Archive for the ‘A Launch Story…’ Category

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Strung Magazine: For Both The Armchair Adventurer & The Seasoned Outdoor Enthusiast, Strung Magazine Takes You to “Life At The Treeline” And Captivates You Into Staying There – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Tyler Justice Allen, Editor In Chief…

December 10, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™  Launch Story…

“We decided to go with a print publication because we wanted to create something that would leave a lasting impression on the reader. We went with an oversized format, Strung is 9.5 x 12 inches, so it’s a full inch taller and wider than you’ll find most publications. And it’s printed on heavy grade, not finished paper. So, we wanted to create something that was almost akin to a coffee table book.”… Tyler Justice Allen on why they chose print in a digital age.

 

Strung Magazine* is a new title from the same people who brought you Tail Fly Fishing Magazine, only Strung is dedicated to considerably more outdoor activities and sports than just fly fishing. As its tagline entices, Strung shows you that passionate, yet slightly dangerous “life at the treeline” and begs you to glance down from those lofty heights, throwing caution to the wind as you follow your outdoor passions. From hunting to fishing, rock climbing to snowboarding, Strung takes you on that ultimate adventure with beautiful photography and great storytelling.

For truth in reporting purposes, Mr. Magazine™ would just like to mention that I have worked with the publisher of Strung, Joseph Ballarini, on Tail Fly Fishing Magazine, so I am familiar with the passion that the people behind this magazine have. And Strung is definitely about passion, and according to editor in chief, Tyler Justice Allen, that passion for many outdoor endeavors is what makes the magazine stand out from all the others.

I spoke with Tyler recently and we talked about this new title that aims to put another option in the outdoor space when it comes to untamed adventure. Tyler said they chose print for their new magazine because they wanted to leave an impression upon their readers, and what better way to do that than with the feel and texture of the oversized book that would look so fantastic on anyone’s coffee table. It’s an experience-filled publication that also gives its readers an unforgettable experience, and it’s exactly what print should be about in this day and age.

So, join me for an exciting glimpse at “life at the treeline” as we get good and “Strung” on wild, outdoor adventure with Tyler Justice Allen, editor in chief, Strung Magazine.

 

But first the sound-bites:

On how Strung began:A little over a year ago, Joseph Ballarini and I were talking about creating a new magazine that was focused primarily on freshwater fishing, but also brought in other elements of the outdoor lifestyle. In that Strung was born. And we were able to create a publication that was targeting folks that pursue more than one outdoor activity. And in the case of Strung, we ended up going after the people who may engage in fly fishing, responsible hunting, rock climbing, alpine climbing, paddle sports, be it rafting or kayaking, as well as having a strong focus on wildland stewardship and conservation.

On the name Strung:I was trying to come up with a name that pertained to a variety of different outdoor endeavors, and we stuck with Strung because it pertained, one – to fly fishing, if you think about stringing up a fly rod, it pertained to bow hunting, a bow is strung, and also when you’re rock climbing and you are between pieces of protection, it’s referred to being “strung out,” so it’s related to three of the things that we’re focusing on.

On the magazine’s unique tagline:“Life at the treeline.” That was something that Joe and I developed when we were first coming up with the concept of Strung. For us, life at the treeline is living life right on the edge, right where things start to change. And up on a mountain, the treeline signifies the boundary between the safer, lower slopes and the more dangerous exposed areas in the Alpine area. So, it seemed fitting for our audience and with what we were doing.

On why they decided on a print publication in this digital age:We decided to go with a print publication because we wanted to create something that would leave a lasting impression on the reader. We went with an oversized format, Strung is 9.5 x 12 inches, so it’s a full inch taller and wider than you’ll find most publications. And it’s printed on heavy grade, not finished paper. So, we wanted to create something that was almost akin to a coffee table book.

On what differentiates Strung from the rest of the outdoor magazines on the market:And what makes Strung a bit different from the other outdoor magazines out there is we are tackling such a variety of outdoor endeavors that we’re unique just in that right. Most magazines are covering one or two different sports, you have large fly-fishing publications that are focused exclusively on that sport; you have hunting publications; then you have publications similar to Outside Magazine, for example, that does look at a variety of outdoor sports and recreation, but they don’t bring a fly fishing or responsible hunting component into the fold. And that’s where you find us. We’re trying to bring all of these together and I haven’t seen another publication that is really trying to tackle all of them.

On what he thinks the fascination with magazines and with print is for his magazine publisher, Joe Ballarini, since he is an emergency room doctor first:That’s a great question and I can only speculate, but I think it offered a great outlet for Joe’s creative side. Being an emergency room doctor you’re looking at things that may be very black and white, and you’re not necessarily able to utilize the creative side of your brain and utilize any sort of creative agency that you might want. So, being able to create these two publications, Strung and Tail Fly Fishing Magazine, it really gives him a chance to flex that side of his brain and do something a little bit different.

On the most pleasant moment for him in launching Strung:The most pleasant moment honestly has come in probably the last seven or eight days when our contributors, advertisers, and VIP’s started to receive the magazine and the feedback that we have begun to get. We had a pretty good idea that we had created a quality publication, but we weren’t entirely sure how it was going to be received. And as people are getting it, we’ve heard nothing but wonderful feedback. And that has definitely been validating for us.We’ve been working on this initial issue for almost a year now, and to have it finally come to fruition and be as attractive and of this caliber of quality as we could possibly imagine, has been very fulfilling. And it’s good to know that we were able to create something of this quality and to know that we’re just going to get better from here.

On if it took them a year to create the first issue, how long will it take to create the second issue: I’m actually almost finished with our second issue. I have been working on multiple issues at a time, just trying to get ahead of the game and make sure that we have adequate content moving forward. Content collection is not always the easiest thing and I’m a bit of a stickler for ensuring what we put into the magazine is the highest quality content that we could have and that means time, so if I’m able to work on two or three issues at a time and collect content along the way it just means we’re going to have a better final product.

On anything he’d like to add:I hope that folks are willing to give Strung a try. It’s a beautiful magazine and hopefully people will enjoy the variety of content that we’ve been able to include. We have some wonderful well-known contributors, incredible photographers that we have working with us, as well as newer players, newer folks who are just getting established and that I can guarantee you are going to be big names as they get their foot in the doors.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him:I think people may assume that all I typically do with my time is fish and work, but I do other things. I made a little bit of a name for myself  in the fly fishing world and have worked in a variety of roles in the fly fishing industry over the past eight or nine years. But as much as I love to fish, there are other things that I do just as much if not more frequently. I consider myself to be a hunter as well as a rock climber, as well as an alpine climber, as well as a snowboarder, as well as a kayaker; I’m not a one trick pony. I try and do a lot of things with my time.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him:That whatever he undertakes to do is going to be done with maximum effort. My personal mantra is anything worth doing is worth doing right. And I don’t want to do anything halfheartedly. I would rather not do it at all than do something halfheartedly. So, if it’s coming from my hands or from my brain, you can be assured that it was my best effort.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home:You still might find me fly tying or more commonly, hanging out with my dog and my wife. I do enjoy cooking. I cooked professionally for a number of years after I got into the fly fishing industry, because I needed to do something to make ends meet and I still very much enjoy cooking for my family, fly tying, reading, and brewing beer when I can.

On what keeps him up at night:Deadlines; in the end, it’s deadlines. There are a lot of things to be concerned about in the world right now, with the current state of political affairs and everything else, but really in the end just making sure that I am doing my personal best to continue to create and to put new ideas out into the world.

 

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Tyler Justice Allen, editor in chief, Strung Magazine.

Samir Husni: Tell me the story of Strung Magazine.

Tyler Justice Allen: A little over a year ago, Joseph Ballarini and I were talking about creating a new magazine that was focused primarily on freshwater fishing, but also brought in other elements of the outdoor lifestyle. In that Strung was born. And we were able to create a publication that was targeting folks that pursue more than one outdoor activity. And in the case of Strung, we ended up going after the people who may engage in fly fishing, responsible hunting, rock climbing, alpine climbing, paddle sports, be it rafting or kayaking, as well as having a strong focus on wildland stewardship and conservation.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the name; how did you end up with a name like Strung?

Tyler Justice Allen: I was trying to come up with a name that pertained to a variety of different outdoor endeavors, and we stuck with Strung because it pertained, one – to fly fishing, if you think about stringing up a fly rod, it pertained to bow hunting, a bow is strung, and also when you’re rock climbing and you are between pieces of protection, it’s referred to being “strung out,” so it’s related to three of the things that we’re focusing on.

Samir Husni: You also have a unique tagline.

Tyler Justice Allen: Yes, “life at the treeline.” That was something that Joe and I developed when we were first coming up with the concept of Strung. For us, life at the treeline is living life right on the edge, right where things start to change. And up on a mountain, the treeline signifies the boundary between the safer, lower slopes and the more dangerous exposed areas in the Alpine area. So, it seemed fitting for our audience and with what we were doing.

Samir Husni: You’re an editor and I’m sure you’ve seen your share of print magazines come and go, so why did you decide to do a print magazine in this digital age and what differentiates it from the rest of the outdoor magazines out there?

Tyler Justice Allen: We decided to go with a print publication because we wanted to create something that would leave a lasting impression on the reader. We went with an oversized format, Strung is 9.5 x 12 inches, so it’s a full inch taller and wider than you’ll find most publications. And it’s printed on heavy grade, not finished paper. So, we wanted to create something that was almost akin to a coffee table book.

It’s 128 pages and what we wanted is something that included such high quality content and that was visually appealing enough that folks might actually leave it out. Hopefully, it’s not something that they’re going to immediately put in the recycle bin or put onto the shelf, but something that they might leave out on their coffee table to go back to or for their guests to read when they come by. But we certainly have a digital presence as well, Strung is available digitally and a digital subscription comes with the print subscription or the digital version can also be purchased separately. We really wanted something with some staying power and something that people would come back to and read time and again.

And what makes Strung a bit different from the other outdoor magazines out there is we are tackling such a variety of outdoor endeavors that we’re unique just in that right. Most magazines are covering one or two different sports, you have large fly fishing publications that are focused exclusively on that sport; you have hunting publications; then you have publications similar to Outside Magazine, for example, that does look at a variety of outdoor sports and recreation, but they don’t bring a fly fishing or responsible hunting component into the fold. And that’s where you find us. We’re trying to bring all of these together and I haven’t seen another publication that is really trying to tackle all of them.

And there are more and more readers, especially folks of a younger generation, who aren’t necessarily focused on just one sport, they’re not just fly anglers, they’re not just snowboarders, they’re not just climbers; they’re doing a variety of things  depending on the season. And that’s who Strung is for.

Samir Husni:  And for truth in reporting, I’d like to mention that I’ve worked with Joe (Ballarini) before on his other magazine Tail.  And since you worked with Joe on this new venture, this new magazine, what do you think is the fascination with magazines and with print for him, since he is an emergency room doctor first?

Tyler Justice Allen: That’s a great question and I can only speculate, but I think it offered a great outlet for Joe’s creative side. Being an emergency room doctor you’re looking at things that may be very black and white, and you’re not necessarily able to utilize the creative side of your brain and utilize any sort of creative agency that you might want. So, being able to create these two publications, Strung and Tail Fly Fishing Magazine, it really gives him a chance to flex that side of his brain and do something a little bit different.

And also to create two unique publications the likes of which you don’t find out on the market, Tail being unique in that it is the only fly fishing magazine dedicated to saltwater, and Strung being what it is, focusing on this variety of different outdoor activities, it just gave him the chance to do something unique and creative.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment in your experience launching Strung?

Tyler Justice Allen: The most pleasant moment honestly has come in probably the last seven or eight days when our contributors, advertisers, and VIP’s started to receive the magazine and the feedback that we have begun to get. We had a pretty good idea that we had created a quality publication, but we weren’t entirely sure how it was going to be received. And as people are getting it, we’ve heard nothing but wonderful feedback. And that has definitely been validating for us.

We’ve been working on this initial issue for almost a year now, and to have it finally come to fruition and be as attractive and of this caliber of quality as we could possibly imagine, has been very fulfilling. And it’s good to know that we were able to create something of this quality and to know that we’re just going to get better from here.

Samir Husni: If it took you a year to create this issue, how long will it take you to create the second issue? 

Tyler Justice Allen: I’m actually almost finished with our second issue. I have been working on multiple issues at a time, just trying to get ahead of the game and make sure that we have adequate content moving forward. Content collection is not always the easiest thing and I’m a bit of a stickler for ensuring what we put into the magazine is the highest quality content that we could have and that means time, so if I’m able to work on two or three issues at a time and collect content along the way it just means we’re going to have a better final product.

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

Tyler Justice Allen: I hope that folks are willing to give Strung a try. It’s a beautiful magazine and hopefully people will enjoy the variety of content that we’ve been able to include. We have some wonderful well-known contributors, incredible photographers that we have working with us, as well as newer players, newer folks who are just getting established and that I can guarantee you are going to be big names as they get their foot in the doors.

So, I hope folks will give us a try and to keep checking back to see what new things we’re creating and putting into the magazine.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Tyler Justice Allen: I think people may assume that all I typically do with my time is fish and work, but I do other things. I made a little bit of a name for myself  in the fly fishing world and have worked in a variety of roles in the fly fishing industry over the past eight or nine years. But as much as I love to fish, there are other things that I do just as much if not more frequently. I consider myself to be a hunter as well as a rock climber, as well as an alpine climber, as well as a snowboarder, as well as a kayaker; I’m not a one trick pony. I try and do a lot of things with my time.

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

Tyler Justice Allen: That whatever he undertakes to do is going to be done with maximum effort. My personal mantra is anything worth doing is worth doing right. And I don’t want to do anything halfheartedly. I would rather not do it at all than do something halfheartedly. So, if it’s coming from my hands or from my brain, you can be assured that it was my best effort.

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? How do you unwind?

Tyler Justice Allen: You still might find me fly tying or more commonly, hanging out with my dog and my wife. I do enjoy cooking. I cooked professionally for a number of years after I got into the fly fishing industry, because I needed to do something to make ends meet and I still very much enjoy cooking for my family, fly tying, reading, and brewing beer when I can.

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

Tyler Justice Allen: Deadlines; in the end, it’s deadlines. There are a lot of things to be concerned about in the world right now, with the current state of political affairs and everything else, but really in the end just making sure that I am doing my personal best to continue to create and to put new ideas out into the world.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

* Truth in Reporting:  I have consulted with the publisher of Strung on his previous magazine Tail and discussed the plans for the launch of Strung.  However, although my name is listed as publishing consultant on Strung, I have not worked or received any money for the listing of my name on the masthead.

