What I learned: A year of HERE magazine

What I learned: A year of HERE magazine

Written by: Julia Perla Huisman
September 6, 2018


As editor, publisher and proud mama of HERE, our one-year milestone probably means the most to me than to anyone else. I’ve shed much blood, sweat and tears over the past year, and I’ve learned many lessons, five of which I would like to share with you. If you are thinking of starting a business or just want to know more about what our journey has been like, my hope is that our journey will provide help and hope. 

It takes a village.
I used this phrase in the essay I wrote for our first issue. “Birthing and raising an independently owned magazine is much like birthing and raising a child: it takes a village,” I wrote. This is why I had formed a group of brand ambassadors to help me get the magazine started. Since then, I’ve also added to my staff of writers, photographers, interns and account executives in order to keep this thing going.  

But because my name is on the top of the masthead and my photo is on the editor page, I get most of the credit, unfortunately. Many people have used words like “amazing” and “inspirational” when sharing their admiration for my work. I should be thrilled with these comments, but instead they make me uncomfortable. Because I’m not the only one doing the work. I only play a small part in making HERE the quality publication it is. If I didn’t have the team that I do, we never would have made it a whole year, trust me. So I accept the accolades, but only on behalf of everyone else who has poured into this publication.  

I experienced anxiety like never before… but also learned how to deal with it.
When you start something on your own, built out of your deepest passion, every success and setback feels like an extension of you. So the setbacks are especially difficult. They’re also inevitable, so… yeah, a lot of tears and sleepless nights.  

As editor, publisher and proud mama of HERE, our one-year milestone probably means the most to me than to anyone else. I’ve shed much blood, sweat and tears over the past year, and I’ve learned many lessons, five of which I would like to share with you. If you are thinking of starting a business or just want to know more about what our journey has been like, my hope is that our journey will provide help and hope. 

It takes a village.
I used this phrase in the essay I wrote for our first issue. “Birthing and raising an independently owned magazine is much like birthing and raising a child: it takes a village,” I wrote. This is why I had formed a group of brand ambassadors to help me get the magazine started. Since then, I’ve also added to my staff of writers, photographers, interns and account executives in order to keep this thing going.  

But because my name is on the top of the masthead and my photo is on the editor page, I get most of the credit, unfortunately. Many people have used words like “amazing” and “inspirational” when sharing their admiration for my work. I should be thrilled with these comments, but instead they make me uncomfortable. Because I’m not the only one doing the work. I only play a small part in making HERE the quality publication it is. If I didn’t have the team that I do, we never would have made it a whole year, trust me. So I accept the accolades, but only on behalf of everyone else who has poured into this publication.  

I experienced anxiety like never before… but also learned how to deal with it.
When you start something on your own, built out of your deepest passion, every success and setback feels like an extension of you. So the setbacks are especially difficult. They’re also inevitable, so… yeah, a lot of tears and sleepless nights.  

After a while, however, I learned that my anxiety wasn’t making anything better. Lying awake at 2 a.m. worrying about paying the bills didn’t bring in more money; in fact, it probably lessened the chances because I was tired and unproductive the following day. And in the end, the minor stressors I faced were nothing compared with what they could be.  

I started listening to several podcasts and reading books about entrepreneurship, and I learned that the ups and downs are part of every business owner’s experience, even the super successful ones. Once I acknowledged that my struggles are normal and not as life-crushing as I was making them out to be, I started sleeping better at night and thinking calmly during the day. I’m not sure I would have learned this lesson had I not started this magazine. 

There are endless resources for success.
Speaking of books and podcasts, we live in a glorious time where an abundance of expert advice is right at our fingertips. Don’t know how to file your business name? Google it! In need of QuickBooks tutorials? Search YouTube! Feeling down about your business and want a pick-me-up? Find a podcast! (I recommend How I Built This.) 

We have no excuses anymore for not knowing how to do something. We can no longer say we don’t have a means of mentorship and support. The digital age has given us all the resources we need, and then some. We just have to be willing to look for it. 

Print is not dead.
While digital resources are everywhere, this does not mean that there isn’t a place for print. This fact has surprised me most in the past year. I knew that starting a print magazine in 2017 was risky. In fact, I was actually going to make HERE solely a digital magazine at first. I had no intention of printing it. But every single time I shared that idea with people, their response was: “Well can’t you just print some copies? I don’t know what it is about magazines but I would much rather flip through them with my hands than look at them online.”  

In our first issue, we did a story about people who prefer analog (hand-written notes, vinyl records, hard copy day planners, etc.) over electronic content. That story resonated with readers in a way I never expected. My theory is that we are so overstimulated by the digital, every second of every day, that we relish any precious moment we can get consuming information from a printed, high-quality, well-designed piece that we can hold in our hands. It feels slower, easier on the eyes. At a time when our culture is polluted with digital overload, print is quite simply a breath of fresh air. So I’m hopeful that it will be around for a while. 

HERE is so much more than a magazine.
The very best compliment I can get regarding HERE is when people tell me that they visited a local business for the first time, just because they saw it featured in our magazine. Or when they say something like, “I never even knew that place existed until now!”  

Another favorite piece of feedback is when people say they didn’t realize Northwest Indiana was even worthy of such a nice publication until HERE came around—in other words, they didn’t realize just how cool NWI actually is. Our work has shed a different light on our community. But HERE didn’t create the cool stuff, it was already there! We are merely a vessel to get the word out. (One of many vessels, I might add. There are other groups doing similar work, to which I say, “Bravo!” Some examples: LOCAL 219, Ask NWI, and the pop-up markets such as Hunt & Gather and Fetching Market that started this whole movement.) 

I find it awesome that the upswing of appreciation for our community is being led not by mass media outlets or high-paid business executives but by a few scrappy, passionate creatives who just like to tell a good story in a way that looks and feels “above” Northwest Indiana. We as a community deserve this kind of quality, you know. We are no longer the stepchild of Chicago or the armpit of Indiana. We are cool and creative and have so much to offer those who live and visit here.  

If HERE has played a part in spreading that message after just one year, then we have done exactly what we set out to do. Now we aim to do just that and more for many more years to come.