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FabUplus: After An 18-Month Hiatus, The Lifestyle Magazine Advocating Body Positive Health & Fitness For Women With Curves Relaunches – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Patricia DeLuca, Editorial Director… 

March 22, 2021

“As great as social media is and as great as having a digital magazine is, it still doesn’t feel like a total representation until you have something in print. Something you can have on your kitchen table or your coffee table and say this is what I read. And that’s missing when you have it only in digital.” Patricia DeLuca…

Body positivity for all sizes, that is the mission for FabUplus magazine. FabUplus is a health, fitness and lifestyle magazine dedicated to women with curves. The brand went on an 18-month hiatus and is now back in print with a fresh new relaunch. According to editorial director, Patricia DeLuca, the brand’s goal is to empower, encourage and inspire women to maintain a healthy lifestyle no matter what their size. 

I spoke with Patricia recently and we talked about the brand’s strong belief that size does not define one’s health and fitness level. Patricia stressed that FabUplus celebrates a woman’s inner curves and the unique editorial content relates to the plus-sized community, engaging and informing women to be fit, healthy and curvy at the same time. Patricia said watch for the Spring 2021 issue, which is scheduled to hit newsstands this week.

Mr. Magazine™ will definitely be watching for it.

And now please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Patricia DeLuca, editorial director, FabUplus.

But first the sound-bites:

On publishing during a pandemic: I’m still asking myself that question. How did we get through this? The decision to relaunch FabUplus happened sometime in early 2020. And it was the publisher, Christopher Salute, who really persevered. He felt there was a need for FabUplus to return to print, and I agreed with him. It was doing okay digitally, but there was a need there. There are plenty of publications that are doing well digitally, but there’s still something about grabbing a magazine and feeling it in your hands.

On the magazine’s competitive set today: There are other magazines out there; Maddie Jones with Plus magazine, she’s been doing this for a really long time and she brings fashion and glamour, all that to the shoot, and we want that as well, but we also want to represent different types of beauty. There’s beauty in strength and we want to focus on wellness and fitness. There are women who go to the gym for their mental health, not just to fit into a size smaller. 

On challenges she might face with FabUplus: I see two challenges. One is with advertisers. I don’t know how comfortable some advertisers will feel about working with a company that’s very body positive. We do represent women of all shapes. There are some companies that like the idea of body positivity, but then if someone is above a size 24, they may say whoa, we don’t know about that. So, I’m hoping we can work with companies and advertisers that walk the walk and will support  a brand that supports body positivity in every size.

On relaunching with a print component: As great as social media is and as great as having a digital magazine is, it still doesn’t feel like a total representation until you have something in print. Something you can have on your kitchen table or your coffee table and say this is what I read. And that’s missing when you have it only in digital.

On any chance they’ll increase the frequency from just quarterly: For right now, it’s quarterly. We’ll see how it goes. We still need to build our following. We had a strong following back when FabUplus was still in print, and when they took the hiatus, the brand definitely felt it. But when we returned, we got a welcoming return, people were glad to see us back on the newsstands. But I also think we need to re-earn our followers’ trust again, to show them we’re not going away again, that we’re here to stay.

On anything she’d like to add: I would like to thank our supporters for making FabUplus a part of their everyday lives. We hear them online and we definitely heard them when we were in print. We’ll keep championing body positivity as long as people want to see it. And we feel like this is something that is here to stay.

On what makes her tick and click: I feel like I always have to search for the new thing; what’s going on. Part of my every day checklist is going onto social media and seeing what’s new and in the news, which may not be the healthiest thing, but it’s something I’ve always done, whether it’s been a newspaper, magazine, or online. It’s what is happening and how can my experience help my community.

On whether she enjoys the business side or the editorial side better: I knew editorial was a part of the pie chart, but placement was very valuable too. And I learned so much about publishing as a whole by doing the field rep job. I knew when we had great issues and people were really proud of it, but sometimes they didn’t sell. And maybe it just wasn’t a strong cover or something. You could have all of this great content inside, but if the cover wasn’t compelling, it wouldn’t sell.

On how she unwinds at the end of the day: I have a dog, so I make sure he’s taken care of. Since I’ve been working from home, he’s been by my side and I think there will be real separation anxiety if we ever do return to the office. (Laughs) I spend time with my dog and our gym just reopened in our local neighborhood, so I go there, but there’s only five people or so there and we’re all spread out.

On what keeps her up at night: It’s always going to be deadlines. Even with my day job at License Global. We recently had a relatively smooth deadline and then I thought instantly about the next one. Once the deadline is done, then there is that in-between time, leaving the printer and going to the printer, and once it’s on stands, there’s that space or that timing where I’m thinking, did we get it right; did it look good; are we going to hear back from this person; is it going to sell.

And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ interview with Patricia DeLuca, editorial director, FabUplus.

