Cause of the Day: Conscious Magazine’s compassionate & community culture comes to LA
I absolutely love when I come across a new blog, book, or magazine that has both thoughtful content and gorgeous imagery. Conscious Magazine, based in New York, gets it just right by blending beautiful photographs and smart stories about entrepreneurs, educators, individuals, and social communities who take simple ideas and find new ways to make a difference both locally and globally. I’m a huge fan of inspirational quotes, so if you like those too, follow Conscious Magazine on Facebook for their inspiring Daily Conscious posts.
I first discovered Conscious when it was a blog called Lifestyle + Charity, founded by sisters, Rachael and Elena Baxter. Fast forward a couple years, and Conscious Magazine was born evolving into not only a magazine, but a great social community of like-minded groups and individuals who share the passion for doing good. I’m lucky to have met Editor in Chief/co-founder, Rachael, who is also celebrating her birthday this week, as well as the launch of Conscious Magazine’s 2nd Issue. The LA Issue features exclusive, print-only stories: Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise, LA’s Rising Change Makers Impact Professionals, HUB LA, California Photo Journal and much more. The issue can be purchased online, at the both NY and LA issue launch parties next week, or in the DTLA Arts District at Alchemy Works. Editor in Chief, Rachael Baxter-Lechliter takes a few minutes to chat about the new issue:
Melissa Wong: The new LA issue comes out this week, on June 17. Can you give me the rundown of the features?
Rachael Baxter-Lechliter: Our second print issue uncovers the conscious culture in Los Angeles as well as stories around the world by highlighting people, businesses, and nonprofits who are using innovative and creative solutions to make a difference. For this issue we not only worked with our team writers, but we teamed up with guest writers and photographers living and working in the California community to produce the stories.
While we were focused on the conscious culture of Los Angeles, we also wanted to incorporate a personal vision of “seeing others differently, not just for their title or appearance but for their value and worth”. As you will discover in the magazine, this vision comes alive in so many of the stories from Aaron Lieber a surfer filmmaker, Lauren Scruggs author and fashion journalist, teen social entrepreneurs who founded the organization called Embrace, LA2050, HUB LA, Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise, LA’s Rising Change makers, and so many more.
MW: A couple months ago, Conscious had posted a Facebook status about exploring other potential “Conscious” cities- is there any update which cities you’ll be visiting or highlighting? If so, which cities and when will we see these stories?
RBL: Even though we are about to release the Los Angeles issue, yes, we are brainstorming and researching about which city to feature next. We’ll actually unveil our next city this summer – so stay tuned! However, we are going to focus on other cities via consciousmagazine.co by teaming up with a few editorial collaborators like This Good World who will help us curate “conscious culture city guides”. I know for sure we’ll talk about Nashville, Atlanta, and of course where we are headquartered, New York City.
MW: City guides- how exciting! What does Conscious have in store for the rest of 2014? Any upcoming collaborations or events?
RBL: Definitely stay tuned for our next print issue this Fall / Winter 2014. As far as collaborations and events go, for the past few months we slowly launched what we call “editorial collaborations” where we invite leaders in the social good space to produce stories for consciousmagazine.co. For events, we are hosting two magazine release parties – one in NYC and the other in LA. Lastly, we are very interested in serving teens, and so recently we donated a bunch of our New York City issue magazines to the organization Rocking the Boat in the Bronx. RTB helps at-risk teens learn about environmental advocacy, as well as, teach them how to build life-size boats! There are few teens within the program who are interested in writing, and so we may be able to help foster their writing skills with a training program. This is something we envision for the future of Conscious Magazine.
MW: How many distributors do you currently have in the U.S? Canada? Australia?
RBL: Large-scale distribution is definitely a future goal of ours, but right now, we are stocked in a few boutique stores in California, New York, Switzerland, and Hong Kong. Oh! We do have a “big fish wish list”, but time will tell. What’s really most exciting to us is the line-up of subscribers around the world from France, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Tokyo, Netherlands, and the United States.
MW: Since Conscious’s early days as Lifestyle + Charity- to the now revamped 2014 Conscious, I’m sure you and the team have been through some crazy ups and downs. To date, what has been one of your most challenging tasks you and the team have had to endure?
RBL: Our first challenge is a lack of financial resources, time, and we all wear many hats. Even though there is a lack, we just have to learn how to be creative and efficient. Our second challenge is team dynamics. We all work remotely and have drastically different schedules, which makes it difficult to find time to meet. However, we found a system that works such as hosting a scheduled weekly call at the same time every week, but whoever can make it great, and for whoever cannot, then review the meeting notes. We also have a private facebook group where all of the daily communication gets shared between our team. We found this to be much easier to follow than long email chains. A third challenge is remaining hole and emotionally healthy. Running a startup can be absolutely draining and even amplify some of the insecurities stored beneath the surface. For this, you just need to be mindful of it and truly find some work life balance and to not take things too seriously.
MW: What has been the most memorable experience?
RBL: During our visit to California to prepare for the Los Angeles issue, we took a trip San Diego to meet with Sarah Hernholm of Doing Whatever It Takes (WIT). WIT provides a college-level course for high school students where they learn entrepreneur and leadership skills while designing, launching and growing social impact projects. Sarah naturally brought along two of WIT’s teenage members to our meeting in San Diego. We met Lauren and Danya, the two high school ladies who created the organization, Embrace, which combats the issue of negative body image. Ultimately they are trying to change the conversation by helping communities “kick” the habit of making body shape and size a topic of conversation and source of judgment. I was really inspired by them because even at my age I still struggle with the idea of body image and find myself talking about this on a daily basis. I was so impressed by their level of awareness on the matter that we invited them to share their story in the LA issue. This is exciting for us because it is a step towards fulfilling our mission of raising up the next generation of storytellers.
MW: Wonderful! I look forward to picking up my LA Issue and seeing you at the LA Issue Launch Party! Purchase your copy of Conscious here: Conscious LA Issue.
All photos courtesy of Conscious Magazine