Archive for February, 2022


Stranger’s Guide: A Travel Magazine To Hold & To Cherish. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Publisher Abby Rapoport And Editor-in-Chief Kira Brunner Don.

February 27, 2022

“Between the evergreen content and the printing quality, our publication is rarely sent to the recycling bin with more cheaply-produced weekly or monthly publications that can be read just as easily online.”

“Stranger’s Guide uniquely champions these stories that are rooted in place, seeking to tell authentic stories that reveal the interplay and nuance of cultures around the world.”

You will no longer be a stranger when Stranger’s Guide magazine lands on your coffee table or in your mailbox. The name of the magazine is based on the idea that “18th– and 19th-century authors wrote “stranger’s guides” which were personal, eccentric and intimate portrayals of places. Stranger’s Guide is a modern version of that idea—a publication that reveals the intricacies of locales across the globe, through both local and foreign eyes.”

Founded in 2018 by publisher Abby Rapoport and editor-in-chief Kira Brunner Don, the magazine practices what it calls “place-based journalism.” The founders told me that, for them, “place-based journalism means rooting stories in their location and culture.” Beautifully crafted, Stranger’s Guide, the 2021 National Magazine Awards winner for both General Excellence and Photography (and, if I may add, nominated again this year in both categories), is a timely yet timeless publication in which the readers, once they receive it, are “eager to both display it and dive in.”

Unlike the many travel magazines out there, Stanger’s Guide focuses on a single location in every issue and does not leave a stone unturned in that location. Using both local and international writers and photographers, the magazine captures the entire essence of that place and leaves its audience with the feeling that they just stepped off the plane from a memorable visit to that location.

The locations vary from one issue to the other. From California and Tehran (Iran) to Scandinavia and Colombia, readers feel that they have an open ticket to visit the world and return with an in-depth immersive knowledge of a place no internet connection or television program can provide. 

Worthy of every penny of its $20 cover price, Stranger’s Guide is a must have for those who want to see the world, whether you hop on a plane or not.

I reached out to the founders and asked them a few questions about the magazine and the role place-based journalism plays in today marketplace. The Mr. Magazine™ interview with publisher Abby Rapoport and editor-in-chief Kira Brunner Don follows.

Stranger’s Guide publisher Abby Rapoport
Stranger’s Guide editor-in-Chief Kira Brunner Don

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: Going back to the launch of Stranger’s Guide, would you please tell me the genesis of the idea?

In the early 2010s we had both gotten involved in trying to help a couple older publications get through some choppy waters. At some point we realized that rather than just focusing on older, existing places, we actually had the knowledge and skills to start our own publication.

The concept for Stranger’s Guide emerged as an answer to a set of problems we were both thinking about. In 2016, we were watching the rise of an “America First” mentality that dismissed other cultures and perspectives, separating countries into “good” and “bad” (or even famously “shithole”). Meanwhile the decline in foreign bureaus meant fewer and fewer writers outside the US had pathways to US audiences and US readers had fewer opportunities to encounter new voices from different parts of the world.

Finally we found that the internet had further fractured information about different places—when one reads about Cuba in The Economist it seems almost like a different place than the Cuba that’s portrayed in Conde Nast Traveler or Architecture Digest. Our goal was to create a publication centered on the work of writers and photographers from a single location, in which different subjects—sports, arts, human rights and colonialism—would live together to offer a more nuanced and idiosyncratic portrait of a place.

S. H.: With a hefty cover price ($20) and very high quality print job, what do you think print can do in this day and age that digital can’t?  Why do you believe in print?

We’re highly mission driven and our biggest goal is to breakdown stereotypes and promote cultural exchange. Digital publishing is notoriously good at reaffirming what you already know—we live in filter bubbles that make it difficult to encounter new perspectives.

Our hope is that when readers receive Stranger’s Guide, they’re delighted, eager to both display it and dive in. That means they both see funny and sweet stories but also confront more challenging topics without the mediation of a search engine. Our work is also self consciously evergreen; our readers can return to a favorite piece and it won’t feel dated. Between the evergreen content and the printing quality, our publication is rarely sent to the recycling bin with more cheaply-produced weekly or monthly publications that can be read just as easily online. 

Print remains the best way to offer a curated experience—although through newsletters and our website structure, we’re finding new ways to deliver that same curatorial voice.

