This Mag + Coffee Makes For A Better, More Informed You
As we're on a mission to change the media landscape, I'm always ECSTATIC when I come across others out to do the same.
Today, I'm sharing my discovery of Conscious Magazine, an outlet that covers amazing and important topics like charitable crowdfunding that actually makes a difference, the socially conscious must-watch programs on Netflix, applicable coverage of global humanitarian events, honest inspiration, and socially conscious business tips.
But get this: None of it is complicated, confusing, or dry.
Because this is storytelling at its finest. This is what media was meant to be. THIS is where we are headed (oh, hello there, #Millennialcontribution).
It's powerful stuff, I tell ya. And I wanted to know more. I wanted to know who were the amazing brains behind such a game-changing contribution.
And then I found out they were women. And then I found out that they were YOUNG women. And sisters! And then I passed out from glee.
When I came to, I immediately reached out to Rachael Baxter-Lechliter and Elena Baxter to connect and share my love for them with them (not creepy at all, I swear). I also asked them a few questions and they GRACIOUSLY donated their time to get real with me and answer them.
Read on to see how this extraordinary duo created Conscious.
Also, next month they're launching a city-by-city calendar of curated Conscious-approved events (yes, you'll be syncing this with your Google Cal). And you can also pick up the print version (!!) now at Barnes & Noble (it. is. GORGEOUS).
Ok, have at it:
When you decided to start Conscious, what did you set out to accomplish?
Conscious is our calling and so there were many experiences that led to the decision of dedicating our lives to a socially conscious media company with the important mission of empowering people everywhere to change the conversation. I won't go into all of the history, but there are 3 main reasons why we pursued this:
- One, as a response to the current state of media
- Two, as a mission to help impact the world through powerful storytelling
- And three, because we simply had hope that we could be part of creating a better tomorrow.
What were the first steps to launching the company? What growing pains did you have to overcome?
The first steps in launching Conscious was developing the idea while accepting that we did not fully understand what it should be or what it would become. You paint this amazing idea in your mind and now you have to figure out the right steps on how to achieve that vision. For us, we literally had to learn the basics. We had no experience in the publishing world, so we researched and tested and moved forward. There were so many things we missed like - oh, you need an editorial calendar (okay Magazine101), we needed a marketing plan, we needed a style guide, we had to establish our voice/online personality and the list goes on. We also learned that we needed to find the right printer, test paper samples, compare pricing. We needed distribution, sponsorships, a media kit, which to this point, we're still in the learning phase. We needed to figure out how to tell our story well, and lastly for design purposes, we needed to learn Photoshop and InDesign, which we can thank YouTube for!
We also experienced many growing pains where we learned that you have to be patient with the process and give yourself the freedom to test and fail, to learn how to deal with experiencing joy and frustration, which could sometimes happen within the same five minutes. You also need to make a real effort to know what it means to be a leader, to build real relationships, to listen and to celebrate other people's stories. All in all, there's a lifetime of learning here, and it has taken us years to iron out what works and what doesn't.
When did you know you were really on to something?
From the beginning we had a gut feeling that Conscious was something that the world needed and to this day, despite all of the ups and downs, we know our work is important. But, when we first felt confident that we were really onto something might have been when we met a stranger who said - oh I heard of Conscious Magazine (if you could see the expression our face!). That really meant something to us. We've also received words of encouragement by so many people who also resonate with the vision of Conscious media.
As sisters, how did you two decide to work together? What are the pros and not-so-pros?
As sisters we have always worked on projects together, but there was one specific night that we thought – let’s create something that makes a difference. And, it was as simple as sharing a passion to create a media platform that uplifts the good in culture.
As for the pros and not-so-pros of working together…we have a very truthful saying when people ask "what's it like working with your sister?" Our response is: "It's really good when it's good, and it's really bad when it's bad." But what makes our partnership so great is that we share the same values and convictions. This is very important as we make decisions everyday on what stories we are going to share with our readers.
Why was a print component important to your vision and mission for Conscious?
To be honest, we had no intention of going to print, as we were just as excited about creating a digital magazine. However, we were asked time and time again, can I get this in print? Our response was….okay? We said. "We thought we were moving into a digital world?" Thank God for those readers! They gave us the courage and the confidence to go to print. Today, Conscious in print truly helps people understand our mission. While print is a costly component, the value and reach that the print magazine has is incredible. We've shipped this print magazine to 20 different countries even in places where the shipping costs almost as much as the print itself! (Sorry, international friends!). That dedication right there is a testament that this movement is universal.
You recently announced that Conscious is now available at Barnes & Noble. Congrats! How did that partnership come about?
Our teammate, Jon Lechliter (also Rachael's husband), is the great coordinator behind B&N distribution. He basically reached out to a ton of people (starting with LinkedIn) and kept digging to find a connection. Eventually, he was able to get Conscious in front of the right people. Timing also played a big part in our partnership as B&N was in search of a new lifestyle magazine and Conscious fit the mold! Cool Fact: Conscious is sold in our childhood hometown Barnes & Noble. That was hands down one of the most exciting things we heard this season!
What's a fun fact about you each?
Rachael here, I love to make people laugh. I can be really silly and ridiculous at times, but it's the best feeling when I make someone laugh. I was also on a TV game show and won. That was pretty unique.
Elena: I am laughter... I have this theory that people fit into one of the following categories: Jokers & Laughers... I'm a laugher all the way! I'm also a total anglophile. England is my spirit country;)
With so much going on, how do you avoid burnout?
Rachael: Only more recently have I made self-care a priority. Today, I make it a point to walk away from the computer, to have tech free hours and so during that time I’ll engage in singing, listen to music intently, paint, take photos, run, make time with my friends in NYC or in a new city, and lastly, hang out with my pup. This had to become a priority because back in 2013, I was on the verge of a breakdown. I was experiencing heart palpitations that would arise suddenly like on a sunny day in Central Park to even being woken up in my sleep. These physical reactions revealed that I needed to make a change.
Elena: I try to find time to for myself. I'm definitely an introvert, so after a busy week I like to disappear on the weekends, go for a night run or stroll around New York. Grabbing coffee with a friend or taking time to journal also helps me reset balance. I've learned throughout the years that the more I manage my time and week, the less overwhelmed I get as well.
What can you each never leave home without?
Rachael: I would have to say my iPhone. As much as I need to be away from it at times, it’s also a tool that I use to create. I love capturing art on-the-go.
Elena: Other then my phone... Vitamins and water! I get real nerdy about my vitamins and I have to have them on me at all times.
A HUGE thanks to Rachael and Elena for answering my Qs! For more from these two awesome individuals and Conscious Magazine, you can follow on Twitter (Rachael / Elena), Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.