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Salty At Heart: A New Magazine That Connects Women, Adventure & The Sea Through A Kindred Spirit Of Empowerment And Good That’s As Undeniable As The Ocean – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Kirstin Thompson, Founder & Editor In Chief, Salty At Heart…

August 31, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“It goes back to being a print publication and really embracing that organic feel of human interaction, holding something in your hand, and not being on a screen. It feels more real and feels heavier and more involved with the words on the page. And that’s what this journal is. It’s really about connecting the dots; connecting the dots of what it means to be human and to exist in this world. And what it means to be a community and how we can all come together and see what our similarities are; and find out that we’re all pretty much the same. And we’re all connected in this beautiful way. So, yes, I do believe if people happen to pick up this journal, that maybe it was meant to be in their hands.” Kirstin Thompson…

Salty at Heart – a journal that’s inspired by women, adventure and the sea. And the first woman to be inspired is the magazine/journal’s founder and editor in chief, Kirstin Thompson. With sections of the publication dedicated to: surf, sustainability, art, empowerment, balance, and travel; the journal is an embodiment of many things positive in our world, when oftentimes all we hear about is the negative.

I spoke with Kirstin recently and we talked about the passion that it took to get this publication off the ground and onto bookshelves. As the phrase goes, the struggle was real, and according to Kirstin, not an easy feat. But with perseverance and determination, she can now walk into most Books-A-Million’s and Barnes & Nobles’ and see Salty at Heart on the shelves. In fact, look for the next issue there soon.

When Kirstin saw a void in the women’s space that spoke about the good things that women did within the world and the powerful impacts that they made, after careful thought and consideration, and much research, she decided to bring Salty at Heart to life. And she’s awfully glad she did.

And so is Mr. Magazine™. The magazine is filled with beautiful photography and uplifting and vibrant content that won’t be denied. Much like Kirstin’s call to action to get the publication off the ground wouldn’t be denied, proving that those who listen to their heart’s passions are often rewarded with their dreams.

So, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Kirstin Thompson, founder and editor in chief, Salty at Heart.

But first, the sound-bites:

On the story behind Salty at Heart: It really starts with what inspired the magazine, which we now call a journal. It goes back to when I was feeling this void in the media, especially in the magazine world. I felt like the voices of women were not being heard, and I felt there was no space where I could enter and learn about the inspiring things that women were doing that had nothing to do with what they were wearing and how they looked. I just felt there was this overwhelming focus on women more as objects, especially because they tend to be very commercialized, and I needed to read something that was inspiring. Something that could empower women.

On the part of her letter from the editor that speaks to the fact that maybe this unique publication chose the reader rather than the other way around: I like to think that things happen for a reason. Maybe someone stumbled upon this journal for a reason; a friend shows it to them; someone sees it in a coffee shop. I think the reason this journal even exists is all because of those kinds of things. Just random people that I met or I bumped into, connections that I made helped to create this thing into what it is. I think the more we connect and the more that we’re open to connecting, we can really tap into more as a society.

On whether anyone told her she was out of her mind for launching a print magazine in this digital age: Oh yes, all of the time. (Laughs) Maybe not my close friends, they were very supportive, but some people would comment things like: had I thought about digital, or ask me, what are you doing? (Laughs again) Who knows, maybe the magazines won’t sell; maybe no one goes to the bookstores anymore, but I really hope not, and I couldn’t resist thinking that we might be at a turning point, where people start rejecting this digital age a little bit and start really embracing that sense of community.

On whether creating the magazine has been like riding a one big wave smoothly or she’s had some bigger waves to deal with along the way: Yes, we’ve had some bigger waves, definitely. (Laughs) It’s been a struggle, for sure. I wouldn’t say that it came easy. I was thinking about this the other day, about how much I’ve been through to get this onto the shelves and to get this out there in the world. And how it’s really very difficult in this country to really get anywhere if you don’t come from money. The process was all from the heart and all from hard work and late nights on my computer; lots of emails and phone calls and research. I have a lot of grit, so I pushed though. And I think that it’s a beautiful thing and it was worth it.

On her reaction when she saw the first issue of Salty at Heart printed: It was so exciting. It was beautiful and honestly, it was a very fulfilling feeling to see it and hold it in my hands. I think I was jumping up and down. And it was funny, once you get something like that in your hands, you only allow yourself to be excited for a little bit, and then you move on to the next step and decide what you’re going to do afterward.

