FAYE Emerson Innovator Mykim Dang, see page 10 MAY 2008 2008 MAY
ealthy F Fast ast Healthy ood in in Food oston: Boston no Ittâ€™ss no longer a a longer dream dream
The Curly Hair Conundrum on page 6
un and and Fun flirty flirty cocktails cocktails
That hat are are easy easy
to make make to
teps for for Starting tarting a a Successful uccessful Magazine agazine teps
FAYE magazine Spring 2008
FAYE E Emerson merson IInnovator nnovator M Mykim ykim D Dang ang,, see see page page 10 10 MAY MAY2008 2008
Healthy ealthy F Fast ast H ood in in FFood Boston oston:: B no IItt’’ss no
longer aa longer dream dream
The Curly Hair Conundrum on page 6
Page 16 un and and Fun
flirty flirty cocktails cocktails That Tare hateasy are to make make easy to
7 Steps for Starting a Successful Magazine
3 Editor’s Letter
8 Virginal Impressions. Snap judgements = bad. Get-
ting to know a person before you label them = good.
4 Curly Hair Conundrum. Sometimes, the biggest 10 Emerson Innovator: Mykin Dang. She’s the decision in life is whether or not to cut your hair.
Entertainment 6 Separation Anxiety: Your iPod and You
What would happen if all our precious ipods were banned on city streets? Bostonians would get pissed, that’s what.
7 Healthy Fast Food Dream. We know it’s tempt-
ing, but there’s no excuse to eat McDonald’s when these fast food joints are just as convenient and don’t come with guilty feelings with your side of fries.
F ay e M a g a z i n e • 2008
coolest 20 year old we know.
11 7 Steps for Starting a Successful Magazine. C’mon, admit it. Magazines are awesome and you secretly would love to make your own.
D.I.Y. 16 Cocktail Lounge. Forget vodka tonics and plain old martinis. We’ve found your new signature drinks that you’ll order from here on out.
don’t think I can equate my love for magazines with anything else in my life — they are what motivates me to wake up for class each morning and what I daydream about before going to sleep. I’ve had it in my head since my senior year of High School that I will one day work for a women’s fashion magazine, and that vision has yet to fade. Even after working as an intern at both Westchester Magazine and Jane Magazine, or sitting through the many magazine writing and publication courses I’ve taken, or starting Emerson College’s first and only lifestyle magazine, em magazine, from the ground up, my ambition remains. I’ve learned invaluable skills from being involved in all of these things — gems about the magazine industry that no textbook could relay — but by far, I’ve never learned so much about the design and talent that goes into producing a magazine as I have in this desktop publishing class. The following pages contain designs of my own imagination along with the articles I have written over the course of my college career. After completing this magazine, I believe it is absolutely necessary for anyone who wants to have a future in writing for magazines to layout their words on an actual magazine page. I can’t tell you how difficult it has been to severely edit articles I have written and fallen in love with in order for them to fit perfectly amidst strict grid lines and large (but necessary) images. With every deleted word, my heart broke just a little bit more. But now, looking over the finished product, I am extremely happy with the end result. Every article featured in this magazine exhibits how I’ve grown
and matured as a magazine writer, and the design and layout showcases my opinion of the energetic sophistication I think all entertaining magazines should have. I hope you enjoy reading Faye Magazine, as it has been an absolute pleasure to work on. P.S. My dearest thanks go to Melissa Gruntkosky, whom without her infinite wisdom in publishing, this magazine would be nothing more than a pile of word documents stapled together.
2008 • F aye M agazin e
m u r d n Conu
To cut or not to cut the coveted hair that everybody loves. To Faye Brennan, that’s the ultimate question.
here’s a picture of me in my High School yearbook standing next to a shaggy-haired blonde boy, our heads positioned close together as we smile for the camera. The picture was taken for the Senior Superlatives page, in which he and I had won “Best Hair” out of everyone in our graduating class. I had this long blonde, ridiculously curly hair that made me stick out like a lighted beacon when I was in a large crowd. To my family and friends (and even old flames), my hair was their favorite part about me. “It’s like nobody else’s,” they would say. Throughout High School, I myself had a love-hate relationship with my curly locks: I loved them on a good day when they were the perfect ringlets I gel-ed and hairspray-ed into place; hated them when they became a frizzy pouf by third period, prompting my fellow classmates to say on a daily basis (and not in a good way), “God, Faye, you have so much hair!” Nevertheless, I kept the same haircut from freshman to senior year, not knowing what else I could do with my hair to change my look. Anyone with curly hair knows that there’s only so many options for a curly haircut — cut it too short and you veer dangerously close to resembling Shirley Temple, grow it out any longer than the middle of your back and it feels like you’re carrying a 10 pound weight on your head. There’s also the danger of getting too many layers, thus creating a triangular effect that no one looks flattering in. With no major transforming haircut options available, I wasn’t going to make the mistake of cutting my hair differently than I already had been. So, for four years my look never changed.
