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MJ Lifestyle: The Magazine Elevating The Feminine Voice… – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jennifer Skøg, Founder, Editor & Chief Creative, MJ Lifestyle Magazine…

April 4, 2019

“I am a photographer by trade, so I have been a fan of print for almost my entire life. If it’s stuck in a computer it’s not going to be seen; we have so many files that are just stuck in the Worldwide Web, but not necessarily something beautiful that you can touch and feel and experience. And so because of my background with fine art and high-end photography, that gave me one option for my magazine, and that was to be finely printed on ecofriendly paper. I believe that imagery often teaches people things; people feel things from imagery sometimes more than reading. So for me, imagery was a big part of getting people to understand and educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis.” Jennifer Skøg…

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

A luxury cannabis publication that not only respects the plant and educates readers about its much-touted benefits, but also empowers women to be strong leaders in their chosen lives and careers, MJ Lifestyle strives to showcase real women from all cultures and ethnicities, believing in the diversity of the world in which we all exist. The magazine is not a “stoner” title, but instead is one that chooses its partnerships carefully in order to maintain the integrity that Founder Jennifer Skøg is determined it will display.

I spoke with Jennifer recently and we talked about the magazine and its compelling imagery and editorials. Jennifer is a photographer by trade that specializes in intimate feminine photography, so making women feel comfortable while empowered in front of the camera is something that she is passionate about. Just as she is about her own personal usage of cannabis, a plant that she respects and is an advocate for when it comes to the many health and wellness issues the plant can address. And Jennifer realized that modern day women were not being properly represented in the space, so MJ Lifestyle was born. With an all-female team that she credits as being incredible, Jennifer is determined to elevate the female voice in the world of cannabis.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with a woman who is a magazine entrepreneur, a professional photographer, and a soccer mom, all rolled into one delightful person, Jennifer Skøg, MJ Lifestyle magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On why she chose print for MJ Lifestyle magazine in this digital age: I am a photographer by trade, so I have been a fan of print for almost my entire life. If it’s stuck in a computer it’s not going to be seen; we have so many files that are just stuck in the Worldwide Web, but not necessarily something beautiful that you can touch and feel and experience. And so because of my background with fine art and high-end photography, that gave me one option for my magazine, and that was to be finely printed on ecofriendly paper. I believe that imagery often teaches people things; people feel things from imagery sometimes more than reading. So for me, imagery was a big part of getting people to understand and educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis.

On the concept of cannabis and feminism behind the magazine: Really, when I first got into the industry I was just starting to shoot for brands and helping to elevate imagery for those brands, and what we quickly realized was that women were not properly represented in the cannabis space, real professional women. It was typically more of a stoner culture type of thing and not a positive light for cannabis at all. I have actually been a consumer for most of my adult life and have definitely hidden my consumption from my professional world for fear of being judged or missing out on work, people not hiring me.

On how she came up with the tagline “For Women With High Taste”: That was actually our first tagline and it’s funny because we were switching back and forth between “For Women With High Taste” and “For Women Of High Taste.” There’s a big difference between “with” and “of” and some of our women of color thought Women With High Taste were born with it and Women Of High Taste was something that you accumulated overtime or something you gave yourself. We were trying to connect, obviously women, with having high-end values and aspirations and taste. But we’re actually changing that; we don’t know exactly what we want to do yet, but it’s really about elevating your feminine voice.

On the magazine selling out so quickly on its website and whether she feels she was right on target with seeing a need for the magazine in the marketplace: We weren’t expecting it to sell out so quickly; we actually got a really big order that was unexpected, which sold us out almost immediately. And that was really exciting and we’re still very excited, but also the hard part for us is marketing and advertising. And right now, because our magazine has to do with cannabis, we’re not able to advertise anywhere basically. So, we’ve had to get really creative with influential type stuff, social media, and just building an audience. So, yes we sold out online, but right now our biggest thing is we’ve got 400 stores that we still need to sell the magazine out in. We’re definitely trying to continue raising awareness.

On the concept of romancing the plant, merging photography, women, nudity, and art, all between the pages of MJ Lifestyle: As I mentioned, I’m a photographer by trade; I actually teach and one of my specialties is intimate photography of women. Over the past 20 years of doing this, that’s been singlehandedly the most rewarding thing that I’ve done. Almost every time I’m able to photograph a woman and have her feel comfortable in front of the camera and it’s like opening her world up to a type of self-love she’s never known before. So, that’s been easy to weave in because we are talking about self-love so much. We’re talking about caring for ourselves, caring for our families, and making those educated decisions. And so for us yes, we are romancing the plant, but there’s a very fine line between glamourizing it and obviously, kind of paying tribute to it.

