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SELF’s Brand Forecast: Digital With A Chance Of Print, The “Digital-Led” Brand That Still Believes In Print & A Multiplatform Existence – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Carolyn Kylstra, Editor In Chief, SELF…

March 8, 2018

“We call ourselves digital-led rather than digital-only because our approach to the brand is, what do we need to do to provide our audience, to provide our readers and viewers and the people who care about us with the products they need that will help them the most? And then the business can sustain. The truth is a print product is not out of the picture in the future, whether it’s in the form of an occasional SIP or something more regular; it’s something that we need to consider. There’s always going to be a place for print within the brand at some point.” Carolyn Kylstra…

Since 1979, Self has been helping its readers attain health and wellness through fitness, nutrition, and overall happiness, to become one of the ultimate authorities on the subjects. The Condé Nast brand has been a staple in the marketplace ever since, but in 2016 the company made the difficult decision to fold the print edition of the brand, opting to keep the digital properties and to publish occasional special print editions around multiple health and wellness-related moments.

The brand’s editor in chief, Carolyn Kylstra, said the brand prefers “digital led” to digital-only, and the reason behind that phrase is because the brand still believes in print and in a multiplatform existence, not just a website. In order to continue the meaning behind the brand’s mission, according to Carolyn, which is helping people feel better, being multiplatform is the only way to succeed in today’s marketplace and provide the same factual, entertaining and helpful information the brand has always given to its loyal audience. Print Proud Digital Smart fits Self to a Tee.

So, I hope that you enjoy this conversation with a woman who has come a long way from her days as an entry level employee in this business of magazines and magazine media, just a short 10 years ago, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Carolyn Kylstra, editor in chief, Self.

But first the sound-bites:

On the transition from digital + print to digital-only: We like to think of it as digital-led, rather than digital-only, because print as a product isn’t something that we’re 100 percent giving up on, we’re just changing the business model. The transition was, obviously, intense, scary and upsetting. It was a big change. I grew up reading Self and it was one of my favorite magazines when I was younger. I got it every single month. I have so much respect for the heritage of the brand and a huge amount of nostalgia.

On whether she thinks changes in digital, such as Snapchat, is helping the platform reinvent itself and in turn is helping digital brands such as Self to sustain and continue: I think again, it’s looking at what the business can sustain, and it’s looking at what makes sense for the audience that you have at that given moment in time. Self has grown. We’ve grown since the print folded. We’ve added people for Snapchat; we’ve added people for social; we’ve added people for video. Obviously, this was a business decision, but it was one that Condé Nast, to their credit, they’ve been incredibly supportive and they’ve given us the resources that we need to be successful in digital.

On whether she ever sees Self following in Wired’s footsteps and charging for its digital content: For Self, it’s something that we’re always talking about. I think paywalls are so smart and so interesting, and I find them really hopeful. They’re just so optimistic, especially in this environment; the media environment right now is so anxiety-inducing. And launching a paywall is just such an optimistic choice because it says that we know that our content is so differentiated and that our audience is so engaged that they are willing to pay for it. And the better our content is, the more willing they will be to pay for it, etc.

On whether the curation and branding process is the same for Self without the print product: The way that I think about it and the way that we talk about it internally is that when we made the decision to no longer publish in print regularly as a subscription product, it forced us to kind of go back to the drawing board. There’s a difference between running a website and running a brand. And the work that we did at the beginning of last year, after the print folded, was figuring out how we take this operation where we were running a website, making sure that we were getting a certain amount of traffic, hitting our KPIs, etc., how do we turn it into something where this is a brand? Where you no longer have that beautiful, incredibly high quality print product that people can hold onto. This is what the brand is and you need something to replace it among your consumers, in the industry; people need to be able to say this is what the brand stands for.

