Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

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Anxiety Empire – A New British Title That Shines A Light On Mental Health As Sometimes Only A Magazine Can…

September 8, 2020

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Magazines  have always been reflectors of society. Their role as mediator and advocate for important issues of the day is evident by many of the tried and true brands that have been around for decades and by many of  the new titles that are being brought into the world today. Such as a new British title called Anxiety Empire.

Anxiety Empire was birthed into existence using Kickstarter to raise the funds needed to publish the magazine, and in unheard approach to a business model is offered to the public free of charge, although there is no advertising in the magazine to foot the bill. It explores mental health as not just an individual issue, but as an issue of society and how we live our lives, and thus believes that the magazine should be available to its audience free of charge.

The founder, creative director and editor in chief, Zoë Hough, writes in the inaugural edition of the new print magazine:

“When I started the Instagram account @anxietyempire in late 2017, I did so because – after working in a job which felt pretty damaging to my own mental health – I felt there was a need for more discussion around mental health in the workplace. But work is of course only one system of society which has a big impact on our mental health, and I found myself wanting to explore these systems in depth, which is how the idea for this print magazine came about; to look at macro systems of society and explore the impact they have on the mental health of us as individuals.”

Anxiety Empire is more of a project for its creator and was made free to the public – because the powers-that-be at the magazine believe that mental health resources should be accessible for all. As Hough added in the introduction to the first issue: “We all have mental health.”

Indeed.

The inaugural issue examines the world of media and its effect on mental health. Issue 02 will explore the ways in which the education system impacts our mental health. Exploring the many facets of society in regards to the impact each macro system has on our psyches and emotional reactions  is an avenue well worth exploring.

Anxiety Empire  truly offers what a magazine does best: informs, educates and inspires. This new magazine is something that will provide all of those things to people about a subject that has been taboo for generations, but is finally beginning to come to light using reason, education and compassion. Anxiety Empire deserves a special mention as it strives to provide a connection that sometimes only a magazine can: a deep, personal curiosity and caring that brings people together.  And remember if it is not ink on paper it is not a magazine.

And in today’s uncertain world that is something worth noting.

Until next time,

Mr. Magazine™

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January & February Welcomes 15 New Titles… The Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor

March 2, 2020

We celebrated a New Year and a New decade in January and now February has come and gone and we have 15 wonderful new titles to also celebrate!

Easyriders has been around since 1970 and documents the stories of riders, their machines, and the places they take us. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the newly, relaunched magazine is expanding the brand to include exclusive product collaborations and new insider events. The magazine (now printed in a larger size and with more editorial pages), has changed from monthly to quarterly, but will excite and tantalize the bike lover even more with all those extra editorial pages! Remember the tagline? It’s more than a magazine, it’s a lifestyle!

Founder and Editor in Chief, Chris Walsh, describes Fifty Grande as a biannual that explores the U.S. and does good along the way. The first issue features seasoned writers and new ones alike exploring the main theme of hometowns. This new magazine’s mission is to inspire more people to take advantage of all the incredible places and experiences across the country, connect with its communities and do good along the way. This is a magazine for the fun and adventurous—those who aspire to a life well-lived and see traveling, open-mindedness and new experiences central to that pursuit. Welcome to the world of magazines, Fifty Grande!

 

From Meredith another successful partnership seems to have been born! The largest and leading media and marketing company, reaching 185 million American consumers every month and nearly 90 percent of U.S. millennial women—and globally recognized lifestyle tastemakers Drew and Jonathan Scott have joined forces to create a new quarterly magazine called Reveal. With its tagline —”It all starts at home”— Reveal will share the twin brothers’ “dream big” philosophy on life, and will infuse ideas and storytelling that inspire personal growth and happiness into every issue with home at the core. Welcome to the fold, Reveal!

Until next time…

See you at the newsstands!!

***And please remember, if Mr. Magazine™ can’t physically hold, touch and purchase the magazine, it does not enter the monthly counts. And counts now include only the titles with a regular frequency that are either new, first-seen on Mr. Magazine’s™ radar, or arriving to the national newsstands for the first time. 

 

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Fifty Grande: A Unique Travel Magazine With A New Outlook On Exploring The Fifty States – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Chris Walsh, Founder & Editor In Chief…

February 12, 2020

“I definitely wanted something that was kind of an offline, unplugged experience. We have that visceral reaction. I love magazines and we have that visceral reaction when we touch something; when we touch a magazine. And I definitely wanted to try and capture that. That’s part of the reason for the special box it comes in; it should feel like an event when something shows up at your door. It’s kind of all of these things in one, but ultimately I love magazines and that’s why I started it.”… Chris Walsh

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

Combining food, music and travel, Fifty Grande has got you covered if you’re interested in a different kind of travel magazine, one that concentrates solely on the U.S. and offers a unique take on the look, feel and content of a magazine.

Founder and Editor in Chief, Chris Walsh, says that Fifty Grande is a biannual that explores the U.S. and does good along the way. The first issue features seasoned writers and new ones alike exploring the main theme of hometowns. Chris adds that the magazine’s mission is to inspire more people to take advantage of all the incredible places and experiences across the country, connect with its communities and do good along the way. This is a magazine for the fun and adventurous—those who aspire to a life well-lived and see traveling, open-mindedness and new experiences central to that pursuit.

I spoke with Chris recently and we talked about this new title that arrives to its readers in a box, which Chris hopes will present to people the unique experience he is trying to achieve with each issue, which explores the country through one theme, offering immersive stories from a variety of voices and perspectives. You can expect in-depth articles, essays, oral histories, roundtables, Q&As, photo essays, travelogues and more, about every phase of traveling: planning, getting there, staying, doing, and recovering. Chris adds that since food and music are integral to traveling, and community and good citizenship are both important when viewing the world, the magazine uses all four as cornerstones for its coverage in each issue.

So, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Chris Walsh, founder and editor in chief, Fifty Grande magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On the idea behind Fifty Grande magazine: The idea came about in a definite slow-build. I had been thinking about it for a couple of years. And as odd as it might sound, I think the travel market is actually underserved. You know there are many travel brands out there; there are many that are focused on the one percent, the ultra-luxury market and then there are a bunch of others that really focus on kind of niche parts, but I really felt there was an opportunity because there isn’t a travel magazine out there that really spoke to me, something that incorporated travel, music and food. And something that regular people can afford, a middle of the market type travel experience.

On the special box that the magazine comes in and how it feels like an event: That’s exactly what I was hoping for, that it becomes an event when people get it and they really enjoy the experience. It is meant to be an event on someone’s calendar. I hope to grow it to be a quarterly, and I really want people to be excited about it when they know that it’s coming.

On the fresh design: Design is as important an anything else. I’m an editorial guy, so I went to journalism graduate school at Columbia. I worked at magazines and online editorial teams, so I love the storytelling part of all of this, but design is so important. When you look at the newsstand, one of the things that I felt was lacking in the travel category was a travel magazine that had a travel feel. Traveling is fun and exciting. Sometimes when you look at what’s out there, the aesthetics are aspirational, but also sometimes very cold, just in scenery, such as just one person laying in a pool. Since travel is fun, the design of the magazine needs to be fun.

On his targeted audience: It’s for anyone who feels like they’re still trying to connect to an adventurous spirit. The magazine is really aimed at millennials, people in their 20s and 30s, who enjoy traveling. Those people will find something in here that they will like. Some of the reactions that I’ve gotten so far have also been from couples who have now moved out of their urban areas and are still trying to connect to their prior lives, either traveling or listening to music, so there’s a little bit of that and that doesn’t really surprise me. It’s really aimed at travelers in their 20s and 30s who are just trying to find places that might be fun to see and to visit.

On implementing the idea of Fifty Grande: I did a lot of research and I kept coming back to two ideas which were a travel magazine, which actually came to life, and then some sort of either online magazine or a magazine focused on New England; I’m from New England. And the more I focused on that second idea, the more I realized either I thought the market was covered or just the economics really didn’t work. And then I gradually started to come back to the idea of the travel magazine more and more.

On the biggest challenge he was able to overcome: To be honest with you, it was on the design side. For me, putting together a magazine is fun, coming up with the concepts, talking to the writers and working on those stories, that’s the fun part, but the design side – I had a very specific look and feel in my mind and what I was hoping would come to life. And this is what was in my head. This is what I wanted. So, finding someone who understood that was really the tough part. And it was just me talking to a lot of people. I worked on this idea for more than a year before I even began to plan the first issue. So, I talked to a lot of creative people and it just took me a long time to figure that piece out, because that wasn’t something that I had done before or was comfortable doing on my own.

On his happiest moment during the creation of the first issue: When the pallets showed up at my apartment. The first run was 5,000 magazines and of that 5,000, I had 500 shipped to my apartment in New York. So, I was just waiting around for a truck one morning and when the truck rolled down my street and these guys popped off the back of it and took a pallet and put it on the sidewalk in front of my building, that was kind of the most surreal and happiest moment for me. Again, going back to this physical thing we all love, the magazine, opening the boxes and pulling it out. It probably sounds very cliché, but it was a really happy and nice moment.

On his $28 per year subscription price and the fact that he is looking for an engaged audience not just skimmers: Yes, absolutely. And that’s what the whole idea is behind the editorial. You have to enjoy reading and you have to enjoy magazines to really like Fifty Grande. A lot of people keep asking me am I going to put it online and change the edit to make it shorter, but I’m not interested in doing that. The stories in the magazine aren’t even that long. I think the longest story was maybe 2,300 words. And maybe the shortest was around 500. But the average is somewhere between 1,100 and 1,500 words, but it is considered long-form when it comes to the online media out there. So, I do think you have to enjoy reading stories in order to enjoy Fifty Grande and get the most out of it.

On where the name Fifty Grande came from: Fifty, in reference to the states, obviously, and Grande, just trying to come up with something that was quasi-inspirational, and Grande just speaks to the vastness of the country, which I think gets lost in the conversation a lot when you talk about traveling in America, there’s just so much here. I keep saying there’s a whole world to see in the country. And of course, there was the very pragmatic issues of could I get the web domain and the trademark and all of that.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: I think I’m much more reserved than I think I am, that’s some of the feedback that I get about myself. More reserved, quiet and laid-back when I actually think I’m being quite high-strung. So, people thinking that I’m not engaged when I’m really engaged might be something, but other than that I don’t have anything too top of mind.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I’m definitely with my daughter; I have a two-½-year-old and I actually have another one on the way. I’m an older dad, I’m 48, and I have a very young daughter, obviously, so I’m sort of playing catch-up with being a dad, but I love it so much. So, I spend tons of time with my daughter, both on the weekends and right after work. I tend to work on this magazine after she goes to bed, from around 8:00 p.m. until midnight. And I typically work on it early in the morning before I leave for work; I have a regular full-time job as well.

On what keeps him up at night: The magazine and just trying to get the word out, really. And I think I underestimated how difficult marketing a magazine really is; I mean, I knew it was difficult, I never had any misconceptions that it would be easy, but the retail aspect… for one, I don’t know a lot about it, so I’m learning, which is nice. I could have 10 people working on retail full-time and I don’t think it would be enough. So, thinking about how to get the magazine out into the world and how to get people to really understand what I’m trying to do is what keeps me up all the time.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Chris Walsh, founder and editor in chief, Fifty Grande magazine.

Samir Husni: What’s the idea behind your new magazine, Fifty Grande?

Chris Walsh: The idea came about in a definite slow-build. I had been thinking about it for a couple of years. And as odd as it might sound, I think the travel market is actually underserved. You know there are many travel brands out there; there are many that are focused on the one percent, the ultra-luxury market and then there are a bunch of others that really focus on kind of niche parts, but I really felt there was an opportunity because there isn’t a travel magazine out there that really spoke to me, something that incorporated travel, music and food. And something that regular people can afford, a middle of the market type travel experience.

I also felt that there wasn’t a huge focus on the U.S. There are many parts of the U.S. that are vastly under the radar for a lot of people. That was what was top of mind for this, and the other part of it was kind of a reaction to how web content has developed over the past 10 years. And what I mean by that is, I feel like there are a lot of great travel online media companies out there, but there’s also an onslaught of online lists and Top Tens, so I felt there was another opportunity there to offer a different editorial, deeper stories and different stories.

And I definitely wanted something that was kind of an offline, unplugged experience. We have that visceral reaction. I love magazines and we have that visceral reaction when we touch something; when we touch a magazine. And I definitely wanted to try and capture that. That’s part of the reason for the special box it comes in; it should feel like an event when something shows up at your door. It’s kind of all of these things in one, but ultimately I love magazines and that’s why I started it.

Samir Husni: You mentioned the packaging; when my copy arrived, it felt more like that special event that you just spoke about. Like I needed to sit down and read it cover to cover, and even enjoy the box itself.

Chris Walsh: Thanks so much. That’s exactly what I was hoping for, that it becomes an event when people get it and they really enjoy the experience. It is meant to be an event on someone’s calendar. I hope to grow it to be a quarterly, and I really want people to be excited about it when they know that it’s coming.

Samir Husni: The design is very fresh…with a few Easter Eggs scattered throughout, such as a plug page in the magazine with the good old-fashioned ads that you put on billboards.

Chris Walsh: To me, design is as important as anything else. I’m an editorial guy, I went to journalism graduate school at Columbia. I worked at magazines and with online editorial teams, so I love the storytelling part of all of this, but design is also very important. When I looked at the newsstand, one of the things that I felt was lacking in the travel category was a travel magazine that had a travel feel. Traveling is fun and exciting. Sometimes when you look at what’s out there, the aesthetics are aspirational, but also sometimes very cold, just in scenery, such as one person lying in a pool. Since travel is fun, the design of the magazine needs to be fun. And hopefully a little bit reverent. I don’t know if we’ve gotten there yet, but we’re certainly aiming for that. We were definitely trying to put a few Easter Eggs in there too and we’ll be doing more of that going forward.