S. H.: In addition to the print magazine you have a weekly newsletter Weekend Passport, tell me more about it and how digital and print interact (the quarterly magazine and weekly newsletter.)

We actually have two weekly newsletters. The first, Field Guide, was our first editorial product; we launched it a few months before our first issue came out. Field Guide is in some ways the inverse to the print guides—rather than focusing on a single location through a lot of different themes, it takes a single theme and traces it across numerous locations. Topics have included Chocolate, Corporate Culture, Reenactments, Whiskey and more. That newsletter is free and available to anyone. We frequently showcase print features in our Field Guide and encourage readers to consider subscribing or buying single guides.

Weekend Passport is our newer offering and it’s only available for subscribers. Each Friday, we send them a series of fun opportunities from around the world: recipes, videos, playlists and more. While we certainly love travel, our goal is always to help our community find ways to connect to new experiences from different places they might not otherwise encounter.

S. H.: What is place-based journalism?  How do you choose your locations and your editorial board for each issue?

For us place-based journalism means rooting stories in their location and culture. Stranger’s Guide uniquely champions these stories that are rooted in place, seeking to tell authentic stories that reveal the interplay and nuance of cultures around the world. Our stories portray unique facets of each place, from the complex and controversial to the intimate and beautiful, together building a contemporary awareness of a location and its community. 

We select locations based on making sure we’re in different parts of the world, both in terms of geography and in terms of places more and less associated with travel. For instance last year we did both Scandinavia, a top travel destination, and Tehran, a city that most US residents are not able to visit easily (alongside California and Colombia).

Once we’ve selected the location, we build our editorial board by reaching out to leaders in different areas—academics, artists, editors, writers, etc.—who help us identify key themes for the guide and connect us with their networks of authors and photographers. Our editorial boards play a crucial role in helping us ensure our stories represent a wide swath of perspectives and experiences.

For every issue we build an editorial board of advisors made up of writers, academics, and artists from the country we are covering. And, at least 80% of all of our contributors to every issue are from the country we are highlighting. Some of these contributors are internationally known (we have a piece by Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka in our Lagos issue) and others are up and coming voices. In other words, we don’t parachute in journalists to cover a place. Kira, our editor in chief, often flies to the country and sets up meetings with writers, journalists, artists and academics and commissions the pieces from them on the ground.

S. H.: What has been the most challenging moment since the launch and how did you overcome it?

Like most of the world, the pandemic challenged just about everything, for us as individuals and as a publication. Most of us are working mothers who were suddenly expected to spend our day as full-time teachers and child care workers in addition to doing our jobs. In February 2020, we were launching a supper club series, planning an event in Lagos, Nigeria and getting Kira ready to go abroad for our next issue. Suddenly all of that froze. For a couple days, we were all in a bit of a daze. But one of the best parts of Stranger’s Guide is that we are a community and we’re extremely rooted in our mission, and that mission proved clarifying in terms of how to move forward. We wrote a letter to our readers that became something of a call to arms for us:

As Coronavirus challenges many of our norms and expectations, as countries close borders and xenophobia raises its head, we are more committed than ever to bringing the world to you. Especially in this time of social distancing, it’s critical that we fight the divisions that arise with fear and distrust, and instead rededicate ourselves to the work of connecting.

S. H.: What has been the most pleasant moment since the launch?

Winning the National Magazine Awards for General Excellence and Photography was such an enormous honor for us—to be a small, independent publication not yet three years old and receive that kind of validation from journalists and editors we admire, we were elated.

S. H.: Any additional things you would like to add that I failed to ask?

In addition to our newsletters, website  and print publication, we’re also growing our SG community through events. 

Around the launch of our first issue in late 2018, we did an exhibition for the Apple flagship in San Francisco. We included a photo presentation by our photography editor Kike Arnal, a panel discussion moderated by Kira and readings by an acting group showcasing the “first person narratives” of deportees, all from the issue.  

Our Literary Bogotá event took place on Zoom in early 2021. We used our Colombia playlist to kick things off, followed by an extraordinary performance by Julián Delgado Lopera reading his piece, followed by José Vargas reading his translation of vignettes by Gabriel García Márquez (never-before available in English). We then had a conversation about changing Colombia with José, Julian and SG contributing editor Martín Perna, the founder of the band Antibalas who has helped curate our various playlists.