F ay e M a g a z i n e • 2008
Prepped and Ready In College I’d be lying if I didn’t admit my hair was one of my key assets that helped me make friends — my gay guy friends couldn’t get enough of it, and it was the one thing someone had to point out to a stranger for them to instantly remember who I was (“ya know, Faye, the girl with that crazy curly blonde hair”). But I was growing tired of being defined by the mass of dead hair follicles growing from my head. I felt that my hair was overpowering my face, but more importantly, me as a person. I remember seeing a video of myself someone had taken one night freshman year that completely changed my outlook on my hair. My girl friends and I had hitched a ride to a party from one of those party trolleys that were usually used for escorting drunken bachelorette parties around the city. As the music and lights blared throughout the trolley, the camera focused on us girls dancing around, thinking we were the shit for flirting our way into a free ride on the craziest automobile in town. But all I could see on the screen was this mass of heavy hair bouncing around, covering most of my upper body as I danced. I was immediately appalled and embarrassed, wondering why no one could’ve told me before just how consuming my hair was. With a newfound motivation, I tried almost everything I could to subdue my curls. I stupidly dyed my hair even more blonde thinking that would do something magically different, but it only made matters worse. I went to one of the most prestigious curly hair salons in
“I was incapable of getting a drastic haircut before because I was worried my identity would be swept away along with the cut-off curls on the salon floor.” Manhattan to see what they could do to help, but the cut I walked out with was for someone who wanted to “love and cherish” her natural gift, not tame it. The length was shorter overall, but the added layers gave room for more curls to form towards the top of my head and face. I resorted to straightening my hair more often, a lengthy, half-hour process that was tedious and straining on my arms. I felt better about myself with straight hair, but I guess to others I became unrecognizable. “What’d you do to all those beautiful curls?” my Dad would ask when I came home with my hair straight. At school, when I passed friends on the sidewalk, they wouldn’t register that it was actually me waving to them until a few blocks later. I guess with straight hair I blended in. But to me, that was exactly what I wanted. People had to actually look at my face to see that it was me looking back at them. They had to rely on other good qualities of mine when referring to me instead of using my curly hair as the one and only signifier.
Making the Cut It’s been a month since I got my haircut. I walked into the salon and asked for a shoulder-length cut with layers, and (gasp!) bangs. The hairdresser might have looked at me like I was crazy, but I knew
what I was doing. Still, I couldn’t help but tremble a bit in the chair as long pieces of my hair fell to the ground — I knew with a haircut like this, letting my hair curl naturally was out of the question; I’d have to straighten it everyday. It was hard to let go of a look I had called my own for so many years, my defining characteristic that other people had come to know and love me by, and my one physical attribute that I just might say, made me who I was. But now, when looking in a mirror, I see a whole package: hair and a face and body. It’s silly, but I feel this new look marks the end of a long chapter in my life and the beginning of an even better one — one where I’m confident enough in myself to let go of the one thing I thought was my saving grace. I was incapable of getting a drastic haircut before because I was worried my identity would be swept away along with the cut-off curls on the salon floor. I was worried my family and friends wouldn’t love me as much if I took away what they all found so beautiful. They all admit my new haircut is a drastic change, but at the same time, a positive one. Overall, I’m happy with my new look and the way it makes me feel about myself. I think it’s finally opened up the possibility of finding something else about myself, besides my hair, that will separate me from the crowd.n
2008 • F aye M agazin e
Separation Anxiety: Your iPod and You
hank you, little pink iPod Nano, for making my morning walks to class more bearable, for pushing me to run those extra five minutes on the treadmill, and for shielding me from the many awkward situations with strangers and cat-callers on the streets of Boston. You were totally worth the $300 Apple snatched from my parents’ wallets. Like many, my iPod is no longer a commodity in life — it’s a necessity. As of January 2007, about 88 million iPods have been sold, showing its wide acceptance as a “must-have” gadget. But, with the iPod’s overwhelming popularity, sidewalks and public places have gone quiet as we’re all tuned-in to our own musical worlds. Some are having issues with this increased silence, including New York State Senator Carl Krueger. This past February, fueled by 2 iPod-users’ deaths in car-pedestrian accidents, Krueger tried to pass legislation that would fine New Yorkers $100 for using their iPods, Blackberrys, cell phones, etc. while crossing the street.
Nicole Trifiro 22, TV/video and media arts major “I would feel like my freedom would be restricted if that law was implemented. Everyone should be concerned for safety to avoid unnecessary accidents, but I think it’s more about being aware than being restricted. If you have to make an important call, I don’t think it’s a crime. If you listen to your iPod or talk on your phone, just use caution.”
