion for Woth that will only grow and flourish.

So, I hope you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with two people who made a dream into a reality with hard work, creative ideas and superb content, and a network of people who believe in this magazine as much as they do, Toon Lauwen, Publisher, and Founding Editor, Mary Hessing, Woth Wonderful Things Magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On the idea behind the magazine and why they decided on a print product (Mary Hessing): We decided to make a print magazine because we wanted it to be a beautiful thing and we thought about design and designers and the way they work, for them materials are very important. We also thought about their skills and the stories behind their ideas for the product. We figured for the magazine, for the media in which we’re telling these stories, it’s the same. So, this is something that you want to hold in your hands, something that materializes.

On why they chose to publish it in an English version (Mary Hessing): Because we have very good connections in Holland with Dutch designers. And Dutch designers are worldwide and that’s very important in this industry. And I think that we have the best commitment for making good content. And we’re trying to broaden our scope and bring it to the world, not only to Holland.

jwk_1653On whether it was easy to market the magazine (Toon Lauwen): Initially we started out with an idea, so we made a crowdfunding campaign, Indiegogo. So, we did interviews and Mary did that to engage our public with the new idea of this magazine. As an independent, we had to start out using a network that we already had. I have been doing this for over 20 years. Mary is the figurehead, so to speak, and she has actually done a lot of good footwork with those designers and brands in Italy and all over Europe to make all of those connections, also with the advertisers.

On any stumbling blocks they had to face and how they overcame them (Mary Hessing): What was really difficult was we started out with no money, with just this idea, so we asked a lot of people to help us. We did the crowdfunding campaign, but even before that we had been asking people from our network if they would help us out with the content. And I received all positive responses, everyone was really supportive and really thought we should do the magazine. Everybody felt there was a need for a project like this and that it would definitely get off the ground. Then we did the crowdfunding campaign, and I also asked the people I used to work with, most of them are freelancers now, to help us out with making the magazine.

On how difficult it was as a couple working together (Toon Lauwen): We’ve worked together before, of course. But then I was writing for a former magazine, but now we’re really teaming up because we’re both responsible for getting it to the printer and getting the bills paid, etc. We’re a business team. And that does take some adjustment, but on the other hand it’s also something we like to do. With our house, we did it together.

On what they hope the magazine has achieved in one year (Mary Hessing): I would really like the magazine to have a solid base and have a strong and healthy existence. And that it has secured its right to exist. And I want it to stand out independently from other magazines.

01coverengOn anything else they’d like to add (Mary Hessing): I’d like to emphasize that Dutch Designer Gert Dumbar made our logo. He’s an old family friend of mine and he did this as a favor to us. And I’m really proud of it. It’s so funny because I asked this really elderly gentleman to make something really bold and daring and fantastic, and when I asked him for the logo for “Wonderful Things,” he thought the word Woth was a strange and intriguing word. It’s such a strong logo and I think in a way there’s a little bit of the 1980s influence there, and I think it’s interesting because everybody is now looking at the ‘80s for inspiration and we have the real thing.

On what someone would find them doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at their home (Mary Hessing): I would probably be putting my children to bed which takes forever. (Laughs) I always like to make up with them for all of the things I missed during the day, so that takes time.

On what someone would find them doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at their home (Toon Lauwen): I might be watching a documentary or reading a book. I read about history a lot.

On what keeps them up at night (Mary Hessing): Living up to expectations from other people, not normally, but especially about this project.

On what keeps them up at night (Toon Lauwen): I’m always reasoning in my head about a tagline, or just some small thing. I’ve been a worrier since I was young; it’s my nature. (Laughs)

ton-of-hollandspreadAnd now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Toon Lauwen, Publisher, and Founding Editor, Mary Hessing, Woth Wonderful Things Magazine.

Samir Husni: Tell me the idea behind the magazine and why you decided to launch a print publication in this digital age?

Mary Hessing: We decided to make a print magazine because we wanted it to be a beautiful thing and we thought about design and designers and the way they work, for them materials are very important. We also thought about their skills and the stories behind their ideas for the product. We figured for the magazine, for the media in which we’re telling these stories, it’s the same. So, this is something that you want to hold in your hands, something that materializes. It’s not that we don’t want to have any digital additions, but we want it to be something that you can cherish and keep and something that you can hold and feel the paper, because it’s the same with design.

Samir Husni: And why did you publish in an English version as well?

Mary Hessing: Because we have very good connections in Holland with Dutch designers. And Dutch designers are worldwide and that’s very important in this industry. And I think that we have the best commitment for making good content. And we’re trying to broaden our scope and bring it to the world, not only to Holland.

Samir Husni: Toon, as the publisher, how easy was it for you to market the magazine? You’re a great team and you have a known editor and the Dutch design is known all over the world. What was the reaction when you first went and tried to sell an ad or tried to get some sponsorship for the magazine?

Toon Lauwen: Initially we started out with an idea, so we made a crowdfunding campaign, Indiegogo. So, we did interviews and Mary did that to engage our public with the new idea of this magazine. As an independent, we had to start out using a network that we already had. I have been doing this for over 20 years. Mary is the figurehead, so to speak, and she has actually done a lot of good footwork with those designers and brands in Italy and all over Europe to make all of those connections, also with the advertisers.

That footwork really enabled us to make direct contact with the advertisers, the bosses of those brands, to ask them to support our magazine in the middle of the year, because we started out in May or June. So, our campaign was concentrated in mid-season, summer. It wasn’t a piece of cake, that’s for sure.

But nevertheless, we’ve found a true optimism with the people and an involvement with them at the brands, helping us out, buying advertisements, and also with the readership through subscriptions and single issues, just based on a campaign or an idea and largely dependent on an image that Mary put out as an editor in chief of the title that she worked at before.