Lastly, we launched a supper club series in Austin in February 2020, an unlucky time to be sure. However our first one, at African Market, sold out and was a big success. We spoke a little about the Lagos guide and also featured the restaurant, which was Nigerian-owned. We are planning to re-launch the supper clubs later this year.

S. H.: My typical last question, what keeps you up at night these days?

In 2022, waking up from time to time in a cold sweat is just part of the human condition!

We started Stranger’s Guide in response to a set of global problems—the decline of journalism, increasing polarization and increasing lack of respect for other perspectives. All of those things have continued to get worse. There are no easy fixes or quick answers but we continue to chip away with the skills we have.

S. H.: Thank you and safe travels.


Molly My Mag: A Magazine To Help You Fall In Love With Reality & Life. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Molly My, Founder & Editor-in-Chief…

February 18, 2022

“…We aim to help people fall in love with reality and create a lifestyle they appreciate through the highs and lows; the holidays and the everyday.” Molly My, Founder and Editor-In-Chief 

“While we can all appreciate the incredible impact digital has made on our lives, digital content is often placed in front of us, whether we sought it or not. Print content is what we place in front of ourselves by choice.” Molly My

How can I describe the magazine that is the subject of this Mr. Magazine’s™ Interview? Brains meet beauty and a celebration of everyday life, is, in short, the best description I can give to Molly My Mag.  After reading my interview with Molly My, the founder and editor-in-chief of the magazine,  you may add that description to the woman behind the idea of the magazine. Molly My Mag can easily be Molly Your Mag.

Fighting many closed doors, Molly My was determined to launch her magazine idea and open as many doors as possible.  She did not allow the fact that “being young and unknown” in the magazine media business to stop her from finding ways to create her childhood dream: a magazine that speaks to her and her peers.

The story of Molly My Mag is the story of Molly My.  The bi-annual magazine “encourages women to create and seek life’s most beautiful things and moments.” Twice a year, every winter and summer readers have a “date” with the content-rich magazine and a break from the digital blue lights.

A firm believer in the combination of print and digital Molly My presents her audience with a lovely ink on paper magazine to turn the pages one at a time, and a digital website to keep the conversation going among friends.

So without any further delays, here is the Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Molly My, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Molly My Mag.

Molly My, Founder and Editor-in-Chief Molly My Mag. Photo by Ssam Kim

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni:   From a young age, you were approaching media giants with your ideas to do a lifestyle program or show.  It seems with Molly My Mag you’ve achieved your teenage dream. Can you please take me through the journey of creating Molly My Mag and how it transformed from My Magazine to Molly My Mag?

Molly My: It’s been a dream come true, but I’m just getting started! I still have so much I’d like to do that stems from my original vision. Growing up as a millennial, the media played a huge role in my life. As I entered my early teens, I noticed it speaking more to my and my peers’ insecurities rather than our strengths — without many tools to help, other than “buy this!” At the time, there were limited voices targeting our demographic in the right ways. This lit a fire in me that hasn’t burned out since. When I was 13 years old, I started to pitch the big guys a lifestyle series for young women, which would integrate into digital content covering health, wellness, food, style, culture, and more. As you can imagine, being young and unknown in the industry meant that this idea was met with a few closed doors, but I was determined to make a difference with or without the help of others.

Keep in mind, when I was pitching these concepts, this was well before YouTube and lifestyle content went mainstream. I kept the idea close to my heart and as I entered college, Facebook emerged. My first jobs were in marketing, public relations, and advertising, when blogging and Instagram were at the forefront. I saw clearly where this was all going, and picked the pieces of my adolescent dream back up. The internet was saturated with content, and magazines, in my opinion, were due for a fresh comeback. I’ve always been inspired by the road less traveled — and with that, Molly My Mag was born. With more life experience under my belt, including launching a social club to support working women transitioning into adulthood, I felt like I had more tools than ever to continue to self-advocate and help others.

As you know, print is beautiful but expensive, so I first launched the magazine digitally (as My Magazine) before building the traction to crowdfund for our first print run. As the concepts grew, I intertwined my name into the brand to further connect with readers. I wasn’t a media giant with backing — I was just Molly, and it was important to me that our readers knew who was behind the pages; just a girl with a big dream. Plus, many were already calling it Molly My Mag and My Mag, so it made sense to make it more easily identifiable. 