On whether her life is easier now that there are no print deadlines to worry about or she has more deadlines than ever before: That’s a really good question. I came from print originally. I worked at Men’s Health and Cosmo on print before I went fully digital. There are deadlines for everyone. (Laughs) With digital it’s a different type of deadline. Something that we’ve actually been working on this year is, we’ve made the intentional decision, and I think it was February of last year, to stop chasing aggregated news. It was driving a lot of traffic; it was important for the website, but thinking again about what the brand stands for, I kept coming back to the questions, why are we writing about this; what is this serving, in terms of our mission; is this serving our mission?

On whether there was an “A-ha” moment when she knew they had to stop chasing news and treat the website like a brand instead of an aggregated news site: There wasn’t really an “A-ha” moment. One of the things about working in digital, or honestly just working in today’s media environment at all, is that you have to always iterate. You have to look at what’s working, what’s not working; what’s working today isn’t necessarily going to work next week or in two months. (Laughs) Over the first six months, thinking about how we could grow this business, knowing that the realities of today’s media business, what they are, and knowing that the strongest brands are the ones that have the most loyal audiences, it just made sense. It just made sense to make sure that whatever we were putting out there was content, our information, our experiences, our products, or tools that people would find incredibly useful and that they would be emotionally attached to.

On Self’s ability to monitor the audience that may be monetized from their web content and the audience that has no monetary potential at all: We have really wonderful insights and data and analytics. And a lot of information about who we’re talking to and who’s spending time and who’s looking at multiple stories when they’re on the website. Or who’s consuming our content on Instagram or on Snapchat. I think, in a sense, it’s almost easier today than it used to be to understand your audience and understand what resonates with them. And to figure out how to serve them better.

On whether she still feels the same anxiety today as she did when the print component of Self folded: We still exist in the current media environment. I want to clarify that when the magazine folded, I wasn’t worried about the brand. I wasn’t worried that the brand wasn’t an important brand or that people didn’t love it. My main concern was what this said in the marketplace and the fear that our readers might say that since they no longer had the magazine, they weren’t interested. I was quickly disabused of that, because again, our readership has grown. And our engagement has grown and the timespan has grown.

On how her background in print has helped or hindered her since moving to digital: It was so important. I started out at Men’s Health and then I was at Cosmo and I learned so much from really incredible editors at both brands. My first fully digital job, because I did digital things at those brands, I never had a fully print job anywhere because I started in 2008 and it already didn’t make sense to have a fully print anything. And I started at an entry level position, so whatever they told me to do I did. But my experience learning from print editors was absolutely invaluable to my work as a digital editor.

On the advice she would give to future industry leaders: As far as advice, I interview so many entry level people and the things that I always want to say are be enthusiastic for whatever opportunity is coming your way; do the best, be the best that you absolutely can be, and this is going to sound really weird and specific, but format everything you do really meticulously. Everything you turn in, format it really beautifully, because, let’s say you’re an intern and somebody asks you to write a memo outlining what a celebrity has done. An editor is about to interview a celebrity, this is just a completely random example. Make sure that memo is perfect and beautiful and easy to scan and something that the editor will look at and say, this made my life so much easier, this made my job easier and I don’t even have to think when I’m assessing this.

On anything she’d like to add: Other than we’re truly multiplatform and we’re really not digital-only, in the sense that we exist off of digital platforms as well. We have an event series, it’s our Run Club series and it’s not digital; we have products in Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond that’s not digital. And we had an SIP last year; we’re constantly in discussions about other SIPs or other print products, so it’s not just a talking point to say that we’re digital-led, it’s actually true, because again, a brand has to be multiplatform and diversified in order to succeed.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: I have a six-month-old, which means my entire life has changed very dramatically in the past year. Before I had the baby, I would stay at work from 6:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. on any given night. It was very dependent on the amount of work I had my poor husband just kind of dealt with it. (Laughs) Now, I leave work at 5:30 p.m. on the dot, because I want to make it home in time to put her to bed, so I get home about 6:15 p.m. I give her a bath; I put her to bed. My husband and I have dinner around seven-ish. And then sometimes I’ll finish up the work that I haven’t finished during the day because I’m leaving earlier. But if I’ve been really good and I finished my work for the day, we’ll read on the couch or watch Netflix. It’s really not that exciting.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: I want people to think of Self as the ultimate wellness authority and wellness that they can trust. And that we’re doing everything that we can to make the brand as inclusive and as helpful as possible. I want people to think that we’re doing really meaningful, powerful work that reaches people.