F ay e M a g a z i n e • 2008
To Krueger, electronic devices such as iPods have become so distracting that they actually endanger our health. In a CBS report he says, “we’re talking about people walking sort of tuned in, in the process of being tuned in, [but] tuned out. Tuned out to the world around them, so they’re walking into speeding cars, they’re walking into buses, they’re walking into one another.” Krueger has termed this “in-anotherworld-behavior” as “iPod oblivion,” which he thinks was responsible for the death of a 23-year-old man in Brooklyn, who stepped right into the path of an NYC bus while listening to his iPod. Krueger’s solution is to take away the freedom to walk New York City streets with our prized electronic handhelds. Although it seems like his legislation is interested in overall pedestrian safety, it is doubtful that New York commuters will leave their expensive iPods, already programmed with their perfect “off to work playlist,” at home. Say this legislation is passed, however, how would Bostonian’s react if the ban on iPods swept northeast?
Leah Wyner 21, WLP major
Alex DiCicco 20, TV/video and media arts major
“I’m sure some people listen to iPods and talk on cell phones and as a result are completely oblivious to the outside world, but that doesn’t have to be the case. It’s completely possible to walk through the common while talking on a cell phone and still be fully aware of your surroundings. No one said you have to listen to your iPod so loudly that you can’t hear
“If people are just smart about using these devices, we wouldn’t be faced with this issue. It is sort of ridiculous.”
The Healthy Fast Food Dream: How Four Boston Restaurants Make It A Reality Although there are many places to go in Boston to get a delicious lunch during your 9-to-5er, only a few can ensure that the service will be quick and the food will be healthy. These restaurants have redefined fast food in Boston, serving everything from the traditional burgers and fries to wraps, soups, and smoothies that will leave you feeling full, not fat.
KnowFat! Lifestyle Grille 530 Washington St., Boston, MA (617) 451-0043 Mon-Fri: 10am - 10pm Knowfat! Lifestyle Grille is a perfect place for anyone who wants to regain energy while shopping in Downtown Crossing and afterwards still be able to try on that pair of “skinny jeans”. Knowfat! doubles as a healthy fast food restaurant and a vitamin and nutrition haven. The menu caters to a variety of diet plans and lifestyles with choices such as burgers (ranging from $5.49 – $7.99), hot and cold wraps ($5.49 – $6.99), soups ($2.99 – $4.99), entree platters (about $10), and smoothies (about $5), all boasting impressive nutritional facts. A plain burger at Knowfat!, dubbed “Justa Burger” ($5.49), has 531 calories, compared to a Burger King Whopper which has 710 calories. Their signature Knowfat! Air-fries are trans fat free, and a favorite among many of the customers.
b.good restaurant 24 Dunster St., Cambridge, MA (617) 354-6500 Sun-Sat: 11am - 11pm This funky burger joint, owned by best friends Anthony and Jon, is Boston’s growing favorite for “real.food.fast.” “[b.good] provides food that everybody loves but it’s just made healthier,” says one of the owners, Anthony Ackil. “We use the best ingredients to make it healthy, but it’s also the food that you get to eat everyday like burgers, fries, and stuff that you really crave and grew up on.” A b.good burger ($5.95), hand-packed and ground everyday on the premises has 493 calories. It’s served on a toasted whole-wheat bun and cooked with garlicky greens, caramelized onions, and sautéed mushrooms. b.good’s “real fries” ($1.70), which are hand-cut and baked in the oven, go along great with the burgers, as does a side of “crisp veggies” ($2.33). Also on the menu are vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry milkshakes ($2.95 – $3.95), all made with non-fat frozen yogurt and skim milk.
Souper Salad Restaurant 3 Center Plaza, Boston, MA (617) 367-6067 Mon-Fri: 6:30am - 4pm If you are pressed for time, you can swing by Souper Salad in between errands to fix your own healthy meal, as their unique setup is designed for the customer themselves to fix their lunch and or dinner in a buffet-type way. “We have a bunch of different stations that the customer can go to, like the salad bar, the soup station, and the drink station” says employee Anna Valez. Customers can sit amongst the crowded tables and enjoy their baked potato, salad, pizza, lettuce wrap, or signature soup and savor the taste of really good food. Prices are inexpensive and mostly less than $12. With a different soup for each day of the month, it’s hard to go wrong at Souper Salad if soup is what you crave. As long as you are comfortable with an atmosphere reminiscent of a cafeteria and the busy hustle of people on the move, Souper Salad is a great place to get your health fix fast.
Boloco Inspired Burritos 133 Federal St., Boston, MA (617) 357-9727 Mon-Fri: 7am-4pm With three of its locations embedded solely in the Financial District of Boston, Boloco Inspired Burritos must be one of the most popular lunch-break restaurants for the Boston businessperson. Instead of offering typical American fast food, however, Boloco’s claim to fame is its wide array of Mexican-inspired burritos with names such as “The Classic,” “Bangkok,” and “Mediterranean” (regular: $5, large: $6). “We have the ‘Big Green’ burrito, which is good because it has a whole wheat tortilla which is low carb, and it also comes with brown rice. It is a very good choice for health-conscious people,” says Supervisor Jorge Cardona. “We also have organic tofu which is also a very good choice.”