 

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Our/Los Angeles Vodka: Taste. Listen. Read. Building The Brand Through The Immersive Experience Of Voice & Print – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Anton Van Der Woude, Managing Partner, Our/Los Angeles Vodka…

November 15, 2018

“We felt that it completed the package. It’s another way of collaborating and tying in links with local artists. The local zine artist is pretty well-respected. Also with the three, we have the taste – the vodka; we have the listen – the podcast; and we have the read – the zine. So, it’s full circle really. Taste, listen and read.” (Anton Van Der Woude on why he felt in this digital age he needed a zine and voice to build the brand)…

Our/Los Angeles, a distillery in Los Angeles, California, has created a unique concept to build, promote and elevate their brand using taste – the vodka, listen – a podcast they have launched about their beloved L.A., and read – a zine that is illustrated by local artists and that accompanies each episode of the podcast. Taste. Listen. Read. A first for the spirits industry and something that Managing Partner, Anton Van Der Woude, feels sets them apart from other liquor brands out there.

Anton has spent the last 10 years in the alcohol industry, working on different brands in various countries. Today he is thankful to be working on his own brand: Our/Los Angeles. I spoke with Anton recently and we talked about the global/local aspect of building the brand. Our/Los Angeles has several micro distilleries in the Our/Vodka family, from New York to London to Berlin, and this global/local identity serves to further their ties within the communities of each city’s distillery, giving the brand that warm, fuzzy feeling of closeness with local ingredients used in each location, while remaining international and a player within the spirits industry.

Anton said that using voice and the zine to connect with the people, either locals or visitors to L.A., to help them understand the creativeness and beauty that lives within the City of Angels, is just another leg of the stool that connects the brand to L.A. and its various cultures. And while Our/Los Angeles is the only one of the micro distilleries using the concept of taste, listen and read for now, Anton said who knows what the future may bring for all if the unique idea becomes a huge success.

Mr. Magazine™ will keep an eye out on this emerging brand – and be “taste buds” ready for the possible expansion. Who knows – Our/Oxford may be on the horizon.

So, I hope that you enjoy this fascinating Mr. Magazine™ interview as we take a trip to Our/Los Angeles and immerse ourselves in the Our/Vodka culture with Anton Van Der Woude.

But first the sound-bites:


On what he is trying to do with his Our/Vodka, Our/Los Angeles brand and its podcasts and zine:
Our/Los Angeles is the name of our brand and it’s really a celebration of the city and the people in it. Given the fact that the name of our brand is Our/Los Angeles, we’re doing a lot of things to further our ties with the city. And really, we want to be synonymous with everything that’s iconic to L.A. And there are so many weird and wonderful, crazy things going on in this city and everyone is so different here, but the one thing that everyone shares is a love of this wonderfully crazy city.

On whether they plan to expand the concept into more cities: Right now it’s just the focus on L.A. We do have a distillery in New York and we have a distillery in London, and although we’re part of the same family, each distillery is run independently. They’re the same brand; the same P&L with the same positioning. But right now Los Angeles, we’re the only one that has developed this concept of the podcast and the zine. If we have tremendous success with it, the other cities may pick it up and follow a similar concept, but for now it’s just us.

On whether he feels he is a content marketer, content provider or just someone who loves L.A. and its many cultures: This is more of a celebration of the city. Myself personally, I have a sales background and a commercial background. And that’s the part of the business that I run. My business partner is the marketer, he’s had a long distinguished career in the world’s top agencies. He ran Vista Innovations for Leo Burnett and opened several of their American offices. And this was his idea. One of the reasons that we decided to go this route as well is no alcohol brand has ever used voice as a medium to build their brand. So, given that we’re called Our/Los Angeles, we can turn this into not being just about vodka. And we feel that there is a really good opportunity to use voice to build the brand.

On why he felt in this digital age he needed a zine to go along with the voice: Because we felt that it completed the package. It’s another way of collaborating and tying in links with local artists. The local zine artist is pretty well-respected. Also with the three, we have the taste – the vodka; we have the listen – the podcast; and we have the read – the zine. So, it’s full circle really. Taste, listen and read. And we felt that was the complete local package for hotels.

On what he would hope to tell someone the brand had accomplished a year from now: I would like to say that it would be a staple for all major hotel groups in the Los Angeles area. I would like to feel that’s what we are known for. This package is pretty different; there’s nothing else out there like it, no alcohol brand has used voice as a medium to build their brand. And so we think it’s pretty exciting and innovative. And for us, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be in every single major hotel in Los Angeles.

On what reaction he is aiming for with his audience: It’s to help them understand this city and what’s going on here. And all of the wonderful things they can enjoy when they’re visiting it. Also, the rich, creative culture of Los Angeles; it’s pretty incomparable to anywhere else in the world. One in every six jobs is creative in this city and people come from all over the world, specifically, for that very reason. There’s just a lot going on and we really want to expose that, and to associate our brand with everything that’s going on in the city. And we want to educate and to share.

On anything he’d like to add: The concept of the brand itself is very unique. Again, this is the first time it’s ever been done before in the history of the spirits industry. It’s been done in other industries, but not in liquor. We are the first brand ever to have both a global and local identity at the same time. What I mean by that is earlier I referred to us as having sister distilleries in London and New York and we have one in Berlin; we’re all micro distilleries and we all run independently, as I said. However, we all distill to the same uniform global recipe, but we use local ingredients at every distillery. So, Our/New York tastes different from Our/Los Angeles. The branding looks the same, the bottle looks the same, it’s just says Our/New York or Our/Berlin instead of Our/Los Angeles on the label.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: For me, I would like it to be the success of Our/Los Angeles. I’ve worked on a lot of brands all over the world and I’ve been in the alcohol industry now for over ten years and I finally have one of my own. I’ve always worked for other brands, and one of the reasons this opportunity is so exciting for me is because I get a chance to build my own from scratch. It takes years to build a brand; it’s a very saturated market. There’s not a lot to differentiate each of the brands out there. I would hope that, in years to come, my name will be associated with the success of the brand along with the rest of the team.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home:
Given the nature of the business, for the first part of the evening, almost every evening, I’m out, picking up relationships, visiting cocktail bars, etc., so that when I get home, I live in a little bit of a zoo. I have 10 animals and animals are very important to me, and so when I get home I tend to the zoo.

On what keeps him up at night: When you’re starting out, and this goes back to the fact that it takes a long time, it takes years to build a brand, and you can be working 24 hours a day and things can be going brilliantly well, but it takes a little bit of time for those successes to be reflected in the P&L of the business. And of course there are moments that can be disheartening, that you’re working so hard and you essentially feel that you’re making so much progress when it comes to the P&L and making money; but it takes a while for those day-to-day wins to be reflected. So really, I guess if I’m ever up at night it’s due to lack of management on my part on that front. I just occasionally get a little impatient and worried that there will be difficulties with all of this.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Anton van der Woude, managing partner, Our/Los Angeles Vodka.

Samir Husni: Give me that combination of Our/Vodka brand, with the podcast, and with the zine; what are you trying to do with these entities?

Anton van der Woude: Our/Los Angeles is the name of our brand and it’s really a celebration of the city and the people in it. Given the fact that the name of our brand is Our/Los Angeles, we’re doing a lot of things to further our ties with the city. And really, we want to be synonymous with everything that’s iconic to L.A. And there are so many weird and wonderful, crazy things going on in this city and everyone is so different here, but the one thing that everyone shares is a love of this wonderfully crazy city.

And we’ve designed a local package essentially; it was originally designed as an idea for a hotel and an in-room package for hotels. And the idea was our little .375 bottle really lends itself to portability, gift-ability and share-ability. It has won design awards and it’s great in the rooms. We really wanted to further the local package, so we came up with the idea of podcasts. And the podcast is not about vodka, it’s about Our/Los Angeles. And we’ve had a wonderful range of speakers, everything from local politicians to music venue owners; we even had the Drag Queen of L.A.; we had a white witch, we’ve just had everything under the sun, in terms of guest speakers.

And we also created a little physical zine to accompany the podcasts and the idea is that in the room you can taste, read and listen to something local. It appeals to locals and tourists alike. If you want to tune in to a little bit of culture, little bit of history, you can do that. Or if you’re simply looking for the latest cool hotel roof to go and have a drink at on your trip, there’s information on that.

And the zine accompanies the podcast; we have a zine for each episode. It’s done by a local artist who is well known in that world. As I said earlier, we really want to be synonymous with everything that’s iconic to L.A. and there are so many creative things going on here that we felt this was a good way of furthering our ties with the city without just being about a vodka brand. This isn’t just about vodka; it’s about the love for Los Angeles.

Samir Husni: So, is it about the love of Los Angeles today; maybe tomorrow it’s the love of New York and San Francisco; do you plan on expanding this into more locations than L.A.? Or are you L.A. bound and kept?

Anton van der Woude: Right now it’s just the focus on L.A. We do have a distillery in New York and we have a distillery in London, and although we’re part of the same family, each distillery is run independently. They’re the same brand; the same P&L with the same positioning. But right now with Los Angeles, we’re the only one that has developed this concept of the podcast and the zine. If we have tremendous success with it, the other cities may pick it up and follow a similar concept, but for now it’s just us.

Samir Husni: Do you consider yourself a content marketer or a content provider now, or is it simply because you’re in love with L.A. and its culture that you’re doing this?

Anton van der Woude: This is more of a celebration of the city. Myself personally, I have a sales background and a commercial background. And that’s the part of the business that I run. My business partner is the marketer, he’s had a long distinguished career in the world’s top agencies. He ran Vista Innovations for Leo Burnett and opened several of their American offices. And this was his idea. One of the reasons that we decided to go this route as well is no alcohol brand has ever used voice as a medium to build their brand. So, given that we’re called Our/Los Angeles, we can turn this into not being just about vodka. And we feel that there is a really good opportunity to use voice to build the brand.

Samir Husni: In this digital age that we live in, why did you feel that in addition to voice you needed to have a zine to go along with the voice?

Anton van der Woude: Because we felt that it completed the package. It’s another way of collaborating and tying in links with local artists. The local zine artist is pretty well-respected. Also with the three, we have the taste – the vodka; we have the listen – the podcast; and we have the read – the zine. So, it’s full circle really. Taste, listen and read. And we felt that was the complete local package for hotels.

Samir Husni: If you and I are having this conversation a year from now, what would you hope to tell me that you’ve accomplished in 2019?

Anton van der Woude: I would like to say that it would be a staple for all major hotel groups in the Los Angeles area. I would like to feel that’s what we are known for. This package is pretty different; there’s nothing else out there like it, no alcohol brand has used voice as a medium to build their brand. And so we think it’s pretty exciting and innovative. And for us, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be in every single major hotel in Los Angeles.

Samir Husni: How will the vodka be allocated, in the minibars?

Anton van der Woude: Yes, it will be in the minibars in the rooms. The bottles of vodka are small .375 bottles.

Samir Husni: You have the concept of taste, listen and read and it has been tried before with craft beer. I have a magazine from Australia that was published with the help of the craft beer industry, where with every beer you read an article. After people have experienced those three elements, taste, listen and read, what do you expect their reaction to be? What are you aiming for?

Anton van der Woude: It’s to help them understand this city and what’s going on here. And all of the wonderful things they can enjoy when they’re visiting it. Also, the rich, creative culture of Los Angeles; it’s pretty incomparable to anywhere else in the world. One in every six jobs is creative in this city and people come from all over the world, specifically, for that very reason. There’s just a lot going on and we really want to expose that, and to associate our brand with everything that’s going on in the city. And we want to educate and to share.

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

Anton van der Woude: The concept of the brand itself is very unique. Again, this is the first time it’s ever been done before in the history of the spirits industry. It’s been done in other industries, but not in liquor. We are the first brand ever to have both a global and local identity at the same time. What I mean by that is earlier I referred to us as having sister distilleries in London and New York and we have one in Berlin; we’re all micro distilleries and we all run independently, as I said. However, we all distill to the same uniform global recipe, but we use local ingredients at every distillery. So, Our/New York tastes different from Our/Los Angeles. The branding looks the same, the bottle looks the same, it’s just says Our/New York or Our/Berlin instead of Our/Los Angeles on the label.

What this means is that people can resonate with the brand around the world, but drink locally in each city. And that’s genius. It’s the way the market is going, with globalization, today the world is so small, everyone has roots everywhere. People want to be able to drink under and recognize a trusted name, but yet drink locally in each place with individual characteristics. And until now, you’re a cross distillery or you’re a big national and there’s no one who has this global/local identity, and for me, it’s the way the market is going. And one of the reasons that I’m a part of this project.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have about you?

Anton van der Woude: Maybe that I’m British and I don’t know L.A. as well as I claim to. (Laughs) Apart from that, the biggest misconception about me…I’m not sure. I guess that would be my answer.

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

Anton van der Woude: For me, I would like it to be the success of Our/Los Angeles. I’ve worked on a lot of brands all over the world and I’ve been in the alcohol industry now for over ten years and I finally have one of my own. I’ve always worked for other brands, and one of the reasons this opportunity is so exciting for me is because I get a chance to build my own from scratch. It takes years to build a brand; it’s a very saturated market. There’s not a lot to differentiate each of the brands out there.

And again, this is one of the reasons that we’re trying to do things really differently, like launch the podcast. I have a marketing campaign that’s – you know, alcohol is always traditionally done inside and because of our little .375 and its’ portability, we’ve got a whole marketing campaign about the short trip space. We’re really trying to do things a little differently and innovate, and the only way to survive in this market is to be constantly innovating and be one step ahead. I would hope that, in years to come, my name will be associated with the success of the brand along with the rest of the team.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Are you drinking Our/LA; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Anton van der Woude: Given the nature of the business, for the first part of the evening, almost every evening, I’m out, picking up relationships, visiting cocktail bars, etc., so that when I get home, I live in a little bit of a zoo. I have 10 animals and animals are very important to me, and so when I get home I tend to the zoo.