On what keeps her up at night: Politics. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’ll be so angry because my baby is actually sleeping through the night, and I finally have the opportunity to get a solid eight hours, and things that have happened politically, the state of our discourse in this country, fake news and just how mean and toxic people are. And the discourses and how people are talking to each other and the way that so many people don’t have access to healthcare or having their healthcare access threatened, and how so many immigrant families are being threatened right now with being split up or deportation. I feel incredibly, emotionally anxious about the state of our politics right now.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Carolyn Kylstra, editor in chief, Self.

With Carolyn Kylstra, editor in chief, Self at the Condé Nast’s office in NYC.

Samir Husni: You came to Self simultaneously as the print edition folded.

Carolyn Kylstra: I was actually here for a little over a year before that. So, I have been at Self for the past two and a half years, but about one year ago they folded the print edition.

Samir Husni: And that’s when you became editor in chief.

Carolyn Kylstra: Yes.

Samir Husni: Tell me about that transition from a print + digital to a digital-only entity.

Carolyn Kylstra: We like to think of it as digital-led, rather than digital-only, because print as a product isn’t something that we’re 100 percent giving up on, we’re just changing the business model. The transition was, obviously, intense, scary and upsetting. It was a big change. I grew up reading Self and it was one of my favorite magazines when I was younger. I got it every single month. I have so much respect for the heritage of the brand and a huge amount of nostalgia.

And then on top of that, when a company or business makes a decision like this, that means that there’s obviously major upheaval and change within the organization internally. And so we were very sad to no longer be working with so many of our colleagues and afraid of what the future would hold, and concerned about what the message might be in the marketplace. I think there’s been a kind of assumption that when a brand folds its print publication that’s the first step before it folds altogether. So, when Condé Nast made the decision to change our business model back in December 2016, this is what was on all of our minds. It was not a happy day.

But it was a really big opportunity for the brand and I feel like it really gave us the flexibility that we needed to make the changes that we needed to make in order to succeed in this media environment. And I’m thrilled with how it’s actually turned out. And I feel incredibly hopeful and positive looking to the future, and so proud of the team. And I’m just really excited about what we’re working on now and what we’re going to be working on in the future.

And again, just to bring it around full circle, I started out answering this question by saying that we call ourselves digital-led rather than digital-only because our approach to the brand is, what do we need to do to provide our audience, to provide our readers and viewers and the people who care about us with the products they need that will help them the most? And then the business can sustain. The truth is a print product is not out of the picture in the future, whether it’s in the form of an occasional SIP or something more regular; it’s something that we need to consider. There’s always going to be a place for print within the brand at some point.

Samir Husni: You weren’t being far-fetched when you said that, historically speaking, any brand that kills its print edition, it’s like the kiss of death, it’s over, but the brand was going to live online. And until recently, no digital brand has lived more than 16 months after the print component was killed. Then came Snapchat. Do you think the change in digital is helping the brands continue, that digital is reinventing itself, or is it something else?

Carolyn Kylstra: I think again, it’s looking at what the business can sustain, and it’s looking at what makes sense for the audience that you have at that given moment in time. Self has grown. We’ve grown since the print folded. We’ve added people for Snapchat; we’ve added people for social; we’ve added people for video. Obviously, this was a business decision, but it was one that Condé Nast, to their credit, they’ve been incredibly supportive and they’ve given us the resources that we need to be successful in digital.