2008 • F aye M agazin e
We’re all guilty of doing it, but is judging a book by its cover (or a person by their combat boots) simply a natural human process or a rejection of the unknown?
Virginal Impressions Y
ou’re walking down the sidewalk and the girl in front of you is making her way to class, wearing a terrifically short skirt in which her ass is almost visible — and its 20 degrees outside. Slut. The guy who just passed you both lowers his nose out of the sky to check her out before returning to his holier-than-thou posture. Asshole. But in reality the “slut” hasn’t done her laundry for the past 2 weeks and now has to substitute her roommate’s clubbing clothes for daytime attire, and the “asshole” has just landed the lead in one of his favorite musicals and is currently in a state of euphoria. But you would never know this (and possibly never will) because in your mind she’s easy and he’s self-obsessed. It seems in the unfairness of first impressions, everyone is both a victim and a culprit, helpless to the mind’s haste to judge. But what makes us jump to such conclusions about someone we don’t know from a measly five second encounter? Some stick to the explanation that it’s our brain’s natural instinct to want to group new things into familiar categories, but this explanation only provides so many answers. Is it possible that we judge people we don’t know negatively in order to dismiss the unknown? Perhaps we’re subconsciously making it easier for ourselves to stick to the friends we know and like rather than explore the risky waters of meeting new people — and at a school like Emerson, known for its plethora of distinct individuals who tend to stay with those most like them, the waters look discouragingly threatening. Psychologists say that it takes the average human brain only three to five seconds to process a first impression. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the highly-popular book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, calls these seconds a “snap judgment.” As he says, “Snap judgments are, first of all, enormously quick. They rely on the thinnest
F ay e M a g a z i n e • 2008
slices of experience — they are also unconscious.” So, according to Gladwell, we have the time to make these snap judgments every single time we pass a person, like say, in the hallway or during a short elevator ride.
Psychologists say that it takes the average human brain only three to five seconds to process a first impression
Want to see if you make a good first impression?
Kevin Donahue, 19, a sophomore double majoring in marketing communications and film, definitely feels these snap judgments from other students on campus. An avid skateboarder and beer pong enthusiast, Donahue rocks graffiti hooded sweatshirts and owns at least a dozen pairs of Nike skateboarding sneakers. Needless to say he doesn’t exactly fit the “Emerson” profile. “[I get judged] big time. I think since this school is so liberal and artsy that if Kevin Donahue they see a kid going to the gym everyday and his and rocking basketball sneakers that he is in crazy-sick kicks some way an outsider.” Donahue has got a style all his own — props to him for rejecting the mainstream. You would think the judgment he endures would phase him, but this one sticks to his guns. “I’m a pretty real person,” he says, “minimal sugar-coating here. It’s pretty much either you like me or you don’t.” But does this inhibit Donahue from making other friends on campus, ones who don’t bench press regularly or spend their weekends perfecting the arc that sinks every single beer cup? Does he in turn judge others who aren’t like him? “There’s only a few kids at this school who actually do act like me and my friends, therefore if I were a person who judges people, I’d be wasting a whole bunch of time doing so.” Donahue is comfortable with where he’s at, content with himself and the tight-knit group of friends he’s accumulated at Emerson. But, it seems the outside judgment he’s experienced from others has made it highly unlikely that at anytime soon, he’ll ditch the skate park to come make new friends on campus. Laura Mary-Alice Dadap, 20, a sophomore acting major, feels similarly to Donahue despite her immersed involvement in everything that is Emerson (she has a radio show on WECB called “Walrus on Drums” and is currently involved in the upcoming shows School House Rock and The Vagina Monologues). “If I am simply
“I think people deserve more than one brief chance to prove themselves,”says Dadap. walking down the street, then I don’t usually feel like other people are judging me,” Dadap says, “but if I am really animated, speaking loudly, or behaving unusually (which is often), I assume some people might.” For such a petite person, Dadap has an extremely bubbly and out-going personality — She’s an actress in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, sometimes this is all others see in her in a first impression. “I have experienced times when a person’s first impression of me is wrong. Usually they won’t give me enough credit and think that I only have one level… a first impression will not show how good of a friend I am or what my background is.” It’s a shame that people are so quick to judge her, but Dadap sympathizes, as she too has caught herself sizing up others based on a snap judgment. “I think part of our nature is to judge our surroundings. Specifically, my focus and career involve thorough observation and examinaLaura Mary-Alice tion of different kinds of people in order to Dadap smilin’ produce a true portrayal of certain characters. big I think that oftentimes the act of judging has a negative connotation, but it can simply be an impartial observation.” If only we made impartial observations all the time instead of negative judgments, maybe we would all be more open to each other’s differences. This is not to say we should all go out and hug every person we don’t know that’s studying in the library (because then we would all have an excuse to think you were crazy). What I am suggesting though, Dadap articulates nicely, saying, “I think people deserve more than one brief chance to prove themselves.” Hopefully the next time we think from a first impression: what a slut, we can stop ourselves, and consider the possibility that maybe the girl just sucks at doing her laundry…and then possibly lend her some pants. n
Go to LifeScript.com to take thier free first impressions test!