Samir Husni: You’ve been in publishing for quite some time now, from your days at Time Out New York to today and FabUplus. How have you handled publishing during a pandemic? 

Patricia DeLuca: I’m still asking myself that question. How did we get through this? The decision to relaunch FabUplus happened sometime in early 2020. And it was the publisher, Christopher Salute, who really persevered. He felt there was a need for FabUplus to return to print, and I agreed with him. It was doing okay digitally, but there was a need there. There are plenty of publications that are doing well digitally, but there’s still something about grabbing a magazine and feeling it in your hands. 

With the relaunch, Christopher also wanted to make sure that it came back very strong and to do that we needed some help. So we relied on other people who were in print publishing as well. We had a guest editor for the relaunch, Renee Cafaro, who is the U.S. editor of a plus size magazine called Slink. She was very generous with her time and her connections as well to help us relaunch with the Winter issue. 

And we did shoots during a pandemic. One shoot was a classic shoot; it wasn’t through an iPad or an iPhone; we had people onset. Everyone that was there complied with the CDC guidelines, so it was a very closed set.

Despite all that, I don’t think anyone would have known we were at limited resources because of COVID, but I thought it was a very successful issue. The cover looked great. And this was something that everyone truly believed needed to be done in the market. 

Samir Husni: You’ve been involved with other launches, such as King and Rides Magazines for Harris Publications, who at one time also published a plus size magazine called Mode. Who would you consider your competitive set today?

Patricia DeLuca: I think Mode was very ahead of its time. The photo shoots were gorgeous; the clothing was all high-end at a time when most women were still trying to find where to buy clothing for themselves. One of the articles I wrote for Time Out New York was about where to find plus size fashion in New York City because people who visit are from everywhere but New York and chances are they’re not a size six, so where do you go if you need something? 

And King magazine was really championing a beauty that wasn’t recognized as well with Black women. And the body types that weren’t being represented in other men’s magazines like Maxim and FHM. And it was great to work on the magazine.

There’s a real need. There’s a lot of talk about body positivity and how everybody should be addressing it, but there isn’t really one particular brand that’s going to represent it and represent it well. And not do it for lip service or maybe they’re feeling pressure from advertisers or somewhere else higher up. This is something we’ve all lived with. There are different levels of privilege; there’s body privilege. There are people who have had doors opened for them because of how their body looks. And I can speak from experience about that. I’ve been fatter; I’ve been thinner and I’ve seen those differences.  

I think with FabUplus coming back to the market, it’s a return to that representation. That yes, there’s all this glad talk about body positivity and about having representation; other magazines get big pops when they feature somebody not classically suited for their magazine. But there isn’t one magazine that shows different body types on the regular and I think FabUplus fits in. 

There are other magazines out there; Maddie Jones with Plus magazine, she’s been doing this for a really long time and she brings fashion and glamour, all that to the shoot, and we want that as well, but we also want to represent different types of beauty. There’s beauty in strength and we want to focus on wellness and fitness. There are women who go to the gym for their mental health, not just to fit into a size smaller. So, we want to focus on that. And we really want to be inclusive and we’re hoping down the line that FabUplus becomes more and more inclusive. 

Samir Husni: What do you think will be your biggest challenge with FabUplus?

Patricia DeLuca: I see two challenges. One is with advertisers. I don’t know how comfortable some advertisers will feel about working with a company that’s very body positive. We do represent women of all shapes. There are some companies that like the idea of body positivity, but then if someone is above a size 24, they may say whoa, we don’t know about that. So, I’m hoping we can work with companies and advertisers that walk the walk and will support  a brand that supports body positivity in every size. 

And then also the plus sized community. It’s been very supportive, but like every community there is always gatekeepers, and whenever we do something wrong we will hear about it through social media. We’re under the umbrella of Bold Holdings, so there’s FabUplus, Bold Magazine, which is more of a literary publication, and then Strutter, which is a little more pop culture. So we’re three brands that really don’t fit into what the plus sized community is right now, which is very strong on influencers and very strong on fashion. We want to bring in all the other things that encompass plus size life and culture. 

And I’m editorial director for all three, but I’ve been working with FabUplus more as editor in chief because there was more of a need, since we’re in print and I have print experience. We were trying to not only relaunch, but also slowly rebrand the issue because we need to freshen up the layouts and that’s not an overnight thing. It’s going to take some time. We’re currently working on our summer issue and there will be some tweaks to that as well. Hopefully by year’s end we’ll have a solid look that’s true to our brand.

Samir Husni: Why did the brand feel it was important to come back in print?

Patricia DeLuca: As great as social media is and as great as having a digital magazine is, it still doesn’t feel like a total representation until you have something in print. Something you can have on your kitchen table or your coffee table and say this is what I read. And that’s missing when you have it only in digital.