Samir Husni: With the content, who is your targeted audience for the magazine?

Chris Walsh: It’s for anyone who feels like they’re still trying to connect to an adventurous spirit. The magazine is really aimed at millennials, people in their 20s and 30s, who enjoy traveling. Those people will find something in here that they will like. Some of the reactions that I’ve gotten so far have also been from couples who have now moved out of their urban areas and are still trying to connect to their prior lives, either traveling or listening to music, so there’s a little bit of that and that doesn’t really surprise me. It’s really aimed at travelers in their 20s and 30s who are just trying to find places that might be fun to see and to visit.

I think there is a natural crossover with music, food and travel. And you don’t often see that coverage in travel media. So, I think anyone with those interests, especially the three of them combined, would be very interested in this magazine.

The idea with the hometowns issue was I was trying to take this very big topic, the United States, and then somehow try to make it smaller for the first issue so that people could get their heads around it and also for the people writing the stories to get their heads around it too. That was the most insightful, yet personal, theme that I could come up with. So I used the Hometowns issue as a starting point and I hope each issue gets better from here on out with different themes and topics.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the actual implementation of the magazine.

Chris Walsh: I did a lot of research and I kept coming back to two ideas which were a travel magazine, which actually came to life, and then some sort of either online magazine or a magazine focused on New England; I’m from New England. And the more I focused on that second idea, the more I realized either I thought the market was covered or just the economics really didn’t work. And then I gradually started to come back to the idea of the travel magazine more and more.

And I just started talking to people. I partnered with research teams in my past jobs, so I started doing research with a friend and then on my own, just talking with people about travel magazines and what they want from them. And like I said earlier, I honestly feel, as odd as it sounds, because there are so many travel magazines out there and so many travel properties, I think the market is underserved in this area. I think there is the opportunity to focus on the mid-market, the upper mid-market of hotels and experiences and do it in a fun way. I’m not saying that we’re the best travel magazine out there, but we certainly can be different and that’s what I’m shooting for. A different look and feel and a different editorial. Something that stands out and is fun.

Samir Husni: What was the biggest challenge that you’ve been able to overcome?

Chris Walsh: To be honest with you, it was on the design side. For me, putting together a magazine is fun, coming up with the concepts, talking to the writers and working on those stories, that’s the fun part, but the design side – I had a very specific look and feel in my mind and what I was hoping would come to life. And this is what was in my head. This is what I wanted. So, finding someone who understood that was really the tough part. And it was just me talking to a lot of people. I worked on this idea for more than a year before I even began to plan the first issue. So, I talked to a lot of creative people and it just took me a long time to figure that piece out, because that wasn’t something that I had done before or was comfortable doing on my own.

So someone coming in and being able to articulate what was needed for stories and to just understand and get in sync with me was probably the most challenging part, finding the right person, but once we began talking, we moved very quickly.

Samir Husni: What was your happiest moment during the creation of this first issue?

Chris Walsh: When the pallets showed up at my apartment. The first run was 5,000 magazines and of that 5,000, I had 500 shipped to my apartment in New York. So, I was just waiting around for a truck one morning and when the truck rolled down my street and these guys popped off the back of it and took a pallet and put it on the sidewalk in front of my building, that was kind of the most surreal and happiest moment for me. Again, going back to this physical thing we all love, the magazine, opening the boxes and pulling it out. It probably sounds very cliché, but it was a really happy and nice moment.

Samir Husni: I see your subscription price is $28 per year, which shows that it’s not a magazine for skimmers, you’re looking for an engaged audience.

Chris Walsh: Yes, absolutely. And that’s what the whole idea is behind the editorial. You have to enjoy reading and you have to enjoy magazines to really like Fifty Grande. A lot of people keep asking me am I going to put it online and change the edit to make it shorter, but I’m not interested in doing that. The stories in the magazine aren’t even that long. I think the longest story was maybe 2,300 words. And maybe the shortest was around 500. But the average is somewhere between 1,100 and 1,500 words, but it is considered long-form when it comes to the online media out there. So, I do think you have to enjoy reading stories in order to enjoy Fifty Grande and get the most out of it.

I’m hoping that I engage a certain type of reader who is looking to approach travel in a different way. And someone who enjoys reading and who enjoys fun design.

Samir Husni: Where did the name “Fifty Grande” come from?

Chris Walsh: Fifty, in reference to the states, obviously, and Grande, just trying to come up with something that was quasi-inspirational, and Grande just speaks to the vastness of the country, which I think gets lost in the conversation a lot when you talk about traveling in America, there’s just so much here. I keep saying there’s a whole world to see in the country. And of course, there was the very pragmatic issues of could I get the web domain and the trademark and all of that.

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

Chris Walsh: I think I’m much more reserved than I think I am, that’s some of the feedback that I get about myself. More reserved, quiet and laid-back when I actually think I’m being quite high-strung. So, people thinking that I’m not engaged when I’m really engaged might be something, but other than that I don’t have anything too top of mind.

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; or something else? How do you unwind?

Chris Walsh: I’m definitely with my daughter; I have a two-½-year-old and I actually have another one on the way. I’m an older dad, I’m 48, and I have a very young daughter, obviously, so I’m sort of playing catch-up with being a dad, but I love it so much. So, I spend tons of time with my daughter, both on the weekends and right after work. I tend to work on this magazine after she goes to bed, from around 8:00 p.m. until midnight. And I typically work on it early in the morning before I leave for work; I have a regular full-time job as well.

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

Chris Walsh: The magazine and just trying to get the word out, really. And I think I underestimated how difficult marketing a magazine really is; I mean, I knew it was difficult, I never had any misconceptions that it would be easy, but the retail aspect… for one, I don’t know a lot about it, so I’m learning, which is nice. I could have 10 people working on retail full-time and I don’t think it would be enough. So, thinking about how to get the magazine out into the world and how to get people to really understand what I’m trying to do is what keeps me up all the time.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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HempGrower Magazine: A New Title From GIE Media, A Company That Strongly Believes Print Is Still A Very Engaging Platform – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jim Gilbride, Publisher & Noelle Skodzinski, Editorial Director, HempGrower Magazine…

January 20, 2020

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“When we launched our online products only, while it’s a nice introduction to the marketplace, your engagement online skyrockets when you launch your print magazine. It is one cohesive brand that touches all of these different areas of the marketplace. You can’t build a digital product without a print product. It’s a fully integrated approach of delivering content in as many ways that we can to our audience to grow our brand. I don’t believe the digital businesses will be as successful in the B to B space without a print magazine.” …Jim Gilbride

“If the content is good and it’s what people need, they will read it, regardless of the format. So, we’re providing in print, content that we know people need and will want. Whether it’s online or in print or at our conference, it’s all content that will help these people and their businesses. So, I agree with Jim, I don’t think print is dead. There are challenges with newsstand publications, but that’s a different model than we have. We are going to these people; we’re sending it directly to them and if the content resonates, they’re going to read it and be engaged with it.” …Noelle Skodzinski

A new title from GIE Media, HempGrower magazine’s mission is to support legal hemp cultivators by providing actionable intelligence in all aspects of the business—from regulatory news to analysis of industry trends and business strategy, as well as expert advice on cultivation, extraction, marketing, financial topics, legal issues and more. And while many companies are shying away from print, GIE is in the business of investing in quality content and new print titles, such as their latest, HempGrower.

Jim Gilbride is group publisher and Noelle Skodzinski is editorial director, and both have long-standing experience with the B to B marketplace and the world of cannabis, in general, having Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary magazines under their belts, as well as an annual conference that they’re both anticipating with a brimming excitement. I spoke with Jim and Noelle recently, and while the world of hemp growing has now become a legal enterprise, both realize the challenge of this type of product and the importance of accuracy and absolute adherence to federal regulations when it comes to publishing. But they also thrive on those challenges and the excitement of quality content with the magazine.

The  next huge conference is coming up in April and Jim and Noelle are doubly excited by the opportunities that are on the horizon. Offering their loyal readership another revenue source with HempGrower is definitely a check-yes box for them.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview about a new B to B magazine that is determined to bring correct and factual content to the world of hemp growers and all that are interested in this new, now legal, market.

But first the sound-bites:

On what he attributes the growth of his company to and the ability to add magazines, rather than losing them (Jim Gilbride): What separates us from the pack is, one, investment. We make sure that we spend a lot of money investing in quality content and editorial; quality graphic design; quality tools to build online and engage our readership. So, continuing to not cut any of those areas when a lot of publishing businesses cut back in graphics and editorial, things like that, we redoubled our efforts back in 2009 when the economy crashed to continue to invest in quality. Our number one job in any market that we serve is to educate our reader and help their businesses thrive. So, I would say that is one of the attributions.

On whether he believes it makes a difference in today’s world between being family-owned or owned by a group of investors or venture capitalists (Jim Gilbride): Yes. I believe that when we get into a marketplace, we embed ourselves and become part of that marketplace. And our family-owned business supports us and gives us good careers in being embedded in that marketplace. In the pest control marketplace, our group publisher has been there for 40 years. In the recycling marketplace, our group publisher has been there for 25 years. I’ve been here for 15 years. So, that longevity and being able to intimately be a part of a marketplace and to learn the ins and outs of that market; GIE Media over our 40-year history has never sold anything. When we decide to get into a marketplace, we’re in it for the long haul. And we’re going to make the long-term investments to make sure that we’re successful. We don’t want to be number two in any market that we’re in.

On whether moving from the cannabis business to the hemp business offers her a different high, pun intended (Noelle Skodzinski): (Laughs) There are a lot of similarities. Hemp has been experiencing prohibition for 82 years, so it’s the same kind of situation that all cannabis has been in. This market is newly legal in the United States. And there is an extreme mood right now for information, for all of the hemp farmers. And it doesn’t matter what they’re growing, whether it be CBD or seeds, grain or fiber, they need information now. They need to navigate the regulations; they need to navigate the marketplace; the supply and demand issues. We also kind of planned things in a timely fashion so that we’re reaching people when they need information the most. And then we evolve with the industry.

On the logic behind starting HempGrower online first and then getting into print (Jim Gilbride): The reason we did it is because, one, it’s pretty simple to get an online product up and running. So, we’re able to move a lot faster. And then once you have that up and running, you start to drive awareness and engagement for the print product that’s coming. I think they actually launched at the same time, you could say, but the reason that we launched online first is to market the product and create some demand before the print product hits the marketplace.

On many people saying that in the B to B category print is no longer needed (Jim Gilbride): I think it’s just not true because just look at the success we’ve had. When we launched our online products only, while it’s a nice introduction to the marketplace, your engagement online skyrockets when you launch your print magazine. It is one cohesive brand that touches all of these different areas of the marketplace. You can’t build a digital product without a print product. It’s a fully integrated approach of delivering content in as many ways that we can to our audience to grow our brand. I don’t believe the digital businesses will be as successful in the B to B space without a print magazine.

On why he thinks their business model is thriving, while magazines such as High Times are considering filing for bankruptcy (Jim Gilbride): I see High Times as more of a consumer magazine and I think it’s somewhere around $100 million in debt, so they’re trying to figure out their business model. We’re a vertical market, business to business publisher, and so that’s two very different businesses. We’re not going after the consumer market, we’re going after the legal businesses in those states that are operating legally, so we have a very engaged audience. We’ve had growers and dispensaries to say when they got their license, the first piece of mail they received was Cannabis Business Times and that they had been loyal readers since day one. So, we’re not trying to fight that consumer push, we’re all about B to B. I can’t speak to why they are thinking about folding or why they’re unsuccessful; all I can say is we’re two different things, consumer versus B to B media.

On what’s next for the company(Jim Gilbride): What’s next? Well, we have a large conference where we bring our engaged readership from all three brands together, which also brings all of our contributors and a lot of our board members and some really high quality speakers together at the Paris Las Vegas in April, which is another touchpoint for all of our brands. So our really engaged readership that likes to read the quality content in our magazine can meet all these folks and sit in a session for 45 minutes and learn about how to make their business more profitable. And learn about how to get into the business and when to license and how to invest in the business. So, gearing up for that will probably take up a lot of the first part of our year. And after that, we’ll see.

On whether dealing with cannabis and hemp as subject matter makes their jobs easier or harder (Noelle Skodzinski): I would say this is the most challenging position I’ve held, largely because of federal regulations. Editorially speaking, we have to make sure that every single thing that we publish is accurate. And I know that’s the goal of any editor, but with businesses that are in a regulatory gray area, where it may be legal in your state, but not legal federally, there are still towns that have moratoriums or bans on cannabis businesses, so we have to make sure that the information that we publish is up-to-date, that it’s accurate.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home (Jim Gilbride): I’m not a wind down kind of guy. I kind of love chaos. I have three little kids, so last night I fell asleep on my daughter’s floor (Laughs), because I was so burned out from the last two weeks. If I wind down I have to get away with my wife, otherwise it’s complete chaos and I’m always moving, but that’s how I prefer it, so you would probably catch me running around my house chasing my toddlers.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home (Noelle Skodzinski): I don’t wind down much either. Typically, I’m working even when I’m not working. I may be on my phone on the couch, checking emails, answering emails, looking things up. I’m constantly thinking of things that I have to do next, making lists of what I have to do. I’m working very hard on a better work/life balance, and Jim is helping me with that. But yes, I do enjoy a glass of wine in the evening, and I’m trying to get back into a fitness routine. I’m trying to scale back on the work, but launching three brands and a conference in five years has been a go-go-go environment, which I absolutely thrive in and love. But everyone needs to really try and balance their work and life so that you can continue to do more and be even stronger for next year.