2008 • F aye M agazin e
Q&A Tearin’ it Up with Dichotomy Skateboard’s Mykim Dang
ykim Dang is as fly as the boards she skates on. As coowner and half of the artistic talent behind Dichotomy Skateboards, a company she launched in December 2006 with friend Robyn Trovati, Dang has become an entrepreneur, a business woman, and a street-credited artist — and she’s only 20 years old. I sit down with the established originator to find out how her talent and drive have come together to produce the uniquely beautiful skateboards that now cruise our Boston streets and beyond. So tell me more about Dichotomy Skateboards. Dichotomy began as an idea during the summer of 2006. My design/business partner and best friend, Robyn Trovati, and I had always been interested in board culture but were always disappointed with the predominantly bland aesthetics of it. We believe that skateboarding is truly a form of art and self-expression in itself, and felt that the boards should be more representative of that. So, we finally decided it was time to do something about it. What exactly do you and Robyn do for the business? Both Robyn and I share equal responsibility in maintaining and designing for Dichotomy. While we both share the same foundation and motivation, our styles and work are very different. That is part of where the name comes from — we both work as individuals but bring things together with Dichotomy. I noticed each board on your business’s website, RideDichotomy. com, has a name. How do you go about naming each board? We name the boards according to who is doing the designing. I usually keep it pretty standard as most of my work is portraitbased, so I usually name my boards by subject. Robyn’s boards are mixed media and therefore have a lot more layers and thematic concerns, and her titles are particular to those ideas.
M a g a z i n e • 2008
Your boards have been seen around campus being used by fellow Emerson students and skateboard enthusiasts Dave Fink, Kevin Donahue, and Elliot Hathaway. These are skaters that are sponsored by Dichotomy Skateboards and are even featured on your website. How and why do you sponsor skaters? We’re not looking to become the next major action sports retailer or have a team of the best skaters in the world — it’s more about creating a space and means for this kind of expression to take place. So, we don’t really have a typical sponsorship program and those we do consider to be part of our collective are apart of it because they want to be. They support our mission and we support their creativity and self-expression through the distribution of our work. What would you say about the experience of creating a business? It has been one of the most challenging, stressful, yet rewarding experiences of my life. We have encountered so many obstacles in establishing Dichotomy but each and every step has taught me something important. There are so many factors that go into running a business, particularly one that is trying to function as this sort of hybrid project. Where do you see Dichotomy Skateboards heading in the future? Ideally, I would like to be able to create
more designs and decks on a steady and regular basis, expand our network, and continue to foster creativity and community within the board sports culture. For now, I can only continue to dedicate myself to the work and hope that we are able to get our message out there and gain support and understanding for what we are trying to do. If you had any advice for anyone hoping to accomplish what you have, what would it be? Do your research. There are always going to be things that come up and people who question you. But, going along with all that, never give up or lose sight of your passion. I really do believe that hard work and dedication can go a long way.
You can check out Mykim’s crazy cool skateboards (shown above) for yourself, and even order one, by visiting Dichotomy Skateboards website: www.RideDichotomy.com
Steps for Starting a Successful Magazine
argo Magazine seemed like the perfect magazine for the fashion-savvy men of America who needed a guide for all their shopping needs. Launched in March 2004 by Conde Nast Publications, Cargo had all the essential male interests covered, including gadgets, clothing, wheels, body and culture. It also had the biggest launch ever for a men’s magazine considering its ad size. The one thing it didn’t have? A future. Sadly, Cargo folded in December of the same year it was launched, citing a “lack of interest and a limited market for men’s shopping magazines” as the cause of its demise.
One would think there would be a more concrete reason for why such a magazine might fail, but as Seth Baker, a former publisher of ABC Publishing once said, “Starting a new magazine is more risky than drilling for oil in Central Park.” Currently in North America, 20,000 consumer and trade magazines are published, with an estimated 1,000 being launched every year. Out of this number, still 90 to 95 percent of new magazines that are announced fail or never get published. With so many aspects involved in the process of starting a magazine, there is not one particular reason that can be blamed for a fold.