S.H.:  What would you consider was the biggest hurdle that you had to overcome during this journey?

M.M.: Getting comfortable with “no” for an answer, and starting from scratch in publishing. Although I studied journalism in college and had a career and internships prior to the magazine, I didn’t have any print experience — just a love for it. When I decided to expand our distribution, I called every single store directly and that’s how I built our list. I work with some amazing distribution partners now! A lot of people thought I was crazy to embark on this in a digitally-focused era; a lot of brands and companies didn’t believe in me or print — that’s hard, and discouraging. 

I always tell people when they start a business to make sure you’re deeply passionate about it, because whatever it is you’re doing, the passion is the thing that keeps you going. You can’t rely on the good days since those can be few and far between. I didn’t have a road map, which made the journey more challenging, but I wouldn’t have changed one thing because I grew so much with each step. In my opinion, the difficulties have made me more valuable in the space, to my team, and to my readers. It makes the wins much sweeter too! 

S.H.: What was the most pleasant moment?

M.M.: Seeing our first print run come to fruition was definitely a great moment; I was like a kid on Christmas opening those boxes! A close runner up would be getting into Barnes & Noble and Whole Foods, which are two chains I‘ve always had my eyes on. I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received from each and every one of our store partners, and I’ve met the most wonderful people through this process. Reflecting on all of the points of view, work backgrounds, and personalities we’ve brought together in the magazine has been tremendous as well. From our contributors to the hands that put us on shelves, the magazine connects us all — and takes a village! We’re among this great community of people and I just feel really, really lucky to have this opportunity. 

S.H.: Tell me more about celebrating everyday life.  Some folks think magazines are an escape vehicle, yours is bringing people to reality. Why?

M.M.: I think it’s so important that we love our lives. Yes, escapes are nice, but they’re not long term and often unattainable. In Molly My Mag, we aim to help people fall in love with reality and create a lifestyle they appreciate through the highs and lows; the holidays and the everyday. Sounds cheesy, but each moment is a blessing, so it’s necessary we recognize that and celebrate the lives we have or take action to create the lives we want. 

S.H.: Can you identify the role of print in this digital age and how is your print and digital working/not working together?

M.M.: For one, print is a break from blue light! I’ve always loved print for its authenticity, connection, and the way you can intentionally take it with you to the airport, beach, couch — you name it. While we can all appreciate the incredible impact digital has made on our lives, digital content is often placed in front of us, whether we sought it or not. 

Print content is what we place in front of ourselves by choice. I think the manner in which we consume content and information today really hinges on these differences. Print and digital sound like enemies of one another, but I believe they can be used together for greater emphasis. On our Instagram

we share contributor “takeovers” to showcase the unique personalities and expertise of authors we feature in the magazine. We also bring similar or follow up topics onto our site ( and utilize platforms like Amazon and LikeToKnowIt to emphasize the great brands and products found in our issues. Now that we have established ourselves in print, we will continue to look digitally. 

S.H.: What are the next steps for Molly My Mag and anything else you want to add that I failed to ask so far?

M.M.: Expanding our content into areas beyond the lifestyle genre we already cover, and becoming a bigger part of the conversations in culture, business, and more. Our base will always be lifestyle. As the magazine grows, I want to get people thinking harder about more aspects of life, but never forgetting about the importance of the light-hearted stuff too. Life isn’t just a singular topic, and I don’t think magazines need to be either. You should be able to read tips on creating your dream home or wedding while also educating yourself about topics like cryptocurrency or women in Afghanistan. 

This is what Molly My Mag is all about. As a media source, I want to introduce new topics to our readers — especially ones they may not have otherwise sought. That’s how we expand our horizons and start to understand the world around us. It would be difficult for readers to grow from the magazine if we covered only a few related topics, which is why we aim to cover it all and pique curiosities in the way we package everything together. Finally, we’ll further build out our website,, and use digital to complement what we’re doing in print as well as merchandise and more. Wait and see what’s next — but chances are I’ll be very busy for a while! 
That said, anyone who is reading this and interested in contributing to our pages, reach out! We love discovering and connecting with thought leaders and experts. Email our editorial team at

S.H.: My typical last question, what keeps Molly My up at night these days?
M.M.: The excitement that I have for Molly My Mag. I have a hard time winding down for bed when I’m kept up by the happenings of the day. There’s a weird sense of avoidance in not wanting the day to end, because they never seem long enough and there’s so much I want to do and accomplish. 

