Friday, 16 May 2014

STICKING TOGETHER....

Today I recieved the most heart warming email of an honest tale of a business on the edge. I subscribed to Pretty Nostalgic for a while but let it lapse and continued to buy copies as and when I saw them. This morning I have resubscribed and I hope that in the name of all thing crafty and handmade you do too. This is a magazine that has been flying in the face of the commercial big guns and as a small time maker myself I feel quite passionate at giving them a break to continue this great publication.

I have posted below the email received from Nicole this morning in a hope that it will inspire you to support a company with this much passion and will to survive in a market which is quite frankly being snatched from under us because it has become a trend.




Dear Pretty Nostalgic subscriber, supporter and friend

I have just heard that the vital investment I was hoping upon hope would come through today to ensure the safe future of Pretty Nostalgic isn’t going to come through after all and it has come as a huge and unexpected blow. We are now in a difficult position and I am going to be totally open and honest with you because you are our reason for being and I don’t want to handle this like a big corporate business. I know this is going to be seen as totally unprofessional and I could be destroying any future by opening up to you but I am still a museum curator at heart you just wanted to make a difference and so I am explaining the whole situation here and sharing everything with you – sorry it is quite a story but I hope it will make you understand our situation

Back in May 2012 I launched Pretty Nostalgic with my then business partner and many of you have been with us since our first issue. My reason for starting the magazine was to provide a quality alternative to other homes and lifestyle magazines, which I felt were lacking in content and too full of the wrong type of advertising. I wanted to promote brilliantly British things and those businesses that deserved it rather than those who could pay for lots of advertising and share my love for vintage and nostalgia. Pretty Nostalgic gathered some lovely subscribers before launching and when we found out we had been accepted to sell in WHSmith from issue 1 we were over the moon. However, the high spec design and quality of the magazine meant that even with a RRP of £8 we were going to make a loss until our actual sales per issue reached over 5000, at the time we had another business which was going to provide the short fall until we were established. However, after 3 issues, my business partner decided she couldn’t afford to wait for the magazine to turn a profit and wanted to pull out, so we split businesses and I continued with Pretty Nostalgic. I totally believe in Pretty Nostalgic and everything we stand for and have never taken a penny in earnings over the past 2 years and have invested many many thousands of my own family’s money to make this work. We chose to publish a beautifully designed and illustrated magazine printed sustainably on quality paper with the appearance of a book rather than a magazine and at the moment each issue costs us £2 just to print. We then have to design, post and cover all the other overheads of running a business and so it really does upset us when people say that Pretty Nostalgic is too expensive compared to other magazines, because if they realised how much more time and effort goes into the design and production compared to other publications they would understand.

We had to increase our print run to over 7500 to supply WHSmith and Barnes and Noble in America with the copies they wanted – in return we got only 40% of the sales price for just those they sold and then we had to wait 90 days for payment. Needless to say the staff in the stores didn’t care whether we sold or not and took little care of our magazines. We had many readers buy us on the newsstand and then join us as subscribers, but we were never sure whether Pretty Nostalgic was reaching the shelves and had many complaints from readers that they were unable to purchase them. By issue 9 we had spent thousands on printing magazines and made very little money in return so we decided that selling through big stores wasn’t right and that we should stick to selling only in independents and following through with our ethos. We have been trying to build up our stockists, but haven’t managed to get back to the level we need in time to help us.

From the beginning Pretty Nostalgic decided to only promote British made goods and forming a close relationship with our advertisers was very important. However, so many small indie businesses and makers have no advertising budget and rely on free editorial and publicity from magazines that it soon became clear that we had to work in a different way. From issue 4 we stopped advertising and instead focused on business membership and promoting our British directory online and through the magazine. We offer great value for money and we promote businesses through the magazine and online for a whole year for between £100 and £600 and we send them copies of the magazine to sell and promote them on social media and invite them to work with us on features. The hope was that this would build a strong community of like minded businesses and that we could work together and we have been joined by some very lovely ones and have really enjoyed working with them. However, although so many businesses continue to contact us desperate for us to feature them in the magazine, the vast majority have never bought a copy of the magazine or even intend to. We made the decision give our priority to those businesses and readers who are loyal supporters and that’s how we produce the magazine now.