On the biggest misconception she thinks people have about her (Noelle Skodzinski): I think that when I tell people what I do, people instantly will say things like, oh, you get to sit around and smoke pot all day. Many think it’s a very relaxed, cushy job, and while it is my absolute favorite job I’ve ever had, I love the company and the subject matter and I’m very passionate about the industry, it is not sitting back and smoking pot all day.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him (Jim Gilbride): I think just that this is easy. We’re in the fastest-growing marketplace in the country, so it must be easy to walk into it and launch a magazine and take advantage of that. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a challenge every step of the way. From hiring employees to the editorial challenges that Noelle talked about, to the sales challenges I mentioned. And the hiring pains – I don’t think that we’ve ever had enough people, because once we are fully staffed, we grow again. And those are all challenges that weigh on your mind every day. It’s rewarding, but it isn’t easy.

On what keeps her up at night (Noelle Skodzinski): A lot of things. (Laughs) Mainly just working on our conference keeps me up. People are paying a lot of money, it’s reasonably affordable compared to other conferences, but they’re paying money to come to an event and I want to ensure that they are happy and get value out of what we’re providing. And that’s not an easy task. Running a conference is very similar in certain ways; it’s content in a different format. But it’s also people are there, you’re engaging in person with your audience and if they’re not getting value out of what you’re providing, they’re not happy. And that puts a lot of pressure, it’s self-imposed pressure, but I want to make sure that people are benefiting from what we’re providing them and that they’re paying for.

On what keeps him up at night (Jim Gilbride): Honestly, no matter how stressed I am, I don’t have trouble sleeping. I’m usually whipped at the end of the day. If there’s anything that stresses me out, it’s just a lot of business management responsibility. I manage the P & L, so driving our business to a place where we need it to be for the good of the industry, as well as the good of the employees that work for us so hard day in and day out is important and so is just making sure that we hit our growth projections. We plan a budget every year and in that budget we plan our employment growth, benefits growth rate, and all of that. And making sure that we hit those projections from a financial standpoint so that we can be so good to the people who work so hard for us. So, if it’s anything, it’s being focused on that.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jim Gilbride, Group Publisher and Noelle Skodzinski, Editorial Director, HempGrower magazine.

Samir Husni: Jim, reading your editorial in the first issue of HempGrower, this company started almost 40 years ago with one magazine and now you have all these magazines serving all kinds of “growing” industries; what do you attribute this kind of growth to in a digital age, where other people are leaving the business, you’re adding to the business?

Jim Gilbride: What separates us from the pack is, one, investment. We make sure that we spend a lot of money investing in quality content and editorial; quality graphic design; quality tools to build online and engage our readership. So, continuing to not cut any of those areas when a lot of publishing businesses cut back in graphics and editorial, things like that, we redoubled our efforts back in 2009 when the economy crashed to continue to invest in quality. Our number one job in any market that we serve is to educate our reader and help their businesses thrive. So, I would say that is one of the attributions.

And then continuing to look at each marketplace and see where they’re going to engage. Print is a very engaging platform still, so we continue to make that important investment in print, because we know that it’s a very engaging platform for readers. You also have to have digital, we know that. That is only an extension and a growth or redoubling our audience, so trying to engage with our audience as much as they will engage with us. And to deliver on all of those multiple platforms that has continued to make us successful.

And too, the other thing that I mentioned, quality editorial, quality graphics, as well as building the right vertical audience and spending the money in investment to make sure that you’re driving the right audience.

Samir Husni: Do you think there’s a difference in being family-owned as opposed to a group of venture capitalists or a group of investors owning the company? Does that make a difference in this day and age?

Jim Gilbride:  Yes. I believe that when we get into a marketplace, we embed ourselves and become part of that marketplace. And our family-owned business supports us and gives us good careers in being embedded in that marketplace. In the pest control marketplace, our group publisher has been there for 40 years. In the recycling marketplace, our group publisher has been there for 25 years. I’ve been here for 15 years. So, that longevity and being able to intimately be a part of a marketplace and to learn the ins and outs of that market; GIE Media over our 40-year history has never sold anything. When we decide to get into a marketplace, we’re in it for the long haul. And we’re going to make the long-term investments to make sure that we’re successful. We don’t want to be number two in any market that we’re in.

Samir Husni: Noelle, you started with the cannabis business and now you’ve moved to hemp. With this new HempGrower magazine, are you on a different high, pun intended?

Noelle Skodzinski: (Laughs) There are a lot of similarities. Hemp has been experiencing prohibition for 82 years, so it’s the same kind of situation that all cannabis has been in. This market is newly legal in the United States. And there is an extreme mood right now for information, for all of the hemp farmers. And it doesn’t matter what they’re growing, whether it be CBD or seeds, grain or fiber, they need information now. They need to navigate the regulations; they need to navigate the marketplace; the supply and demand issues. We also kind of planned things in a timely fashion so that we’re reaching people when they need information the most. And then we evolve with the industry.

Jim Gilbride: Noelle is not only over hemp, but she still oversees the cannabis business as well. I just wanted to make that clear.

Samir Husni: You launched the website for HempGrower first, last August. And then six months later, the print magazine came along. Is there a logic that you used? Start the online first and then go to print? Is this a new model for launching publications?

Jim Gilbride: The reason we did it is because, one, it’s pretty simple to get an online product up and running. So, we’re able to move a lot faster. And then once you have that up and running, you start to drive awareness and engagement for the print product that’s coming. I think they actually launched at the same time, you could say, but the reason that we launched online first is to market the product and create some demand before the print product hits the marketplace.

Noelle Skodzinski: It’s a similar model to what we did with Cannabis Business Times, in that the digital product came first. And then when GIE bought Cannabis Business Times we were able to launch the print publication. But like Jim said, the audience starts to engage with the brand online very quickly and frequently. We are then able to start learning more about the audience and start working with people who are in the industry to build that print publication. And we already have a brand out there that people have begun to trust and they understand our approach to the editorial and what we’re providing.  So, that has them looking forward to the print publication and they’re already engaged with that brand.

Samir Husni: There are some people who say in the B to B segment of magazines that print is no longer needed and there’s no place for it anymore. That everyone is moving to digital and social media. You’re proof that’s not true. Why is that?

Jim Gilbride: I couldn’t disagree with that at all. I think it’s just not true because just look at the success we’ve had. When we launched our online products only, while it’s a nice introduction to the marketplace, your engagement online skyrockets when you launch your print magazine. It is one cohesive brand that touches all of these different areas of the marketplace. You can’t build a digital product without a print product. It’s a fully integrated approach of delivering content in as many ways that we can to our audience to grow our brand. I don’t believe the digital businesses will be as successful in the B to B space without a print magazine.

Noelle Skodzinski: If I could add to that. Samir, I think you’ve been a kind of proponent of this concept. If the content is good and it’s what people need, they will read it, regardless of the format. So, we’re providing in print, content that we know people need and will want. Whether it’s online or in print or at our conference, it’s all content that will help these people and their businesses. So, I agree with Jim, I don’t think print is dead. There are challenges with newsstand publications, but that’s a different model than we have. We are going to these people; we’re sending it directly to them and if the content resonates, they’re going to read it and be engaged with it.

Jim Gilbride: I couldn’t agree more. It’s about quality content and it’s not about how you deliver it. If you don’t have quality content, of course print is going to die, because there’s not enough value there for people to buy into it to reach your audience. It’s all about quality content. If you have that you can build a print magazine. If you don’t, you can’t.

Samir Husni: As you reflect on 2019 and you look forward to 2020, what are your expectations for the future?

Noelle Skodzinski: I would love to have more time, more hours in the day.

Jim Gilbride: More cannabis legalization.

Samir Husni: What’s the trajectory, in terms of legalization? I know that CBD is now legal in all 50 states and hemp is legal in…?

Jim Gilbride: All but three.

Samir Husni: All but three. And cannabis is legal in what 23 states now, for one reason or another?

Noelle Skodzinski: I think it’s 33 medical and then 11 now for adult use.

Samir Husni: Why do you think the model that you’re using, between the Cannabis Business Times and HempGrower, is thriving now, while we hear about established magazines like High Times, for example, is thinking about filing for bankruptcy?

Noelle Skodzinski: We also publish Cannabis Dispensary, which we launched in 2017.

Jim Gilbride: I see High Times as more of a consumer magazine and I think it’s somewhere around $100 million in debt, so they’re trying to figure out their business model. We’re a vertical market, business to business publisher, and so that’s two very different businesses. We’re not going after the consumer market, we’re going after the legal businesses in those states that are operating legally, so we have a very engaged audience. We’ve had growers and dispensaries to say when they got their license, the first piece of mail they received was Cannabis Business Times and that they had been loyal readers since day one. So, we’re not trying to fight that consumer push, we’re all about B to B. I can’t speak to why they are thinking about folding or why they’re unsuccessful; all I can say is we’re two different things, consumer versus B to B media.

Samir Husni: You now have three titles, the two cannabis magazines and HempGrower. What’s next?

Jim Gilbride: What’s next? Well, we have a large conference where we bring our engaged readership from all three brands together, which also brings all of our contributors and a lot of our board members and some really high quality speakers together at the Paris Las Vegas in April, which is another touchpoint for all of our brands. So our really engaged readership that likes to read the quality content in our magazine can meet all these folks and sit in a session for 45 minutes and learn about how to make their business more profitable. And learn about how to get into the business and when to license and how to invest in the business. So, gearing up for that will probably take up a lot of the first part of our year. And after that, we’ll see.

Noelle Skodzinski: Our cannabis conference is now in its fourth year, but 2020 will be the first year that we are incorporating an educational tract for hemp. It will be largely focused on hemp for CBD, but in all of our publications we focus on the business, but in the grower publications, Cannabis Business Times and HempGrower, we also focus very heavily on the cultivation aspect; the farming. So, in 2020, the conference will have two professors and researchers from Purdue University who are giving sessions on hemp cultivation; results from research. And that’s something that we’re really looking forward to, bringing in the hemp component to the industry, because there’s a lot of crossover, a lot of marijuana growers who are looking into expanding into hemp now that it’s legal.

And a lot of companies that weren’t necessarily willing to get into marijuana growing because of the additional risk involved, because it’s still federally illegal, are interested in growing hemp. So, that’s really expanding our audience and as Jim said, bringing all of those people together so that they can learn from one another. So, that’s something we’re really excited about for 2020.

Samir Husni: Both of you had careers before the cannabis and the hemp publications, as publishers and as editors. Did cannabis and hemp make your career easier or harder when it comes to dealing with that particular subject matter?

Jim Gilbride: Both.

Noelle Skodzinski: I would say this is the most challenging position I’ve held, largely because of federal regulations. Editorially speaking, we have to make sure that every single thing that we publish is accurate. And I know that’s the goal of any editor, but with businesses that are in a regulatory gray area, where it may be legal in your state, but not legal federally, there are still towns that have moratoriums or bans on cannabis businesses, so we have to make sure that the information that we publish is up-to-date, that it’s accurate.

And we also have an obligation to our readers to feature businesses that are adhering to all the regulations that are out there. It’s very challenging for those businesses to do that, but they absolutely have to do it. So, part of our mission with these publications is to help advance the industry by advancing the businesses in them and the people involved in those businesses. And in order to do that, we have to make sure that we’re not featuring businesses that are not playing by the rules.

And that’s kind of a simple way to put it. There are many complications to that, but it’s extremely challenging editorially. We have a lot of vetting that we have to do for businesses that we never had to do before. When I was an editor in other positions, I didn’t have to dig around on publishing companies to make sure everything they did was legal. Typically, it was a very rare case that someone was doing something illegal. In the cannabis industry, I would say it’s also rare, but it can happen accidentally and it can happen intentionally. So, we just have to guarantee that what we’re publishing is accurate.

And the other challenging thing, especially with cannabis, is that cannabis did not have the luxury of all the other agricultural crops, in that they have had centuries of research behind them, University research that backed up all the science about cultivating this plant, so we’ve had to build very slowly a network of researchers, of experts that were cultivating underground for decades. And trying to get to the most accurate, the most proven methods of growing that are available, because that wasn’t available to cultivators.

 Samir Husni: And Jim, you said both?

Jim Gilbride: Now that I’ve had a couple of seconds to think about it, I wouldn’t say easier is the right word, exciting is certainly the right word. It’s really exciting to be a part of this industry and to see how things unfold. And how the industry continues to grow and states come online and as other folks get into the market, but it is certainly not easy. It is a challenge.

I remember, we were in New York City at a conference and we were going to get our first advertising client. After that meeting I found myself thinking that this was going to be a lot harder than I thought. There were just media companies and conference companies coming out of the woodwork. How do you differentiate yourself? How do you build a brand and quality when there has been a lot of mistrust and misguidance in the marketplace? We could get a big support advertising program in the next day, corporate over in Europe or somewhere else just says nope, we’re not doing this anymore and then it’s gone.

So, being federally illegal, there are people who kind of dip their toes in and then go away. It is certainly very challenging to be part of a federally illegal market and something that’s just so new. But it has certainly been probably the most exciting time I’ve had in my career.

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; or something else? How do you unwind?

Jim Gilbride: I’m not a wind down kind of guy. I kind of love chaos. I have three little kids, so last night I fell asleep on my daughter’s floor (Laughs), because I was so burned out from the last two weeks. If I wind down I have to get away with my wife, otherwise it’s complete chaos and I’m always moving, but that’s how I prefer it, so you would probably catch me running around my house chasing my toddlers.