On the wide diversity of the magazine and whether that was intentional: Oh no, it’s intentional. It’s absolutely intentional. And that’s the thing, especially with what our world is going through with racism right now, and social justice being a huge thing that we have in our cannabis space too, social equity and social justice, and so it’s a big thing for us to make sure diversity is key. I am a white woman and grew up with a somewhat privileged lifestyle, I’ve worked very hard, but I’ve also, because of the color of my skin, things have probably come easier for me than most other people of color. So, the only thing I can do is use my privilege to make sure that we’re raising awareness for everybody and including everybody.

On whether launching the magazine was a walk in a rose garden for her or has she faced any challenges along the way: It’s been very, very difficult. Not just entering into a new industry of cannabis, but also a new industry of magazine publication. Lots of things that I didn’t know before, but also things internally. Not every single woman can work with every woman and we have definitely had some trimming of the negative energies, so it’s been a bumpy ride, just trying to make sure we have the right team with us. We have recovered significantly from it, and we are very grateful.

On having to be over 21 to click into the website content and if it’s the cannabis or the nudity that required that: It’s the cannabis. I think there might be minor nudity, but no, it’s the cannabis. And that’s the reason why we can’t advertise anything. And even the young twenties are not in our demographic. We’re definitely thirty and up, so we really don’t want this getting into the hands of younger kids.

On what she hopes to accomplish with the magazine one year from now: It’s really exciting and fun; we’re meeting and participating in a lot of events, so we’re getting out there in the field and getting to know women. And not just at cannabis events, but holistic events, yoga, or business events, women being empowered. We want this to not be stoner culture, we want this to be real life. So, we’re trying to bridge that gap between the stoner culture and real women. For us, it would be that we had evolved into a greater team, putting on more events, and having another couple of issues under our belt.

On anything she’d like to add: The other really difficult part for us is that we really are trying to respect the plant and so we have to be very careful who we are partnering with, because there are companies that don’t have the best intentions, or we have cut companies that are coming in and flooding the market with misogynistic type of marketing, with half-naked women, and on their billboards you’ll see women with bongs and it’s just not appropriate. So for us, that’s one of our biggest things, making sure that the people we are partnering with have good intentions, integrity; obviously they have a safe product to consume, but also we’re about business too, we’re not here saying money is money. We’re very much pride over profit.

On the biggest misconception she thinks people have about her: Probably that we have money. (Laughs) What most people think is that we have a pretty well-oiled machine, but we’re really just taking it one day at a time. And we’re working really hard, but at the same time we’re also trying to enjoy our lives.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Moms are busy. I pick up my kids; I do homework; I start dinner; I clean up after dinner, and by the time it’s 7:00 p.m., I actually go back to my computer and get to work. I take a couple of minutes to snuggle with my kids and if it’s been a really long day, I’ll fall asleep with them (Laughs) And falling asleep with them is the best ever. Sometimes I’ll consume some cannabis, but not until the kids are down or they’re away. I actually don’t drink a lot of alcohol, it upsets my stomach and that’s one of the reasons that cannabis has been my kind of “vice,” so to speak, for so long.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: Makes women feel amazing, feel beautiful, and powerful.

On what keeps her up at night: (Laughs) Work. I’m non-stop working; my office is in my house, so I’m literally on the desk. It’s sad because sometimes you’ll see that when all of my family wants quiet time, my husband is on his computer and I’m on mine and my kids are on their devices, it’s very techy. I am a great mom, but I’m also at my computer often.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jennifer Skøg, founder, editor, & chief creative, MJ Lifestyle Magazine.

Samir Husni: When I saw MJ Lifestyle, I was impressed by the size of the magazine and the fact that you call it the “fine print” magazine. Tell me, why are you doing a print magazine in this digital age?

Jennifer Skøg: I am a photographer by trade, so I have been a fan of print for almost my entire life. If it’s stuck in a computer it’s not going to be seen; we have so many files that are just stuck in the Worldwide Web, but not necessarily something beautiful that you can touch and feel and experience. And so because of my background with fine art and high-end photography, that gave me one option for my magazine, and that was to be finely printed on ecofriendly paper. I believe that imagery often teaches people things; people feel things from imagery sometimes more than reading. So for me, imagery was a big part of getting people to understand and educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis.

Samir Husni: Can you tell me the genesis of MJ Lifestyle, because you go beyond cannabis; you’re combining feminism and cannabis, can you expand a little on that concept?

Jennifer Skøg: Really, when I first got into the industry I was just starting to shoot for brands and helping to elevate imagery for those brands, and what we quickly realized was that women were not properly represented in the cannabis space, real professional women. It was typically more of a stoner culture type of thing and not a positive light for cannabis at all. I have actually been a consumer for most of my adult life and have definitely hidden my consumption from my professional world for fear of being judged or missing out on work, people not hiring me.