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

Anton van der Woude: When you’re starting out, and this goes back to the fact that it takes a long time, it takes years to build a brand, and you can be working 24 hours a day and things can be going brilliantly well, but it takes a little bit of time for those successes to be reflected in the P&L of the business. And of course there are moments that can be disheartening, that you’re working so hard and you essentially feel that you’re making so much progress when it comes to the P&L and making money; but it takes a while for those day-to-day wins to be reflected. So really, I guess if I’m ever up at night it’s due to lack of management on my part on that front. I just occasionally get a little impatient and worried that there will be difficulties with all of this.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Your Teen For Parents Magazine: A Resource For Teen Parenting That Strives To Shed Light Into The Sometimes Scary Darkness That Is Adolescent Parenting – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Susan Borison, Cofounder & Editor In Chief…

November 9, 2018

“The experience of holding a magazine feels like an entirely different experience than sitting at my computer getting information or looking at my phone for information. I’m on the couch; it’s just a different interaction. I even feel as though I retain things differently when I’m touching paper. Obviously, my kids don’t have the same attachment, because they’ve grown up with their brains learning how to read textbooks online. For our demographic at that time, it seemed like a natural and everybody was excited to have it.” Susan Borison (on why she chose print for the cornerstone of the brand)…

Almost 12 years ago, Your Teen for Parents Magazine was born out of a personal passion, but grew out of a universal need that cofounder Susan Borison and her business partner, Stephanie Silverman, along with a group of other concerned women, saw in the marketplace when it came to a resource for teen parenting. Susan and the other ladies saw that their own parenting concerns and fears resonated with most everyone they polled. As they were wondering whether their teens’ struggles were normal, or whether their parenting woes were typical, other parents were dealing with the same insecurities. Unfortunately, the books and magazines they had relied on when their children were younger didn’t help much with teenagers. And so, Your Teen Magazine for Parents was born.

I spoke with Susan recently and we talked about this concerned niche that she and the others were trying to fill as they created the cornerstone print publication, which later became a multiplatform brand with the magazine’s digital website. Launching a print magazine 12 years ago, at the height of the digital onset, was something that may have seemed odd to naysayers, but according to Susan, seemed only natural for them at the time. But it hasn’t been a walk in a rose garden for them either, she added. However, what began 12 years ago is still growing today and this year the magazine won Best Print Publication for Editorial at the Content Marketing Awards, something that Susan said proves there are still people out there who prefer print.

So, I hope that you enjoy this conversation with a mother of five who decided to let her passion and her concerns drive her toward a print dream that she didn’t really know she had until she began, much like the effect a print magazine has on you when you discover a pleasant surprise between its covers. And now, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Susan Borison, cofounder and editor in chief, Your Teen for Parents Magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On the genesis of Your Teen for Parents: I have five children and when they started getting older, I started feeling like I didn’t have the resources that I needed, that I had when they were younger. And I could only equate it to walking into my house with my husband with my firstborn and we looked around and said, “Where are the grownups?” And we felt very much unqualified to be in charge of this child and keeping her alive. So, as time went on, you get better at parenting, but it’s not really a cumulative skillset all the way through; you hit early adolescence and what I saw happening made me realize that the way I had been parenting was not going to work anymore. It wasn’t working, and so I didn’t know what to do. And I was looking for resources, but I didn’t want to read books on every issue. And there really wasn’t any resource that kind of mimicked Parents Magazine when our kids were younger, so I felt at a loss. So, I brought a group of women together and we started from there. No one had a background in media; I was a lawyer before, my business partner was a banker, we had a host of women who were just looking for this kind of resource. And that’s how it started.

On why she thought a print magazine should be the cornerstone of the brand: We were probably late to the game, in terms of understanding that print was not the future, although we jumped onboard later and understood that we had to be a much bigger platform, rather than just creating great content that gets distributed wherever you are. But at that time, I guess what I was locked into was replicating what had mattered to me when my kids were younger. And the experience of holding a magazine feels like an entirely different experience than sitting at my computer getting information or looking at my phone for information. I’m on the couch; it’s just a different interaction. I even feel as though I retain things differently when I’m touching paper.

On what she’s doing right in print to win the Best Print Publication at the Content Marketing Awards: I think there are still many people who prefer print, not exclusively, because there is no way to live in that space. It is just a different experience. You dog-ear something that you read when you want to go back to it; you store it as a resource. How many times do people store something on their computers, never to go back to it again? Or even be able to figure out where they saved it. Our magazines are a resource. And they cover adolescence through applying to college, so wherever you are on that scale, you might say to yourself this article is interesting, but it doesn’t apply to me at the time, but I know that I’ll want to go back to it. So, you keep the magazine and use it as a resource later on. It just felt like the right thing to do at the time.

On whether it has been a walk in a rose garden to publish the magazine: I would not call it a walk in a rose garden; it’s a struggle for everyone right now. One of the things that we did in the beginning was build relationships with schools. The bimonthly magazine is predominantly a regional and the bulk of it goes to the parents whose kids are in the district where the school wanted the parents to receive it. It’s free; we have a free distribution for that model. We have another print magazine that is a parents’ guide to the college process and we created our own databases, schools and college counselors, and again we offer that as free distribution. The business model is advertising sponsorship and the distribution is predominantly free in those arenas.

On her plans for the future: Well, we have lots of plans. Some of them are underway and some of them are about to move from the backburner to the front burner. What we’re trying to do is take this arsenal of really valuable information and figure out where it gets distributed so that it has a broader reach.

On that a-ha moment when she said: yes, we’ve done it: I feel that over and over again, and maybe in the same day having the same opposite emotions, so I can’t give you a moment where that happened. The pace is too quick, the change is too quick. We get onboard with something and it’s doing great and then Facebook changes its algorithm or Google makes a change or something else happens where we have to keep pivoting. And I think that our biggest strength is we started in an industry where people who were in it for a long time said things like, we’ve always done it this way, and so it was very hard to pivot.

On the biggest challenge facing her and how she plans to overcome it: We’ve really always felt like we could be Parents Magazine, a household name where somebody has a friend or a relative who has a kid, a daughter who just got left out at a table in the lunchroom because she’s 11 or 12-years-old, and the mother is as devastated as the child and the friend said, I have to get you a subscription to this magazine or sends the link or shares Pinterest or Facebook or any other platform and says, you have to be a part of their Facebook group, just whatever it is. And to us, that will make us feel like we have succeeded with what our goal is, which is to be a resource for all parents who are looking for information about raising teenagers.

On anything she’d like to add: I’d just like to say that we are women who started this and we’re now called entrepreneurs. We didn’t go at it thinking we were going to be entrepreneurs, we went out and tried to sell a niche that we were looking for. And the journey along the way has just shown us how many times you have to go with your gut and not listen to people who are naysayers and it’s so easy to find that advice all over, with everyone’s story. But when you’re in the thick of it – we would be having these meetings and feel our bodies retreating as someone was telling us basically that it was a dumb idea or that what we were doing would never work, and then we’d say, well, we’re just going to keep going until we find people who tell us this is a great idea. So, we rejected the “no’s” and we embraced the “yeses” and 12 years later, we’re still here.

On her reaction to a reader’s less than agreeable comment: I’ll tell you a story that recently happened and I’ll tell you why I think people were surprised by my reaction. We reposted an article that we had originally posted a year ago with no comments whatsoever. And the article was by a mom who had wrote: I had teenagers come to my door trick or treating, the guy had facial hair, I think she wrote that he had a beard, and he didn’t have a costume on and there was a little suggestion of a sneer. And she wrote, what I thought was tongue-in-cheek, an article about how the next year she was putting up a sign that she was not giving out Halloween candy to teenagers, but she was going to go buy extra cleaning supplies.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: The real answer is that I’m still working. (Laughs) But the other answer is my youngest child is a senior in high school, so he just finished his last football season and so he’s actually home some now. So, I’ll sit and watch a TV show with him and we’ll have dinner. So, I guess that’s my new normal for a short time and then my husband and I will have to figure out a new normal as we hit empty-nesting.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: In relation to Your Teen magazine, I hope people will think that my business partner, Stephanie Silverman and I, built something that has enhanced their family lives and has helped them to enjoy parenting and to know how to navigate the really tough times that happen during adolescence, and coming out on the other side saying we did a good job and we thank your team. And we get those emails all of the time and it’s so satisfying.

On what keeps her up at night: (Laughs) I think the world. Sometimes it ties into access to information and some of it is just terrifying. In my world, I find leadership to be entirely significant in the tone of a conversation. And I see that happen over and over again. I see it happen on a very grand way in families, when parents scream, kids seem to scream. And I find that in schools, in organizations, that leadership matters. So, when the tone is caustic and the tone has attack, I think the culture changes around that. For me, that’s very unnerving.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Susan Borison, cofounder, editor in chief, Your Teen Magazine for Parents.

Samir Husni: Tell me about this little engine that could, and has been going now for almost 11 years, Your Teen for Parents.

Susan Borison: I have five children and when they started getting older, I started feeling like I didn’t have the resources that I needed, that I had when they were younger. And I could only equate it to walking into my house with my husband with my firstborn and we looked around and said, “Where are the grownups?” And we felt very much unqualified to be in charge of this child and keeping her alive.

So, as time went on, you get better at parenting, but it’s not really a cumulative skillset all the way through; you hit early adolescence and what I saw happening made me realize that the way I had been parenting was not going to work anymore. It wasn’t working, and so I didn’t know what to do. And I was looking for resources, but I didn’t want to read books on every issue. And there really wasn’t any resource that kind of mimicked Parents Magazine when our kids were younger, so I felt at a loss. And I always felt like I wished someone would do this and no one had done it. I decided to see if this idea would resonate with other people, so I kept asking friends who had young adolescents and the unequivocal answer was that we’re all struggling. And we’re all unsure as to how to navigate this new space.

So, I brought a group of women together and we started from there. What we realized very quickly was there are a number of reasons why we were sitting around the table at that moment. One was, we all had the resource of Parents Magazine when we were younger, so if you look at why things happen generationally, we had all had that experience of having quick, easy access to short tips that might change our day, and cumulatively might change your whole parenting experience. So, that didn’t exist for this demographic.

Also, I had playgroups when my kids were little. We sat around as moms, sharing the things that were challenging to us. And they were topics that were a little more neutral: my kid isn’t sleeping through the night, they still use a pacifier; they were topics that didn’t carry so much judgment with them. Also, the stories weren’t so threatening, my baby, my toddler, they didn’t own those stories yet. So, for all of those reasons, it became much harder to get bolstered and even to know whether something was normal or not normal. And even erratic, crazy behavior in adolescence can be normal and might require intervention, but how do you go about figuring that out.

So, we were all onboard and we just said let’s do it. No one had a background in media; I was a lawyer before, my business partner was a banker, we had a host of women who were just looking for this kind of resource. And that’s how it started.

Samir Husni: Between a lawyer, a banker, and a group of other parents, why did you think that a print magazine should be the cornerstone for this whole endeavor, especially since it was born around the same time that the digital age was really taking hold?

Susan Borison: We were probably late to the game, in terms of understanding that print was not the future, although we jumped onboard later and understood that we had to be a much bigger platform, rather than just creating great content that gets distributed wherever you are. But at that time, I guess what I was locked into was replicating what had mattered to me when my kids were younger.

And the experience of holding a magazine feels like an entirely different experience than sitting at my computer getting information or looking at my phone for information. I’m on the couch; it’s just a different interaction. I even feel as though I retain things differently when I’m touching paper. Obviously, my kids don’t have the same attachment, because they’ve grown up with their brains learning how to read textbooks online. For our demographic at that time, it seemed like a natural and everybody was excited to have it. That’s not true, from the business side of things, it didn’t get a lot of respect, but from the user end, people were really excited to have it.

Samir Husni: You just recently won Best Print Publication at the Content Marketing Awards. What are you doing right in print to continue that community that you started 11 years ago?

Susan Borison: I think there are still many people who prefer print, not exclusively, because there is no way to live in that space. It is just a different experience. You dog-ear something that you read when you want to go back to it; you store it as a resource. How many times do people store something on their computers, never to go back to it again? Or even be able to figure out where they saved it. Our magazines are a resource. And they cover adolescence through applying to college, so wherever you are on that scale, you might say to yourself this article is interesting, but it doesn’t apply to me at the time, but I know that I’ll want to go back to it. So, you keep the magazine and use it as a resource later on. It just felt like the right thing to do at the time.

Samir Husni: As a mother of five and in trying to reach this community for parents with teenaged children, has it been a walk in a rose garden for you, so easy to do, with the weekly newsletter online and the bimonthly magazine? Has it been simple?

Susan Borison: I would not call it a walk in a rose garden; it’s a struggle for everyone right now. One of the things that we did in the beginning was build relationships with schools. The bimonthly magazine is predominantly a regional and the bulk of it goes to the parents whose kids are in the district where the school wanted the parents to receive it. It’s free; we have a free distribution for that model. We have another print magazine that is a parents’ guide to the college process and we created our own databases, schools and college counselors, and again we offer that as free distribution. The business model is advertising sponsorship and the distribution is predominantly free in those arenas.

Samir Husni: As you look ahead to 2019 and beyond, what’s next on your plate? Anything new on the horizon or just staying the course? What’s the plan?

Susan Borison: Well, we have lots of plans. Some of them are underway and some of them are about to move from the backburner to the front burner. What we’re trying to do is take this arsenal of really valuable information and figure out where it gets distributed so that it has a broader reach.

One of the things that we hate hearing from somebody is, how did I not know about this? There are very few parents, moms in particular, hitting adolescence who aren’t feeling uncertain. And the stakes are so high, if you miss certain cues and red flags, you go back and relive that in a horrible way. But if you know up front that this is the moment when you can say to yourself, this is so typical and they’re going to get through it, or I really have a problem and I better get someone in here to help us.

We try very hard to give those tips over and over again to parents in different environments, so when we’re talking about technology, it might be the exact same advice, but you hear it differently when it’s around technology than if you’re talking about driving or letting your kids become independent, which is a topic today and Julie Lythcott-Haims wrote this whole book about it, I believe she was the former dean of freshmen at Stanford. Her book is all about how we’re letting our kids down by not getting them to adulthood before we send them off to college.

So, in every print issue we talk about move-out skills and we do that online and we have digital-only editorials. We’re starting to do online courses and there’s going to be a lot of attention to that this year. We’re just looking at all of the different ways that we can repurpose the content so that wherever you are, you know about us and you’re benefiting from the great advice.

Samir Husni: Since you started Your Teen for Parents, what has been the most pleasant moment? Can you look back and remember that a-ha moment where you said, we’ve done it?