S.H.:  Good luck and thank you.


Magazines Done Well… Lessons From Harold Ross, Founder and Editor Of The New Yorker. From the Mr. Magazine™ Vault.

February 12, 2022

Digital has become an easy scapegoat to killing print.  No one will think twice to look at the real reasons for killing a print product because there is a suspect in the wings waiting to be accused: Digital.  

There is nothing new in the world of magazines and their lifecycle.  There has been always a time to be born, a time to die, and a time to be reborn.  It is the cycle of life.  Almost with every invention of a new medium, the new is blamed for the death of the old.  Remember television, the scapegoat of the 1960s?

Well, digging into my magazine collection, I came upon a two parts article about Harold Ross, the founder of The New Yorker, in 48 The Magazine of the Year from (you guessed it) March and April of 1948.  This magazine was published from March 1947 until June 1948 and was owned by a group of writers, artists, and photographers.

The Harold Ross article “Ross of The New Yorker” was written by Henry F. Pringle, a Pulitzer Prize winner.  “Ross, editor of what many consider the most civilized magazine in this country,” writes Pringle.

He goes on to write, “The New Yorker’s circulation is roughly 300,000 (remember this is 1948), but its influence is just about the editors of the really big magazines like to think their influence is. Not merely does it set fashions; it creates and changes ideas.  It has produced a whole school of writers and cartoonists…”

Ross has shaped The New Yorker “into a legend of taste, wit, and comely prose, a hornbook of the intelligentsia, begetter of literary fashions, and source of profits.”

Here are some of the facts that I have learned about Harold Ross, founder and editor of The New Yorker :

Ross “not only read every line of copy that goes into the magazine but wrangles over practically every one of the 50,000 words that make up the average issue.”

“Three editors, including Ross, read separate galley proofs and make detailed suggestions and queries… Before the article goes to press a fourth editor, a fresh mind, attacks the story and turns in final suggestions.  Altogether there are eighteen working copies of each set of proofs of every article…

This may sound overmeticulous, but out of it comes the extraordinarily high standards of style and reporting in the nonfiction pieces. But it also accounts for a certain singleness of tone, which has caused a former employee to remark, testily, that The New Yorker is written by one first-rate writer with a hundred names.”

48 The Magazine of the Year. From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni.

“Ross actually admires creative people – this is also is rare among “important” editors – and that is why he has gathered so many of them about him… Perhaps it is inexact to say that Ross admires creative people. Really it is their output, not themselves, he cares about. The make up of the magazine is the clue to his approach to writers:  the lack of anything more than a skeleton table of contents, the unpretentious heading, the overly modest byline at the end of each article.”

Ross and his business department speak to one another about as often as Macy’s does to Gimbel’s. Although in the same building, the editorial and advertising offices are separated by two stories… The editor will brook no editorial interference from the business management; and The New Yorker’s advertisers have sometimes come in for pretty severe handling in its columns.”

48 The Magazine of the Year. From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni.

“Personally a conservative, Ross has never allowed his social and political convictions to influence the editorial policy of the magazine.  He complained that all the good writers these days are liberals or radicals; but, if they’re good, he prints their stuff.”

And last but not least, “Ross has never allowed his name to appear on the masthead, declines to read anything written about himself, and protested vigorously, though not unamiably, when told that the present article was in prospect.”

Magazines done right.  That’s my only comment.  What say you?

Feel free to comment or email me at


Divorcing Well: A New Magazine Landing On The Stands Valentine’s Day… A Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Monique Reidy, Founder & Publisher.

February 6, 2022

“Magazines have an element of magic – they capture a reader’s attention and keep them engaged for a longer period than their digital counterparts.” Monique Reidy, founder and publisher, Divorcing Well.

“Launching Divorcing Well magazine on newsstands on Valentine’s Day is a proclamation that being single and happy in one’s own skin is a celebration regardless of romantic attachment.” M.R.

“A successful divorce is much better than a failed marriage,” my late brother used to tell us after he and his wife divorced. I was reminded of his statement once I learned that Monique Reidy, the publisher and president of Southern California Life is getting ready to launch her newest magazine, Divorcing Well.