2008 • F aye M agazin e
Cargo (right), a shopping magazine for men, folded just 10 months after it’s first print issue hit newsstands
Everything from poor business planning to insufficient research to a lack of interest can add to why magazines such as Cargo fail before they even celebrate their one-year anniversary. The key to avoid failure, however, for those wanting to start their own magazine, is to know what you’re getting yourself in to by starting one from scratch. By following the seven steps which have been the common suggestions from those familiar with the magazine industry, you’ll get a sense of what it will take to make a magazine that will be a success — and how not to follow in Cargo’s footsteps.
Establish the Editorial Content Probably the most important step you will take in starting a magazine is your first: deciding what the whole magazine will be about. Firstly, there are two types of magazines printed today: consumer or trade. Consumer magazines are geared towards the general public and fall under several categories, such as general interest, news weeklies, and regional magazines. An average of 250 to 500 consumer magazines are initiated each year, compared to the 500 to 1000 trade magazines launched every year. Trade magazines are targeted to an audience in a specific business, company, or interest — hence their larger numbers. By not knowing if your magazine will be targeted towards women entrepreneurs or New York women entrepreneurs, you may find yourself with a messy magazine that lacks an audience. James B. Kobak, author of How to Start a Magazine (M Evans & Co Inc., 2002), says, “If you can’t say it in ten words or less, you don’t know what your magazine is about.” Summing up your magazine’s focus is similar to what a magazine’s cover does for its audience: It gives them an idea of what they’ll be likely to find once they flip through the pages inside. If the cover or pitch doesn’t seem appealing, your magazine begins and ends here. Eric Powers, a Boston comedian and cofounder of Impulse
M a g a z i n e • 2008
Boston Magazine, which is set to launch this spring, says, “You may think of starting a magazine about pollution, but other people may not want to read about how much we’ve polluted our environment every month. You need to produce something people will actually want to read, not just what you think is interesting.” Absolute Magazine was a consumer magazine whose editors were confident it had an audience in the rich and wealthy elite of New York City when it launched in 2005. Its content featured impossibly expensive items and was aimed at only those who were earning $500,000 or more a year. Needless to say, the magazine folded in 2006. Editor-in-chief Andrew Essex said in the press release, “I’m extremely disappointed, we just produced our biggest issue yet, and it’s a surprise, to put it mildly. We were under the impression that we had more support.” Essex made the mistake of focusing too much on how expensive Absolute’s content was to realize that no one really cared — especially rich New Yorkers. Impulse Boston already has the upper hand in its startup compared to Absolute because Powers is certain his magazine will have an audience. Impulse Boston is geared towards young Bostonians who enjoy comedy, partying, and sex. “Boston is a college town with tons of bars and young people wanting to party,” Powers says. “We’ll have no problem finding an audience because the city offers them to us so easily.” According to the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA), the average magazine accumulates 60 percent of its readers within a month’s time. Powers knows that once he has his audience hooked, he won’t want to scare them off by having a poor layout or messy design. With the average magazine reader spending 44 minutes reading an issue, they won’t want to spend five — let alone 44 — minutes of their time trying to decipher it. “You want the look of the magazine to say ‘Read me!’, not ‘Shield your eyes!” he says. As a start, you might consider hiring a designer or layout expert who can take the appearance of your magazine, whether it be print or online, and make it clear yet attractive to readers. You’ll thank them in the end, if not for creating a perfect layout, then for taking one extra responsibility off your shoulders.
Develop a Business Plan Gordon Woolf writes in his book, How to Start and Produce a Magazine or Newsletter (The Worsley Press; 4th edition, July 2004), “The key to success is to set a budget and stick to it.” Anyone who has ever tried to start their own business is probably familiar with this advice, but it’s surprising how quickly a budget can be blown to bits when starting a magazine. Absolute Magazine managed to burn $10 million in its first year, a major factor as to why it fizzled so quickly from the newsstands (and why its first year was its only year). To avoid a fate such as Absolute’s, make a detailed list projecting every expense and all potential earnings during the first five years of the magazine (including printing costs, staff salaries, advertising sales, etc). Not only will you have a good estimation of how much money you’ll need, but you’ll also put your mind at ease about the possibility of filing for bankruptcy. If your not confident handling the financial aspects of the magazine by yourself, Kobak suggests hiring an accountant to sort out all the monetary situations. Magazines have a lifecycle not unlike a person, so when planning, you should anticipate some ups and downs between the infancy and (possible) death of your magazine. It won’t be until after a few years that your magazine will begin to grow and see a big profit because the costs of the initial launch will have to be regained. After this period, however, if profits steadily increase, you can sit back and revel in your magazine’s “golden years.” On average, this peak time for magazines can last anywhere from one to twenty years, and then Cosmopolitan profits will slowly begin to decline. But, if your magazine proves to be above average, you may be able to join the ranks of the most long-lasting titles in magazine history. Celebrating its 120th year anniversary in 2004 was Cosmopolitan, the popular woman’s interest magazine with sexual content being its long-lasting forte. 2003 marked Atlantic Monthly’s 150th anniversary, and just last year Agency News hit the big 1-0-0. Not one specific strategy can be linked to these magazine’s successes, but a business plan that outlasts those who developed it seems like a good model to base your own on.