Noelle Skodzinski: I don’t wind down much either. Typically, I’m working even when I’m not working. I may be on my phone on the couch, checking emails, answering emails, looking things up. I’m constantly thinking of things that I have to do next, making lists of what I have to do. I’m working very hard on a better work/life balance, and Jim is helping me with that. But yes, I do enjoy a glass of wine in the evening, and I’m trying to get back into a fitness routine. I’m trying to scale back on the work, but launching three brands and a conference in five years has been a go-go-go environment, which I absolutely thrive in and love. But everyone needs to really try and balance their work and life so that you can continue to do more and be even stronger for next year.

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

Noelle Skodzinski: I think that when I tell people what I do, people instantly will say things like, oh, you get to sit around and smoke pot all day. Many think it’s a very relaxed, cushy job, and while it is my absolute favorite job I’ve ever had, I love the company and the subject matter and I’m very passionate about the industry, it is not sitting back and smoking pot all day.

Jim Gilbride: I think just that this is easy. We’re in the fastest-growing marketplace in the country, so it must be easy to walk into it and launch a magazine and take advantage of that. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a challenge every step of the way. From hiring employees to the editorial challenges that Noelle talked about, to the sales challenges I mentioned. And the hiring pains – I don’t think that we’ve ever had enough people, because once we are fully staffed, we grow again. And those are all challenges that weigh on your mind every day. It’s rewarding, but it isn’t easy.

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

 Noelle Skodzinski: A lot of things. (Laughs) Mainly just working on our conference keeps me up. People are paying a lot of money, it’s reasonably affordable compared to other conferences, but they’re paying money to come to an event and I want to ensure that they are happy and get value out of what we’re providing. And that’s not an easy task. Running a conference is very similar in certain ways; it’s content in a different format. But it’s also people are there, you’re engaging in person with your audience and if they’re not getting value out of what you’re providing, they’re not happy. And that puts a lot of pressure, it’s self-imposed pressure, but I want to make sure that people are benefiting from what we’re providing them and that they’re paying for.

And it’s the same thing with the content in the magazine. People’s businesses rely on this information that we’re providing and I don’t take that lightly. I may take to too seriously sometimes, so that I’m not sleeping as well as other people might, but I also think that it takes that type of person who worries about everything to make sure all of these moving parts, especially in this type of industry, are going to work.

Jim Gilbride: Honestly, no matter how stressed I am, I don’t have trouble sleeping. I’m usually whipped at the end of the day. If there’s anything that stresses me out, it’s just a lot of business management responsibility. I manage the P & L, so driving our business to a place where we need it to be for the good of the industry, as well as the good of the employees that work for us so hard day in and day out is important and so is just making sure that we hit our growth projections. We plan a budget every year and in that budget we plan our employment growth, benefits growth rate, and all of that. And making sure that we hit those projections from a financial standpoint so that we can be so good to the people who work so hard for us. So, if it’s anything, it’s being focused on that.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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New Magazines Aplenty… The Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor

November 4, 2019

The Autumn season is upon us and Old Man Winter isn’t far behind, but be of good cheer, the world of magazines is providing you with some wonderful new magazines, jam-packed with information and entertainment for those Autumn evenings spent curled up in front of the fire.

For those planning an Italian Thanksgiving or just a fantastic meal for dinner one evening, I’m sure you will enjoy Condé Nast’s latest launch of La Cucina Italiana as a quarterly print magazine and website. Its arrival on our shores brings a good addition to the food magazines in the marketplace and brings a smile to a lot of fans of the culinary legend.

This beautiful magazine from Schumacher’s, the manufacturer and supplier that designs products for the  interior design industry, has hit newsstands for the first time. As an in-house title, The Bulletin, was published and sent as a trade magazine for the interior design industry, but now people across the country can buy this great title. Schumacher’s should be proud of its efforts, the magazine showcases the beauty of what they do in a most excellent way!

The Spectator, one of the world’s oldest, continuously published magazines (since 1828), had its first U.S. edition hit newsstands recently after starting a U.S. digital presence last year. The British bulwark is a weekly which  features politics, culture, and current affairs. With its unique brand of journalism, this great title is a breath of fresh air to the political scene and Mr. Magazine™ welcomes you to our shores!

Please enjoy the beautiful covers of our other great titles and in the meantime, get ready for a dynamic December!

Until the next time…

See you at the newsstands…

***And please remember, if Mr. Magazine™ can’t physically hold, touch and purchase the magazine, it does not enter the monthly counts. And counts now include only the titles with a regular frequency that are either new, first-seen on Mr. Magazine’s™ radar, or arriving to the national newsstands for the first time

 

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Punch Magazine: A New Regional Title That’s Packing A “Punch” On The San Francisco Peninsula – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Sloane Citron, Founder & Publisher…

September 26, 2019

I’ve probably started, honestly, 50 publications in my career, I’m just like a serial magazine creator. And of everything I’ve launched nothing has gotten the reaction that this magazine has gotten. Every day we get calls, emails, or whatever, from people who are saying that they love our magazine, that they get so much from it, and they look forward to it every month.”… Sloane Citron.

 A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

A new regional title that began its life in 2018, Punch magazine showcases new ideas, along with the cultures and traditions that encompass the San Francisco Peninsula. And while the magazine may be new, its founder and publisher is far from a novice when it comes to great magazines. Sloane Citron is a self-described “serial magazine creator” who has launched many, many titles throughout his career, including  his first magazine Peninsula, along with Northern California Home & Garden and Southern California Home & Garden, and the lifestyle title Gentry, among others. And in 2018 he launched a beautiful, very high-quality title called Punch, all about the San Francisco Peninsula where he calls home.

I spoke with Sloane recently and we talked about this new title of his and about how things have changed in the world of magazines, which he has been a part of for decades. Originally slated to purchase Sunset Magazine, Sloane moved on to something of his very own when that deal didn’t pan out, and his vision came to life in the form of a large-sized, ink on paper magazine filled with the beauty and charm of the San Francisco Peninsula area, and gave it a title that hails from the British weekly magazine known by the same name and for its humor and satire. It’s a title that definitely catches the eye and ear.

Sloane is a man who loves magazines, ink on paper magazines, that is. His passion for magazines goes back to his childhood when he created his very first title, mimeographed for him by his teacher, when he was only eight years old. The love of magazines is something that he and Mr. Magazine™ have in common.

So, I hope that you enjoy this glimpse into life on the San Francisco Peninsula and a conversation with a man who has enjoyed creating magazines for most of his life, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Sloane Citron, founder and publisher, Punch magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether people thought he’d lost his mind in launching a print magazine just one year ago: There I was with nothing to do and I had this prototype for a magazine. And I said, you know, magazines are what I love to do and this is a terrible idea and my wife thought I was crazy, but I said, you know, I’m going to just launch it. I’ll take this concept that I have and launch it for the San Francisco Peninsula and just create a really small team and do this. So, that’s what I did. We opened up here in Menlo Park with four full-time people and then I have an art director in Ketchum, Idaho that has worked beautifully, and other freelance people that are doing different things for us. And somehow we put out a monthly magazine.

On whether he believes an ink on paper regional magazine is still relevant or more people are looking to online resources: I’ve probably started, honestly, 50 publications in my career, I’m just like a serial magazine creator. And of everything I’ve launched nothing has gotten the reaction that this magazine has gotten. Every day we get calls, emails, or whatever, from people who are saying that they love our magazine, that they get so much from it, and they look forward to it every month. It’s gratifying that people really enjoy what we’re doing, but I don’t know if there is a need. There are very few publications for which there is a real need, because there’s so much information out there that you can get otherwise.

On magazines being an experience that people want rather than need: I would say that’s the case with this magazine, we really work hard to make it that way. I use the word “luscious” sometimes; we want the covers and the artwork and everything to just be beautiful, so that people want to get the magazine and they want to turn the pages, and enjoy it and feel connected to it.

On advertisers’ reaction in his area to an ink on paper regional magazine: If there wasn’t so much competition here, it would be pretty easy, but I’m competing against my old magazine… you know, I spent 23 years building it and building the name and developing it, so I had to compete head-on with my old company. So, I tried to be competitive, have lower rates, more distribution, and a better product. I felt if we did those three things we’d be able to get our share. But it hasn’t been easy. There’s great downward pressure on rate, honestly, because of lots of factors, including the Internet, with online advertising. There are people who just don’t feel the need for it anymore.

On what he would hope to tell someone he had accomplished in another year from now, on his second anniversary:I hope we get to a consistent revenue figure so that we don’t have to constantly feel like we’re working toward that. That would be the best result of 2020. Second would be that we have revenue coming in from our website; we don’t expect it to be huge, but if we could get a dependable revenue coming from our website, that would be a positive thing so that it supports itself. And also that my staff is happy and productive and enjoying what they’re doing.

On why he named the magazine Punch: I knew that I needed to come up with a name, I had been through this before. I said to my wife, I know, I’ll go retro and call it Peninsula, my first magazine. And she said, I thought you wanted to be new and bright. I said I do, and she said, well, naming it after your first magazine is a terrible idea. Very rarely do I think she’s right, but I thought she was right  this time. (Laughs) So, I started looking everywhere, I’d walk into an office or I’d walk into a room and I’d look for words and inspiration, anywhere I could find it. I struggled and struggled, then finally one night at about 11:30 p.m. I’m on Wikipedia looking at defunct British magazines for ideas. And there was Punch, and I remembered, because I’m a magazine guy, it hit me. I said, I remember there was a Punch magazine, it was a satire magazine and it had closed in the ‘80s actually. So, I said Punch, I kind of like the feel of that. I tested it on covers and mockups, and I liked it. That’s where it came from.

On whether he considers Punch his best magazine launch so far: I do, actually. Honestly, part of my mission with my whole career, part of it was creating magazines, but part of it was building a strong business that was very profitable, because I had a wife and four children and they needed taking care of. I didn’t have the luxury of always doing things that I wanted to, I had to do them from a strong business angle at all times. And with Punch, I’m able to just focus on making it as strong as possible and that’s been helpful in the mission.

On anything he’d like to add: I’ll say that one of the most important things for me is always having a group of people that I enjoy working with and who want to be here. It was somewhat challenging being in Silicon Valley where there is so many plentiful, very high-paying jobs, to find a staff that was interested and motivated to do this. And we were able to do so. That has been a great joy, because we all enjoy being with each other and we’re all very passionate about making this magazine as good as it can be. That has been an important part of this journey for me. Since I created this to have somewhere to go and something to do, to be able to do it with people who are highly professional and creative is very meaningful.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I’m usually either reading or reading the news on the computer, or I’m watching the Giants on TV. I’m very passionate about the Giants, I watch all their games. And often I’ll be watching the game and reading the news from about 15 sources, which is kind of what I do.

 On what he thinks is the biggest misconception people have about him: People think I’m an extravert, because when I go out to sales calls or out to events and things like that, I can be very jovial and out there, but honestly, I’m a complete introvert. As my staff knows, I only go to things under extreme pressure, events. I get invited, obviously, to a lot of events and I almost never go, even though it would be good for the magazine, because I just can’t stand it. So, I only go to the things that I really have to. (Laughs) And that includes our own events. I’ve missed some of those as well.

On what keeps him up at night: Believe it or not, even though I’m not doing this for financial rewards… we lost a client the other day, they said they were going to do more digital now. And that actually kept me up at night. Even though it didn’t change my world, it just so ate at me that a client would leave us, it kept me up at night.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Sloane Citron, founder and publisher, Punch magazine.
 

Samir Husni: You launched Gentry magazine back in the early ‘90s and you’ve seen the magazine industry go up and down. Did people think you’d lost your mind for launching a new print magazine in 2018? And here you are now celebrating your one year anniversary.

Sloane Citron: Let me give you a little background real quick. I knew I wanted to be a publisher when I was eight years old. I started a publication at school and the teacher mimeographed it for me and I had the kids go out and sell it for a nickel. I got to keep three cents and they got to keep two cents.

In high school I started a magazine at Andover, and then in college I ran the college newspaper for four years, or was involved with it. I did an internship while I was in college at Los Angeles magazine. And that’s when the city/regional bug hit me and I said, this is great. This is what I love to do.

But I didn’t want to be a journalist, and people kept confusing that. Being a publisher and a journalist was two different things, I wanted to start things. And I knew I needed some credentials, so I went to Stanford Business School so that people would take me seriously.

My first job was at Miami magazine back in the early ‘80s and was the general manager who kind of fixed that for them, even though I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I learned on the job, if you will. But I wanted to come back to California, because I liked it here and my wife was from here.

So, I was able to raise some money, because I had seen that the Silicon Valley was really starting to develop and I launched the first magazine in this area called Peninsula, because we’re the San Francisco peninsula. I patterned it after New York Magazine, I copied their logo and their style, because I didn’t know what else to do. That was a paid title, subscriber and newsstand-based, and I grew that company quite large.

I started the first home and garden magazine in California, one for Northern California and one in Southern California. And then I saw that there were these hotel books, one was for San Francisco and one was for Los Angeles, and I got this idea and I started doing sub-markets. I did about a dozen of them all over California, at Beverly Hills, the West Side. Up here I did the Peninsula, I did the Wine Country, the East Bay, and that was a really good little business.

But I sold that company. My investors wanted to sell because we had done well, so we sold it. Then I started Gentry magazine with a partner. I didn’t love the editorial concept, but I had this idea that I wanted to try because I thought the whole model of a subscription-based magazine and newsstand was ridiculous. With a subscriber base, you’re constantly having to use direct mail, you’re constantly having to do renewals; it was such a strain on launching the company and so expensive. And the newsstand people were all corrupt and never paid us, wanted money under the table, so I said I’m going to create a new idea.