Others have tried to publish divorce magazines, but needless to say they failed after an issue or two. The beauty of Ms. Reidy newest magazine is the Well part of Divorcing… It is like lighting a candle rather than cursing the dark. The new magazine aims to help the divorcee to thrive emotionally, physically, and financially. A tall order, but Ms. Reidy is sure the magazine is going to fulfill.

Judging by the selection of the articles and the design of the magazine, it seems that Ms. Reidy is on the right track. The magazine will hit the newsstands in the state of California on Valentine’s Day and I will leave to Ms. Reidy to explain to you why did she choose this specific day to publish the magazine.

So, here is the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Monique Reidy, founder and publisher of Divorcing Well magazine:

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni:  This is your third magazine launch, why are you still a believer in print in this digital age?

Monique Reidy: People still love magazines because they can read at their own pace and they’re able to enjoy the images and content in a relaxed manner. While digital information can be accessed instantaneously, it can be a challenge to get through an article online with the multitude of intrusive ads and continual distractions. Affiliate ads are now everywhere on the internet, luring readers to click links that hijack them away from what they’re reading to some sort of retail trap. I can’t get through an article about foods that could potentially be poisonous to my dogs without being led shoe shopping (thank you programmatic advertising).

I’m still a believer in print because the medium holds more credibility than the internet in the eyes of most consumers. Magazines have an element of magic – they capture a reader’s attention and keep them engaged for a longer period than their digital counterparts. Studies have shown that a digital piece will attract a person for 10 minutes while readers can linger for 30 minutes or more with a print magazine. It’s rewarding to hear that people enjoy our publications and that they’ve been informed and inspired. 

S.H.: You mentioned you want the magazine to be out in times of Valentine’s, what are you celebrating?

M.R.: February 14th is traditionally a couple’s celebration of their romantic relationship. While it’s a worthwhile occasion, singles can sometimes feel left out because they don’t have a partner with whom to mark the event. Valentine’s day is another reminder to singles that they are in fact … single. And for those who wish to be in an amorous relationship, it’s just rubbing salt into that emotional wound. A newly separated person, particularly one whose spouse left the marriage to be with someone else, could spend a lonely Valentine’s Day marinating in anxious thoughts about how the “ex” is enjoying the evening in the arms of another. 

Launching Divorcing Well magazine on newsstands on Valentine’s Day is a proclamation that being single and happy in one’s own skin is a celebration regardless of romantic attachment. The magazine underscores the importance of self-care and self-worth and that it doesn’t take another human to make one feel worthwhile. Our objective is to inspire readers to love who they are enough to fix what’s broken emotionally and aspire to create a happier life on their own terms. 

S.H.:  What has been the biggest hurdle that you were able to overcome with this launch?

M.R.: Since our first launch of Southern California Life magazine eight years ago, I’ve had to listen to a lot of snarky opinions about why this or that idea won’t work. (And trust me, there’s never a shortage of people who want to hold a storm cloud over your head if you’re on a momentous mission.)  I was vulnerable and easily influenced in those early days, so the pessimists and naysayers sometimes caused me to second guess my goals. Learning to listen to opinions without allowing them to steer me off track has been one of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome. 

When you have a vision and you are focused on a specific target, you better not take your eyes off that mark and just keep moving forward. That’s not to discount getting advice from other professionals, but at the end of the day the backseat drivers can tell you where they think you should go, but you’re the one at the wheel, pressing the gas pedal. 

S.H.:  What was the most pleasant surprise?

M.R.: As a magazine publisher I can imagine about a dozen topics a day that would make a good magazine – but not all of them would make sense. But after I went through a difficult divorce the first time and a bloodbath the second, I decided a magazine offering support to people working through that messy dissolution process would be helpful. The most pleasant surprise has been the overwhelming positive feedback from both divorce professionals as well as individuals currently going through marital divorce. While books can certainly be valuable, a magazine with smaller “get to the point” advice can be much more useful. Every issue will cover how to stay well emotionally, physically, financially, and legally through the arduous divorce process. The objective is to have readers feel encouraged, motivated, and hopeful with every read. The most perplexing part about the project is why no one had thought of this concept before. 

