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Wide Awake: Worth the Risk
Taking a chance to build something wonderful

I bumped into an old friend recently, and I mentioned that the magazine was celebrating its 15th anniversary. She reminded me of conversations we had way back – 10 years ago, in fact – about whether I should purchase the magazine. She said I went on and on, back and forth, because I didn’t know if I should take the risk.

She encouraged me to dive in, as did many others – including my husband Joe, whose idea it was to buy the magazine. My parents were also very vocal about taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, no matter the risk.

Of course, you know what happened, and while the magazine is celebrating its 15th anniversary, I am celebrating my 10th year as publisher. I don’t think when I made the decision I could see 10 years down the road, but here we are – and the changes that have occurred over that time are staggering.

Initially, the staff was myself and one ad sales rep. Joe helped out a lot, and I often turned to Maury Z. Levy for his wisdom. Joe and I started showing up at all kinds of community events, so we could meet people and start integrating the magazine – and ourselves – into SJ. (We still do that now, as you may have noticed in SJ Eye.)

Over time, we grew. We added pages and staff. Twelve people currently work for the magazine, not to mention our freelancers.

It’s funny to think how happy I was when we bought our first copier. I don’t remember how long ago that was, but we thought that purchase marked such a milestone for us. We no longer had to go to Staples every time we needed copies. We owned our own copier. We had made it to the big time.

But then eventually, the milestones started streaming in. We received several awards. I was asked to serve on some local boards. Reader feedback was overwhelmingly positive. People began stopping me to simply say how much they loved the magazine (they still do). Sometimes they talk about a particular story and describe how it affected them. Sometimes they actually quote a line from my column – that always blows me away.

Then NJTV said it would air our TV show, which we produced and began airing last fall. (You can see full episodes here.) And at the beginning of this year, we moved into lovely, larger office space. I searched for a new office for two years – two years! – and I now love what we have.

Many times over the years people asked me if I was enjoying owning the magazine. Was I happy I had taken that risk? At first, I would say it’s too early to tell. Because quite frankly, in the early days, Joe and I were not having fun. Many times we thought we had made a huge mistake and wouldn’t it be so nice if we weren’t working 12-hour days, 7 days a week. (I’m not exaggerating.) It took a toll on our kids too. The whole work-family balance that people talk about achieving was nowhere to be found in our house. SJ Magazine had taken over.

But eventually, life with SJ Magazine became normal. And then it became wonderful.

The best part is that early on we established a mission for the magazine that we’ve upheld. Our mission is threefold: promote South Jersey, be a media outlet that never disempowers women and support SJ nonprofits. These three tenets have guided us, and I think it is why we are here celebrating 10 years after taking that risk.

Most magazines are considered a form of entertainment; something you grab when you’d like a little downtime. But

SJ Magazine is so much more. You’ll see it in our tagline: we’re the heart and soul of South Jersey. That’s what we’ve been working for all these years. That was worth taking a risk for – and it’s definitely worth celebrating.

March 2015
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