Samir Husni: Was it all just a stroll through a rose garden, or should I say; a tulip walk…

Toon Lauwen: (Laughs).

Samir Husni: …that you had no stumbling blocks and no problems? Or did you have stumbling blocks, and if so, what were they and how did you overcome them?

portretten-ronald-vd-kempMary Hessing: What was really difficult was we started out with no money, with just this idea, so we asked a lot of people to help us. We did the crowdfunding campaign, but even before that we had been asking people from our network if they would help us out with the content. And I received all positive responses, everyone was really supportive and really thought we should do the magazine. Everybody felt there was a need for a project like this and that it would definitely get off the ground. Then we did the crowdfunding campaign, and I also asked the people I used to work with, most of them are freelancers now, to help us out with making the magazine.

So, we had the contacts and the crowdfunding. Then we had to actually make the pages. And everyone helped us for as long as they could, but at the end of the day we’re the only ones responsible for getting it to the printers. We are really grateful and happy that everybody was so supportive and helpful, but it can only stretch so far.

Samir Husni: How difficult is it for you as a couple to work together?

Toon Lauwen: It’s really easy because I’m writing a lot, so my concentration is totally different. To begin with, I work best in the mornings and Mary works at night, until 2 or 3:00 a.m. I’m always reasoning in my head what to write, which usually takes a lot of time and concentration for me. But now there was no time for that. We had to produce a lot of text.

Mary Hessing: You are two different people in your thought patterns, but also on energy levels as well. So, I work at night and normally I sleep very well. But these days, with the magazine, sleep was very difficult, so I was awake a lot. I would go to bed late and rise really early because I knew there were things we had to do for the magazine. So I would just do it.

Toon Lauwen: We’ve worked together before, of course. But then I was writing for a former magazine, but now we’re really teaming up because we’re both responsible for getting it to the printer and getting the bills paid, etc. We’re a business team. And that does take some adjustment, but on the other hand it’s also something we like to do. With our house, we did it together.

Mary Hessing: We renovated 15,000 squares and we’re still together, so I think we can argue, but we will manage. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: If we’re talking one year from now about the magazine; what do you hope you could tell me that Woth had achieved in that year?

Mary Hessing: I would really like the magazine to have a solid base and have a strong and healthy existence. And that it has secured its right to exist. And I want it to stand out independently from other magazines.

Toon Lauwen: We started out as a new title, typically niche, since it’s about design. And the name itself, calling it “Wonderful Things,” we want it to reach out to people with its ideas and its motivation of people who work with design, but not only designers, just anyone creative in general, chefs and any other professions. So, we made the format a bit broader that just the theory of design only. That’s what we were trying to do with the title, “Wonderful Things,” and the brand.

mary437defbwphotokasiagatkowskaMary Hessing: Also, I wrote for many years for two other design titles and working with design can be difficult. When you look at all of the living magazines around the world, a lot are based on the same formula and it’s very difficult to make it personal, so we’re really trying to find a way to make Woth personal. And we’re doing this by focusing on the creatives. Whatever we do we want to put them central. And in a way I think this could be like a human interest idea for a design and interior decorating magazine. I think people are interested in these people in the magazine; they’re superstars in a way, and they have a very nice way of living and great view of the world, so we really want to speak to them on a personal level.

This is what we’re aiming for. We want it to be personal. What I get back from people is the way it’s written, it is really personal.

Toon Lauwen: We also want to reach out to a larger community than the Dutch one, because that’s the reason we took it into an English version too, to have a larger exposure and make it possible to be more European. And that’s also a twist of the necessary optimism it takes to move forward. We tried to show the quality of the magazine with the paper, the lettering and the typeface, etc.

So, we hope that we can answer your question about where we’ll be in a year by saying we have evolved from a local niche magazine to bit more European, and that we even have a global reach.

Mary Hessing: Because of my work, I’ve been visiting countries and people everywhere and there is this connection between people, the way that they look at their lives, the way they live them. The people I work with, the agents and photographers internationally; these are all very nice and interesting people. I feel like there’s already a connection and I’d really like this magazine to be a magnet for that as well

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

Mary Hessing: I’d like to emphasize that Dutch Designer Gert Dumbar made our logo. He’s an old family friend of mine and he did this as a favor to us. And I’m really proud of it.

Samir Husni: It really looks good.

Mary Hessing: It’s so funny because I asked this really elderly gentleman to make something really bold and daring and fantastic, and when I asked him for the logo for “Wonderful Things,” he thought the word Woth was a strange and intriguing word. It’s such a strong logo and I think in a way there’s a little bit of the 1980s influence there, and I think it’s interesting because everybody is now looking at the ‘80s for inspiration and we have the real thing. He’s from the spirit, so I think this is very interesting that all these other people are copying this idea and we have the real thing.

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

Mary Hessing: I would probably be putting my children to bed which takes forever. (Laughs) I always like to make up with them for all of the things I missed during the day, so that takes time.

Toon Lauwen: I might be watching a documentary or reading a book. I read about history a lot.

Mary Hessing: He’s also a great cook and he always says that he cooks and it’s his gift to us and it is. But actually it’s his hobby, his way to relax.

Samir Husni: And you’re based in The Hague, correct?

Mary Hessing: Yes, we are.

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

Mary Hessing: Living up to expectations from other people, not normally, but especially about this project.

Toon Lauwen: I’m always reasoning in my head about a tagline, or just some small thing. I’ve been a worrier since I was young; it’s my nature. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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One comment

  1. […] Husni interviewed the Dutch couple behind the project to get a better understanding of what their magazine is all about. And, as he usually does in these interviews, he asked “why print.” […]



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