I created this concept that I called at the time, and this was 1992, “Saturation Delivery.” Instead of being subscriptions, we went to all the main areas of affluence, and they had to be entire areas, it couldn’t be picked off, such as a house here and a house there. It had to be a whole region or a whole city. The idea was to create a really beautiful magazine, better than you could do if it were paid, make it as great and strong as possible, and then give it away to all these people, put it on their doorstep every month or mail it to them. The cost for starting this company was a fraction of my first one and we were profitable after eight months, because the advertisers loved it, because we were going to every home they wanted to go to. And we had a beautiful package, plus we controlled our own newsstand, we only went to a few newsstands where we could control it, and I didn’t have to deal with that.

So, I didn’t have to have a circulation department. We had one person who did it part-time, but I eliminated the whole craziness and expense of a circulation department. No direct mail campaigns, no renewals, no insert cards; in fact, I made it difficult for people to buy subscriptions. We didn’t list it in the magazine anywhere.

That was a model that I kind of feel like I created. There wasn’t anyone doing it at the time, not that I knew about anyway. And now you have a lot of people doing it, like DuJour does that, so it’s common now, but back then it was all subscriber-based. But the model really worked extremely well and the company took off. I started a bunch of other magazines through that company. Then we sold half the company in the early 2000s when things were really good. It turned out to be a good move.

In 2016, a couple of things happened, I hit 60 years old and my partner was having a couple of health issues, and it just seemed like a good time to make a move. So, I exercised my sell option and I sold my half to her family, and thought I was done with publishing, which kind of answers your question. The business was great and it got me through my lifetime and I loved it, but it was done at that time.

And then, honestly, I was kind of bored. My wife is a major real estate agent here and before I knew it she was asking me to do stuff with her all the time, which was terrible. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Sloane Citron: Some people could do that, I couldn’t do it. But then a weird thing happened, I got a call from a New York investment banking firm that does magazines The man’s name was Reed Phillips and he had actually been on the buying side of some of the magazines that I sold. And he told me that he had a great opportunity for me. And I asked him what he had in mind. He told me that Sunset Magazine was for sell. If you live out west, that’s a very iconic title, it has been around for over 100 years.

And I looked at it and told him that I thought I could make something happen with it, because Time owned it and they just totally mismanaged it, they bought it but just didn’t have any interest in it, especially with the new ownership. Once they spun it off Time Warner, they just depleted the thing. I knew I could take the brand and do a lot of things with it. I came up with a new look and feel for the magazine and spent six months raising the money, putting together a prototype and a team, working with the Time people. And I kept narrowing the team down to 12 of us, then there was eight, then four. And at the very end they told me that I was going to get it. But suddenly I didn’t get it.

They asked me could I close within a week. And I said no, I can’t close within a week, I didn’t even have a lawyer yet. So, they called me back and they said they were sorry, but they were going with a group in L.A. because they could close within a week. And three weeks after that, and it’s a joy talking to you because you understand all this, it was announced that Time was sold to Meredith. So, they needed to get rid of whatever they were getting rid of in order to close their deal with Meredith and sell themselves.

So, there I was, and this is the answer to your question in a long way, there I was with nothing to do and I had this prototype for a magazine. And I said, you know, magazines are what I love to do and this is a terrible idea and my wife thought I was crazy, but I said, you know, I’m going to just launch it. I’ll take this concept that I have and launch it for the San Francisco Peninsula and just create a really small team and do this. So, that’s what I did.

It’s funny, I had some money that I was going to put up and one of my best friends insisted that he be a part of it. He had made some money like they do here, with an IPO, he had been at Solar City and made a bunch of money, and he said I insist on being a part of this. So, he threw some money into it.

We opened up here in Menlo Park with four full-time people and then I have an art director in Ketchum, Idaho that has worked beautifully, and other freelance people that are doing different things for us. And somehow we put out a monthly magazine.

I don’t know what the end goal is. I knew I needed to be relevant because honestly, I love ink on paper, that’s where my heart is, but I knew that I needed to do a proper website, so we just completed our website, which is pretty cool, I think. It mirrors the magazine well. The idea is to just try and do my best with it, but I have no idea what the future holds.

Samir Husni: As you celebrate the first anniversary of Punch, are you more convinced than ever that in this day and age there is a real need for an ink on paper magazine for the Peninsula, or do you find most people going online?

Sloane Citron: That’s a great question. I’ve probably started, honestly, 50 publications in my career, I’m just like a serial magazine creator. And of everything I’ve launched nothing has gotten the reaction that this magazine has gotten. Every day we get calls, emails, or whatever, from people who are saying that they love our magazine, that they get so much from it, and they look forward to it every month. It’s gratifying that people really enjoy what we’re doing, but I don’t know if there is a need. There are very few publications for which there is a real need, because there’s so much information out there that you can get otherwise.

I look at it as entertainment, but we do fill a need in some ways. If you look through the magazine, we do hikes; we do food; we try to help people get the most out of living here. It’s an expensive place to live and if you’re going to live here, you should enjoy your lifestyle. So, we really go out of our way to try and find things that people learn from and will enjoy doing. Need is probably not the right word. If we weren’t around the world wouldn’t be much different.

Samir Husni: I tell my magazine students, no one really needs a magazine. The magazine must be like chocolate, an experience that people want to enjoy.

Sloane Citron: That’s exactly right. And I would say that’s the case with this magazine, we really work hard to make it that way. I use the word “luscious” sometimes; we want the covers and the artwork and everything to just be beautiful, so that people want to get the magazine and they want to turn the pages, and enjoy it and feel connected to it. So, you’re exactly right, that’s a good analogy.

Samir Husni: Being 100 percent ad dependent, your revenue is coming from advertising, or 99 percent of it is, what was the advertisers’ reaction in your area to an ink on paper magazine when you approached them?

Sloane Citron: If there wasn’t so much competition here, it would be pretty easy, but I’m competing against my old magazine… you know, I spent 23 years building it and building the name and developing it, so I had to compete head-on with my old company. So, I tried to be competitive, have lower rates, more distribution, and a better product. I felt if we did those three things we’d be able to get our share. But it hasn’t been easy. There’s great downward pressure on rate, honestly, because of lots of factors, including the Internet, with online advertising. There are people who just don’t feel the need for it anymore.

This is almost like a non-profit, honestly. Our goal here is just to break even, and that’s what we’re doing. Hopefully, we’ll grow some more so that we do a little bit more than that. There’s probably room for one or two regional magazines in the market, depending on the market size. And we have more than that here. Modern Luxury also has a title here called Silicon Valley, so it’s not easy. There’s less print advertising and there’s downward pressure on the pricing, those are the two things.

 Samir Husni: You didn’t have a non-compete deal with Gentry after you sold it?

Sloane Citron: I did for two years. When I signed it I said, I’m never doing anything else, are you kidding me? (Laughs) But I can’t help it, it’s what I’m passionate about. I figure I’ll do what I’m passionate about until I can’t do it anymore.

Samir Husni: As you look toward the future, and if you and I are having this conversation on your second anniversary, what would you hope to tell me that you had accomplished in another year?

Sloane Citron: I hope we get to a consistent revenue figure so that we don’t have to constantly feel like we’re working toward that. That would be the best result of 2020. Second would be that we have revenue coming in from our website; we don’t expect it to be huge, but if we could get a dependable revenue coming from our website, that would be a positive thing so that it supports itself. And also that my staff is happy and productive and enjoying what they’re doing.

Samir Husni: Why Punch? Where did you come up with the name?

Sloane Citron: I knew that I needed to come up with a name, I had been through this before. I said to my wife, I know, I’ll go retro and call it Peninsula, my first magazine. And she said, I thought you wanted to be new and bright. I said I do, and she said, well, naming it after your first magazine is a terrible idea. Very rarely do I think she’s right, but I thought she was right  this time. (Laughs)

So, I started looking everywhere, I’d walk into an office or I’d walk into a room and I’d look for words and inspiration, anywhere I could find it. I struggled and struggled, then finally one night at about 11:30 p.m. I’m on Wikipedia looking at defunct British magazines for ideas. And there was Punch, and I remembered, because I’m a magazine guy, it hit me. I said, I remember there was a Punch magazine, it was a satire magazine. And it had closed in the ‘80s actually. So, I said Punch, I kind of like the feel of that. I tested it on covers and mockups, and I liked it. That’s where it came from.

Samir Husni: Do you consider Punch your best launch so far?

Sloane Citron: I do, actually. Honestly, part of my mission with my whole career, part of it was creating magazines, but part of it was building a strong business that was very profitable, because I had a wife and four children and they needed taking care of. I didn’t have the luxury of always doing things that I wanted to, I had to do them from a strong business angle at all times. And with Punch, I’m able to just focus on making it as strong as possible and that’s been helpful in the mission.

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

Sloane Citron: I’ll say that one of the most important things for me is always having a group of people that I enjoy working with and who want to be here. It was somewhat challenging being in Silicon Valley where there is so many plentiful, very high-paying jobs, to find a staff that was interested and motivated to do this. And we were able to do so. That has been a great joy, because we all enjoy being with each other and we’re all very passionate about making this magazine as good as it can be. That has been an important part of this journey for me. Since I created this to have somewhere to go and something to do, to be able to do it with people who are highly professional and creative is very meaningful.

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; gardening; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Sloane Citron: I’m usually either reading or reading the news on the computer, or I’m watching the Giants on TV. I’m very passionate about the Giants, I watch all their games. And often I’ll be watching the game and reading the news from about 15 sources, which is kind of what I do.

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

Sloane Citron: People think I’m an extravert, because when I go out to sales calls or out to events and things like that, I can be very jovial and out there, but honestly, I’m a complete introvert. As my staff knows, I only go to things under extreme pressure, events. I get invited, obviously, to a lot of events and I almost never go, even though it would be good for the magazine, because I just can’t stand it. So, I only go to the things that I really have to. (Laughs) And that includes our own events. I’ve missed some of those as well.

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

Sloane Citron: Believe it or not, even though I’m not doing this for financial rewards… we lost a client the other day, they said they were going to do more digital now. And that actually kept me up at night. Even though it didn’t change my world, it just so ate at me that a client would leave us, it kept me up at night.

 Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

NatuRx Magazine: A New Title For Better Living Through Cannabis – The Mr.™ Magazine Interview With Peter Moore, Editor In Chief…

September 15, 2019

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“… We need to sort out the good from the bad; we need to follow the best science that’s going down now, and there have been tremendous impediments to studying cannabis that are only now just falling away, so we feel like we’re in a position to emphasize the usefulness of cannabis. So, that’s why we went with NatuRx, because we wanted to put the focus, not on the “stoner” excesses that cannabis has been a part of in the past, but instead look at it as a tool for better living, and that’s where the subline came from: Better Living Through Cannabis.” Peter Moore…

Active Interest Media’s (AIM) newest entry into the marketplace is NatuRx (pronounced Nature Rx), a multimedia platform whose mission is to educate health-conscious consumers about cannabis. Peter Moore, former editor at Men’s Health, is the editor in chief of this new title that’s tagline is “Better Living Through Cannabis.” And as Peter told me in a recent conversation, what differentiates this cannabis title from all of the others out there is its stand on being a guide for people when it comes to the best and worst cannabis scenarios, sorting the good from the bad, and helping people better understand cannabis. NatuRx is determined be a critical and watchful eye on this new world of green and to explain the healing powers and usefulness of the plant. And of course, it is the first big national service magazine focusing on cannabis.

Talking with Peter, I hear his passion for service journalism and in serving his readers. Helping people to better understand what cannabis can be used for when it comes to better health and fighting the detriments of certain conditions, such as PTSD, is so apparent in his words and in his vision for the magazine.

And as President & CEO Andrew Clurman said in a recent AIM press release, “As the publisher of wellness magazines such as Yoga Journal, Clean Eating, and Better Nutrition, we’ve been inundated with questions from our readers about the safe, legal use of CBD and THC as part of an active lifestyle. Our editors have been reporting on this emerging category for years, so it was a natural choice for us to create a new type of cannabis magazine, one that approaches cannabis from a health and fitness perspective and will appeal to affluent, educated adults.”

Peter would definitely agree as he told me how important his mission as an editor and the mission of advertisers for this magazine about cannabis is and will continue to be: “Our mission as editors will be to discover the very best uses for it, and that will also be the mission of the advertisers who will show up in NatuRx. What can we responsibly offer to people that will really improve their lives? I feel like with this magazine, as with Men’s Health, edit and advertising will be in lockstep, expressing different aspects of the same mission.”

It’s a beautifully done title and one Peter is very passionate about. And he believes in the people who are contributing and working on the magazine, describing them as some of the best in the business. A man whose professional life is filled with words and conversation, Peter enjoys painting in his spare time, clearing his thoughts with acrylics and watercolors to better prepare him for the next day of magazine passion. So, please enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with a man who believes service journalism should be just that: a service to the readers and plans on delivering that with NatuRx, Editor in Chief, Peter Moore.

But first the sound-bites:

On when he moved to Colorado: I was laid off from Men’s Health in December 2015 and my wife and I had been looking around for what the next big thing was going to be for us. I had been coming out here to ski, backpack and backcountry ski for 20 years from Men’s Health, because I love to do all that stuff. And we thought, you know what, now’s our chance, let’s move to Fort Collins. So, we arrived here in May 2017.