Susan Borison: I feel that over and over again, and maybe in the same day having the same opposite emotions, so I can’t give you a moment where that happened. The pace is too quick, the change is too quick. We get onboard with something and it’s doing great and then Facebook changes its algorithm or Google makes a change or something else happens where we have to keep pivoting. And I think that our biggest strength is we started in an industry where people who were in it for a long time said things like, we’ve always done it this way, and so it was very hard to pivot.

And because we started as it was crashing we said, we’ll try that, so we’ve basically grown up in a culture of pivoting. I don’t know that you can ever get to the point in media where you’re saying, ah-we’re there, but we’re really good at seeing what’s coming down the pike and how we can integrate that into what we’re doing. And we’re really good at reaching out to people who know better than we do and getting advice.

Samir Husni: What’s your biggest challenge, opportunity or stumbling block that you’re facing and how do you plan to overcome it?

Susan Borison: We’ve really always felt like we could be Parents Magazine, a household name where somebody has a friend or a relative who has a kid, a daughter who just got left out at a table in the lunchroom because she’s 11 or 12-years-old, and the mother is as devastated as the child and the friend said, I have to get you a subscription to this magazine or sends the link or shares Pinterest or Facebook or any other platform and says, you have to be a part of their Facebook group, just whatever it is. And to us, that will make us feel like we have succeeded with what our goal is, which is to be a resource for all parents who are looking for information about raising teenagers.

And on the business side, when that audience gets big enough and we’re not hearing from people: why didn’t I know about you, then in selling a course, we’ve created an easy pipeline for that, so that’s our 2019 for us.

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

Susan Borison: I’d just like to say that we are women who started this and we’re now called entrepreneurs. We didn’t go at it thinking we were going to be entrepreneurs, we went out and tried to sell a niche that we were looking for. And the journey along the way has just shown us how many times you have to go with your gut and not listen to people who are naysayers and it’s so easy to find that advice all over, with everyone’s story. But when you’re in the thick of it – we would be having these meetings and feel our bodies retreating as someone was telling us basically that it was a dumb idea or that what we were doing would never work, and then we’d say, well, we’re just going to keep going until we find people who tell us this is a great idea. So, we rejected the “no’s” and we embraced the “yeses” and 12 years later, we’re still here.

Samir Husni: Here’s a question that I borrowed from one of our graduate students who now works for 60 Minutes, she asked Paul McCartney: what do you think is the biggest misconception about you?

Susan Borison: I’ll tell you a story that recently happened and I’ll tell you why I think people were surprised by my reaction. We reposted an article that we had originally posted a year ago with no comments whatsoever. And the article was by a mom who had wrote: I had teenagers come to my door trick or treating, the guy had facial hair, I think she wrote that he had a beard, and he didn’t have a costume on and there was a little suggestion of a sneer. And she wrote, what I thought was tongue-in-cheek, an article about how the next year she was putting up a sign that she was not giving out Halloween candy to teenagers, but she was going to go buy extra cleaning supplies.

So, we posted it last year, had some readers, and no negative reactions. We post it this year, and there’s a climate right now where everybody is on edge, it was right after the week of the Kavanaugh hearing, and there’s probably a host of reasons why people were just waiting for an opportunity to really ream somebody. I didn’t know that trick or treating wasn’t benign. You know, kids go trick or treating and either they get candy or they don’t get candy, I did not know how loaded a topic it was. And neither did anyone else on my team because no one flagged it. And we had ran it last year.

So, I came out of a movie after that and I had a text that read: check out Facebook, what should we do? There were 800 comments. Now, I guess some people might see it as constructive criticism, but the comments ranged from: I will never read another thing from Your Teen and I’m going to tell everyone I know to never read anything to one woman who sent me a private message saying: I am going to your advisory board to tell each one of them what you did. (Laughs) What did I do, right?

It was so over-the-top, calling names to the writer; it was such an assault. And so I took it down and I posted it on my own personal page, asking people to give me a clue as to what was tone deaf about the article. And I got similar comments, but what you could see, the closer you got to friendship, was that people spoke nicer. It was the same range. It turns out trick or treating is a hot button for many people. People who have kids with disabilities, minorities; there’s a host of hot buttons about trick or treating that I did not know a few weeks ago, but I know deeply now.

But on my own personal Facebook page, people were polite in their disagreement, but in a somewhat anonymous situation on Your Teen’s Facebook page, people did not feel like they had to be. So, I lived with that. I couldn’t sleep at night. I felt personally invaded and I also felt vulnerable in a very weird way. And I think people would be surprised – I think there’s a certain sense when women run something, start something, own something, of this, thick-skinned isn’t the right word, but we can navigate a lot and deal with a lot of ups and downs and you have to figure out how to keep smiling through all of it.

And this situation really threw me in a way that – I just got an email from one of our writers, she had to further the conversation this week, and I sent it to someone else who was copied on the email and said you have to reply, I just can’t do it.

So, I think that’s the biggest surprise, that no matter how tough we appear and how tough we are, at the end of the day all of us have feelings and all of us feel, when someone points a finger at you in your face and calls you names, you feel assaulted. And that’s true, we see it in the media all of the time, it’s coming out now. I watch Monica Lewinsky’s “Ted Talk” and I feel like I have to email her and apologize to her because when I was that age, which when it was happening with her I was probably in my late 20s, she was free game. It was like a unifying fun. And now that she’s put a face to that name and told her story, I’m horrified at my behavior.

So, I think that Facebook has a little bit of that same feeling, not even a little bit, probably even an exaggerated feeling, of “no one on the other side is going to get hurt.” That’s my opinion.

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? How do you unwind?

Susan Borison: The real answer is that I’m still working. (Laughs) But the other answer is my youngest child is a senior in high school, so he just finished his last football season and so he’s actually home some now. So, I’ll sit and watch a TV show with him and we’ll have dinner. So, I guess that’s my new normal for a short time and then my husband and I will have to figure out a new normal as we hit empty-nesting.

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

Susan Borison: In relation to Your Teen Magazine, I hope people will think that my business partner, Stephanie Silverman and I, built something that has enhanced their family lives and has helped them to enjoy parenting and to know how to navigate the really tough times that happen during adolescence, and coming out on the other side saying we did a good job and we thank your team. And we get those emails all of the time and it’s so satisfying.

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

Susan Borison: (Laughs) I think the world. Sometimes it ties into access to information and some of it is just terrifying. In my world, I find leadership to be entirely significant in the tone of a conversation. And I see that happen over and over again. I see it happen on a very grand way in families, when parents scream, kids seem to scream. And I find that in schools, in organizations, that leadership matters. So, when the tone is caustic and the tone has attack, I think the culture changes around that. For me, that’s very unnerving.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Perfect Strangers Magazine: Bringing The World & Its Many Cultures Together For The “Perfect” Introduction – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Alice Xiang, Founder, Editor And Publisher…

October 24, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“I also love that there’s a certain intimacy that comes with print magazines. Digital content remains contained in our devices; print magazines become a part of the messy physical fabric of our daily lives. They ‘live’ in our homes: squeezed under a sofa cushion, sprawled out on a coffee table, propped next to the bed or biscuit tin. You can delete an app or close a browser window in a second, but there’s something odd about chucking a printed book or magazine; you usually end up passing it on to a friend or family member, or donating it.” Alice Xiang…

Perfect Strangers is a magazine dedicated to bringing the world together and exploring the cross-cultural. The burning question for the concept is: how does the world meet itself? Founder of the magazine, Alice Xiang, seeks to answer that curiosity by producing a magazine that features people from all walks of life that help to connect the world. From artists and entrepreneurs to grandparents and lovers and through their perspectives, the magazine looks at how cultures and languages, habits and ideas, styles and foods, intertwine and transform.

I spoke with Alice recently and she shared a bit about her background and how it fuses with the magazine “perfectly.” She herself is no “stranger” (puns intended) to the cross-cultural; before launching Perfect Strangers, she completed a Ph.D. in comparative literature, doing her dissertation on cosmopolitanism, specifically on an interconnected set of writers in early 20th-century Shanghai, Istanbul, and Paris. Alice said, “In some ways, I suppose “Perfect Strangers” is the magazine form of what I was up to academically.” And Mr. Magazine™ thinks it’s a great print transformation.

Interconnecting the world is a worthy goal and the magazine does it beautifully with its printed pages and colorful pictures. The content between those pages is on point and well written. Published twice a year, Perfect Strangers is a welcomed addition to newsstands.

So, without further ado, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with founder, editor, and publisher of Perfect Strangers magazine, Alice Xiang.

But first the sound-bites:

On the genesis of Perfect Strangers: Partly as a result of how I grew up —which involved a fair bit of moving between cities and countries— I’ve always been fascinated by how cultures meet and mix. For years, I’d been on the lookout for a magazine focused on the cross-cultural; a magazine in which I could read about Nepalese filmmakers in Montréal, perhaps, or Chinese students in Cairo, and everything beyond and between. A magazine that would both make me feel ‘at home’ and connected to others with a similarly complex sense of belonging, but also push me beyond what I already thought and knew about these matters.

On why she felt the magazine would be best served in print rather than a digital-only product: I wanted Perfect Strangers to be something to cherish and immerse oneself in, on both an aesthetic and mental level. It’s much harder, of course, to reach the average reader than it would be with a website or digital magazine. But once you do —once someone picks up a physical copy—it’s much easier to pull that reader out of their usual routine, out of their stream of distractions, and into the little universe of your magazine. There’s a certain stubbornness to the thing-ness of a printed object that commands a different kind of engagement. I settled on the print format because I was very drawn to creating that ‘oasis of attention’ for readers.

On her own professional background: Before launching Perfect Strangers, I’d just completed a Ph.D. in comparative literature. My dissertation was on cosmopolitanism, specifically on an interconnected set of writers in early 20th-century Shanghai, Istanbul, and Paris. In some ways, I suppose ‘Perfect Strangers’ is the magazine form of what I was up to academically.

On what role she thinks print will play in the future: As we become inundated with digital and multimedia content, print will increasingly be seen as a kind of refuge, as a special medium for a different kind of attention. And I think that refuge, that difference of attention, will provide fertile ground for various kinds of creative and political expression.

On how she came up with the name: Benedict Anderson came up with the idea that every nation is an ‘imagined community,’ since most of its members will never actually meet, and yet they nevertheless think of themselves as part of the same group. I wanted to allude to that contradiction, which is inherent to any large-scale community. ‘Perfect Strangers’ has connotations of distance and alienation, but also of positivity and playfulness.

On her most pleasant moment with the launch: Editors often talk about the moment they receive the first printed copy of the magazine as their favorite. That wasn’t mine at all; I was terrified. I was so worried that I’d open the magazine and notice all kinds of irrevocable and embarrassing mistakes. I don’t have one moment in particular that stands out the most. I’d say the process contained a series of moments of delight — of me being surprised by the generosity of, well, perfect strangers.

On her biggest challenge: Being a one-person team. It was overwhelming to have to take care of every single aspect of the magazine. I started out rather naïvely, not realizing that being an editor-publisher involves a lot more than simply ‘editing.’ There was so much fiddling about with images, with titles and captions and lists, with italicization and formatting gone rogue, etc. Every single inch of a magazine needs to be attended to, often multiple times, before it goes off to print. Not to mention scheduling, distribution, marketing, invoicing…

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: Nothing! —I don’t mean that facetiously. I think most people undergo constant change and transformation, even if it seems imperceptible day-to-day. I don’t think I’m a consistent enough person for a brain tattoo. Your question reminds me of a book by Louis Sachar that I read when I was little, in which a character decides to get a tattoo of a potato, because that’s the one thing they were sure they wouldn’t get tired of… As a child I found that incredibly wise and sensible.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly at her home one evening: I have a one-year-old, so you might well find me reading a book to her. Got to instill that love of print early on, right? We’re currently waiting to see what her first word will be: Turkish (my husband’s mother tongue), Chinese (my parents’), or English (mine). The race is on!

On what keeps her up at night: The number of unanswered emails in my inbox.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with founder, editor, and publisher, Alice Xiang, Perfect Strangers magazine.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the genesis of Perfect Strangers.

Alice Xiang: Partly as a result of how I grew up —which involved a fair bit of moving between cities and countries— I’ve always been fascinated by how cultures meet and mix. For years, I’d been on the lookout for a magazine focused on the cross-cultural; a magazine in which I could read about Nepalese filmmakers in Montréal, perhaps, or Chinese students in Cairo, and everything beyond and between. A magazine that would both make me feel ‘at home’ and connected to others with a similarly complex sense of belonging, but also push me beyond what I already thought and knew about these matters.

I was lying in bed one night when it struck me that I should perhaps just go ahead and create this magazine that I’d never been able to find. I sat up then and there with a jolt of excitement, and was unable to sleep for several hours afterwards from the sheer adrenaline of the idea. As someone with no background or experience in media, but with plenty of passion for the subject and for the written word, it felt like just the right mix of ‘well-this-is-completely-bonkers’ and ‘OK-I-can-do-this’.

“Does the world need another magazine?” is a question I’ve asked myself many times since then. There are so many beautifully made magazines out there that serve just about every niche one can think of. Still, I was convinced there was a bit of space left in the landscape for something like Perfect Strangers. There are so many people across the world who are fascinated by, or whose lives have been defined by, the cross-cultural. Making a publication for and about this global readership still gets me excited every day.

Samir Husni: Why did you feel Perfect Strangers is best served in print rather than an online entity?

Alice Xiang: I wanted Perfect Strangers to be something to cherish and immerse oneself in, on both an aesthetic and mental level. It’s much harder, of course, to reach the average reader than it would be with a website or digital magazine. But once you do —once someone picks up a physical copy—it’s much easier to pull that reader out of their usual routine, out of their stream of distractions, and into the little universe of your magazine. There’s a certain stubbornness to the thing-ness of a printed object that commands a different kind of engagement. I settled on the print format because I was very drawn to creating that ‘oasis of attention’ for readers.

I also love that there’s a certain intimacy that comes with print magazines. Digital content remains contained in our devices; print magazines become a part of the messy physical fabric of our daily lives. They ‘live’ in our homes: squeezed under a sofa cushion, sprawled out on a coffee table, propped next to the bed or biscuit tin. You can delete an app or close a browser window in a second, but there’s something odd about chucking a printed book or magazine; you usually end up passing it on to a friend or family member, or donating it.

With print also comes certain standards. You feel like you have to ‘make it count’, to make what you’re printing worthwhile and memorable. It’s a beneficial kind of pressure to have.

Samir Husni: Tell me about your own professional background.

