The year was 2001. I had hired Julie Parker of Handwoven Webs to create a website for my shop The Natural Home in downtown Asheville. We had laughed several times about how we would both think something like, ‘if that line were moved over just a bit to the left I’d like it better.’ Then one of us would say it outloud! We determined that someday we’d do some kind of publishing venture together; we just weren’t sure what.
Then enter Sandra Grace in spring of 2002. Julie had worked on a website for her while Sandra was traveling around the U.S.. When she returned they met for lunch and Sandra showed her a handful of women’s magazines she’d gatherered from cities like Boulder, Tampa, Richmond… and asked Julie, ‘Would you like to start a woman’s magazine in the western North Carolina area?’
Julie called me to see if I was also interested and (even though I already had a full-time business) I said Yes! without any hesitation.
The three of us began discussions about what it would take to create both the “product” but also the business. Someone told us Oprah had a contest that summer to win $10,000 to start or expand a business venture. The elements of the application were ten aspects of a business plan. Even though we didn’t win the money, the process took us far along the road of creating WNC Woman.
We called on a number of women to come to focus groups to talk about what they’d like to see in a local, free woman’s magazine. During that process we found Jeanne Charters and Lavinia Plonka both wanted to write monthly columns and they are writing for us still!
WNC has many, many talented writers so it wasn’t hard to find content for that first issue.
Several women came forward to invest money in the project and that enabled us to get going. We talked with Steve Koletnik of Asheville Citizen Times’ print facility on Sardis Rd. and got the information needed to lay out the magazine. Julie’s graphic design background enabled us to understand the software.
Sandra Grace interviewed potential ad sales reps and we began the process that continues to this day: finding businesses who know they will benefit from promoting themselves to you, our loyal readers! They make it possible to print this magazine each month.
Over the years relationships change and in 2010 Julie moved on to other projects. Sandra had stayed interested and supportive but also had other projects that took her attention.
I had sold my store in 2004 so felt I could take on the task of running the magazine on my own and I’ve done that until this year when Sandra came back full time and she brought Dari Mullins along for the ride!
With the two of them and several women who are supporting us on the website, social media and in the office we are poised to take WNC Woman to a new level; continuing to help build community by connecting women to each other, to ideas and resources.
We hope each issue will continue to inspire you to move toward your dreams; to appreciate your life as you also recognize the challenges of our time and place.
As always, we welcome your thoughts and ideas about what you love, what you don’t like to much and what else you’d like to see. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!