S.H.:  Divorce laws differ from state to state, how are you going to cover all the states and their laws in the magazine?  Are you starting regional (like California first) and then expanding to the rest of the country?

M.R.: The largest sector heading to court are the 50 + year-olds. The divorce rate in the State of California is now at 60% and climbing. I launched Divorcing Well first in California because this is where I live and I’m most familiar with the laws governing dissolution within my State, having just gone through the experience. But while divorce laws differ from State to State within the U.S., some things remain the same, regardless of region. 

For example, when we suffer a marital betrayal, the tools to help us through those feelings of loss and abandonment are not bound by geography. Some of us may have at some point felt like we want to accidentally run over our ex’s new girlfriend. We all feel similar feelings and most of the magazine tackles issues pertaining to staying well on every level (including why running over the girlfriend is a stupid idea). Some of the articles, specifically those that address legal strategies, must be modified based on the laws that apply to each State. Divorcing Well can easily expand to other States as most of the content is universally meaningful. The pieces that address divorce laws would have to be modified to adapt to the laws governing divorce in each State.

S.H.: My typical last question is what keeps Monique up at night these days?

M.R.: Nothing keeps me up at night. I believe in a good and gracious God who keeps my family safe and helps me at every turn. I have many friends who have trouble sleeping — I tell them they should learn to trust God or invest in an effective sleeping pill. 

S.H.: Any additional things you’d like to add or I failed to ask you…

Divorce really does suck. And those going through one that is complicated and contentious need a lot of support from friends, family, psychotherapists, divorce coaches and whomever else they can find to dispense constant encouragement. I hope our publication can be a resource to help breathe life to the heartbroken and tired individuals going through this hardship. Our company is a mostly female group and many of us have experienced divorce. We are putting our hearts and souls into helping readers get through divorce and do it well. 

S.H.: Congratulations on the new launch and thank you.


Bavual: The New Magazine With An Afrocentric Viewpoint. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Earl A. Birkett, Editor & Publisher.

February 1, 2022
The premiere issue of Bavual magazine.

“Given the divisive and misinformed times in which we live, Bavual just seemed like the right concept for this time.” Earl A. Birkett, Editor & Publisher, Bavual   magazine

“Bavual is a forceful and clear reteller of history from the Afrocentric viewpoint, and explainer of how that heritage interplays with today’s world. My belief is that knowledge is gained through understanding, and understanding is gained through truth.”  E.A.B.

Not too many times do I find myself at a loss of words when I am interviewing an editor or a publisher about his or her magazine.  But after hearing Earl A. Birkett’s story, I was indeed at a loss of words.  His passion to magazines and magazine media is evident in the way he talks about the magazine and on every page of the magazine that will hit the newsstands nationwide shortly.  

Bavual is a powerful forceful magazine with a very lucid focus. The timing can’t be any better, yet the content is timeless. Bavual and the man behind the magazine are both a force to reckon with. This is their story as told in this Mr. Magazine™ Q and A.

Eleven years ago, Mr. Birkett fell critically ill and lost both his legs and kidneys. He told me that he “narrowly survived, thanks to the grace of God and excellent medical treatment. Coming so close to my Maker forced me to re-arrange my priorities and concentrate on leaving a legacy for good. Part of that legacy, I hope, is Bavual.”

And thus the interview is about both Bavual and Mr. Birkett and the legacy that they are creating. So, without any further delay, here is the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Earl A. Birkett, editor and publisher of Bavual.    Enjoy.

Earl A. Birkett, editor and publisher of Bavual.

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: Congratulations on the launch of Bavual.  My first question is, “what Bavual, the magazine, is and what does the name mean?

Earl A. Birkett: “Bavual” is a popular name for a male child in many parts of Africa. The name is Swahili for “power, strength, force.” The fictional character I concocted to stand as the magazine’s muse is Bavual   Adisa, a perpetual 25 year old from Tanzania but who could live anywhere on Earth. His last name is Yoruba for “one who is clear, or lucid.” Those two names adequately describe what Bavual is: a forceful and clear reteller of history from the Afrocentric viewpoint, and explainer of how that heritage interplays with today’s world. My belief is that knowledge is gained through understanding, and understanding is gained through truth.

S.H.:  Tell me a little bit about your background and why did you decide to make the move to print after working for years with Time Warner?