So, this was something for me, coming out of the shadows so to speak and opening up about this, it expanded my eyes as to how much not just the plant had been criminalized and stigmatized, but women in general all over the world have had to fight for equality, and we need to support each other. We’re in a world where women are competitive, we get catty and it would be nice if we didn’t have to compete. It would be nice if we could help each other out. All of us need help at times, it takes a tribe to do anything. Whether it’s raising kids or getting our jobs done completely or throwing out a brand new notion like cannabis is friendly. That’s why we’re mixing the two.

And we’re battling a lot of misogynistic brands who think it’s okay to completely expose women or undermine women and put us in a negative light, so to speak. So, we’re really wanting to bring that unity and sisterhood into the magazine as well.

Samir Husni: How did you decide on the magazine’s tagline, and I see it’s even on your business card: “For Women With High Taste?”

Jennifer Skøg: That was actually our first tagline and it’s funny because we were switching back and forth between “For Women With High Taste” and “For Women Of High Taste.” There’s a big difference between “with” and “of” and some of our women of color thought Women With High Taste were born with it and Women Of High Taste was something that you accumulated overtime or something you gave yourself. We were trying to connect, obviously women, with having high-end values and aspirations and taste.

But we’re actually changing that; we don’t know exactly what we want to do yet, but it’s really about elevating your feminine voice. And a lot of it is not necessarily about getting high, so we definitely want to try and get that kind of terminology out and be a little bit more professional and scientific health wise.

Samir Husni: I noticed on your magazine’s website that the second issue, which is now on newsstands, has sold out online, from the website. Do you think that your gut feeling that there was a need for this magazine in the marketplace was right on target?

Jennifer Skøg: As far as us selling out so quickly?

Samir Husni: Yes, and the need for the magazine. Evidently there is an audience for it or it wouldn’t have sold so quickly.

Jennifer Skøg: We weren’t expecting it to sell out so quickly; we actually got a really big order that was unexpected, which sold us out almost immediately. And that was really exciting and we’re still very excited, but also the hard part for us is marketing and advertising. And right now, because our magazine has to do with cannabis, we’re not able to advertise anywhere basically. So, we’ve had to get really creative with influential type stuff, social media, and just building an audience. So, yes we sold out online, but right now our biggest thing is we’ve got 400 stores that we still need to sell the magazine out in. We’re definitely trying to continue raising awareness.

But this hasn’t been done before. We had a thought in our minds and at first no one was able to understand what we were trying to accomplish, but now that the first two issues are out I think it’s beginning to click in people’s minds. We’ve actually had quite a few brands come to us recently, grateful that they can find us and looking for a way to have a more refined audience and a more refined way of educating potential consumers. A lot of people are trying to get away from the High Times and the adult magazines and have it be something more.

Samir Husni: As I flipped through the pages of the magazine, it’s like you’re romancing the plant with the imagery and the photography. Tell me more about that concept of merging the photography, the women, the nudity, the art, all between the pages of MJ Lifestyle.

Jennifer Skøg: As I mentioned, I’m a photographer by trade; I actually teach and one of my specialties is intimate photography of women. Over the past 20 years of doing this, that’s been singlehandedly the most rewarding thing that I’ve done. Almost every time I’m able to photograph a woman and have her feel comfortable in front of the camera and it’s like opening her world up to a type of self-love she’s never known before. So, that’s been easy to weave in because we are talking about self-love so much. We’re talking about caring for ourselves, caring for our families, and making those educated decisions. And so for us yes, we are romancing the plant, but there’s a very fine line between glamourizing it and obviously, kind of paying tribute to it.

In the beginning it was very hard for me because I don’t want to glamourize it; I have two small children, I don’t want them to think that it’s cool to be smoking anything. So, while we want it to be a very nonjudgmental space and inclusive and diverse, at the same time we’re trying to really show how we can be more safe about our consumption and not have smoking everywhere. But also loving ourselves, loving our bodies, being body-positive and just trying to create something we don’t have, empowering women to be their own leaders and founders in their space. And all of this just really fits together for us. I’m essentially my own target market. I’m a self-made soccer mom. (Laughs)

I’m literally a stay-at-home working mom, it’s a whole lot of jobs in one. And every woman is just trying to figure things out. So, this is a way that we can really give resources and support throughout our sisterhood.

Samir Husni: Talking about every woman and sisterhood, it seems to me that you have not left a single ethnic group or race out of the magazine. Was that intentional or you’re just casting the widest net possible?