Alice Xiang: Before launching Perfect Strangers, I’d just completed a Ph.D. in comparative literature. My dissertation was on cosmopolitanism, specifically on an interconnected set of writers in early 20th-century Shanghai, Istanbul, and Paris. In some ways, I suppose ‘Perfect Strangers’ is the magazine form of what I was up to academically.

Samir Husni: What role do you feel print will play in 2018 and beyond with the multimedia mix that’s out there today?

Alice Xiang: Initially, print and digital were viewed as inherently antagonistic mediums. But now that digital has become the norm for media consumption, that relationship has shifted. Whatever becomes dominant also loses its ‘edge,’ its special aura, due to that very dominance. And so, for me, online and print media have now become complementary to one another. The same person can be a voracious consumer of media on their smartphone and at the same time —precisely because of this— be deeply appreciative of the tactile and aesthetic qualities unique to print.

As we become inundated with digital and multimedia content, print will increasingly be seen as a kind of refuge, as a special medium for a different kind of attention. And I think that refuge, that difference of attention, will provide fertile ground for various kinds of creative and political expression.

Samir Husni: How did you come up with the name “Perfect Strangers?”

Alice Xiang: Benedict Anderson came up with the idea that every nation is an ‘imagined community,’ since most of its members will never actually meet, and yet they nevertheless think of themselves as part of the same group. I wanted to allude to that contradiction, which is inherent to any large-scale community. ‘Perfect Strangers’ has connotations of distance and alienation, but also of positivity and playfulness. I like to think it also hints at the beauty and power of our imaginations when it comes to thinking about, and empathizing with, people different from ourselves. Also, I have a weak spot for puns — the name could have turned out a lot worse.

Samir Husni: What would you consider the most pleasant moment you have experienced during this magazine launch journey?

Alice Xiang: Editors often talk about the moment they receive the first printed copy of the magazine as their favorite. That wasn’t mine at all; I was terrified. I was so worried that I’d open the magazine and notice all kinds of irrevocable and embarrassing mistakes.

I don’t have one moment in particular that stands out the most. I’d say the process contained a series of moments of delight — of me being surprised by the generosity of, well, perfect strangers. From potential interviewees to bookshops in countries I’ve never visited, I sent an absurd number of ‘cold’ emails to people who had absolutely no reason to give me any of their time or take me seriously, and yet who did. The magazine is really an accumulation of the generosities of many people.

Samir Husni: And what has been the biggest challenge that you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?

Alice Xiang: Being a one-person team. It was overwhelming to have to take care of every single aspect of the magazine. I started out rather naïvely, not realizing that being an editor-publisher involves a lot more than simply ‘editing.’ There was so much fiddling about with images, with titles and captions and lists, with italicization and formatting gone rogue, etc. Every single inch of a magazine needs to be attended to, often multiple times, before it goes off to print. Not to mention scheduling, distribution, marketing, invoicing…

This is frankly a challenge I’ve yet to overcome — I am constantly behind! But there’s a wonderful upside to it all: the magazine is extremely ‘nimble,’ and truly independent, in the sense that there’s a single point of creative and editorial control. Which is worth all the late nights, in the end. And there are inspiring one-person teams who’ve accomplished brilliant things with their magazines —like Kai Brach of Offscreen, or Les Jones of Elsie Magazine— to draw strength from. Their examples are a reminder to stay optimistic: to keep working hard and improving upon what you do, and to remember that ultimately your biggest limitations can also be your greatest strengths.

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

Alice Xiang: Nothing! —I don’t mean that facetiously. I think most people undergo constant change and transformation, even if it seems imperceptible day-to-day. I don’t think I’m a consistent enough person for a brain tattoo. Your question reminds me of a book by Louis Sachar that I read when I was little, in which a character decides to get a tattoo of a potato, because that’s the one thing they were sure they wouldn’t get tired of… As a child I found that incredibly wise and sensible.

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? How do you unwind?

Alice Xiang: I have a one-year-old, so you might well find me reading a book to her. Got to instill that love of print early on, right? We’re currently waiting to see what her first word will be: Turkish (my husband’s mother tongue), Chinese (my parents’), or English (mine). The race is on!

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

Alice Xiang: The number of unanswered emails in my inbox.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Forks Over Knives Magazine: The Brand That Delivers The Whole Food, Plant-Based Lifestyle In A Delicious & Passionate Way – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Brian Wendel, Founder & President, & Elizabeth Turner, Editor In Chief…

September 20, 2018

“I believe in print because we’re seeing quite a bit of success with it, honestly. When it comes to this type of magazine, I think there’s still a demand for it. The computer is great, but people still want to have something they can hold in their hand, take recipes from. It’s easier to bring a magazine into the kitchen that it is a computer. There’s just something more tangible about it. Something beautiful about a magazine that’s just not captured on a computer. And I’m not knocking a computer, I just think this type of content is still nice to bring into the kitchen or kick back in a hammock with. The need for it is still there.” Brian Wendel…

“It’s inspiring. You can keep a beautiful food magazine, any beautiful magazine, but it’s a keeper. It’s something you have on your coffee table; it’s something that you look at and it reminds you of how you’d like to live your life. I don’t think magazines are going away, they’re just getting more special.” Elizabeth Turner…

Forks Over Knives is a brand that empowers people to live healthier lives by changing the way the world understands nutrition. From the film to the books, from the meal plan to the complete lifestyle movement, Forks Over Knives strives to present a whole food, plant-based way of living that is not only healthier, but tastier and more fun than anything else out there. And now there’s a print magazine to add to the repertoire. In a partnership with Meredith, Founder and President, Brian Wendel has brought his beloved brand full force into the marketplace in a soon-to-be quarterly publication that promises fun, delicious food, and a healthier way of life.

I spoke with Brian recently, along with Elizabeth Turner, editor in chief of the magazine, and Michelle Bilyeu, editorial content director, Meredith, and we all talked about the beautifully done, well-executed print magazine that only edifies the successful brand. It’s a partnership, according to all three, that was made in heaven – a whole food, plant-based heaven anyway.

And with the frequency about to become quarterly in 2019, the magazine is obviously resonating with readers. Beginning with the 2011 documentary film, Forks Over Knives, and then the cookbooks, meal plan and website, the brand has embraced its passion and belief in itself wholeheartedly, and with the addition of a print magazine, it now has the potential to reach even more people on a regular basis. It would seem Forks Over Knives is bringing in readers and brand-lovers hand over fist. Mr. Magazine™ says keep up the good work.

And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Brian Wendel, founder and president, and Elizabeth Turner, editor in chief, Forks Over Knives magazine, with comments from Michelle Bilyeu, editorial content director, Meredith.

But first the sound-bites:

On why there seemed to be a need for a print magazine when the brand already had books, a film, a website, and meal plans (Brian Wendel): We wanted to put something out into the public that had a regular cadence to it, and was really beautiful, fun and approachable. So, Meredith approached us on doing this kind of thing. Obviously, we felt they’re the leader in lifestyle magazines and we knew they had the capability, so it seemed like a really logical partnership. Our goal, generally speaking, is to help people transition to this lifestyle, so being able to do this with Meredith seemed like such a great idea and we’re happy that we got onboard to do it.

On how Elizabeth Turner, editor in chief, approaches the magazine differently than the other platforms (Elizabeth Turner): The magazine, as Brian said, is very aspirational and glossy and it’s very heavy on recipes and very heavy on photography. Also, I think we’re approaching the front of the book, which is the non-recipe part, as sort of whole food, plant-based eating 101, so that anybody who sees it in Walmart and is curious can pick it up and get a good idea of what whole food, plant-based eating is about. Whereas our website is a bit of a mix. It’s for people who are very into it, but also for people who are very entrenched in the lifestyle. Forks Over Knives magazine is very much original and appealing to people who are maybe not familiar with the concept.

On what the role of print, especially with Forks Over Knives, will play in today’s digital world (Elizabeth Turner): Well, there’s definitely a demand for it. Our audience asks for it all of the time, so I think that print is never going to go away. It’s going to become more special, so it’s nice that our magazine has very few ads. It’s just cover to cover beautiful and aspirational content. And I think there will always be a demand for that. But I do think it will get more and more specialized. People want that and they’re never not going to want that.

On what the role of print, especially with Forks Over Knives, will play in today’s digital world (Brian Wendel): And especially because it’s a lifestyle magazine, it’s current, if you will, for a long time. So, in the lifestyle space, Forks Over Knives is still very relevant in print, more so than other types of content.

On the impact Brian’s growing up in New York around so much delicious food had on his decision to embrace the plant-based healthy lifestyle (Brian Wendel): Obviously, growing up in New York, but also growing up in a half-Italian, half-Jewish neighborhood, I think there was a lot of focus on really delicious food; we really do have a knack for it. In general, when I grew up there was no concept of vegetarian or veganism. I didn’t even know a single person who was either, to me it was a completely foreign concept. We really grew up on pizza and roast beef. The fact of the matter is the food is really good; Italian food is fantastic. But ultimately, this passion for great, awesome food is something that I’ve been able to bring to the Forks Over Knives brand and ultimately to the magazine. Just because we’re on a healthy plant-based lifestyle doesn’t mean that we view our food as being medicinal in flavor by any means.

On when the brand name Forks Over Knives was chosen (Brian Wendel): The name Forks Over Knives didn’t come until after the movie was made. The idea basically predated the name. I put out an email to my friends trying to come up with different titles for the film and it was something that bothered us, we never really had a good title. And one of my friends came back with the idea of Fork Over Scalpel, which we then turned into Forks Over Knives, a knife being like a surgical knife, if you will.

On whether he has any regrets about the way the magazine was done now that he has four issues out (Brian Wendel): I really don’t have any regrets. It’s really been an awesome partnership. The first issue we came out with was sort of a test issue, so we didn’t have the liberty to really go all out and create something as spectacular as the last three. The final three magazines are 100 percent all shot by Meredith, keeping a consistent theme throughout the magazine, and that was something that we weren’t able to do in the very first issue. But I wouldn’t say that’s a regret, it was a logical progression.

On whether creating the magazine and partnering with Meredith has all been a walk in a rose garden or there were some stumbling blocks along the way (Brian Wendel): I can honestly say that there has been no stumbling blocks. I hate to be boring, but there really wasn’t any, because they’re a great partner and they really listen to our wants and needs. And I like to think on our side we do that with them too. And they give us a lot of liberty to say what we need to say and they do a great job. There really hasn’t been a single stumbling block in this partnership.

On the point of differentiation for Forks Over Knives over all the other food magazines out there (Brian Wendel): I think our brand name is really associated with the healthiest lifestyle out there, which is what we call a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. So people know that someone with heart disease or Type II diabetes can come to Forks Over Knives and get great information on how to handle those conditions, but do it in a way that’s really, really a fun and enjoyable lifestyle with really delicious food. And I think that makes us stand out above the others.

On whether they will be happy with a frequency of three times per year, or they will want something more frequent (Elizabeth Turner): We’ve actually already agreed to go to four issues a year in 2019. So, it’s growing.

On anything they’d like to add (Elizabeth Turner): I would just like to say to back up what Brian said, what really makes these recipes different is just that they are all gold standard nutritious. They’re low in sodium, they’re low in fat; they’re made of whole foods and they’re plant-based. Anything that you made from this magazine would be something that you could feel very good about, which is honestly just not very common in food magazines. So, that really is a point of differentiation. And also the educational point.

On anything Michelle Bilyeu would like to add from the Meredith point of view (Michelle Bilyeu): I guess I’ll just say that Forks Over Knives is a great partner. We work really well together to support each other and create great products. And it’s ultimately about the consumer. We’re really excited with the fall issue; we’ve been able to over-double the draw that’s going out on newsstand, hopefully reaching more consumers. And introducing more and more people to such a wonderful brand.

On why they all three believe in print with everything that’s available (Brian Wendel): I believe in print because we’re seeing quite a bit of success with it, honestly. When it comes to this type of magazine, I think there’s still a demand for it. The computer is great, but people still want to have something they can hold in their hand, take recipes from. It’s easier to bring a magazine into the kitchen that it is a computer. There’s just something more tangible about it. Something beautiful about a magazine that’s just not captured on a computer. And I’m not knocking a computer, I just think this type of content is still nice to bring into the kitchen or kick back in a hammock with. The need for it is still there.

On why they all three believe in print with everything that’s available (Elizabeth Turner): It’s inspiring. You can keep a beautiful food magazine, any beautiful magazine, but it’s a keeper. It’s something you have on your coffee table; it’s something that you look at and it reminds you of how you’d like to live your life. I don’t think magazines are going away, they’re just getting more special.

On why they all three believe in print with everything that’s available (Michelle Bilyeu): I would agree to that too. I think it’s all about that tactile experience with it; it’s being able to take it to your own space and get away. It’s a point of relaxation and inspiration and motivation. It’s a great place to find lots of ideas, besides just the information. So, I think they’re very inspiring. And I have a huge stack on my bed. Every night I look forward to that moment with my magazines.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him (Brian Wendel): I’d like to be known as a good citizen and someone who loves his family and friends. I’d like to also be known as someone who took a chance on something that I really believed in and it’s had what a lot of people believe is a profound impact on many people’s lives across the world. If that could be my legacy, I’d be thrilled to have it.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her (Elizabeth Turner): That’s really a tough question. Always creative and always pushing forward.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home (Brian Wendel): I would be with my partner, Darshana Thacker, who happens to be the chef and culinary project manager for Forks Over Knives, and who has a good handful of recipes in each issue. So we might be having a delicious meal together; it might be a corn chowder or something like that, some potatoes. We live pretty simple lives, so that’s what you might find us doing.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home (Elizabeth Turner): I’ll be eating fruit, probably watermelon. Brian and I have this funny thing in common that we’re both obsessed with fruit, so if you’re at my house you’re going to see a lot of good fruit at all times. And I’ll probably be eating it.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Brian Wendel, founder and president, and Elizabeth Turner, editor in chief, Forks Over Knives magazine, with comments from Michelle Bilyeu, editorial content director, Meredith.

Samir Husni: Brian, you founded Forks Over Knives. You have the website; you have the books; you have the film, and you have the meal plans; why a magazine too? Why did you feel that you needed a print magazine to add to the brand?

Brian Wendel: We wanted to put something out into the public that had a regular cadence to it, and was really beautiful, fun and approachable. So, Meredith approached us on doing this kind of thing. Obviously, we felt they’re the leader in lifestyle magazines and we knew they had the capability, so it seemed like a really logical partnership. Our goal, generally speaking, is to help people transition to this lifestyle, so being able to do this with Meredith seemed like such a great idea and we’re happy that we got onboard to do it.