On the interest in starting NatuRx magazine: The conversation had turned from “let’s get high” to “what use can we put cannabis to” and “what’s it good for?” And as a guy who had been trained for 20 years at Men’s Health and in service journalism, it was occurring to me that there’s a big need out there to understand the drug, to explain it, to see what it’s good for and what it’s not good for, up sides and down sides, it’s all a service magazine mission. And ironically enough, four months later, there was Jonathan Dorn inviting me down to Boulder, an hour away from Fort Collins where I lived, saying we really should do a magazine on cannabis. And the more we talked the more excited we got. Then the next thing you know, he was saying that we had a commitment from Meredith to partner on this, they’re our partner in the first issue, and we have newsstand commitments for a circulation of about 250,000. And people just kept signing on.

On the magazine’s title and not having the word “cannabis” in it: What we wanted to do was focus on the healing powers in particular. And its usefulness. I come out of the tradition of tons of useful stuff at Men’s Health. And part of what came out of the conversation I told you about was that people were looking for ways to improve their lives. One of the things that I’m proud of is while the magazine is called NatuRx, the subline is “Better Living Through Cannabis.” And I think that’s the focus that people have, this is a tool for living or it can be if you employ it in the right way. And people may not understand how it can be a positive in their lives, rather than a negative.

On empowering a brand on multichannel platforms: I think what we start with is an idea and a need. We live in a world where people select the version of it that’s going to fit best with their lives. So, for some people taking an online course is the way to go. And AIM has shown tremendous skill at putting that out there. Some people live on their phones and their tablets, for them NatuRx.com may be where they want to consume the content. Others want to hold a magazine in their hands. And for people of a certain generation, the magazine is still the best way to get their information. And it’s certainly an extraordinary design vehicle, especially because AIM puts its money where its mouth is, as far as paper stock and the great creative director, Bryan Nanista, who has a long history himself in this industry.

On how as an editor he balances between the art of creation and the art of curation: That’s where my experience at Men’s Health comes in very handy. I was trained for a couple of decades in how to sort out good information from bad, good studies from bad studies, reputable sources from non-reputable sources. And thank you very much Men’s Health magazine for giving me those skills. Even more important, how to apply those skills in the Wild West of cannabis, because some of the sources are… well, people have rushed into this area because there’s this so-called Green Rush toward cannabis, people trying to make their fortunes right now, and that means they’re putting out a lot of garbage. And there are also reputable, good companies that are putting out great stuff too.

On whether the Internet is a blessing or a curse to him as an editor: It’s widely known that “Dr. Google” can be a quack. And there are a lot of people who take at face value the first thing that shows up in their feed when they do a search. Overall, I would say that the Internet has been a blessing, if you have the tools to use it in the right way, but in the wrong hands those tools can do damage. Frankly, as a health editor, it’s a great thing for me that people do need help to be pointed in the right direction and I feel like I have the skills to help them judge what’s good, bad, and dangerous. And that they need that help means they’re going to be turning to NatuRx, and we certainly hope so.

On how he copes with all of the changes taking place in the magazine industry and the merger between church and state: I’m no stranger to that merger and I lived through it at Men’s Health, absolutely, with fairly intense partnerships between Men’s Health, advertisers and the editorial side. There is an old school part of me that says, gosh, it’s too bad that world went away, but it did go away. So, now what I need to do is use my brain and my instincts and my research to note that there are places we can’t go and shouldn’t go, and there’s not even any advertisers’ interests that we go there because it’s going to scuttle our credibility with readers. It’s all about a relationship with the reader.

On whether he expects a long-lasting relationship with his audience or a one-night stand after the first issue: My role when I was sitting in that room with that group of people after the Memorial service a couple of years ago, was as somebody who could answer questions from a base of knowledge and understanding, and take a sober look at an intoxicating drug, and at intoxicating possibilities, and people really need that. I feel like it’s a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship, where we’re going through this revolution along with people, but maybe we are a slightly more prepared, better-researched, discerning group who can guide the conversation with what we know and be honest about what we don’t know.

On what differentiates NatuRx from all the other cannabis magazines already on the market today: I feel like we are the first big national service magazine concentrating on cannabis. And given the background of all the people who are contributing to it, I think we have a track record on the staff of being among the very best to do this kind of reporting. So many of the magazines that I see out there are enthusiast magazines, meaning supporters, drunk with the possibilities, whereas I think that NatuRx is going to take a step backward to assess the progress of the revolution and to guide people to the parts of it that are going to serve them best. We’re going to be a critical eye on cannabis and we’re going to support the best advances and the most promising treatments and uses for cannabis. So, I feel that is going to be a good niche for us and it’s something that people really need right now.

On the biggest misconception he feels people have about him: I’ve always felt that some people look down their noses at service journalism and maybe I did too before I landed at Men’s Health. But the mission of somebody who is out to use all the tools that are available to journalists now to improve lives has been transformative for me as a journalist. My education at Men’s Health showed me that you really can help people if you provide timely information in the right format and with the right tone. And that’s an expertise that I have now and I’m grateful to Men’s Health and Rodale for providing that to me. And I’m just thrilled that this revolution swept along in cannabis and that I arrived in Colorado at just the right moment to find a new way to help people. And that’s my mission.

‘The Morning Commute, by Peter Moore

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: What you will find me doing often is being upstairs in my renovated barn in my backyard in Fort Collins where my day-to-day office is, and the half of it facing east is my editorial office and the other half facing west is my art studio. I’m an acrylics painter and watercolorist and if I turn around it’s looking pretty nice over there with all my paintings leaning against the wall. I’m not Picasso, but I’m working hard at it and it’s something that I love to do, in particular because it does not have anything to do with words. And I need that, something that’s going to take me off the hook from talking and writing all the time. So, at night I just shut up and paint.

On what keeps him up at night: The thing that scares me and scares a lot of editors that I’ve seen on your blog is the attack on the press, which is one of those pillars of our democracy. Having a free and active, aggressive press. And the assault on that is unprecedented and unhealthy. It requires great care on our part to answer it in the right way. And the way to answer it is by using all of our skills to find out what’s wrong, what’s evil, and what’s great about what’s going on right now. And to justify people’s faith in that pillar of democracy.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Peter Moore, editor in chief, NatuRx magazine.

Samir Husni: When did you move to Colorado?  

Peter Moore: I was laid off from Men’s Health in December 2015 and my wife and I had been looking around for what the next big thing was going to be for us. I had been coming out here to ski, backpack and backcountry ski for 20 years from Men’s Health, because I love to do all that stuff. And we thought, you know what, now’s our chance, let’s move to Fort Collins. So, we arrived here in May 2017.

Given my background as a health writer and editor, all my old pals from the New York magazine industry were suddenly crowding around and giving me assignments to write about cannabis. It’s not like I had any particular expertise or even much experience with cannabis before we came out here, but at the urging of my old magazine buddies I began investigating it carefully and personally, yes, Samir…

Samir Husni: (Laughs)

Peter Moore: (Laughs too) …and when you develop an expertise, people notice it. And Jon Dorn did. So, there you go.

Samir Husni: I tell everyone I interview with magazines about cannabis, you do it for educational and medicinal purposes, of course.

Peter Moore: But it’s so interesting and I mentioned it in my editor’s note in the first issue; we were at a Memorial service a couple of years ago, and at about 8:00 p.m. after the Memorial service the adults in the room were sitting around and of course, now that I live in Colorado, the conversation turned to Colorado cannabis legalization.

And all of these people were gathered from all across the country, each started recounting their own use of cannabis; a lot of it for medicinal purposes, but recreational as well. We’re of the generation that went through that in college dorm rooms decades ago. But the conversation had turned from “let’s get high” to “what use can we put cannabis to” and “what’s it good for?” And as a guy who had been trained for 20 years at Men’s Health and in service journalism, it was occurring to me that there’s a big need out there to understand the drug, to explain it, to see what it’s good for and what it’s not good for, up sides and down sides, it’s all a service magazine mission.

And ironically enough, four months later, there was Jonathan Dorn inviting me down to Boulder, an hour away from Fort Collins where I lived, saying we really should do a magazine on cannabis. And the more we talked the more excited we got. Then the next thing you know, he was saying that we had a commitment from Meredith to partner on this, they’re our partner in the first issue, and we have newsstand commitments for a circulation of about 250,000. And people just kept signing on.

Albertsons chain of grocery stores; the magazine is going to be in more than 800 of those and their affiliates across the country by the end of September. Plus Meredith’s circulation is right behind it. And we’ve also got a really good team from Active Interest Media, who saw this in their participant media empire, as a very natural adjunct to the other stuff they have going.

I was thrilled to be asked by Jon, who was a pal of mine when Backpacker was owned by Rodale, to collaborate on this as well. So, here we go. A big magazine launch and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the name NatuRx. This is one of the few cannabis magazines that does not have the word cannabis in the title.

Peter Moore: Well, what we wanted to do was focus on the healing powers in particular. And its usefulness. I come out of the tradition of tons of useful stuff at Men’s Health. And part of what came out of the conversation I told you about was that people were looking for ways to improve their lives. One of the things that I’m proud of is while the magazine is called NatuRx, the subline is “Better Living Through Cannabis.” And I think that’s the focus that people have, this is a tool for living or it can be if you employ it in the right way. And people may not understand how it can be a positive in their lives, rather than a negative.

The recent difficulties with Vape pens shows you there is a downside to juvenile use among teenagers and young people. So, we need to sort out the good from the bad; we need to follow the best science that’s going down now, and there have been tremendous impediments to studying cannabis that are only now just falling away, so we feel like we’re in a position to emphasize the usefulness of cannabis. So, that’s why we went with NatuRx, because we wanted to put the focus, not on the “stoner” excesses that cannabis has been a part of in the past, but instead look at it as a tool for better living, and that’s where the subline came from: Better Living Through Cannabis.

Samir Husni: Peter, you’ve been involved with service journalism, as you said, for over 20 years. You’ve done it through multiple channels; do you feel that today you can’t practice service journalism in only one channel? AIM is launching NatuRx in print, tablet, mobile, education, social, events, email; do you create the brand and then have its products, or is it that you start with the product and create the brand as you grow?

Peter Moore: I think what we start with is an idea and a need. We live in a world where people select the version of it that’s going to fit best with their lives. So, for some people taking an online course is the way to go. And AIM has shown tremendous skill at putting that out there. Some people live on their phones and their tablets, for them NatuRx.com may be where they want to consume the content. Others want to hold a magazine in their hands. And for people of a certain generation, the magazine is still the best way to get their information. And it’s certainly an extraordinary design vehicle, especially because AIM puts its money where its mouth is, as far as paper stock and the great creative director, Bryan Nanista, who has a long history himself in this industry.

It all comes down to where people want to be when they’re receptive to the information they need to improve their lives. And I think that’s where AIM hangs its hat, in being there for readers in all the places they want to be.

And it’s a time for great opportunity as well, because when I was beginning my journalism career, there were 78 total magazines. And now, through your work I’ve learned that there are 800 launches per year and 5,000 titles that are out there now, and that isn’t even taking into account all of the various formats that can exist out there.

Samir Husni: As you put your editor’s hat on and look at the wealth of information out there, the good, the bad and the ugly, how do you balance between the art of creation as an editor and the art of curation as an editor?

Peter Moore: That’s where my experience at Men’s Health comes in very handy. I was trained for a couple of decades in how to sort out good information from bad, good studies from bad studies, reputable sources from non-reputable sources. And thank you very much Men’s Health magazine for giving me those skills. Even more important, how to apply those skills in the Wild West of cannabis, because some of the sources are… well, people have rushed into this area because there’s this so-called Green Rush toward cannabis, people trying to make their fortunes right now, and that means they’re putting out a lot of garbage. And there are also reputable, good companies that are putting out great stuff too.

And that’s what we need to do, sort out between the bad, crazy stuff that you see on the Internet and in your emails all the time, and the people who are doing it the right way and putting out quality products based on solid research , and that’s our mission as editors is to be an advocate for readers saying head this way, not that way, that way being danger-wise. If we can do a good job of sorting between danger and advantage, we’re doing an amazing service for people, especially right now.

Samir Husni: You mentioned especially right now, how in your 20-year career, and you started before the Internet was widely available, to today where almost anyone has access; how has your job or your thinking changed since then? Is the Internet a blessing or a curse?

Peter Moore: It’s widely known that “Dr. Google” can be a quack. And there are a lot of people who take at face value the first thing that shows up in their feed when they do a search. Overall, I would say that the Internet has been a blessing, if you have the tools to use it in the right way, but in the wrong hands those tools can do damage.

Frankly, as a health editor, it’s a great thing for me that people do need help to be pointed in the right direction and I feel like I have the skills to help them judge what’s good, bad, and dangerous. And that they need that help means they’re going to be turning to NatuRx, and we certainly hope so.

Samir Husni: As I look at the media kit for NatuRx, I see a combination of the traditional and the non-traditional, like ad rates from the basic inside-front cover to the advertorial spread to the guest-expert interview spread. As an editor, how do you cope with all of these changes taking place in the industry and the merger of church and state?

Peter Moore: I’m no stranger to that merger and I lived through it at Men’s Health, absolutely, with fairly intense partnerships between Men’s Health, advertisers and the editorial side. There is an old school part of me that says, gosh, it’s too bad that world went away, but it did go away. So, now what I need to do is use my brain and my instincts and my research to note that there are places we can’t go and shouldn’t go, and there’s not even any advertisers’ interests that we go there because it’s going to scuttle our credibility with readers. It’s all about a relationship with the reader.

At Men’s Health, and I believe at NatuRx, that relationship with the reader is important on the ad pages just as its important on the editorial pages. And I felt like, at Men’s Health certainly for 20 years, the advertisers were in it for the same reasons that we were, which was to provide information that was going to help people live better lives.