And there’s something very private about digital as well, everything is on your phone or on your laptop, so you have this community that’s very small. But with print, it feels more stable. There’s this feeling of realness when you get a print edition of something. It feels very official. And to invest in printing and design, all these elements that come together to make a print magazine, it feels like that movement is very real. And it’s not just a hashtag. Hashtags do have power, we’ve seen it, but this leap from the screen onto the page is not a backward move at all. There will be a digital and social presence, but we felt it was really important to have that print aspect too. We want to be more than something that just lives on your screen, we want to be part of your everyday life in real life. We’re a quarterly magazine and we want to be on your tables for a long while. 

Samir Husni: Any chance you’ll increase the frequency?

Patricia DeLuca: For right now, it’s quarterly. We’ll see how it goes. We still need to build our following. We had a strong following back when FabUplus was still in print, and when they took the hiatus, the brand definitely felt it. But when we returned, we got a welcoming return, people were glad to see us back on the newsstands. But I also think we need to re-earn our followers’ trust again, to show them we’re not going away again, that we’re here to stay. 

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

Patricia DeLuca: I would like to thank our supporters for making FabUplus a part of their everyday lives. We hear them online and we definitely heard them when we were in print. We’ll keep championing body positivity as long as people want to see it. And we feel like this is something that is here to stay. 

Samir Husni: What makes you tick and click and motivates you to get out of bed in the mornings?

Patricia DeLuca: I feel like I always have to search for the new thing; what’s going on. Part of my every day checklist is going onto social media and seeing what’s new and in the news, which may not be the healthiest thing, but it’s something I’ve always done, whether it’s been a newspaper, magazine, or online. It’s what is happening and how can my experience help my community. Whether my community is within my household or a circle of friends or my work team. So I guess it’s service, in one way or another. What’s happening and how can I help.

Samir Husni: You’ve been on both sides, business and editorial. Which side do you enjoy more?

Patricia DeLuca: If you would have asked me that when I first started out, I would have said editorial. When I was a field rep at Time Out New York, I had a lot of outdoor time; I was outdoors for half the day, making sure the magazine had great positioning, the posters we used to print had prime placement. 

And talk about a gradual change, I would go to newsstand reps and at first no one wanted anything to do with Time Out, I was a pest asking how many copies they sold. And then weeks later, they would ask me if I had another poster, and in a weird way, working in circulation, I knew when a magazine was going to do well because I knew when the newsstand owners would ask me for more posters to get more copies, I would be the liaison between our circulation team and them But when random people would ask me about the magazine, I knew it was popular.

I knew editorial was a part of the pie chart, but placement was very valuable too. And I learned so much about publishing as a whole by doing the field rep job. I knew when we had great issues and people were really proud of it, but sometimes they didn’t sell. And maybe it just wasn’t a strong cover or something. You could have all of this great content inside, but if the cover wasn’t compelling, it wouldn’t sell. I will always champion the editorial, but I learned a lot working in circulation. 

Samir Husni: How do you unwind at the end of the day?

Patricia DeLuca: I have a dog, so I make sure he’s taken care of. Since I’ve been working from home, he’s been by my side and I think there will be real separation anxiety if we ever do return to the office. (Laughs) I spend time with my dog and our gym just reopened in our local neighborhood, so I go there, but there’s only five people or so there and we’re all spread out. 

Going back to what I said about the community of FabUplus readers who go to the gym for mental health and clarity, that’s why I go too, because at the end of the day I just need an hour to not think about deadlines and layouts, all the things that tend to take up space in my mind. 

And then just catching up with friends and family. I’m on my phone constantly, because if it’s not through social media, I’m on the phone. Once I get away from my screen, I try to have some Facetime with real people. 

And I’m here with my parents as well, so I’m checking in with them constantly to make sure they’re okay. Some of my spare time recently, between my day job, which is with License Global, when I had down time, it was looking for a place for my parents to be vaccinated. It’s tough to get appointments. 

And I do enjoy picking out magazines; I pick up a magazine to read it because I enjoy it. I truly love magazines. There is something about magazines that has always intrigued me. And I try to hold off on the glass of wine until the weekend.(Laughs)

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

Patricia DeLuca: It’s always going to be deadlines. Even with my day job at License Global. We recently had a relatively smooth deadline and then I thought instantly about the next one. Once the deadline is done, then there is that in-between time, leaving the printer and going to the printer, and once it’s on stands, there’s that space or that timing where I’m thinking, did we get it right; did it look good; are we going to hear back from this person; is it going to sell.

I’m thinking about that right now with FabUplus because it’s being shipped to Barnes & Noble and my thing is will it have good placement. I know the last issue did. But will we continue to have that? And how do we keep this going? And while it may keep me up at night, it is something that I’m enjoying. 

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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