Samir Husni: Elizabeth, as editor in chief, how do you approach the magazine differently from the website, the books, the film, and the meal plans?

Elizabeth Turner: The magazine, as Brian said, is very aspirational and glossy and it’s very heavy on recipes and very heavy on photography. Also, I think we’re approaching the front of the book, which is the non-recipe part, as sort of whole food, plant-based eating 101, so that anybody who sees it in Walmart and is curious can pick it up and get a good idea of what whole food, plant-based eating is about. Whereas our website is a bit of a mix. It’s for people who are very into it, but also for people who are very entrenched in the lifestyle. Forks Over Knives magazine is very much original and appealing to people who are maybe not familiar with the concept.

Samir Husni: What do you think the role of print, specifically with Forks Over Knives, in today’s digital age is going to play?

Elizabeth Turner: Well, there’s definitely a demand for it. Our audience asks for it all of the time, so I think that print is never going to go away. It’s going to become more special, so it’s nice that our magazine has very few ads. It’s just cover to cover beautiful and aspirational content. And I think there will always be a demand for that. But I do think it will get more and more specialized. People want that and they’re never not going to want that.

Brian Wendel: And especially because it’s a lifestyle magazine, it’s current, if you will, for a long time. So, in the lifestyle space, Forks Over Knives is still very relevant in print, more so than other types of content.

Elizabeth Turner: And I’ll also say, you have the recipes that you can get online, but the magazine also includes great success stories and has the medical expert backing that adds that extra layer.

Samir Husni: Brian, you mention in your editorial in the fall issue about your childhood and growing up on Staten Island, playing football on the streets, enjoying the delicious family meals. Can you explain to me the impact of your upbringing and your childhood on this lifestyle, and what veered you toward this healthy comfort food, rather than the heavier, meatier foods?

Brian Wendel: Obviously, growing up in New York, but also growing up in a half-Italian, half-Jewish neighborhood, I think there was a lot of focus on really delicious food; we really do have a knack for it. In general, when I grew up there was no concept of vegetarian or veganism. I didn’t even know a single person who was either, to me it was a completely foreign concept. We really grew up on pizza and roast beef. The fact of the matter is the food is really good; Italian food is fantastic.

But ultimately, this passion for great, awesome food is something that I’ve been able to bring to the Forks Over Knives brand and ultimately to the magazine. Just because we’re on a healthy plant-based lifestyle doesn’t mean that we view our food as being medicinal in flavor by any means. I believe at heart that food is meant to be enjoyed and that’s what I really learned growing up and that’s an element that I tried to bring to the brand.

Samir Husni: Do you remember when the idea for the name Forks Over Knives hit you and you told yourself that was what you needed to create; a brand called Forks Over Knives?

Brian Wendel: The name Forks Over Knives didn’t come until after the movie was made. The idea basically predated the name. I had been into a healthy plant-based lifestyle since 2001. And overtime I just became more and more knowledgeable about it and more passionate about it. And then when I read a book called “The China Study” it really made me realize the depth and breadth of what’s out there, that we have more control over our disease outcomes than what we ever realized. And I felt like it was a story that wasn’t being told.

An analogy that I always use, and it can actually relate to the magazine, is if we could affect these outcomes with a pill the way we could with food, it would have been headline stories in weekly magazines and newspapers, but it wasn’t. So, the message wasn’t really getting out there through mainstream media. It occurred to me that it wasn’t going to come out that way, so I had to help get it out. And ultimately I decided and felt that a visual presentation through a feature film was the best way to do that.

The name Forks Over Knives really came later. I put out an email to my friends trying to come up with different titles for the film and it was something that bothered us, we never really had a good title. And one of my friends came back with the idea of Fork Over Scalpel, which we then turned into Forks Over Knives, a knife being like a surgical knife, if you will. Most people don’t know that, because the inclination of our logo doesn’t include the scalpel, but the original logo that was on the movie poster and in all of the movie’s branding actually had a scalpel on it.

So, it really means Forks Over Knives and kind of choosing what’s at the end of the fork over basically, I don’t want to say surgery, because the knife is kind of metaphorical for the medical aspect. And it’s not that I’m against the medical system, it’s just that we’re trying to get away from overuse of medication for chronic diseases when there’s a much better alternative.

Samir Husni: So far, if my calculations are correct, you have four issues of the magazine. Since the first issue came out until now, when you look back and you maybe say, I wish I had done that or I wish I hadn’t done that; is there anything that comes to mind?

Brian Wendel: I really don’t have any regrets. It’s really been an awesome partnership. The first issue we came out with was sort of a test issue, so we didn’t have the liberty to really go all out and create something as spectacular as the last three. The final three magazines are 100 percent all shot by Meredith, keeping a consistent theme throughout the magazine, and that was something that we weren’t able to do in the very first issue. But I wouldn’t say that’s a regret, it was a logical progression.

Samir Husni: And has the creation of the magazine and the teaming up with Meredith been a walk in a rose garden, or has there been some stumbling blocks along the way?

Brian Wendel: I can honestly say that there has been no stumbling blocks. I hate to be boring, but there really wasn’t any, because they’re a great partner and they really listen to our wants and needs. And I like to think on our side we do that with them too. And they give us a lot of liberty to say what we need to say and they do a great job. There really hasn’t been a single stumbling block in this partnership.

Samir Husni: Please correct me if I’m mistaken, but I can’t find the magazine on your website. I can find the meal planner, the cooking course, the articles, the recipes, but there’s no mention of the magazine. Is that intentional?

Brian Wendel: No, our website is being revamped, and we’re going to have a brand new website in November. And it’s going to integrate all of our products a little bit better.

Elizabeth Turner: But we sell it in our online shop and we definitely promote it on social media, so our digital audience is very aware of it. And we have a very active product-based book group and people are showing pictures of where they’re finding it in the stores, so our audience is definitely tuned into the magazine.

Brian Wendel: I’ll also add that we have a very substantial newsletter following and we promote it enough to probably get some people irritated. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Probably 10 to 15 percent of all magazines on the newsstand are now food magazines. What’s the point of differentiation for Forks Over Knives versus all of the other food magazines out there? Is it Meredith? Is it the name? Is it the content? Is it the concept?

Brian Wendel: I think it’s all of the above, but most importantly, I think our brand name is really associated with the healthiest lifestyle out there, which is what we call a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. So people know that someone with heart disease or Type II diabetes can come to Forks Over Knives and get great information on how to handle those conditions, but do it in a way that’s really, really a fun and enjoyable lifestyle with really delicious food. And I think that makes us stand out above the others.

There’s a lot of other ways of eating that say they’re healthy or promotes something else, but I really believe that for disease reversal and prevention, the science really is on our side. And I think people are realizing that.

Samir Husni: And do you think you’ll be happy with three times per year or do you want to see the magazine going into a more frequent circulation?

Michelle Bilyeu: We’ve actually already agreed to go to four issues a year in 2019. So, it’s growing.

Samir Husni: So you will become a quarterly magazine starting in 2019?

Elizabeth Turner: We have three issues in 2018 and we’ll officially have four in 2019.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else either of you would like to add?

Elizabeth Turner: I would just like to say to back up what Brian said, what really makes these recipes different is just that they are all gold standard nutritious. They’re low in sodium, they’re low in fat; they’re made of whole foods and they’re plant-based. Anything that you made from this magazine would be something that you could feel very good about, which is honestly just not very common in food magazines. So, that really is a point of differentiation. And also the educational point.

Samir Husni: And Michelle, anything you’d like to add from the Meredith point of view about the relationship? We’ve seen it done before; Forks Over Knives is not the first partnership that Meredith has done. Or the first magazine they’ve brought into the marketplace with that partnership.

Michelle Bilyeu: I guess I’ll just say that Forks Over Knives is a great partner. We work really well together to support each other and create great products. And it’s ultimately about the consumer. We’re really excited with the fall issue; we’ve been able to over-double the draw that’s going out on newsstand, hopefully reaching more consumers. And introducing more and more people to such a wonderful brand.

Samir Husni: So all three of you; why do you believe in print with everything that’s available out there?

Brian Wendel: I believe in print because we’re seeing quite a bit of success with it, honestly. When it comes to this type of magazine, I think there’s still a demand for it. The computer is great, but people still want to have something they can hold in their hand, take recipes from. It’s easier to bring a magazine into the kitchen that it is a computer. There’s just something more tangible about it. Something beautiful about a magazine that’s just not captured on a computer. And I’m not knocking a computer, I just think this type of content is still nice to bring into the kitchen or kick back in a hammock with. The need for it is still there.

Elizabeth Turner: It’s inspiring. You can keep a beautiful food magazine, any beautiful magazine, but it’s a keeper. It’s something you have on your coffee table; it’s something that you look at and it reminds you of how you’d like to live your life. I don’t think magazines are going away, they’re just getting more special.

Michelle Bilyeu: I would agree to that too. I think it’s all about that tactile experience with it; it’s being able to take it to your own space and get away. It’s a point of relaxation and inspiration and motivation. It’s a great place to find lots of ideas, besides just the information. So, I think they’re very inspiring. And I have a huge stack on my bed. Every night I look forward to that moment with my magazines.

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

Brian Wendel: I’d like to be known as a good citizen and someone who loves his family and friends. I’d like to also be known as someone who took a chance on something that I really believed in and it’s had what a lot of people believe is a profound impact on many people’s lives across the world. If that could be my legacy, I’d be thrilled to have it.

Elizabeth Turner: That’s really a tough question. Always creative and always pushing forward.

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? How do you unwind?

Brian Wendel: I would be with my partner, Darshana Thacker, who happens to be the chef and culinary project manager for Forks Over Knives, and who has a good handful of recipes in each issue. So we might be having a delicious meal together; it might be a corn chowder or something like that, some potatoes. We live pretty simple lives, so that’s what you might find us doing.

Elizabeth Turner: I’ll be eating fruit, probably watermelon. Brian and I have this funny thing in common that we’re both obsessed with fruit, so if you’re at my house you’re going to see a lot of good fruit at all times. And I’ll probably be eating it.

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

Elizabeth Turner: My cat. (Laughs)

Brian Wendel: I’m going to decline to answer that. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Thank you all.

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Weekend Escapes: A New Magazine To Help You Escape Reality For A Relaxing Weekend Getaway – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Monique Reidy, Publisher & Editor In Chief…

August 31, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“I don’t know why people are having this print meltdown; we love magazines; everyone we talk to loves magazines. If you go to any Barnes & Noble or any newsstand, people are sitting around reading magazines. I don’t understand what the hype is all about. I know this is nuts, and maybe I could be way off base, but I think partly us, as a publication community, are partly responsible because we keep talking about it. I think we should just move on and not even make it an issue.” Monique Reidy…

“If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
If you´re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape
I´m the love that you´ve looked for, write to me, and escape”…Rupert Holmes

Mr. Holmes probably said it best, but there are times when we all need to “escape.” Whether it’s from the daily grind or simply from the bells and whistles that our non-stop digital connection forces upon us with every millisecond notification we receive. And for just such moments, there is a new magazine on the scene that will help us to do that – Weekend Escapes. And of course, as busy as we all are, sometimes a weekend is all that we can manage and according to Monique Reidy, publisher and editor in chief of the new title, that is exactly the hyper-niche audience she is looking for with her baby.

I spoke with Monique recently and we talked about the new magazine and its target market. The idea “is to take us to a new level of escapism with the beautiful print magazine, tempting us to visit as many of the locations featured as possible, without having to book a two-week vacation. It’s quick, yet magnificent, getaways that hopefully we won’t be able to resist.” The concept is alluring and the first issue very intriguing. Mr. Magazine™ is looking forward to seeing more from this new title, published by the same folks who give us the regional Southern California Life.

Monique is a passionate dreamer who believes in print magazines and loves them dearly. Something she has in common with Mr. Magazine™, and she has plans to continue with the stardust by publishing even more titles down the road. So, I hope that you enjoy this momentary “escape” into the world of print dreams in the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Monique Reidy, publisher & editor in chief, Weekend Escapes magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether she believes she is out of her own mind for starting another print magazine: I don’t know why people are having this print meltdown; we love magazines; everyone we talk to loves magazines. If you go to any Barnes & Noble or any newsstand, people are sitting around reading magazines. I don’t understand what the hype is all about. I know this is nuts, and maybe I could be way off base, but I think partly us, as a publication community, are partly responsible because we keep talking about it. I think we should just move on and not even make it an issue.

On the new magazine Weekend Escapes: Our first magazine, Southern California Life, is primarily about where to go and what to do in Southern California. But we were getting so many requests for media trips, stories about travel outside of Southern California, so we started a special section called “The Weekender” in Southern California Life magazine because we thought we should give residents or locals, even the tourists who read our magazine, because we are in-room in numerous hotels, we should give them an opportunity to see what is beyond Southern California in case they want to travel.

On what’s in her future: I’d like to launch more magazines. They say that magazines are dying, we keep hearing that, but I don’t believe that’s true. I do feel that maybe some different themes are maybe contracting, like all of the celebrity magazines, and there’s quite a number of fashion and beauty magazines, but travel is something that peaks the interest of most people. Most people are tired; they’re stressed out; we live in a society now that’s just pushing us forward, making us think about work, think about achievement, about all kinds of things. We just need to relax; we need to go away; we need to spend time away from the hustle and bustle.

On whether it’s always going to be just weekend escapes in the magazine: The one thing that I believe will either make or break a publication is it has to be super-niche now because you can’t just join in and do another finance magazine, there are so many of those. And of course, news magazines are gone because by the time you buy a news magazine, you’ve already got the news on your device. So, I think finding this super-niche that’s lacking out in the marketplace is probably key. I don’t necessarily believe that I’ll have to do a travel publication, but certainly with the next launch it’ll be something that doesn’t exist yet.

On whether her journey from being a student of magazines to a publisher has been a walk in a rose garden:
Oh no, and I think anyone in any of those big publishing houses, if they spent 10 minutes with me they would think I was absolutely nuts because we don’t have a business plan, we fly by the seat of our pants, but you know what, when you have a passion for something and you have determination and you’re going after it like a heat-seeking missile, the resources show up. And I know that’s a whole different mentality than many businesspeople are accustomed to, but truly if you’re determined and you’ve got fire in your veins, it just happens because you just make it happen.