In a burgeoning industry, a soon-to-be, and is now, and will increasingly become, a multibillion dollar industry in the U.S., especially as legalization, that wildfire, spreads across the land, this is going to be a very big industry with its hands in all sorts of things. There will be competition for liquor intoxicants, in the fashion realm for fabric, sleep remedies, pain remedies; there isn’t a part of U.S. commerce that will not be impacted by cannabis. It’s going to be everywhere.

Our mission as editors will be to discover the very best uses for it, and that will also be the mission of the advertisers who will show up in NatuRx. What can we responsibly offer to people that will really improve their lives. I feel like with this magazine, as with Men’s Health, edit and advertising will be in lockstep, expressing different aspects of the same mission.

Samir Husni: As you move toward that relationship with your audience, your customers, whether they’re readers or advertisers; what do you expect the first issue to be like between you and them: a first date, a one-night stand, a love affair, or a long-lasting relationship?

Peter Moore: My role when I was sitting in that room with that group of people after the Memorial service a couple of years ago, was as somebody who could answer questions from a base of knowledge and understanding, and take a sober look at an intoxicating drug, and at intoxicating possibilities, and people really need that. I feel like it’s a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship, where we’re going through this revolution along with people, but maybe we are a slightly more prepared, better-researched, discerning group who can guide the conversation with what we know and be honest about what we don’t know.

There is so much that will be coming to light about this in the next few years, especially as the government monopoly on the source of research-grade cannabis breaks down. Recently, there was a big lawsuit from Dr. Sue Sisley in Arizona to end that government monopoly. She’s doing a double-blind study on the impact of cannabis on PTSD. There are going to be a thousand sources blooming on research and information on cannabis. Some of it is going to be cautionary, some very exciting and positive, and we’re going to help sort that out for readers. I think we’re sorting it out for ourselves, each of us on the editorial staff at the same time; we’re sorting it out for a potentially gigantic audience of people who need that information.

Samir Husni: If someone came to you and said, okay, you’re launching another cannabis magazine, where would you put it among the 20-plus titles already out there? Whether it’s MJ Lifestyle for women, Marijuana Ventures, Kitchen Toke – cooking with cannabis, or Ember; is it a competitor to those, a complementary, a corrective magazine? How would you define your unique selling proposition in the midst of all of these other titles on the market today?

Peter Moore:  I feel like we are the first big national service magazine concentrating on cannabis. And given the background of all the people who are contributing to it, I think we have a track record on the staff of being among the very best to do this kind of reporting. So many of the magazines that I see out there are enthusiast magazines, meaning supporters, drunk with the possibilities, whereas I think that NatuRx is going to take a step backward to assess the progress of the revolution and to guide people to the parts of it that are going to serve them best. We’re going to be a critical eye on cannabis and we’re going to support the best advances and the most promising treatments and uses for cannabis. So, I feel that is going to be a good niche for us and it’s something that people really need right now.

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

Peter Moore: I’ve always felt that some people look down their noses at service journalism and maybe I did too before I landed at Men’s Health. But the mission of somebody who is out to use all the tools that are available to journalists now to improve lives has been transformative for me as a journalist. My education at Men’s Health showed me that you really can help people if you provide timely information in the right format and with the right tone. And that’s an expertise that I have now and I’m grateful to Men’s Health and Rodale for providing that to me. And I’m just thrilled that this revolution swept along in cannabis and that I arrived in Colorado at just the right moment to find a new way to help people. And that’s my mission.

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; smoking some cannabis; reading a magazine; cooking; gardening; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Peter Moore: (Laughs) What you will find me doing often is being upstairs in my renovated barn in my backyard in Fort Collins where my day-to-day office is, and the half of it facing east is my editorial office and the other half facing west is my art studio. I’m an acrylics painter and watercolorist and if I turn around it’s looking pretty nice over there with all my paintings leaning against the wall. I’m not Picasso, but I’m working hard at it and it’s something that I love to do, in particular because it does not have anything to do with words. And I need that, something that’s going to take me off the hook from talking and writing all the time. So, at night I just shut up and paint.

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

Peter Moore: The thing that scares me and scares a lot of editors that I’ve seen on your blog is the attack on the press, which is one of those pillars of our democracy. Having a free and active, aggressive press. And the assault on that is unprecedented and unhealthy. It requires great care on our part to answer it in the right way. And the way to answer it is by using all of our skills to find out what’s wrong, what’s evil, and what’s great about what’s going on right now. And to justify people’s faith in that pillar of democracy.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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The Wonderful World Of New International Magazines… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

September 12, 2019

In today’s digital world, many people think print magazines, both new and established, are barely hanging on by the hair of their inky chin chins. I assure you, that is not the case. From the west coast to the east coast, north to south, new magazines in the United States are being loaded onto newsstands daily, and the ink of legacy print, for the most part, still smells as strongly today as it did years ago; albeit, often in a totally different way.

But what about international titles, what is the health status of magazines in other countries? Well, Mr. Magazine™ is happy to report life in the wonderful world of magazines would appear to be flourishing around the globe.

Here are 12 new titles from all over the world, proving that ink on paper is alive and well everywhere. And please take note of the abundance of “me time” titles: Declutter Your Life, Dream Journal, and Wellness, to name a few. People everywhere are beginning to realize the importance of stepping away from those screens every once in awhile.

In alphabetical order):

Aww is a new magazine from Hong Kong that’s first issue is the “Meow & Woof” issue and has more than 200 illustrations from many different artists, along with great content on the topic of pets. The illustrations are wonderful and the content is diverse and has everything from recipes to travel, with animal elements. The Zen is amazing.

Bellissimo is from two London-based photographers, Paolo Zerbini and Ivan Ruberto, and according to its creators: it is dedicated to glorify the understated. The first issue takes us on a hidden tour of the beach of Rome, Ostia, and showcases photographs of places not commonly known, but amazingly unique. It’s a great new title.

Cacao Magazine is the first international print magazine fully dedicated to craft chocolate. And much like the chocolate making process itself, the layout of the magazine follows the “bean-to-bar” sequence. This new title was born in Berlin and its first issue is dedicated to the craft chocolate enthusiasts of Germany. Mr. Magazine™ is looking forward to issue two. Yummy.

Citizen is a new quarterly magazine for everybody engaged in the challenge of creating the future city. Published by the London School of Architecture, the magazine’s mission is to allow people living in cities to have more fulfilled and more sustainable lives. It’s beautifully well done and very well received here in Mr. Magazine’s™ world.

Creative Journeys is a new title from the creators of Project Calm magazine, our friends over in the U.K., and is filled with creative ideas and craft projects inspired by travel. It’s packed with artistic inspiration from around the world and you can read about art, music, mindfulness, maps, photography and prints.

Dream Journal is another new magazine from Future pic, a global multi-platform media company based in the U.K., but with offices in Australia in the U.S. The magazine was born to guide you on a path to reflection, self-evaluation and being more mindful. Learn more about what dreaming is and use the dream diary to record and reflect on your dreams.

Learn How to Declutter Your Life is from the same folks who brought you the Dream Journal and is an interactive decluttering guide created to help one organize and simplify their life. And don’t we all need that?!

Recharge magazine is the third new title from Future pic and teaches us that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the busyness of our everyday lives and the demands placed upon us, whether by family members, friends, colleagues or clients. We have to Recharge, else we burn out.

Simply Lettering is another British title for anyone interested in modern calligraphy, from complete beginners to seasoned experts. The first issue comes complete with a brush lettering starting kit and practice sheets and templates. Some more me-time is waiting.

Take Care magazine is a collection of creative responses to the U.K. housing crisis, ranging from art and literature to journalism. Five friends who were between London and Glasgow created the magazine: Sarah Bethan Jones, Charlotte Fountaine, Frances Gordon, Lewis Gordon and Romany Rowell. It came to life through Kickstarter and the niche title is only shipping to the United Kingdom for now.

Tortoise Quarterly is a new magazine from Tortoise Media in England. Tortoise Media was another Kickstarter success story and was started to slow down the news. They do no breaking news; just what drives today’s news stories. The launch issue of its magazine is called “Journeys,” and is very proud of its slow news ways – translation – Tortoise Quarterly loves its print format.

(A Journal for) Wellness is one more new title from the same folks across the pond that gave us Creative Journeys and Project Calm. This beautiful journal covers some key areas in your day-to-day living – Eat, Sleep, Move, Relax, Think, Grow and Create – to help you improve, develop or just explore your wellbeing.

And there you have it! Magazines are sprouting everywhere, from one corner of this big beautiful world to another. Mr. Magazine™ is very happy to bring you this glimpse of international beauty when it comes to new print titles.

Keep an eye out for more from Mr. Magazine’s™ Wonderful World of Magazines. You never know what I may find out there, or where I’ll find it!

Until the next time…

I’ll see you at the newsstands, here and across the pond…

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The Tecknoskeptic and 14 Other New Magazines Arrived At The Newsstands In July/August 2019

September 3, 2019

It’s been a long, hot summer, sizzling with sunshine and great new magazines! So, if you were looking for dynamic reading material for your days beside the pool, July and August were definitely the months for it!

In the fall of 2018, a brand new print magazine was created called The Technoskeptic. At that point founder and publisher, Mo Lotman, said the magazine was not sold through Barnes and Noble or any national distributor. Mr. Magazine™ found Issue #3 (the first he’d seen on newsstands) and was certainly glad he did. The magazine’s mission statement is: The mission of The Technoskeptic is to promote awareness, critical thinking, and social change around the use and impact of technology on society and the environment. The magazine is savvy, very well-done, and totally absorbing. Welcome to The Technoskeptic!

A fashion and pop-culture magazine, Cool America strives to offer diverse and beautiful content that will bring people from all walks of life together. Editor in chief, Vaughn Eric Stewart, writes in his first editor’s letter: an inclusive America is a cool America. And the premiere edition of the magazine is certainly cool! Thank you for your beauty in both photography and content, Cool America; we welcome you to the fold!

As a way to refresh its ‘Worklife’ brand, Staples has launched a quarterly ink on paper magazine, along with a digital version, podcasts, live events, and a entire digital community, hoping to continue the conversation with its customers long after the ‘staples’ have been replenished. The premiere issue of Worklife includes an interview with author, Daniel Pink, talking about motivational mistakes and how to correct them; there is advice for the workplace and all that entails, from stress to keeping the peace;  and The Decider, which is a flowchart tool that, in the premiere issue, helps readers decide whether a particular meeting is a must-attend. It’s a great addition to the brand and Mr. Magazine™ is keeping this one in the office with him!

Well, autumn is right around the corner and Mr. Magazine™ is looking forward to meeting you again right here to discuss the great new titles for fall!

So, until then…

See you at the newsstands…

******And please remember, if Mr. Magazine™ can’t physically hold, touch and purchase the magazine, it does not enter the monthly counts. And counts now include only the titles with a regular frequency that are either new, first-seen on Mr. Magazine’s™ radar, or arriving to the national newsstands for the first time.

 

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Safar Magazine: A Lebanese Publication That’s Flirting With, Fleeing From & Falling For Graphic Design & Visual Culture – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Maya Moumne, Cofounder, Editor In Chief & Creative Director…

August 2, 2019

“We’re not even sure that it’s the best format (print), but it’s where our heart is taking us. And I’m always a firm believer in following your gut instinct and following your heart. To be very transparent, the magazine has not taken off financially at all, but I feel like if we’re stubborn and we study our audience a little better, the magazine will definitely take us there. There’s this aspect of archives that doesn’t exist online and in digital magazines that we’d like to retain with this print magazine.” Maya Moumne…

An independent magazine that focuses on the visual beauty and technique of graphic design in the Arab world is something worth talking about, as graphic design becomes more and more important and prominent in the Middle East. Safar magazine is published both in English and in Arabic in each issue (something done intentionally to attract a wider audience). And with each of its themed issues, the founders, Maya Moumne and Hatem Imam, invite a diverse set of contributors to talk about graphic design in their own individual voices as the theme allows.

On a recent trip to Lebanon, I spoke with Maya Moumne, one of the brand’s founders, and we talked about the unique aspects of the magazine, from the intriguing content of a print publication all about graphic design, a very rare thing in the Arab world, and the public talks between esteemed people in the cultural sphere, that is an extension of the magazine.

The magazine was born from an embryo started by Maya and Hatem in the form of Studio Safar, a graphic design company, mainly commission-based, that indulged their passion for design and print. It’s a lovely magazine and a very welcomed breath of fresh air to graphic design enthusiasts around the globe.

So, I hope that you enjoy this glimpse into the world of graphic design through the eyes of a very passionate young woman who is both an entrepreneur and an artist with a very important mission and dream, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Maya Moumne, cofounder, editor in chief and creative director, Safar magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On the story of Safar magazine: In 2012, my partner and I started a design studio called Studio Safar. It was mainly in a commission-based context. Throughout, with the type of work we were doing, my partner and I realized  that we already had a passion for print and it had always been our dream to delve into the publishing realm. So we decided to start a magazine on graphic design because there were no magazines in the area that tackled graphic design specifically. And certainly none that were available in Arabic. When we started we called it Journal Safar and the format of the magazine was very different from the current one that you have seen. It was more like a journal that was published by the Studio.