I have to put my hands up and admit that I was wrong – I thought people would see that we were different to other magazines, pay a fair price for us and work with us, and while I have been overwhelmed by the support and positive feedback and co-operation of many of our readers I have found that the vast majority just want to take and see what they can get for nothing and treat us the same way as the big corporate magazines, which of course have vast fortunes to back them up.

Our subscribers have been wonderful and we get so many lovely emails and letters saying beautiful things and I know that many of you love and appreciate what we do but there are just not enough of you to make it work - I am not expecting us to get the hundreds of thousands of subscribers that other magazines get, (Country Living has a circulation of 170,000!) but we do need at least 5000 to be viable and I truly thought we would find 5000 like minded people out there, but the publishing business is hard and you have to behave in a cut throat way to survive and thats not me.

I am now at a point where I don’t know what to do – Our next issue 13, our 2nd anniversary issue is designed and ready to go to print, but we don’t have the funds to print it. We have been given some amazing opportunities over the next few months to promote the magazine and increase sales, and many great organisations such as The Goodwood Revival, The Royal International Air Tattoo and the Dig for Victory Show want to work with us and promote us even though we can give them very little in return. We are on the turning point of achieving great things, but the money has just run out. Most magazines launch with a budget of millions, I launched one of the best quality magazine out there on the smallest shoes string budget and just hoped I could make it take off enough to break even before my money ran out. I am obviously more of a dreamer than a businesswoman and I just couldn’t make it. I never wanted charity, but for people to pay a fair price for a lovely product and this is all we have ever tried to help other artisan makers to do.

We were so close to succeeding – if 100 lapsed subscribers renewed today or we got just 150 more subscribers per issue we would be saved, but I didn’t want to lock people into direct debit subscriptions, and people are so busy and have so many outgoings that they are putting other things before us and I really do understand that.

For the last week I have been in negotiations with angel investors – I thought they could see the value of what we were doing and what we could achieve – I wanted to create a brand which promotes artisan makers, indie businesses and supported independent shops and publish a publication with 100% original and wonderful content – they however, just focus on the money and tried to make us something we don’t want to be and just like all the rest – they didn’t share my vision and perhaps nobody does

I am so sorry for the vast babbling explanation and thank you for reading it – I really needed to explain things from my perspective. I really want to thank my wonderful art editor Rae Edwards who has stuck with me and I am sure you will all agree that she is a total design genius and produces a beautiful magazine

I am endeavouring to do all that I can to find the £5000 I need to get the next issue to print and ensure that you get that and any others you are due and I will do all I possibly can to ensure that nobody looses money because of my ambitious leap of faith. Issue 13 will be late but it will arrive and then I will do my utmost to make sure we continue but please be bear with me I don't want this to be the end of Pretty Nostalgic but it is very much out of my hands now.

As a subscriber you are the first to know and I will wait to see what you think before telling the world - what should I do? is Pretty Nostalgic worth fighting for?
I would really appreciate your thoughts, feed back, advise, criticisms, solutions, help, rants, anything really and I will keep you up to date with how things are coming along.

With very best wishes

Nicole x

Nicole Burnett
Founder, Publisher and Editor
Pretty Nostalgic

6 comments:

  1. I resubscribed last month and as my first article is in the next issue I think everyone should get it!!!! Fingers crossed it will continue for a long time to come x

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  2. I have just subscribed - Magazine looks faabulous so I hope enough people subscribe to make it a success! Can't wait to receive my first issue!

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  3. Hi, I got the Email too today and resubscribed. I really hope that things go well for them.

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  4. Thank you for showing this letter . I love the Pretty Nostalgic books and have them up to Issue 9 then it vanished off the shelf. Our local W H Smith were very unhelpful when I asked if they were still selling it . A friend who I had recommended the book to had subscribed and had told me it was still coming through. Not able to subscribe and seeing I had missed 3 I have been waiting to buy them online and hopefully catch up . I am really sad to see the problems because it is a really informative book and I love the design. Fingers crossed that it will succeed . x

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  5. I've subscribed from the very beginning and got the email too ... Sincerely hope it can be rescued, but overjoyed that Issue 13 is on it's way! I can thoroughly recommend this amazing, unique magazine xxx

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