On whether she has any regrets or she is having the time of her life: Well, I’m not going to say it’s a piece of cake, it’s a challenge. Because we’re not funded by anyone, this whole ordeal is self-funded, and it’s not easy. However, it does have its positive points. We don’t have a huge board that we have to consult every time we need to make a decision. I don’t have to run it by several departments every time I need to make a change. We’re small, most of our staff, or I should call them team members because they’re not really staff, they’re freelance, and it works, it really does. And I don’t have any regrets.

On what she would hope to tell someone a year from now when it comes to what she has accomplished: Well, I hope to launch another title. We have a really big office and I plan to fill it up and we’re growing every month. It’s something that I believe I’ll be doing my whole life, so I’m hoping that a year from now we’ll have grown exponentially and have new goals and new things we’re hoping to achieve. It’s an exciting experience for me, where things just show up. Trust me, I know this is very unconventional, but it’s sort of the way we work around here, and it seems to work.

On what she would tell a magazine student if they came to her with an idea for a new magazine:
We do work with one of the professors from Pepperdine University, from the business school, who does, oddly enough, he evaluates business launches. And we had him do a little bit of research for us prior to launching the first publication. I would suggest that a student do a bit of research prior to just launching any old magazine. The other thing I would say is don’t do something that already exists, and then I would suggest that they find funding first. I put my entire life’s savings into this venture, but not everybody has a little stash put away, so find a partner, find someone who will help support the operation, that’s crucial.

On whether she would have done anything differently with her magazines:
I don’t think so. I was so passionate about what I wanted to do that I feel as though if I had a partner who I was just bringing on for financial support, I’d have to start doing what they dictated and I am very driven because I believe in what I’m doing and unless the partner had that same passion, I think there would have been a lot more emotional baggage, so to speak.

On anything she’d like to add: Well, because you’re involved with students, my suggestion would be; if a student has a desire to be involved with magazines at any level, I think getting as many internships as possible prior to graduating would be smart. You know, we’ve had interns come to us who really know nothing about magazines and they are journalism majors. There is a lot more involved to magazine work than just writing, even if you are a writer.

On what keeps her up at night: I get a great night’s sleep every night. I never have sleeping problems. I have a very big faith in God and I believe that this is a business that I was blessed with and if it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen, and no biggie. We just move on to Plan B. But so far we feel really blessed, and again I’ll stress that it’s not without its challenges, because the magazine business is tough, but you have to learn to roll with the punches and that applies to everything outside of business as well. I think anybody looking to make a happy, successful life needs to learn to be adaptable and to not let the small things keep you up at night.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Monique Reidy, publisher & editor in chief, Weekend Escapes magazine.

Samir Husni: Tell me, are you out of your mind, or do you see something others do not see in starting another print publication?

Monique Reidy: I don’t know why people are having this print meltdown; we love magazines; everyone we talk to loves magazines. If you go to any Barnes & Noble or any newsstand, people are sitting around reading magazines. I don’t understand what the hype is all about. I know this is nuts, and maybe I could be way off base, but I think partly us, as a publication community, are partly responsible because we keep talking about it. I think we should just move on and not even make it an issue.

Look at Gwyneth Paltrow, she started Goop magazine, she started online and decided she better have a print publication. And with the quantity of pictures we get from products and services to be included in our print magazine, it’s outrageous. We get at least 400, and we’re a little regional in Southern California, it’s not like we’re a major national magazine. And we get that many pictures a day, I can only imagine what the others get.

But if that were the case, if print was dead, why does everybody want to be featured in a magazine? It doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t measure up.

Samir Husni: Tell me about Weekend Escapes, the name is obvious, but tell me more about the concept.

Monique Reidy: Our first magazine, Southern California Life, is primarily about where to go and what to do in Southern California. But we were getting so many requests for media trips, stories about travel outside of Southern California, so we started a special section called “The Weekender” in Southern California Life magazine because we thought we should give residents or locals, even the tourists who read our magazine, because we are in-room in numerous hotels, we should give them an opportunity to see what is beyond Southern California in case they want to travel.

And then we thought that people just don’t have the time to do these week-long or two-week-long trips any longer and it’s pretty pricey now if you want to travel well. But if people want to escape for a long weekend or even a short weekend, it’s refreshing; it’s rejuvenating; people do need to unplug and get away. So, we started doing pieces about places you can go outside of Southern California for a short trip that is just as nice as taking a more extended vacation.

And then we were getting so many requests that we thought we couldn’t possibly include all that content about destinations outside Southern California, it really required its own publication. So, that’s why I launched this new one. And it’s 100 percent travel content.

I took the advice of one of your speakers at one of the ACT Experience conferences, and it hit me pretty hard in the face when they said you should recycle your content, that’s what other magazines do and I decided that we were going to do that too. So, our launch issue is primarily regurgitated articles from our past magazines, but the publication is beautiful and it features back-to-back places that anyone can visit for an extended weekend and have a wonderful time.

Samir Husni: What’s in your future?

Monique Reidy: I’d like to launch more magazines. They say that magazines are dying, we keep hearing that, but I don’t believe that’s true. I do feel that maybe some different themes are maybe contracting, like all of the celebrity magazines, and there’s quite a number of fashion and beauty magazines, but travel is something that peaks the interest of most people. Most people are tired; they’re stressed out; we live in a society now that’s just pushing us forward, making us think about work, think about achievement, about all kinds of things. We just need to relax; we need to go away; we need to spend time away from the hustle and bustle.

Travel isn’t going anywhere, people will need to take a break, and I think that the travel magazines seem to be doing well. I read over the new MPA guide that has the current research and on every level the travel magazines appear to be doing very well. So, I’d like to stick to that theme. It’s a happy magazine and people like happy things.

Samir Husni: Is it always going to be just weekend escapes?

Monique Reidy: The one thing that I believe will either make or break a publication is it has to be super-niche now because you can’t just join in and do another finance magazine, there are so many of those. And of course, news magazines are gone because by the time you buy a news magazine, you’ve already got the news on your device. So, I think finding this super-niche that’s lacking out in the marketplace is probably key. I don’t necessarily believe that I’ll have to do a travel publication, but certainly with the next launch it’ll be something that doesn’t exist yet.

Samir Husni: Since you moved from being a student of magazines to a magazine publisher, how has that journey been? Has it been a walk in a rose garden?

Monique Reidy: Oh no, and I think anyone in any of those big publishing houses, if they spent 10 minutes with me they would think I was absolutely nuts because we don’t have a business plan, we fly by the seat of our pants, but you know what, when you have a passion for something and you have determination and you’re going after it like a heat-seeking missile, the resources show up. And I know that’s a whole different mentality than many businesspeople are accustomed to, but truly if you’re determined and you’ve got fire in your veins, it just happens because you just make it happen.

And we have people who come to us from places that we didn’t anticipate, they just call and ask for an ad, which in a lot of industries that’s unheard of. But I think that’s largely due to providing a product that people like and people need. So, I was helping other friends, to answer your question, to launch their magazine, because magazines are what I know, it’s what I’ve learned, I have a master’s degree in journalism. I just decided why am I helping everyone else launch magazines, I need to be doing my own.

I will say the one issue that doesn’t quite translate from being a journalism student to being a publisher is you forget that there is the IRS, there’s the EDD, there’s accounting and HR issues, all of those things for those of us who love magazines might not factor in when you’re first launching, (Laughs) but you learn quickly because you have to. That takes a little bit away from the joy of the whole experience, but if you’re going to be an owner of a magazine, a publisher of a magazine, those are things you have to factor in.

Samir Husni: Any regrets? Or you’re having the time of your life?

Monique Reidy: Well, I’m not going to say it’s a piece of cake, it’s a challenge. Because we’re not funded by anyone, this whole ordeal is self-funded, and it’s not easy. However, it does have its positive points. We don’t have a huge board that we have to consult every time we need to make a decision. I don’t have to run it by several departments every time I need to make a change. We’re small, most of our staff, or I should call them team members because they’re not really staff, they’re freelance, and it works, it really does. And I don’t have any regrets. I think that you do the hard work on the frontend, sort of counting the cost of what you’re looking at. I feel hopeful and encouraged, and I love magazines. I love being a part of it. And everyone on my team loves magazines.

Samir Husni: If you and I are having this conversation a year from now, what would you hope to tell me that you had accomplished in this past year?

Monique Reidy: Well, I hope to launch another title. We have a really big office and I plan to fill it up and we’re growing every month. It’s something that I believe I’ll be doing my whole life, so I’m hoping that a year from now we’ll have grown exponentially and have new goals and new things we’re hoping to achieve. It’s an exciting experience for me, where things just show up. Trust me, I know this is very unconventional, but it’s sort of the way we work around here, and it seems to work.

Samir Husni: As you go through this lifelong adventure, as you called it, if a magazine student came to you with an idea for a new magazine, what would you tell them?

Monique Reidy: We do work with one of the professors from Pepperdine University, from the business school, who does, oddly enough, he evaluates business launches. And we had him do a little bit of research for us prior to launching the first publication. I would suggest that a student do a bit of research prior to just launching any old magazine. The other thing I would say is don’t do something that already exists, and then I would suggest that they find funding first. I put my entire life’s savings into this venture, but not everybody has a little stash put away, so find a partner, find someone who will help support the operation, that’s crucial.

Samir Husni: In your case, would you have done anything differently with your magazines?

Monique Reidy: I don’t think so. I was so passionate about what I wanted to do that I feel as though if I had a partner who I was just bringing on for financial support, I’d have to start doing what they dictated and I am very driven because I believe in what I’m doing and unless the partner had that same passion, I think there would have been a lot more emotional baggage, so to speak.

There are always trade-offs, it would have been easier from a funding standpoint to have a partner, but this way we just move along and we’re flexible. We can adapt and we can do what we believe must be done, and sometimes at the very last minute. We’ve changed covers just before we go to press, and that would probably be a much more daunting task if there were more people involved.

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

Monique Reidy: Well, because you’re involved with students, my suggestion would be; if a student has a desire to be involved with magazines at any level, I think getting as many internships as possible prior to graduating would be smart. You know, we’ve had interns come to us who really know nothing about magazines and they are journalism majors. There is a lot more involved to magazine work than just writing, even if you are a writer.

You need to learn to interview correctly; how to research and how to fact-check. I’m going to guess that you do that, because when I had Eden (Eden Sandlin – a Mr. Magazine™ service journalism magazine student) here as an intern, she seemed to already know, but we get students from other schools who know how to write a piece, but that’s where it all stops. And in order to be marketable in the magazine industry, you have to be pretty well-rounded. And my advice to students would be to get as much of an education as possible while you can.

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

Monique Reidy: I get a great night’s sleep every night. I never have sleeping problems. I have a very big faith in God and I believe that this is a business that I was blessed with and if it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen, and no biggie. We just move on to Plan B. But so far we feel really blessed, and again I’ll stress that it’s not without its challenges, because the magazine business is tough, but you have to learn to roll with the punches and that applies to everything outside of business as well. I think anybody looking to make a happy, successful life needs to learn to be adaptable and to not let the small things keep you up at night.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Farmhouse Style: A New Quarterly Title That Transports You Easily To The Downhome Comforts Of The Farm – From The Publishers Of Country Sampler Magazine – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Susan Wagner, Editor…

August 27, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“If you’re looking for quick information; if you’re looking for lists of things or some simple stuff or you just want to look up some quick things, online is great for that. Quick ideas there are wonderful. If you want to relax and take a moment to yourself and see these beautiful four-color pictures spread out in front of you, there is nothing like print for that. You can’t really curl up with your computer the same way that you can with a print magazine. You can’t sit on the porch drinking lemonade and page through there and envision yourself in that home and dog-ear the pages and just enjoy the feel of reading a beautiful magazine when you’re scrolling through webpages.” Susan Wagner…

Available on newsstands and by subscription, Farmhouse Style celebrates the casual, comfortable appeal of today’s popular farmhouse decorating and lifestyle movement. From the folks who bring you Country Sampler, Farmhouse Style is a new quarterly title that celebrates step-by-step DIY projects and fully illustrated decorating tips to create an authentic farmhouse-style look.

Susan Wagner is editor of the magazine and special projects director at Annie’s Publishing, the company that owns Country Sampler, Farmhouse Style, Good Old Days and a variety of titles in crochet, knitting, quilting and cross stitch. But when it comes to their latest offering, Farmhouse Style, they’re “crowing” loudly about its downhome and easy style.

I spoke with Susan recently and we talked about the new magazine and about its $9.99 cover price, something that Susan said reflected the quality content and overall aesthetic of the magazine. With around 50 DIY projects in each issue, complete with full instructions on how to do them, she believes the magazine is worth every penny paid for by their readers. And from the initial response of its audience, the people must agree.

Susan said the tangible product of print had to be the cornerstone of the new brand. While all of the digital components are in place: website and social media, the laid back experience the reader gets from the print foundation is irreplaceable. And the beautiful photographs could only be justified in ink on paper.

So, sit back, relax, and get ready to enjoy a moment in the “Farmhouse” as we take a walk around the place with our tour guide, Susan Wagner in the Mr. Magazine™ interview.

But first the sound-bites:

On why Farmhouse Style as a quarterly and why now: We have done Country Sampler for years, we started that in the eighties and that has always been our niche publication, country decorating, it’s our strongest suit and where our expertise lies. Through the years we have also done some other publications and SIPs that were more of a DIY kind of decorating and so we have a lot of staff members with a strong talent in that area as well. We were always keeping an eye on which SIPs might morph into a subscription and then once we started working on the autumn issue for the Farmhouse again, we had a great response and we knew that was what we wanted to do. And we started doing some surveys and some early marketing research to see what kind of response we would get, talked with our newsstand people and everything and it was all very positive and the early predicted numbers showed that it seemed like it would be a success. So, we decided to go ahead and put all of our effort into it and turn it into a subscription.

On a letter from a reader begging them not to change anything inside the magazine: And she is one of many. Recently, I was reading something that somebody had sent to us and it’s the same thing. There are so many of them that love that look and they just reach out to us and say that they love everything, don’t change anything about the magazine. And whenever we ask questions about what we can do to improve, they always tell us more issues, publish it more often, which we’d love to do, but finances have to be there.

On why print for the magazine: That’s always a thought with print magazines; people will ask, especially in the home décor and DIY end, can’t you just get that off of Pinterest or can’t you just find all of that information online? I truly feel that all the different media that we have all serves a different purpose.

