A Women’s Magazine That Cares Less About Who You Should Be and More About Who You Are
As you know, I’m here trying to do my part to change the way media speaks to women, to positively align mass communication messages to match who we truly are and what we really need and want.
A few scrolls through Verily magazine, and it quickly becomes obvious as to why I wanted to reach out to their co-founder, Kara Eschbach.
Verily is a women’s fashion and lifestyle website that’s “less of who you should be, more of who you are.” Our mission is to empower and inspire women to be the best versions of themselves. We publish insightful and relatable articles that touch on all facets of women’s lives: real fashion & beauty, relationships, healthy living, and popular culture. We are one of the leaders in championing diverse, real beauty with our no-photoshop policy and recognize our responsibility to affirm life-giving attitudes through our content.
Also, her Twitter bio reads: "Co-Founder of
@VerilyMag | digital media, feminism, Catholicism, cocktails | sometimes I write things. throwing parties is my jam. tongue firmly in cheek."
Clearly, we needed to know more about Kara and Verily. So I asked. Here's what she told me about creating better women's lifestyle content, chasing a creative dream, and the fun but emotional side to building a business.
When launching Verily magazine, what did you set out to create?
We found that most women's lifestyle content was pretty out of step with our expectations for life—so much of it focused on making your man happy in bed, or how to get ahead in your career, or dress super trendy and sexy. There wasn't much in the way of thoughtful advice that actually looked at how to be the best version of yourself or how to balance the many desires young women have, including wanting to have a healthy marriage, balance a career, and have children. We wanted to create a space that could be honest about what we're working through as women, and give the kind of really solid, research-backed advice we wish our friends could give.
You left a career in finance to embark upon this journey. How did you arrive at the decision to leave and start your content endeavors?
When I met my co-founder Janet, who had worked at Elle and was the one who originally suggested creating an alternative magazine for women like us, it was just the right timing. I loved working in private equity, but also could see that I wanted to diversify my experience outside of the role I had. When we started Verily, it was a passion project, but I also was thinking, "Well, maybe trying this could be that experience I want?" I didn't see it so much as a huge risky leap as a decision to get a particular kind of experience. If it worked out, then I'd be living my dream; if it didn't, I would have a much better idea of what I want to do next. When I framed it to myself that way, it felt a lot less like this crazy thing and more of a strategic career move. Luckily for me, it's turned out to much more in the 'dream' category!
When did you know you were really on to something?
We released a digital teaser issue to test the market and our ability to pull off our vision, and did a small print run with it to see if anyone would buy it. The response was immediate—we nearly sold out of the printed copies, and got some nice press that got the word out. There was clearly a community of women who were looking for just what we had created, and that was the validation we needed to keep going.
What has been the most surprising part of starting this business?
How hard it is to pass responsibility on to others. When you start something that is so personal and mission-driven, handing off pieces of responsibility to someone else, even when I need to pass things off and they're super qualified, is hard. Plus, starting something new is emotionally draining. I knew I would work long hours and have ups and downs, but I don't think I quite understood just what kind of roller coaster entrepreneurship is. But I'm also glad to have gone through it! The hard times have made us all grow a lot personally and professionally.
If you were to do it all over again, what advice would you tell your younger self?
To be better at building relationships for the long-haul. The most important thing you can do is build your network. Get lunch with as many people as you can, just to let them know who you are. It can be tempting to only focus on who you need to meet for your work right now, but those longer-term relationships are what you need to make it in the long run.
What are you looking forward to in 2016?
I feel like the last couple of years have been set up for 2016: our growth has really accelerated recently, so I'm excited to see what we can do with that. And I'd love to go on a legit, off-the-grid vacation this year! (Dare to dream, right?)
Coffee, tea or green juice?
I used to be a die-hard French Press gal, but recently I've been trying to switch more to tea and get a full night's rest. My goal for 2016 is to become a morning person, which really means going to bed at a decent hour, so that I can wake up, do a short 10-minute workout and take some time to pray. It's such a small difference, but taking 15-20 minutes to do those two things in the morning completely changes my day for the better!
Single and loving it, reveling in a relationship, or Tindering?
At the moment, single and... looking, but not too hard. I love my life, but I DO want to get married, so I'm definitely trying to be open to something coming along!
You're also a cocktail connoisseur. What's your current tipple of choice these days?
I've been experimenting a lot with infused liquors, like jalapeno tequila and chamomile tea rye. One of my favorites is the Green Gloves from Mayahuel. True story: I bought a juicer just so I could have fresh celery juice for it! No illusions for healthy uses on that one, ha.
The book I'm currently reading is...
I'm on a bit of a book break right now, but I have been reading a lot of articles on the Middle East as a result of the current season of Serial. I am totally hooked on podcasts!