On the magazine’s tagline, “flirt with, flee from, and fall for graphic design and visual culture”: Say, we’re designing a publication; the role of the graphic designer cannot only be to design the page given the photography and the text, the designer’s role is really enacting the way that you read the publication or that you receive the content. You give me an article and you tell me that this is the text and these are the images. I can design this article in five different ways and in each one of these different ways, you will receive the content in a different manner. You’ll understand the content differently. So, the rule of the designer really is to flirt with the viewer. What we’re trying to do with the magazine is get people to flirt with this idea of design being an agent of cultural production, and getting them to fall for it, and also getting them to flee from misconceptions around design or trends around design.

On why she and her partner, Hatem Imam, decided print would be the best format for the magazine: We’re not even sure that it’s the best format, but it’s where our heart is taking us. And I’m always a firm believer in following your gut instinct and following your heart. To be very transparent, the magazine has not taken off financially at all, but I feel like if we’re stubborn and we study our audience a little better, the magazine will definitely take us there. There’s this aspect of archives that doesn’t exist online and in digital magazines that we’d like to retain with this print magazine. And for that reason the magazine is completely translated into English and Arabic in one publication or one document for the sake of having this material there five to ten years down the line. In Arabic, the dictionary of graphic design terms does not exist because graphic design is a very new field.

On where her journey began: My family moved to Canada many years ago and they stayed there for about eight years, but they eventually moved back to Lebanon. I was very young when they moved back to Lebanon, and when everyone asks me where I was raised, I say that I was raised in Beirut but the first half of my childhood was in Montreal, Canada. But the rest of my life, such as character-building, interest-building, everything, was in Beirut, Lebanon and nowhere else.

On what got her hooked on graphic design: The infinite possibilities. The fact that a graphic designer can be someone who is so well-informed about a musical project because they have to design a printed ephemera or an online ephemera around that musical project. And the fact that a graphic designer can be so well-informed about helping cybersecurity because they’re working with a cybersecurity company on their communications strategy. It’s really the infinite possibilities.

On the future of graphic design in the Arabic world since it’s a relatively new field: I can tell you from working based out of this region that people are turning more toward hiring graphic design agencies versus advertising agencies, and that’s been a really big shift and accomplishment in understanding the value of graphic design versus advertising. More and more advertising agencies are closing and more and more graphic design agencies are opening. I’m pretty confident that the times will change and graphic designers will be given much more agency than they are right now.

On the eclectic mix of stories and articles in the current edition and what made them decide to bring such a diverse group of individuals together in one issue: Most of the time the articles that we pick could really be a midnight project; I wake up at 3:00 a.m. and think, I really want to learn more about this or that. And then I’ll think, who’s a good designer? Whose research has touched on that? Or whose research is based on that? I’ll contact them and if they’re interested, then they’ll write an article about that. Other ideas will come really whimsically, almost accidentally.

On the biggest stumbling block they have had to face: I would have to say that it’s the finances. Every other part of it was a lot of hard work, but a very enjoyable process. I wouldn’t call it a stumbling block.

On what she would hope to have accomplished with the magazine one year from now: There’s a lot that I hope to accomplish with the magazine, but there are two things that I will mention in this interview. One of them is graphic designers will understand and learn that their role isn’t just to design what clients tell them to design; their role is much more important than that. They are actually cultural producers. That is one thing I would like to achieve with the magazine in one year.

On where people can go to get a copy of the magazine: For now, our Instagram account is the best way because we’re in the process of distributing the last issue to the distribution company and to bookstores around the world. And while we have one centralized link where people can just visit online to purchase the magazine from, they’re going to have to contact us and we can tell them where they can go online and what bookstores they can get it from based on what city they live in.

On anything she’d like to add: I’d like to elaborate a bit more on the last answer I gave and say that for example, with the launch of this last issue, an organization with so much history and so much prestige like Onassis Culture, based in Athens, took a particular interest in us and partnered with us to create the launch event of our last issue. And the launch event wasn’t just a matter of selling the magazine and partying and drinking, it included a series of public talks between Paul Holdengräber, who is someone that I have so much respect for and I was star struck when I met him, and we conducted a talk between three people in an auditorium with a stage and an audience, to talk about matters that are related to cultural production, nostalgia and design.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Definitely having a glass of wine, it relaxes me. Definitely reading relaxes me, and definitely watching a movie relaxes me.

On the biggest misconception she thinks people have about her: I don’t know and I don’t really care what misconceptions people have about me.

On what keeps her up at night: It’s funny that you ask that because I actually do wake up in the middle of the night thinking about work. There are two main things: what’s the next step, which is always on my mind, what am I going to do next, let’s do this or do that. And the second one is how am I going to pay the bills.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Maya Moumne, cofounder, editor in chief, and creative director, Safar magazine.

Samir Husni: Can you tell me the story of Safar?

Maya Moumne: Yes, of course. In 2012, my partner and I started a design studio called Studio Safar. It was mainly in a commission-based context. So, if an art institution wants to design an identity, they’ll hire us, and if a publisher wants to have a book designed, he or she will contact us and we’ll design the book for them. And we have worked with art institutions, clients mainly in the cultural sector, some musicians, some corporate agencies and such.

Throughout, with the type of work we were doing, my partner and I realized  that we already had a passion for print and it had always been our dream to delve into the publishing realm. So we decided to start a magazine on graphic design because there were no magazines in the area that tackled graphic design specifically. And certainly none that were available in Arabic. When we started we called it Journal Safar and the format of the magazine was very different from the current one that you have seen. It was more like a journal that was published by the Studio.

In the last issue we decided that in order to make the publication more accessible, and to change this misconception of graphic design being something that is only service-oriented, we need to reach a larger audience, so we changed the name from Journal Safar to Safar alone, hoping that with the coming years the magazine will overpower the Studio. We’re hoping that people will recognize Safar as the magazine and not just the Studio, which is currently what’s happening.

We’ve also changed the type of articles that exist in the magazine that we publish. Before they were a bit more abstract than they are right now. We’re going more in the direction of content that is not just from graphic designers, and that’s the only way that we can disrupt that misconception.

Samir Husni: Your tagline is that you want to “flirt with, flee from, and fall for graphic design and visual culture.” Can you expand a little bit on that?

Maya Moumne: Of course. Everything that we do comes from our personalities, my partner and I, Hatem Imam. And also from the nature of the type of work that we do at the Studio and the culture that exists there. Every project that we take on, especially the commissioned ones, there is always a phase where we are trying to provoke the client, evoke the client, and we try to get them to question the nature of their own business. We feel very strongly that the rules of the graphic designer, in any given project, are so essential.

Say, we’re designing a publication; the role of the graphic designer cannot only be to design the page given the photography and the text, the designer’s role is really enacting the way that you read the publication or that you receive the content. You give me an article and you tell me that this is the text and these are the images. I can design this article in five different ways and in each one of these different ways, you will receive the content in a different manner. You’ll understand the content differently. So, the rule of the designer really is to flirt with the viewer.

What we’re trying to do with the magazine is get people to flirt with this idea of design being an agent of cultural production, and getting them to fall for it, and also getting them to flee from misconceptions around design or trends around design.

Samir Husni: Has anyone asked you or your partner, Hatem, whether you both have lost your minds, doing a print magazine in this digital age?

Maya Moumne: Yes, we have been asked that for sure.

Samir Husni: So, why did you decide print is the best format to flirt, flee and fall for graphic design?

Maya Moumne: We’re not even sure that it’s the best format, but it’s where our heart is taking us. And I’m always a firm believer in following your gut instinct and following your heart. To be very transparent, the magazine has not taken off financially at all, but I feel like if we’re stubborn and we study our audience a little better, the magazine will definitely take us there. There’s this aspect of archives that doesn’t exist online and in digital magazines that we’d like to retain with this print magazine. And for that reason the magazine is completely translated into English and Arabic in one publication or one document for the sake of having this material there five to ten years down the line. In Arabic, the dictionary of graphic design terms does not exist because graphic design is a very new field.

Samir Husni: I read a bit of your bio; how did your journey start, is it from Lebanon to Canada back to Lebanon?

Maya Moumne: My family moved to Canada many years ago and they stayed there for about eight years, but they eventually moved back to Lebanon. I was very young when they moved back to Lebanon, and when everyone asks me where I was raised, I say that I was raised in Beirut but the first half of my childhood was in Montreal, Canada. But the rest of my life, such as character-building, interest-building, everything, was in Beirut, Lebanon and nowhere else.

Samir Husni: What got you hooked on graphic design?

Maya Moumne: The infinite possibilities. The fact that a graphic designer can be someone who is so well-informed about a musical project because they have to design a printed ephemera or an online ephemera around that musical project. And the fact that a graphic designer can be so well-informed about helping cybersecurity because they’re working with a cybersecurity company on their communications strategy. It’s really the infinite possibilities.

And where I learned about graphic design was at AUB (American University of Beirut). Their graphic design program is quite particular because it’s not a technical program at all. In fact, a lot of it is critiqued for being very theoretical and not practical enough. But I think that the big theoretical part of their graphic design program is what enables the graphic designer to graduate from this degree and really delve into any field that they want.

Samir Husni: As you look at the entire subject of graphic design in the Arabic world and the Middle East, and as you said, it’s a brand new field, where do you see graphic design going and moving five years from now?

Maya Moumne: I can tell you from working based out of this region that people are turning more toward hiring graphic design agencies versus advertising agencies, and that’s been a really big shift and accomplishment in understanding the value of graphic design versus advertising. More and more advertising agencies are closing and more and more graphic design agencies are opening. I’m pretty confident that the times will change and graphic designers will be given much more agency than they are right now.

If we look at the ladder of design, design includes architecture, product design, interior design, industrial design , urban design and graphic design. I’m sure I’m missing a few more, but on that ladder graphic design is on the very bottom of it. They’re paid less than any other designer on the ladder and they’re also given much less importance. In Lebanon, for example, there are a lot of design festivals or design biannual for fashion designers, product designers and industrial designers, but there really isn’t much for graphic designers. And there are no programs that help graphic designers start new projects or apply for master’s degrees, such as financial aid and that sort of stuff.

But I’m pretty sure it’s going to change with time, and if anything that’s the mission of the magazine. I’d like to have a second compartment to the magazine, which is an online platform in addition to the print one, that would be an authority on graphic design.

Samir Husni: As I look at the current issue and I see the eclectic mix of articles and stories, from discussing posters for old movies to drag queens, to an interview that you did in Italy with Maurizio Cattelan. What was the thinking behind putting all of these different subjects together, yet they are all connected through graphic design and visual culture?

Maya Moumne: First and foremost, we started the theme as Nostalgia, and the theme of the last issue being about nostalgia too, in particular. And we try also to not let all of the articles discuss the technical aspect of graphic design just to be able to blur the lines a bit between what technical graphic design is and what visual culture is. And we feel that they fall hand in hand with each other. For example, the article on the print chimera that came with the Lebanese film posters in the ‘70s, ‘80s. and ‘90s. This was about how the history of film production leaves out all of the print aesthetics that came with the films. And all of that printed material was what made the films understandable for people and helped them to learn about the films.

If you read about the history of film production in a certain region, these texts on that history usually leave out the print part, the design part of it. And this article talks about that in particular. So, in that sense, it’s an article that’s related to nostalgia and it’s related to graphic design. And it talks about things that we like to read about.

Most of the time the articles that we pick could really be a midnight project; I wake up at 3:00 a.m. and think, I really want to learn more about this or that. And then I’ll think, who’s a good designer? Whose research has touched on that? Or whose research is based on that? I’ll contact them and if they’re interested, then they’ll write an article about that. Other ideas will come really whimsically, almost accidentally.

Samir Husni: What was the biggest stumbling block that you faced when you decided to launch the print magazine and how did you overcome it?

Maya Moumne: I would have to say that it’s the finances. Every other part of it was a lot of hard work, but a very enjoyable process. I wouldn’t call it a stumbling block.

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

Maya Moumne: There’s a lot that I hope to accomplish with the magazine, but there are two things that I will mention in this interview. One of them is graphic designers will understand and learn that their role isn’t just to design what clients tell them to design; their role is much more important than that. They are actually cultural producers. That is one thing I would like to achieve with the magazine in one year.

And the other thing is to prove everyone wrong in showing that a magazine about graphic design can reach people who are not only graphic designers, and that it can make money.

Samir Husni: If someone wants to get a copy of Safar, how would they do that?

Maya Moumne: For now, our Instagram account is the best way because we’re in the process of distributing the last issue to the distribution company and to bookstores around the world. And while we have one centralized link where people can just visit online to purchase the magazine from, they’re going to have to contact us and we can tell them where they can go online and what bookstores they can get it from based on what city they live in.

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

Maya Moumne: I’d like to elaborate a bit more on the last answer I gave and say that for example, with the launch of this last issue, an organization with so much history and so much prestige like Onassis Culture, based in Athens, took a particular interest in us and partnered with us to create the launch event of our last issue. And the launch event wasn’t just a matter of selling the magazine and partying and drinking, it included a series of public talks between Paul Holdengräber, who is someone that I have so much respect for and I was star struck when I met him, and we conducted a talk between three people in an auditorium with a stage and an audience, to talk about matters that are related to cultural production, nostalgia and design.

These public talks are a very important extension of the magazine, it’s not just about it being a print magazine but it’s about a cultural exchange and dialogue. And that’s what I would like to add.

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; designing; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Maya Moumne: All of the above. (Laughs) Definitely having a glass of wine, it relaxes me. Definitely reading relaxes me, and definitely watching a movie relaxes me.

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

Maya Moumne: I don’t know and I don’t really care what misconceptions people have about me.

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

Maya Moumne: It’s funny that you ask that because I actually do wake up in the middle of the night thinking about work. There are two main things: what’s the next step, which is always on my mind, what am I going to do next, let’s do this or do that. And the second one is how am I going to pay the bills.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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