On the $10 cover price and why people are willing to pay it: A $10 cover price for a certain age-range of people is accepted, especially with some magazines being $3.99 or $4.99, but it’s not untypical, we see that in a lot of publishers. What we do is to say to ourselves, for a $10.99 cover price are we giving them that strong value in content. It’s a curated thing.

On the future and if she expects to add a younger, more active audience to Farmhouse Style that will also add to Country Sampler’s readership: Some of our early analysis of the people subscribing and those we have email addresses for after they bought it online, those are tracking a bit younger than the Country Sampler audience and that was always one of our goals in trying to develop another subscription-based title, which was to reach that younger audience. And so definitely that’s a goal with Farmhouse Style, when we create the content that goes in there we’re doing so with the idea of it reaching out to somebody in their thirties or some range such as that.

On what other “style” might be in store for Country Sampler: We’re always looking at what might work. But what we also have discovered, and this is one area where our Farmhouse Style is a little different than some of the other farmhouse publications out there, our audience is very much a middle-America, common man kind of audience.

On anything she’d like to add: As I was talking about our look with Farmhouse, you had asked if there was another style we were looking into; what was in the future. What I wanted to wrap that around was that we’re always looking at styles like a prairie style or the farmhouse style that is this casual, relaxed comfortable kind of decorating. So, maybe sometime in the future, maybe a waterfront thing, where it’s lakes and streams and stuff like that, instead of coastal looks.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: (Laughs) I rarely am ever unwinding from a full day of work. I’ll find myself on my computer at 11:00 p.m. just browsing Pinterest or maybe I’m looking up something for myself and I come across farmhouse-related things or other things that I think might be a good idea for the magazine. And I’ll save them or something. But me personally, as far as unwinding from work, I like to be involved in crafting and things like that, so I myself do a lot of DIY home décor type things and I enjoy doing that. But I also like to be outdoors and I’ve been doing a lot of kayaking and hiking and things like that too.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: What I would like them to remember and what I would also like the people I work with and the people I play with to have in their minds is that Susan Wagner is always thinking of new and exciting things to do and will jump in with both feet.

On what keeps her up at night: (Laughs) Deadlines. I think honestly the one thing that keeps me up, especially in the magazine world or in the print world, is just the idea of always staying relevant, because home décor changes with the times, businesses change with the times, trends change with the times. We’re very much aware that Farmhouse is enjoying a great level of interest right now, but where will we be five years from now, 10 years from now, so, I think what keeps me up at night is just making sure that we are always moving in a direction where we’re looking for new things. I’d hate to be involved in a company where they just sat back and said this has always worked for us, we’re just going to keep it that way.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Susan Wagner, editor, Farmhouse Style.

Samir Husni: You decided after one test issue to go ahead with Farmhouse Style and publish it as a quarterly magazine, give me some background on this decision. I know you’ve done Country Sampler for years, but why now and why Farmhouse Style?

Susan Wagner: As you said, we have done Country Sampler for years, we started that in the eighties and that has always been our niche publication, country decorating, it’s our strongest suit and where our expertise lies.

Through the years we have also done some other publications and SIPs that were more of a DIY kind of decorating and so we have a lot of staff members with a strong talent in that area as well. We started a few years back, in 2014, doing some SIPs that were focusing a little bit more on DIY decorating, where Country Sampler really is more home tours and this unique kind of magalog area in the back, with these SIPs we did more of an individualized kind of decorating styles and more of these DIY angles.

We did some Christmas ones; we did prairie-style ones; we did different kinds of genres. Last year we decided we would do a farmhouse SIP that would come out in January 2018 and that particular SIP pretty much blew all of the other SIPs away, that one did really well when we compared it to our newsstand figures and our advertising revenue for the other SIPs. It was comparable to when we put out the first Christmas issue, which did really well.

So, we knew that it was a genre and a magazine that resonated very much with our current subscriber base, the people who enjoy Country Sampler, but were also looking to refresh and brighten their homes a little bit more, because the Farmhouse issue is a lighter kind of country and it’s more typical of the type of country decorating we’re seeing or showing up in Today’s Homeowner, a little bit more of the younger and more urban crowd, and a lot of what the shows on the DIY Network and things like that are airing.

That hit really well, so we combined it with our unique look that we’ve created for the SIPs, where we had some home tours of farmhouse decorating, but then we also had our designers work on DIY projects, so we were able to incorporate that. And I think that’s what makes our magazine definitely different than some of the other SIPs or other publications that touch on this look as well. We have that project DIY base in there so that people who love this style can not only see how others are decorating, but they can also create things for themselves to put in their own homes for this style.

So, that first SIP issue did really well for us. As I said, it came out in January 2018 and our sales team had a great success selling it and it had wonderful crossover with our existing subscriber database, plus we had also picked up a lot of new people from the newsstands.

With the success of that first we figured we would do another SIP. And once we started working on the second one for 2018, we just continued to get way above what our plan was as far as the newsstand sales and a lot more advertiser encouragement and we knew that this was an area where we wanted to expand. As a company, we had been looking to see if there was an SIP or title that we could turn into another subscription because we wanted to have an additional subscription besides Country Sampler that could also work within that country decorating realm.

We were always keeping an eye on which SIPs might morph into a subscription and then once we started working on the autumn issue for the Farmhouse again, we had a great response and we knew that was what we wanted to do.

And we started doing some surveys and some early marketing research to see what kind of response we would get, talked with our newsstand people and everything and it was all very positive and the early predicted numbers showed that it seemed like it would be a success. So, we decided to go ahead and put all of our effort into it and turn it into a subscription. And it seems that we were on target with what we did because we’ve been marketing it now, as far as some direct mail pieces and to our existing subscribers for Country Sampler, some ads in the other publications we do, and we have a big chunk of subscribers so far.

And then we have a big direct mail piece that we’ll be sending to outside lists at the end of September. Right now, the early results and the subscriptions that we’re happy with so far that we’ve gotten, have all come from internal outlets. So, we’re expecting of course, once we reach out even farther, to increase that even more.

Samir Husni: I was reading your editorial in the autumn issue and you singled out one reader from Arizona, Kay Connelly, where she is technically begging you to not change a thing in the magazine.

Susan Wagner: And she is one of many. Recently, I was reading something that somebody had sent to us and it’s the same thing. There are so many of them that love that look and they just reach out to us and say that they love everything, don’t change anything about the magazine. And whenever we ask questions about what we can do to improve, they always tell us more issues, publish it more often, which we’d love to do, but finances have to be there.

Samir Husni: Can you in reality hear the crunch of hay under your feet, feel the fresh breeze in your hair and smell those cinnamon buns rising on the stove in any other form than print? Can you do the same thing in digital? Why print?

Susan Wagner: That’s always a thought with print magazines; people will ask, especially in the home décor and DIY end, can’t you just get that off of Pinterest or can’t you just find all of that information online? I truly feel that all the different media that we have all serves a different purpose.

If you’re looking for quick information; if you’re looking for lists of things or some simple stuff or you just want to look up some quick things, online is great for that. Quick ideas there are wonderful. If you want to relax and take a moment to yourself and see these beautiful four-color pictures spread out in front of you, there is nothing like print for that. You can’t really curl up with your computer the same way that you can with a print magazine. You can’t sit on the porch drinking lemonade and page through there and envision yourself in that home and dog-ear the pages and just enjoy the feel of reading a beautiful magazine when you’re scrolling through webpages.

Samir Husni: How do you explain the audience who’s engaging with the magazine and willing to pay the $10 cover price?

Susan Wagner: A $10 cover price for a certain age-range of people is accepted, especially with some magazines being $3.99 or $4.99, but it’s not untypical, we see that in a lot of publishers. What we do is to say to ourselves, for a $10.99 cover price are we giving them that strong value in content. It’s a curated thing.

If you’re browsing on the web and trying to find items for decorating your home and you’re all over the place, but if you know and you trust the Country Sampler editor to give you what you’re looking for because you follow them along and you know they’re really hitting the target, you’ll get that all in that one magazine. And it saves you time, you’re not browsing and browsing online for hours or you’re not getting a magazine somewhere else for $5.99 or $6.99 and maybe one or two articles apply to you.

For a $9.99 price we have a whole section of DIY projects and we’re typically looking at 50 different projects with complete instructions and that’s a lot of content right there. Plus we have the traditional home tours and things that are great to look at. And then we have recipes; various articles, such as growing your own organic produce or raising backyard chickens, things like that.

So, all of that is combined into our Farmhouse Style magazine. And when you think of all of that pulled together, to me, that is definitely worth the $9.99 cover price. And I think nowadays people, if something really resonates with them and they feel like it’s something they can get right in their hands without having to run around all over the place for that, they will pay that higher price point. We definitely see where people are paying a bit of a higher price point for a convenience or something that is really targeted completely to them.

Samir Husni: As you look forward, if you and I are having this conversation a year from now, do you think would you tell me you were able to acquire a younger, more active millennial audience for Farmhouse Style that added to the Country Sampler or do you envision the same audience as Country Sampler?

Susan Wagner: Some of our early analysis of the people subscribing and those we have email addresses for after they bought it online, those are tracking a bit younger than the Country Sampler audience and that was always one of our goals in trying to develop another subscription-based title, which was to reach that younger audience. And so definitely that’s a goal with Farmhouse Style, when we create the content that goes in there we’re doing so with the idea of it reaching out to somebody in their thirties or some range such as that.

In the whole general trend of farmhouse decorating, like urban homesteading and things like that, it is a millennial thing. It is a younger audience. It’s people who want to grow their own fruits and vegetables and they want to have fresh eggs in their backyard. If you look at the blogger world and home decorating, it’s a lot of the younger people who are decorating and are out in the blogosphere and showing things.

In fact, in our spring issue we’re doing an article about these two men who used to live in Philadelphia, Penn., in more of an urban area, and they wanted to raise chickens and were getting pushback from the city, and finally that was kind of the impetus they needed to say, okay, we’re definitely moving to the farm, which was something they had always wanted to do. So, they ended up buying some land up in Vermont and now they run an organic flower farm. One of the guys does the organic flower farm and the other one does a bakery, foods and catering. And we’re seeing that a lot. People moving out of the cities or buying land in areas where they can have chickens in their backyards or raise goats or grow fruits and vegetables.

Samir Husni: You have Prairie Style that you still publish on a quarterly basis, so what other style is in store for Country Sampler?

Susan Wagner: We’re always looking at what might work. But what we also have discovered, and this is one area where our Farmhouse Style is a little different than some of the other farmhouse publications out there, our audience is very much a middle-America, common man kind of audience.

Having said that, there are definitely some people in the Chicago area, the urban areas, Indianapolis, places like that, who are more of the un-urban dweller, but we are a smaller town, we’re more middle America; we’re not an L.A., New York kind of audience.

And I think some of the other farmhouse SIPs or some of the other magazines that will touch on farmhouse style, and even some of the TV shows, it ends up being a little more of an upscale kind of farmhouse, where somebody maybe took an old barn and they brought in a designer and paid the designer $500,000 to revamp it for them. And ours is more of a casual, easygoing, relax, this is a place where you can decorate in that look and still have your four little children running around and not worry about them messing something up or breaking something. So, it’s a very approachable, very easy look and I think that’s what makes who our audience is and who we’re reaching with that little difference than some of the others.

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

Susan Wagner: As I was talking about our look with Farmhouse, you had asked if there was another style we were looking into; what was in the future. What I wanted to wrap that around was that we’re always looking at styles like a prairie style or the farmhouse style that is this casual, relaxed comfortable kind of decorating.

So, maybe sometime in the future, maybe a waterfront thing, where it’s lakes and streams and stuff like that, instead of coastal looks. Or maybe it could be more of a Southern look or we’ve talked around the idea of doing an SIP that would be American bungalows or something. It would all be very much the casual, common man with a DIY aspect to it. More so than the designer look of that style.

As far as anything else, we are very much putting everything behind this Farmhouse Style. We’ve created a website; we have the social media sites out there, we have Pinterest, Instagram and a Facebook page for it. We will be doing some additional work with it, because nowadays I feel like print media is not solely print only and I’m sure all the other publishing companies would agree. But what we’re providing to our readers is decorating ideas, decorating styles, inspiration, for this and they can get them in a variety of ways. They can be inspired by looking at the magazine; they can hit an emotional chord by looking at the magazine, they can love the beautiful pictures.

But we can also provide them quick tips and maybe some ideas and some links to other blogs through our website. We’re thinking of doing an editor’s blog where we talk about more of the day-to-day farmhouse related topics and bring in other people. Bring in people to share their memories. With the older crowd we see that people love that about the Farmhouse look, they like being able to share their memories about how they were doing blueberries in their grandmother’s kitchen or something like that.

So, we do have a lot of this in the works, as far as putting more on the website, doing more social media, where we’re really connecting with the readers in a lot more ways. We definitely want to incorporate events, we’ve talked about that, doing different contests and just really trying to connect with them on their level, so it’s not so much just us giving them info, but more of a feel that we’re all part of this Farmhouse family together.

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? How do you unwind?

Susan Wagner: (Laughs) I rarely am ever unwinding from a full day of work. I’ll find myself on my computer at 11:00 p.m. just browsing Pinterest or maybe I’m looking up something for myself and I come across farmhouse-related things or other things that I think might be a good idea for the magazine. And I’ll save them or something. But me personally, as far as unwinding from work, I like to be involved in crafting and things like that, so I myself do a lot of DIY home décor type things and I enjoy doing that. But I also like to be outdoors and I’ve been doing a lot of kayaking and hiking and things like that too.

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

Susan Wagner: What I would like them to remember and what I would also like the people I work with and the people I play with to have in their minds is that Susan Wagner is always thinking of new and exciting things to do and will jump in with both feet.

I want to have something interesting to create or work on or to do, whether it’s a new project we’re doing at work and I’m really excited about it, or whether it’s planning a get together for the afternoon with my friends, such as a scavenger hunt that’s really cool. So, she was always coming up with new ideas and very enthusiastically implementing them in a way that got everyone else excited about the project or event as well.

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

Susan Wagner: (Laughs) Deadlines. I think honestly the one thing that keeps me up, especially in the magazine world or in the print world, is just the idea of always staying relevant, because home décor changes with the times, businesses change with the times, trends change with the times. We’re very much aware that Farmhouse is enjoying a great level of interest right now, but where will we be five years from now, 10 years from now, so, I think what keeps me up at night is just making sure that we are always moving in a direction where we’re looking for new things. I’d hate to be involved in a company where they just sat back and said this has always worked for us, we’re just going to keep it that way.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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