On why it took her three years to publish the first issue after she had done the test issue in 2014: To be honest, it had to do with money. (Laughs) It costs a lot to print. We printed the test issue and then just kind of let it fly to see what would happen. It wasn’t something that we were sure we were going to be able to keep doing, so we just wanted to see what would happen. It was a matter of trying to raise the money to print again.

On anything she’d like to add: It’s really exciting to see something that you’ve created out there in the world. And I really want to encourage people to embrace their creativity and listen to what calls to them and tune into what matters to them. I listen to NPR every day and read The New York Times every day, and I think it’s very easy for us to get overwhelmed by the chaos that seems to ensue in this world. But the thing is, we have to tune into as well the positive things that are happening.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: It would probably be the thing that I have been drawing on my wrist for so long. Ever since I was very young I’ve been drawing on my wrist a wave that kind of turned into cursive. And it always said: live free. If people wanted to remember me by something it would be that she lived free, because I think that’s something that I’ve tried to embrace over the years.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: More likely than not, you’ll find me working on my computer late at night. But I also tend to find myself catching up on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, I love him and he really helps me deal with everything going on in the world and he brings humor to it. I think that’s important. His book is actually on my bedside table, but I have yet to read it.

On what keeps her up at night: I could give you a whole list. I could be planning where I want to travel to in my head. I could be thinking about what I need to be doing for the journal; thinking about the issues of the world. I could be thinking about something I read earlier. It depends on which side of my brain is really activated that day. I could be analyzing everything, or I could be hopping out of bed and writing down ideas or something. An article idea or some sort of string of words that has appeared to me in my head. When you’re a writer, that happens often.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Kirstin Thompson, founder and editor in chief, Salty at Heart.

Samir Husni: Tell me the story of Salty at Heart. The idea behind the magazine; the name; the tagline “A Journal Inspired by Women, Adventure, and the Sea.”

Kirstin Thompson: It really starts with what inspired the magazine, which we now call a journal. It goes back to when I was feeling this void in the media, especially in the magazine world. I felt like the voices of women were not being heard, and I felt there was no space where I could enter and learn about the inspiring things that women were doing that had nothing to do with what they were wearing and how they looked. I just felt there was this overwhelming focus on women more as objects, especially because they tend to be very commercialized, and I needed to read something that was inspiring. Something that could empower women. To read about the wittiness and the gracefulness and the strength of women out there in the world, who were really making an impact.

And that’s really where it started, especially the surfing. I would get surfing magazines and flip through them and the only women that I would see in there were these women in bikinis, and the only time they spoke about women in surfing magazines, it wasn’t necessarily inspiring. So, I felt this void in that sense, and it’s definitely changed since then, but at the time there was no content that was really pulling me to it.

I was backpacking through Central America, and surfing and traveling with my friends for four months. I ended up meeting this woman while I was there who was a yoga instructor and whale activist. And she actually wrote for a magazine in the U.K. that was called SurfGirl. I was telling her that I really wished there was somewhere I could write, because I had been a writer since the beginning of time, but there was nothing out there that I felt like I could contribute to in a way that would inspire people and in a way that I could share.

She said something crazy to me after that, which was why didn’t I start my own magazine. At the time, I just dismissed her suggestion. But then fast forward a year or so and there I was researching how to start a zine. The original idea was to just have a very simple zine to hand out to friends and family, but it turned into something more. It really evolved into this very beautiful publication, which I am very glad that it did, because now it can impact more people.

But the idea behind it has really evolved into this notion that we’re all “Salty at Heart.” The name Salty at Heart really embodies the idea behind it; we’re all connected to the ocean. We all rely on it for food and our weather patterns; the planet is mostly covered in water and all of us, whether we realize it or not, are very connected to this part of our planet and to deny that kind of denies our connection to nature and to the world. We use it to travel and just for everything. And that’s where the name came from. We are all Salty at Heart.

So, the magazine isn’t necessarily just for people who surf or sail, or who really enjoy spending time in the water, it may pull those people in more, but it’s really for everyone because we have a wide variety of content. We feature environmentalists and adventurers, travelers and writers. I want to include some politicians, and feature artists and all kinds of people who are out there in the world making an impact.

The other void that I noticed in the media was this lack of focus on the good things that are happening in the world, so this sort of fills that space as well. From my experience, there’s nothing really good that comes out of pressing these issues and giving out negative feelings all of the time. It can be very defeating if all you ever hear about is the inequalities and how we’re always degrading ourselves. It can be taxing. People either want to shut that out or they get angry.