Raise Money A huge part of raising money for your magazine is knowing how to sell yourself. You want to appeal to businesses and investors who will want a piece of your magazine’s action once it is up and running. Consider it a hook-and-reel process; by showing a potential investor
“It’s surprising how quickly a budget can be blown to bits when starting a magazine.” that a strong demand for your magazine, from a large audience, exists, they’ll be asking to whom they should write out a check. Larger corporations are most likely interested in publications that share a similar target audience. For instance, a gun manufacturing company would be more willing to help fund a magazine targeted to hunters rather than one aimed at toddlers. Before approaching any big company, conduct a little background research to see if you share a common audience. When it comes to asking banks, big Wall Street firms, or venture capitalists for financial backing for your magazine, Powers suggests you stick with whom you know. How to “You’re better off asking friends and family for money if they know how Succeed like passionate you are about Cosmo the magazine,” he says. • Pick a juicy genre that will “They probably want to attract readers for years to come (Sex is something that people see you do well too, so will never get tired of reading they’ll be more generabout). ous than banks and • Don’t go it alone. There are corporations.” experts in every single field imaginable for a reason – use Your major source them to your advantage to make of revenue, however, your publication the “go-to” expert guide. will come from the sale of advertisements. • Refresh yourself with every In 2004, a study issue. Don’t repeat content that you’ve already covered earlier in of 86 magazines conthe year as your readers will get ducted by PriceWabored, and might throw you in the pile of “bathroom floor readterhouse Coopers found that 55 ing material.” percent of these magazines’ revenues came from advertisements, while 45 percent were from their circulation. Ads play a huge role in supporting a magazine financially as well as adding to audience appeal. Starcom, a media communications agency, found that “when readers were asked to pull ten pages that best demonstrate the essence of their favorite magazines, three out of ten pages pulled were ads.” By including advertisements that showcase products your readers will like, it’s as if your doing three things at once. The costs of advertising will help finance your magazine, attract readers to your publication, and fill your pages with enticing images and pictures. “I’m big into snow boarding, and I love looking through snow boarder magazines for all their awesome pictures. Pictures are a huge deal in magazines,” Powers says.
2008 • F aye M agazin e
Produce A Pilot Issue Shock Magazine, a popular publication in France, was introduced to the American public in May of 2006. The magazine targeted 18-to-34 year-old men and women who had an interest in looking at “shocking” images every month. With very little editorial content, the surplus of photos in the magazine featured everything from the controversial to the downright gruesome. Shock ran for six months before aborting its American efforts. Shock just didn’t get the returns its publishers were looking for. If Shock had produced a pilot issue in the United States before immediately diving into the marketplace, its editors would have known beforehand that their audience size would be minimal. Seventy percent of all the magazines that run a pilot issue for potential readers and investors become successful. Those magazines that don’t make a pilot issue are simply taking their chances. A pilot issue is an exact replica of what your magazine will look like, only thinner, with less content than a full issue. If you decide that your magazine will be in print rather than online, it’s smart to begin a relationship with a printer at this point in your startup. You’ll work closely with the printer to determine the type of presswork, binding, and paper your magazine will use. Although these details seem trivial, they actually make a huge difference considering the cost of printing. “There’s so many choices when it comes to making a magazine nowadays,” says Nicholas Rhodes, online art director for Radar Magazine. “Now there is the Internet, which completely erases all printing costs.” Rhodes knows from his experience with Radar that oftentimes magazines are better off as online publications. Radar tested two pilot issues in 2003 before fully launching in 2005, making it through three issues before folding due to funding complications. Fortunately, Radar faired much better as an online magazine, and is still online today.
Test the Reaction To Rhodes, the audience is always number one when it comes to determining the success of a magazine. “If you ignore their suggestions or comments, you’re committing suicide,” he says. The pilot issue should be the “suggestion box” for your magazine, giving your audience a chance to sound off or show their support for your Shock Magazine publication. Also, distributing the pilot issue in the same manner you expect to circulate the real thing will show you which method of distribution will be the most profitable. Magazines are made available to consumers through either subscriptions or single-sale copies. In 2005, 87 percent of magazine sales were through subscription, while 13 percent were sold as single copies. On average, single copies were being sold at $4.40 and subscriptions costed around $26.78 for a year’s worth. If your magazine’s pilot issue has more success with its single copy distribution, then clearly you will want to dispense more issues as single copies when selling for real. For new magazines, the ideal response rate for subscriptions is between six to eight percent; current magazines run at a response rate of two to three percent. You may be asking yourself: “Why such high standards for rookie magazines?” But a high rate of initial response signifies a magazine’s long-term success. “You can’t compare yourself to big name magazines out there. You just have to think in small terms and be realistic,” Powers says. Now for what you don’t want to hear: if response rate for your pilot issue is poor, it’s time for “plan B.” Maybe your magazine is more successful only as an online publication such as Radar, or perhaps you’re better off turning your magazine into a newsletter instead. The audience’s reaction to your pilot issue will make these decisions crystal clear, so embrace the feedback and listen to your readers. They’re usually right.