Jennifer Skøg: Oh no, it’s intentional. It’s absolutely intentional. And that’s the thing, especially with what our world is going through with racism right now, and social justice being a huge thing that we have in our cannabis space too, social equity and social justice, and so it’s a big thing for us to make sure diversity is key. I am a white woman and grew up with a somewhat privileged lifestyle, I’ve worked very hard, but I’ve also, because of the color of my skin, things have probably come easier for me than most other people of color. So, the only thing I can do is use my privilege to make sure that we’re raising awareness for everybody and including everybody.

For me it’s really important that we do that; we don’t want just a bunch of white women everywhere. That’s not what our world is and that’s not what makes our world beautiful. So yes, for us, it’s extremely intentional that we’re trying to include every single culture, background, and group so that we can have everyone represented.

Samir Husni: I can hear the passion in your voice talking about the magazine and its audience; has it been a walk in a rose garden for you, so easy to put the magazine together, or have you faced some challenges along the way?

Jennifer Skøg: It’s been very, very difficult. Not just entering into a new industry of cannabis, but also a new industry of magazine publication. Lots of things that I didn’t know before, but also things internally. Not every single woman can work with every woman and we have definitely had some trimming of the negative energies, so it’s been a bumpy ride, just trying to make sure we have the right team with us. We have recovered significantly from it, and we are very grateful.

Really, we’re a small group of women, all of us have our own side hustles and I’m the main one putting all of the pieces together, but I have an incredible community of women where we’re creating resources right now. We don’t have public or private funding or any funding right now, we’re funding this ourselves. So, a lot of it is trading resources. I have women working with the magazines and then I’m helping them by photographing their products, helping them with their websites, giving them business coaching, anyway that we can evolve and grow each other is what we’re doing until we’re able to actually be profitable.

Samir Husni: I’ve noticed on your website that you seem to be positioning yourself as an adult magazine because you have to be over 21 to click into the website content; is it the cannabis or the nudity that required that?

Jennifer Skøg: It’s the cannabis. I think there might be minor nudity, but no, it’s the cannabis. And that’s the reason why we can’t advertise anything. And even the young twenties are not in our demographic. We’re definitely thirty and up, so we really don’t want this getting into the hands of younger kids.

Samir Husni: If we’re having this conversation a year from now, what would you hope to tell me you had accomplished with MJ Lifestyle?

Jennifer Skøg: It’s really exciting and fun; we’re meeting and participating in a lot of events, so we’re getting out there in the field and getting to know women. And not just at cannabis events, but holistic events, yoga, or business events, women being empowered. We want this to not be stoner culture, we want this to be real life. So, we’re trying to bridge that gap between the stoner culture and real women. For us, it would be that we had evolved into a greater team, putting on more events, and having another couple of issues under our belt.

We have one coming out this summer and it’s on policy and social justice. This is a huge issue coming out that we’re working on right now. It involves a lot of reaching out to people, a lot of interviews, and then me flying to go and do photos. (Laughs) It’s a crazy, busy life, but really exciting.

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

Jennifer Skøg: The other really difficult part for us is that we really are trying to respect the plant and so we have to be very careful who we are partnering with, because there are companies that don’t have the best intentions, or we have cut companies that are coming in and flooding the market with misogynistic type of marketing, with half-naked women, and on their billboards you’ll see women with bongs and it’s just not appropriate. So for us, that’s one of our biggest things, making sure that the people we are partnering with have good intentions, integrity; obviously they have a safe product to consume, but also we’re about business too, we’re not here saying money is money. We’re very much pride over profit.

Samir Husni: What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about you?

Jennifer Skøg: Probably that we have money. (Laughs) What most people think is that we have a pretty well-oiled machine, but we’re really just taking it one day at a time. And we’re working really hard, but at the same time we’re also trying to enjoy our lives.

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; playing with the kids; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Jennifer Skøg: Moms are busy. I pick up my kids; I do homework; I start dinner; I clean up after dinner, and by the time it’s 7:00 p.m., I actually go back to my computer and get to work. I take a couple of minutes to snuggle with my kids and if it’s been a really long day, I’ll fall asleep with them (Laughs) And falling asleep with them is the best ever. Sometimes I’ll consume some cannabis, but not until the kids are down or they’re away. I actually don’t drink a lot of alcohol, it upsets my stomach and that’s one of the reasons that cannabis has been my kind of “vice,” so to speak, for so long.

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

Jennifer Skøg: Makes women feel amazing, feel beautiful, and powerful.

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

Jennifer Skøg: (Laughs) Work. I’m non-stop working; my office is in my house, so I’m literally on the desk. It’s sad because sometimes you’ll see that when all of my family wants quiet time, my husband is on his computer and I’m on mine and my kids are on their devices, it’s very techy. I am a great mom, but I’m also at my computer often.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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