And so, it’s been my personal experience that doesn’t do any good at all; it doesn’t empower people, it deflates them. To really come together as a community, we have to focus on these areas of light that are popping up. And they’ve been there for a long time, these people who are doing good, and I especially focus on those women because there is just not enough mention on how women can impact society and bring out these positive changes.

So, it’s a lot going on and the magazine has a lot of potential for really digging deep into issues, while focusing on the beautiful and chaotic part of this world.

Samir Husni: You mention in your letter from the editor, after thanking the readers for choosing to read this unique publication, you write: actually, it might have chosen you. Is that part of the cosmic network of energy, matter and space?

Kirstin Thompson: Yes, I like to think that things happen for a reason. Maybe someone stumbled upon this journal for a reason; a friend shows it to them; someone sees it in a coffee shop. I think the reason this journal even exists is all because of those kinds of things. Just random people that I met or I bumped into, connections that I made helped to create this thing into what it is. I think the more we connect and the more that we’re open to connecting, we can really tap into more as a society.

And that goes back to being a print publication and really embracing that organic feel of human interaction, holding something in your hand, and not being on a screen. It feels more real and feels heavier and more involved with the words on the page. And that’s what this journal is. It’s really about connecting the dots; connecting the dots of what it means to be human and to exist in this world. And what it means to be a community and how we can all come together and see what our similarities are; and find out that we’re all pretty much the same. And we’re all connected in this beautiful way. So, yes, I do believe if people happen to pick up this journal, that maybe it was meant to be in their hands.

Samir Husni: Did anyone tell you that you were out of your mind for launching a print magazine in this digital age?

Kirstin Thompson: Oh yes, all of the time. (Laughs) Maybe not my close friends, they were very supportive, but some people would comment things like: had I thought about digital, or ask me, what are you doing? (Laughs again) Who knows, maybe the magazines won’t sell; maybe no one goes to the bookstores anymore, but I really hope not, and I couldn’t resist thinking that we might be at a turning point, where people start rejecting this digital age a little bit and start really embracing that sense of community. I think people will miss going into bookstores, or going to a coffee shop and chatting with people. People are so involved in their phones and involved with technology these days. We’ve all heard how these things are impacting society and how people are not engaging with each other personally anymore.

Of course, print isn’t as big as it was before technology came onto the scene, but I think it could come back and it could be something that people are craving. But they may not realize they’re craving it until they hold something like this in their hands and they say, wow, this is really different from flipping through my phone or reading something on Kindle.

So, people definitely asked what I was thinking, but despite what you see in the world, I always believe that you should create your own reality; what you think you should see out there in the world. And that’s how change happens, people think outside the box. They see their reality and they don’t like it, and they want to see it change. So, they push through the obstacles and create anyway. Even if what you’re doing fails, you tried and you have grown from it and because of it.

Samir Husni: I coined a phrase that I use in my teaching: isolated connectivity. That we feel we are so connected with our phones, the Internet, and everything else digital, yet we’re more isolated than ever before.

Kirstin Thompson: Yes, definitely. Isolated connectivity; yes, I like that phrase a lot.

Samir Husni: Has creating the magazine been like riding one big wave smoothly and successfully, or have you had to deal with some bigger waves along the way?

Kirstin Thompson: Yes, we’ve had some bigger waves, definitely. (Laughs) It’s been a struggle, for sure. I wouldn’t say that it came easy. I was thinking about this the other day, about how much I’ve been through to get this onto the shelves and to get this out there in the world. And how it’s really very difficult in this country to really get anywhere if you don’t come from money. I feel like this country is privileged and either you get where you want to go and succeed based on luck, sometimes hard work can get you there, but also there is some privilege that really drives a lot of success in this country.

The process was all from the heart and all from hard work and late nights on my computer; lots of emails and phone calls and research. I have a lot of grit, so I pushed though. And I think that it’s a beautiful thing and it was worth it. Through it all, I’ve learned so much about myself and the publishing industry. Not smooth sailing at all, but I think what I would tell people is that if you believe in something enough, it’s going to pull at you day and night. You’re not going to be able to rest until you’ve accomplished it, so you have to listen to that. You have to listen to that in your soul and really answer to it, otherwise it’s going to keep eating at you.

One of the reasons this journal was created was to dive into issues of inequalities and bring more awareness to them. And to bring awareness to the reality of life, which is sometimes chaotic, sometimes hard, and sometimes not so easy, but we’re all in this together. We’re all a community and we need to fight for each other.