So, it wasn’t just, we’re going to cut all of these people and then you’re just going to have to make do. It was, let’s look at this business holistically and think about what makes the most sense right now, given the resources that we have and the resources that we can provide. We expanded our health team, we went from one to four people. In health, we have a big Snapchat team. And Snapchat is absolutely one way that we’ve expanded and grown the brand digitally, but it’s only one platform of many that we’re operating on. Our video views have skyrocketed because we’ve been able to focus a little bit more on video and video strategy.

Our traffic is higher than it’s ever been and that’s because we’ve been able to focus on what we need to be doing digitally, and that’s just on the website. Again, with Snapchat, that basically doubles our audience and we’re reaching a whole new group of people who may not have ever heard of Self before because we’re talking about a younger demographic.

And so, we’re doing what we need to do with the brand in order to get it to a place where it’s really healthy, although that’s what we were doing last year; right now we’re doing great. We’re in a really healthy position, so this year is really about expanding and increasing engagement on all of the platforms that we’re on.

Samir Husni: As you attempt to increase that engagement; you know, Wired just recently announced the paywall, yet the majority of the magazines are still on this welfare information society system, that they don’t charge for content. Do you see that ever changing?

Carolyn Kylstra: For Self?

Samir Husni: Yes, for Self.

Carolyn Kylstra: For Self, it’s something that we’re always talking about. I think paywalls are so smart and so interesting, and I find them really hopeful. They’re just so optimistic, especially in this environment; the media environment right now is so anxiety-inducing. And launching a paywall is just such an optimistic choice because it says that we know that our content is so differentiated and that our audience is so engaged that they are willing to pay for it. And the better our content is, the more willing they will be to pay for it, etc.

I think for Self, we’re constantly talking about what do we do in this space that is different from what everyone else is doing in this space and how can we find products that are so specialized that our audience will be excited to pay for them. We’re still working on that, but it’s a conversation that we’re definitely having.

Samir Husni: You’ve seen how the print magazine was produced when you were working; how has that changed your thinking as a digital-only-for-now editor? Do you go through the same process of curation to create an issue or you feel like you’re on a treadmill and there’s no stopping?

Carolyn Kylstra: (Laughs) The way that I think about it and the way that we talk about it internally is that when we made the decision to no longer publish in print regularly as a subscription product, it forced us to kind of go back to the drawing board. There’s a difference between running a website and running a brand.

And the work that we did at the beginning of last year, after the print folded, was figuring out how we take this operation where we were running a website, making sure that we were getting a certain amount of traffic, hitting our KPIs, etc., how do we turn it into something where this is a brand? Where you no longer have that beautiful, incredibly high quality print product that people can hold onto. This is what the brand is and you need something to replace it among your consumers, in the industry; people need to be able to say this is what the brand stands for.

But at the same time we have the resources that we have in order to hit our KPIs and all of that stuff, so it was a matter of really looking at who do we have, who’s on the team, what skills do they have; what do we need to do to hit our goals? What do we need to do to meet the needs of the business and then how can we adjust to make sure we’re also keeping the brand as established as it is, as that sort of flagship product.

And so the way that we’ve addressed that is we have our daily grind and then we also have our special projects. I separate the team into two groups in my mind. The truth is everyone is working on everything all of the time, but you have your editors who are working on producing the content that people want to read every day, and we think of that as keeping the website afloat and doing what you need to do for the website.

And then you have your loftier, more ambitious stuff that are the packages that you want to do. We have our challenges; we do three fitness/wellness challenges per year roughly, where we engage the community around a month-long experience. And we have a Facebook group that’s devoted to it and its daily newsletters, and it’s a big photo shoot and there are videos attached to it. And that’s just one example of one of the tent poles that we do to make this brand stand for something. And we have community-based experiences and it’s the high quality work that people are used to seeing from the brand.

Samir Husni: Releasing yourself from the print deadlines, is your life now much easier or you have more deadlines than ever before?

Carolyn Kylstra: That’s a really good question. I came from print originally. I worked at Men’s Health and Cosmo on print before I went fully digital. There are deadlines for everyone. (Laughs) With digital it’s a different type of deadline.

