Specialist bridal magazine Together Journal has hit the ground running after just a year in business. Founder Greta Kenyon shares her thoughts on the future of the publishing industry.
Brief description of the business?
Together Journal is a niche design-driven international wedding magazine. It is a middle to high-end type of magazine (RRP $15) printed quarterly. We operate out of New Zealand but distribute nationwide; to the US, and just recently, Australia.
We really try to show a variety of different weddings - different cultures, same sex weddings, different locations, and show all ranges of budgets - we try to be as diverse as we possibly can.
What gave you the idea for the business?
I have a fashion marketing background and I have spent the previous eight years prior to starting Together Journal photographing weddings all over New Zealand as well as some in Australia, the Pacific Islands, Bali and the USA.
I saw so many beautiful and unique things and met so many inspiring couples and wedding specialists.
I felt like there was this really amazing niche part of the industry that was developing and not being truly recognised or shown and I knew that there was a market for it.
How big is your team?
Myself, designer Hannah Lawless, sales & social media manager Delena Naturan and free-lance sub- editor Rose Hoare.
We also work with wonderfully loyal and talented regular contributors each issue, like fashion photographer Garth Badger and wedding photographer Danelle Bohane, plus we have a huge pool of new free lance photographers that come on each issue, writers, stylists and creatives.
In each issue there would be an average of around 40 contributors.
Where is the business based and where do you operate from?
We are based in Parnell, Auckland and work out of a studio space at my home.
I have three small children who are at school, daycare or with our nanny every day. But by working from home I get to see them a little more as they come and go in the afternoons than I would if I was off-site.
I also do a lot of work in the evenings and it's great to be able to do this from home, plus myself and two employees have dogs who are always welcome and often present in the studio.
What appealed to you about being a niche, stylised magazine?
I chose it because it was an area I was very familiar with - it was the type of client I had been working with for quite sometime and was also the area I most enjoyed.
Your magazine is available in the US, can you explain how that came about?
We were really lucky with the United States. We were actually trying to go to Australia first, but were actually found on Instagram by an intern at Anthropology after six months of launching. They and asked us if they could stock us, I of course said yes, then I thought to myself 'if they love us others will too'.
I phoned bookseller Barnes & Noble who then put us onto their distributor. The publication had to be reviewed by their team, they came back to us and said they would love to stock us. We're now in over 300 Barnes & Noble stores across he US.
Where else can you get the magazine?
We're also on-shelf in Australia. This is a recent development and happened in October - we're in newsagents in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as in WHSmith Stores. We're very excited about being in Australia as we have had great support and interest from photographers, designers and others in the Australian wedding and fashion industry.
How much of a focus do you put on social media?
We put a lot of energy in to our social media. I can see that it works instantly and it's also a really good way of not only promoting the product, but keeping in contact and
up to date with what our contributors are doing.
It's a great resource for finding new photographers, and florists.
We work on a global scale so it is a really easy, quick, cost-effective way to be able to see what is happening on a global scale, it just really works. We even contact contributors through Instagram.
Make sure you really truly love what you do and be prepared to work harder than you have ever worked in your life.
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We'll find an account, we'll be like 'wow this photography is amazing', I'm just going to drop them a line to see if they would like to contribute, and they can instantly look at us as well and see what we look like, what our content looks like, how many followers we've got, who we're engaging, who are other contributors are - so its kind of like an online portfolio for everybody.
Because we're such a visual market, it really is a good platform for us.
After a year in operation, how far has your business come?
It's definitely been a very full-on year of very rapid growth and having to learn on the fly, especially in the exporting area, with signing legal contracts with people in America, and then of course, setting up all the freight.
It has all happened so quickly, I'm still trying to catch my breath.
We've had to be very nimble, but I think that's probably one of our advantages.
It's been a full-on learning curve, but in saying that, having worked as a brand manager in the fashion industry, I have used that knowledge to help me.
Is your business making a profit or is it declining like most print platforms?
We are profitable. I have grown the business solely from advertising and magazine sale revenue - I have not put any capital in.
Niche, high-end and well thought out, collectable lifestyle magazines which almost encroach on becoming a book are not in decline. Global publications like Kinfolk, Cereal Magazine, Suitcase are perfect examples of niche magazines thriving. Together Journal is part of this group.
Do you see a digital future for your magazine?
We have great digital and social resources to support the magazine and to drive awareness and sales but I can't see myself doing an actual digital version of the magazine. We love print too much, the look, the feel and the magazine was created as a antidote for the overload of digital content.
What advice do you give others thinking about starting a similar business?
Make sure you really truly love what you do and be prepared to work harder than you have ever worked in your life. Also make sure you have a good broad skill set and can work across and understand many disciplines. You need to know how to market and sell your business as well as build extremely strong client relationships.
What has been your biggest lesson?
To trust my gut and not to worry about what other people think. It's good to break the rules and do new things.