Samir Husni: What was your reaction when you saw the first printed issue of Salty at Heart?

Kirstin Thompson: It was so exciting. It was beautiful and honestly, it was a very fulfilling feeling to see it and hold it in my hands. I think I was jumping up and down. And it was funny, once you get something like that in your hands, you only allow yourself to be excited for a little bit, and then you move on to the next step and decide what you’re going to do afterward. We were in that excitement mode for a little bit, and then we geared up for the next step.

Samir Husni: Why did it take you three years to publish the first issue after the test issue in 2014?

Kirstin Thompson: To be honest, it had to do with money. (Laughs) It costs a lot to print. We printed the test issue and then just kind of let it fly to see what would happen. It wasn’t something that we were sure we were going to be able to keep doing, so we just wanted to see what would happen. It was a matter of trying to raise the money to print again.

When you’re just getting started, printing in small quantities is very expensive. The more you print, obviously, the less it will cost per copy, and the more money you make off of each magazine. So, at the beginning it’s really hard, because you’re not really making much money off of the ones that you sell. It was really hard to raise the funds to get going, and really gear ourselves up for being able to consistently print twice a year. But now that we’re distributed in Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million , we have our foot in the door and we can now be more consistent.

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

Kirstin Thompson: It’s really exciting to see something that you’ve created out there in the world. And I really want to encourage people to embrace their creativity and listen to what calls to them and tune into what matters to them. I listen to NPR every day and read The New York Times every day, and I think it’s very easy for us to get overwhelmed by the chaos that seems to ensue in this world.

But the thing is, we have to tune into as well the positive things that are happening. I’ve gotten better over the years at separating myself from the sadness that can overwhelm us. And that’s what this journal is about; it’s enlightening and witty; it’s fun and has beautiful photography. It’s really designed to kind of let you dive in and embrace yourself and the world in a more positive light.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Kirstin Thompson: It would probably be the thing that I have been drawing on my wrist for so long. Ever since I was very young I’ve been drawing on my wrist a wave that kind of turned into cursive. And it always said: live free. If people wanted to remember me by something it would be that she lived free, because I think that’s something that I’ve tried to embrace over the years.

I don’t want to ever feel like I’m not in control of my own life. And not in control of who I am and I don’t want to be defined by anybody else. I tend to wander a lot; I’m a wanderer and that’s important to me. But also that she’s free, but she’s not alone. It’s kind of perfectly embodied in the poem I wrote in this latest issue, called The Wandering She:

She roams sometimes a lone wolf howling to the moon, the heavens, the towering night sky. But the wandering she is not alone – others band with her, dancing, laughing, roaming free. Their thunder is loud, hugging cliffs they climb, above the earth their dreams unfold and stories told of hurt and loss and tears of the sea, of love and strength and dignity, for the wandering she must always embrace the free spirit that belongs to no one but she.

That kind of defines it all, I think. That would be tattooed on my brain. (Laughs)

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

Kirstin Thompson: Any manner of those things, actually. More likely than not, you’ll find me working on my computer late at night. But I also tend to find myself catching up on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, I love him and he really helps me deal with everything going on in the world and he brings humor to it. I think that’s important. His book is actually on my bedside table, but I have yet to read it.

You can also find me cooking, for sure. I tend to snack all of the time. I like to swim, do some laps at the gym, and probably just doing something; I feel like there’s always something going through my head. I could also be studying; I’m taking classes at the moment. My life is pretty full.

Samir Husni: By the way, where are you based?

Kirstin Thompson: At the moment, I’m in Atlantic Beach, Fla.

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

Kirstin Thompson: I could give you a whole list. I could be planning where I want to travel to in my head. I could be thinking about what I need to be doing for the journal; thinking about the issues of the world. I could be thinking about something I read earlier. It depends on which side of my brain is really activated that day. I could be analyzing everything, or I could be hopping out of bed and writing down ideas or something. An article idea or some sort of string of words that has appeared to me in my head. When you’re a writer, that happens often. You never know when it’s going to hit you. Creativity just kind of pops in when you’re trying to sleep or something. (Laughs)

And I’m usually just thinking about all of the things that I still want to do in my life. I want to get my private pilot’s license; I want to fly. I want to learn at least five languages; I’m going to grad school this year. So, my mind is always going and I’m always thinking about anything and everything. (Laughs again)

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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One comment

  1. Great post! Thank you for sharing 🙂



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