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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

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“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:

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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.

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