Hire a Staff Producing a high-quality magazine that will please its readers month after month requires some time-consuming expertise. In other words, putting out a magazine cannot, and never will be, a solo production. You need a talented and
M a g a z i n e • 2008
creative staff that is as passionate and dedicated to your magazine as you are. This includes a team of editors, advertising salesman, Producing a magazine from a dream in your head to a finished administrators, designers, photographers and layout personnel who product is a big endeavor, and one that takes longer than you don’t mind deadlines or working overtime. “People will jump at the might expect. Kobak writes in his book, “the length of time it takes concept of a new magazine that seems promising because they between the development of an idea for a new magazine and the want to be a part of that success if it turns out really good. The idea publication of the first issue may seem at first to be incredibly long.” of being a part of the staff of a new magazine is an enticing thought,” For a paid circulation consumer magazine (that is, a magazine that Powers says. is paid for by the consumer through a subscription or a single sale), But beware of hiring a gullible staff, as the magazine industry Kobak says it will take at least 21 to 30 months of preparation before often appears enchanting to everyone except those who are in it. it is ready for distribution. A controlled circulation magazine, or one Rhodes says, “The magazine industry seems like a very glamorous that is sent free of charge to particular readers (usually trade magabusiness, but it actually takes a lot of hard work to produce a good zines for those working in a certain field), has a startup time between issue each month. People need to be forewarned of what they are 18 and 24 months. getting themselves into — that it’s not all glamorous photo shoots The key is to remain patient and not to overestimate yourself. and freebies.” When determining the release date for the Putting potential employees through in“Beware of hiring a gullible first issue, Powers says, “It is so important depth interviews will help weed out the dedito not set a specific launch date, because staff, as the magazine industry cated from the celebrity-obsessed. As Powoften appears enchanting to god forbid you don’t make that date, you ers found out through his own experiences lose a huge amount of credibility. You should as editor-in-chief of Impulse Boston, this step everyone except those who be more concerned about the quality of the is highly necessary. Recently, he has had to are in it.” magazine, not the dates.” postpone production of his magazine after his But as Powers says, “No matter how cofounder ran into some legal troubles and successful you become, you cannot forget about the people Boston Magazine filed a lawsuit against Impulse Boston’s name. “It who helped you get there.” Remember to reimburse your initial hasn’t been fun, let me just say that,” Powers says. investors and the like once you find yourself making a profit, and With all the interviewing and responsibilities as founder of your don’t abandon old techniques that you are positive worked, for magazine, you should expect to commit long hours of time working new, riskier ones. Making one small change can lose an alarming during the initial startup. In his book, Kobak estimates that during this amount of your readers. Then again, if you magazine proves to be time, founders work about 18 hour days, seven days a week for at a success,you’ll be too busy worrying about the next issue to be least three years. As founder and presumable editor-in-chief, you will bothered with change.n want to have a hand in every aspect of your magazine. You’ll also want to work one-on-one with staff members to help them see your overall vision of the magazine, and with all the hours spent in the office, you will undoubtedly become the best of friends in no time.
Want more advice?
Check out these other helpful resources for magazine founders and publishers:
2008 • F aye M agazin e
Cocktail Lounge Good Times Sangria (Makes about 4 servings)
Get Loose Juice (Makes over 6 servings)
- 2 cups fruit - 1 bottle cheap red wine - 2 cans lemon-lime soda
- 12 lemons, juiced - 1 cup confectioner’s sugar - 1/5 gin, chilled - 4 bottles champagne, chilled
Chop fruit. Marinate in wine. Top off glass with soda just before serving.
Classy Ho (Makes 1 serving)
Cocoa Worth Drinking (Makes 4 servings)
- 1 part grapefruit juice - 2 parts prosecco
- 4 cups milk - 3 oz. chocolate bar pieces - 1 ½ oz. shot rum - 1 ½ oz shot frangelico
For the prosecco buy mionetto, marca, or drusian.
Mix lemon, sugar, and gin in bowl. Add ice and champagne to bowl at serving time.
M a g a z i n e • 2008
Heat milk and chocolate until melted. Stir. Add Alcohol.
From the author of The Devil Wears Prada, comes a story of a girl thrown into a world of famous faces, black amex cards, and ruthless gossip in the fierce who’s who of PR in New York City.
L auren W eisberger ’ s
Everyone Worth Knowing available in Bookstores Nationwide
On Emerson Newsstands Now!
em magazine’s first ever print issue, “Baring It All,” Spring 2008