E.A.B.: Actually, my background with Time Warner is limited and long ago. I worked in their cable tv division as a salesman in New York’s Outer Boroughs back in the late 80s and early 90s. It started out as a way to supplement my meager income as a high school social studies teacher and surprisingly grew into a lucrative affair for me. After the stint at Time Warner I continued in the business world, eventually becoming a real estate broker.

I have been in love with the magazine publishing business since I was eight years old; I have been a student of the industry ever since. Until now I never quite found the right moment to jump in as a publisher. Given the divisive and misinformed times in which we live, Bavual just seemed like the right concept for this time.

S.H.:  You seem very passionate about this project, yet we know with passion alone success could not be achieved.  What is your plan for success for this new venture?

E.A.B.: It’s true, I am very passionate about Bavual, it is almost a calling for me. Fortunately for me, I am not alone in this feeling. For whatever reason, divine intervention, luck or what have you, I have been able to assemble an editorial staff of nine very talented and dedicated people to help me in this quest. They come from both genders, several races, from diverse regions of the U.S. – including from some places you would not normally think would be attracted to a magazine like Bavual  – and even one from India.

Due to financial limitations, I cannot grow Bavual ‘s circulation as fast as I would like, so I have opted to build an audience the old-fashioned way: make each issue a masterpiece and put it before the public online, in retail outlets and in mailboxes, and let them vote yay or nay. If you build it they will come, right?

S.H.:  In the midst of hundreds of magazine titles out there, where do you see Bavual  fitting and whom do you view as its competitive set?

Ever since the demise of Ebony and Jet (in print) about a decade ago, Bavual is completely alone in the consumer magazine category that caters to the Afrocentric lifestyle. Essence fits only a portion of this market. As for magazines that focus on African heritage, it has been many more decades since. Its closest editorial descendant is a magazine called Encore that was published in the 70s by Ida Lewis, which covered Afrocentric news. I remember it from my teenage years and was captivated by it. 

The preview issue of Bavual magazine.

Bavual is designed to be a feast for the eyes and the mind, a reminder of what the great picture magazines like Life and Look were like combined with the relevance of, say, The Atlantic or The New Yorker

S.H.:  Who is the audience of this feast for the eyes and mind?

E.A.B.: Contrary to its name and focus, Bavual is not a “black” magazine, that is, published by black people for black people. It is inclusive, meaning that it is produced by a multicultural, international staff for ANYONE who wants to know the truth about the world’s past from one point of view, in this case, the Afrocentric one, warts and all, and how it relates to the present.

S.H.:  What has been the most difficult challenge so far and how did you overcome it?  What was the most pleasant surprise so far?

E.A.B.: The most difficult challenge was putting out both a Preview Issue last fall and the Premier Issue this winter. Like I said, we had to work on a shoestring, but you know what? We did it, and I think we did it very well.

The biggest surprise thus far is the broad appeal of Bavual. We have been picked up by retail outlets on the West Coast, the Midwestern heartland and the Southern Bible Belt. The biggest fun is finding out who reads us.

S.H.:  Before I ask you my typical last question, is there anything you’d like to add?

I don’t often like to talk about myself, but I think it important in this instance. There is one other motivating factor for starting Bavual, besides the obvious one of wanting to contribute to the public dialogue on race right now, and that is my health. Eleven years ago I fell critically ill, the victim of an unknown disease that is vaguely traced to complications from diabetes. I narrowly survived, thanks to the grace of God and excellent medical treatment, however it cost me both my legs (amputated below the knee) and my kidneys, which are failing (I am on dialysis), and a reduced energy level. Coming so close to my Maker forced me to re-arrange my priorities and concentrate on leaving a legacy for good. Part of that legacy, I hope, is Bavual. I also want to convey to people that having a disability is not the end of the world. I may not have a great body but I still have a great mind, thank God.

S.H.:  Amen to that.  My typical last question is what keeps you up at night these days?

E.A.B.: I think about the state of the world a lot, particularly the state of the most powerful country in the world, my homeland, the U.S.A. It pains me that a country that has been so good to me in so many ways has decided in many cases to travel down the road of ignorance, intolerance and selfishness. I am constantly reminded that good does not necessarily triumph over evil without constant vigilance.

S.H.:  Thank you and all the best in this new venture.

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