Something that we’ve actually been working on this year is, we’ve made the intentional decision, and I think it was February of last year, to stop chasing aggregated news. It was driving a lot of traffic; it was important for the website, but thinking again about what the brand stands for, I kept coming back to the questions, why are we writing about this; what is this serving, in terms of our mission; is this serving our mission? Is it actually, beyond driving traffic, which is obviously important for the business, but beyond driving traffic, is this helping us distinguish ourselves as a brand? Is it helping people understand? When they click on one of these stories, do they know that it’s Self? Do they care that it’s Self? Do we have a particular point of view?

And so what we did was we looked at our mission and decided our mission is wellness you can trust. Self has always been a health and wellness brand. We were launched in 1979 and it was one of the first health and wellness magazines, it was long before wellness became the buzzword that it is today, and the whole point was to help people feel better. So, we kind of circled back to that. We are wellness that you can trust; we have that historical authority, so what does that mean and how do we accomplish that?

We established that we have three underlying values for every piece of work that we create; inclusivity, because people will only be helped by your content and your products and your experiences when they can see themselves in your world. Accuracy, because it’s only helpful if it’s true. And empathy, because we’re all trying our hardest, and no one is perfect, and there’s a lot of pressure and anxiety, and we’re here to help people feel good. They won’t feel better if we don’t make them feel good.

From there, I looked at the news that we were doing, at the aggregated news that we were doing, and decided that it didn’t make a ton of sense for what the brand is. So, we really shifted our editorial strategy in that regard. And to answer your original question about deadlines, that made it a lot more manageable, in terms of work/life balance, because we were no longer constantly online trying to report on things that just happened, trying to write about it.

We had a piece about the Super Bowl halftime show that went up right after, but in a previous year we would have probably had people on call, all that day, writing little pieces all day long. This year we only contributed to the conversation in a way that made sense for the brand. And so the deadline element of it, weirdly enough, has gotten a lot more manageable now that we’re focusing on brand over website.

Samir Husni: What you’re talking about with the web and the brand is common sense. I always say that the word newspaper is an oxymoron, you can’t have news on paper anymore. When was that “A-ha” moment when you knew you had to stop chasing news and treat the website like a brand instead of an aggregated place to put every piece of health and wellness news that was out there?

Carolyn Kylstra: There wasn’t really an “A-ha” moment. One of the things about working in digital, or honestly just working in today’s media environment at all, is that you have to always iterate. You have to look at what’s working, what’s not working; what’s working today isn’t necessarily going to work next week or in two months. (Laughs)

S. I. Newhouse launched the brand in 1979 because when he was growing up his mother always talked about how she needed her “me” time. And so he thought it was so important that there was a brand for women that would help them kind of reclaim their time and practice self-care, even though we weren’t necessarily as a mass culture talking about self-care back then. That’s something that I’ve known and once I was entrusted with the brand became really important to me that I honor this legacy.

So, over the first six months, thinking about how we could grow this business, knowing that the realities of today’s media business, what they are, and knowing that the strongest brands are the ones that have the most loyal audiences, it just made sense. It just made sense to make sure that whatever we were putting out there was content, our information, our experiences, our products, or tools that people would find incredibly useful and that they would be emotionally attached to.

Samir Husni: The founding editor of Self back in 1979, Phyllis Starr Wilson, was reported as saying, as long as we have a willing audience who is capable of paying the price for the magazine, we will have a magazine. Today, you have a big audience, they’re all over the place; how do you determine which is your genuine audience, the ones that are able to be monetized, and the “trash audience,” as Bob Garfield defines those people who receive your website’s content in, say China, and aren’t able to buy your products at all?

Carolyn Kylstra: We have really wonderful insights and data and analytics. And a lot of information about who we’re talking to and who’s spending time and who’s looking at multiple stories when they’re on the website. Or who’s consuming our content on Instagram or on Snapchat. I think, in a sense, it’s almost easier today than it used to be to understand your audience and understand what resonates with them. And to figure out how to serve them better.

Something else that we do is that we’re constantly doing our own version of market research. And we’re constantly soliciting feedback from the people who we reach. After every Challenge, for instance, we send out a survey among the Challenge participants to ask them for their feedback. What did they like; what did they dislike? Did they think the workouts were too hard or too easy? Did they like the recipes? What do they want to see more of, less of? Just things like that. And we take that information and we apply it to the next time that we do it.

We do the same thing on Snapchat to some degree. We put in quizzes and polls that people like to fill out because they like talking about themselves. People love answering quizzes about themselves, but it also gives us really valuable information about what they’re looking for and what they want. We can also tell, based on what people are reading, how long they’re spending on different stories and what kind of content resonates with them. And taken altogether, we know that certain content performs on one platform and certain content performs better on another platform. And how we can make sure that we’re optimizing for the different audiences and the different platforms that exist.

Samir Husni: To quote you about the anxiety: led and fed media environment. Are you now at peace with yourself and with Self as it is a brand today? Do you have the same anxiety as when they folded the print edition? Are you now sailing in calm seas, or just a momentary lull?

Carolyn Kylstra: (Laughs) We still exist in the current media environment. I want to clarify that when the magazine folded, I wasn’t worried about the brand. I wasn’t worried that the brand wasn’t an important brand or that people didn’t love it. My main concern was what this said in the marketplace and the fear that our readers might say that since they no longer had the magazine, they weren’t interested. I was quickly disabused of that, because again, our readership has grown. And our engagement has grown and the timespan has grown.

And what we found with Snapchat was that the content resonates with so many people, and we’re not changing the content to put it on Snapchat; we’re just adjusting it based on what the platform demands. We’re putting it in a certain format, but it’s all the same. It’s all the same message; it’s all the same values; it’s all the same mission. So, in that sense, I feel incredibly excited and optimistic about our future in a way that…I was optimistic about our future last year, but I was anxious that other people weren’t going to be as optimistic as I was.

Samir Husni: How has your print background helped or hindered you since you’ve moved to digital?

Carolyn Kylstra: It was so important. I started out at Men’s Health and then I was at Cosmo and I learned so much from really incredible editors at both brands. My first fully digital job, because I did digital things at those brands, I never had a fully print job anywhere because I started in 2008 and it already didn’t make sense to have a fully print anything. And I started at an entry level position, so whatever they told me to do I did. But my experience learning from print editors was absolutely invaluable to my work as a digital editor.

My first full-time digital job was running a site, being site director at Women’s Health. And I couldn’t have done it without my experience in print, because I knew how to edit; I knew how to write; I knew how to think about the brand and what the brand messaging was. When I was at Men’s Health, I always remember the question for every single thing that we ever created was, where is the service? Because Men’s Health was all about service journalism. And that really drove into my head that you have a brand mission and every arm of that brand needs to fulfill that mission. So, I think I couldn’t have been as successful as I have been without that background in print.

Samir Husni: You’ve come a long way in 10 years, which is almost unheard of in this industry. If you were going to advise future industry leaders, how should they prepare as they enter this field, because we have more students coming to journalism and integrated marketing communications than ever before?

Carolyn Kylstra: I think it’s obvious why. It’s a terrifying time to be in media, but it’s also an incredibly exciting time, because there’s so much going on and there’s so many different ways to reach people, so many different ways to talk to people and make an impact. It just looks different than it used to. The business, obviously, needs to settle down a little bit. But I completely understand why people want to go into the field, it’s more exciting than it was even when I started out.

As far as advice, I interview so many entry level people and the things that I always want to say are be enthusiastic for whatever opportunity is coming your way; do the best, be the best that you absolutely can be, and this is going to sound really weird and specific, but format everything you do really meticulously. Everything you turn in, format it really beautifully, because, let’s say you’re an intern and somebody asks you to write a memo outlining what a celebrity has done. An editor is about to interview a celebrity, this is just a completely random example. Make sure that memo is perfect and beautiful and easy to scan and something that the editor will look at and say, this made my life so much easier, this made my job easier and I don’t even have to think when I’m assessing this.

And it’s so trivial-sounding and it’s so shallow-sounding, but make sure you bold your subheads, make sure you put bullet points, make sure you’re writing in complete sentences with grammatically correct sentences. The little things like that will really make you stand out, which will open up other opportunities for you down the line. That’s really not that helpful, in terms of how to navigate the media industry, but it makes a difference.

Samir Husni: It’s good to hear people like you bringing back those common sense factors to the industry.

Carolyn Kylstra: The other obvious stuff is make yourself a website and put all of your clips on your website; use Squarespace or use WordPress, it doesn’t matter, just make a pretty website that shows what you’ve done and make it easy to contact you, be active on social media, and create a LinkedIn profile. I use LinkedIn constantly to recruit people, just searching different editors or people who have different, specific backgrounds. And that’s how I find a lot of people. Share your work on Twitter, so that you’re easy to find, just things like that.

It’s also common sense, but one of the things that’s frustrating to me is colleges and universities and even grad school programs don’t necessarily teach students how to apply for jobs. And I think that’s just a horrible waste and doing them a huge disservice and people are spending so much money and going into so much debt to attend these colleges and universities and they’re not teaching them the basics about how to be a good entry level applicant. I get so many resumes and so many cover letters where I’m wondering why didn’t anyone tell these people how to write this appropriately to market themselves. I don’t know how to give that advice, but to me, that’s one of the things that is so important. Read as much as you can online about how to write a good cover letter before you send one.

Samir Husni: And don’t copy it. (Laughs)

Carolyn Kylstra: Yes, don’t copy it. It’s little things like that, but it’s also not the students’ fault. I think the colleges and universities really ought to make an effort to do better by their students in this way.

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

Carolyn Kylstra: No, other than we’re truly multiplatform and we’re really not digital-only, in the sense that we exist off of digital platforms as well. We have an event series, it’s our Run Club series and it’s not digital; we have products in Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond that’s not digital. And we had an SIP last year; we’re constantly in discussions about other SIPs or other print products, so it’s not just a talking point to say that we’re digital-led, it’s actually true, because again, a brand has to be multiplatform and diversified in order to succeed.

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; watching TV; or something else?

Carolyn Kylstra: I have a six-month-old, this was something else that happened last year. I found out I was pregnant and then a week later the magazine folded. (Laughs) And my executive editor was in the hospital having just given birth to her first child, so basically the top two people in the brand both took three months off last year for maternity leave. It was a very exciting year.

Anyway, I have a six-month-old, which means my entire life has changed very dramatically in the past year. Before I had the baby, I would stay at work from 6:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. on any given night. It was very dependent on the amount of work I had my poor husband just kind of dealt with it. (Laughs) Now, I leave work at 5:30 p.m. on the dot, because I want to make it home in time to put her to bed, so I get home about 6:15 p.m. I give her a bath; I put her to bed. My husband and I have dinner around seven-ish. And then sometimes I’ll finish up the work that I haven’t finished during the day because I’m leaving earlier. But if I’ve been really good and I finished my work for the day, we’ll read on the couch or watch Netflix. It’s really not that exciting.

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

Carolyn Kylstra: I want people to think of Self as the ultimate wellness authority and wellness that they can trust. And that we’re doing everything that we can to make the brand as inclusive and as helpful as possible. I want people to think that we’re doing really meaningful, powerful work that reaches people.

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

Carolyn Kylstra: Politics. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’ll be so angry because my baby is actually sleeping through the night, and I finally have the opportunity to get a solid eight hours, and things that have happened politically, the state of our discourse in this country, fake news and just how mean and toxic people are and the discourses and how people are talking to each other and the way that so many people don’t have access to healthcare or having their healthcare access threatened, and how so many immigrant families are being threatened right now with being split up or deportation. I feel incredibly, emotionally anxious about the state of our politics right now.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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