I spoke to the new publisher of Westlake Magazine last week.
Lev: “Rebecca, how long have you been the owner and publisher of Westlake Magazine?”
Rebecca: “I acquired the magazine in July of 2010. We redesigned and relaunched the publication in November.
“I’ve been involved with Westlake Magazine for 13 years. I started out as a contributing editor and then over the years became an advisor to the publisher. We became good friends. I started running the non-profit fundraising element of the magazine. She wanted me to the person she passed the baton to. She’s almost 80 years old. She’s run this magazine for 18 years. Before that, she ran Glendale magazine for 15 years. She still acts as a consultant for me.”
“Westlake Magazine is a creative departure for me. I have been running a non-profit organization (Grossman Burn Foundation) for the past four years, going to Afghanistan, opening up a burn center in Kabul. This was lighter, more fun, community-driven.
“Westlake Magazine serves one of the more affluent markets in the country. It’s the oldest lifestyle publication in the Conejo Valley. It has name recognition.
“We’re not only targeting the community and mom-and-pop stores, we’re also establishing ourselves as one of the premiere lifestyle magazines in California. We’re building alliances with other luxury publications across the country. We’ve been talking to publications in Dallas, Palm Beach and the East Coast. It’s a tough time to be in the print business. I feel like there’s strength in numbers. That’s always been my philosophy in the non-profit area.
Lev: “You went to Afghanistan.”
Rebecca: “I’m going to Indonesia in June. We’re partnering with another organization to establish a burn unit in a clinic that serves about 50,000 refugees.
“My husband and I kinda adopted a young girl from Afghanistan who was a burn patient. She lived with us off and on for about seven years. She’s back in Afghanistan now.
“Most recently, the foundation brought over the young girl featured on the cover of Time magazine who’d had her ears cut off. She’s in New York now.”
Lev: “Are you afraid to operate a magazine in these difficult economic times for print?”
Rebecca: “No. Because this magazine serves an affluent market, people tell me they won’t throw it away because it’s a book, a beautiful piece of art. People are proud to showcase it.
“I’m very involved with technology. I have called Pandora Apps, a mobile Pandora apps company. My offices are based in Romania. We’ve developed a few apps out there such as a tag reader app. We put our codes on our advertisers in Westlake Magazine. The magazine is available in an iPad version. The magazine is involved in Facebook, blogging, and that whole online element. There are still people who appreciate a beautiful print magazine and like to sit down and thumb through a hard copy.”
Lev: “What do you plan to do with your website westlakemagazine.com?”
Rebecca: “We’re launching it now. It’s interactive. We videotape all of our cover shoots and post that. Hailee Steinfeld was recently in True Grit. She did our most recent cover along with Jesse Metcalfe. We do double covers. Jesse recently booked the remake of Dallas.
“Kevin Cronin, the front man for REO Speedwagon, was our celebrity contributor for this issue coming out. We have a tag on his editorial that you can snag with your mobile phone, whether it is a Blackberry or an iPhone or an Android, and it will go directly to the band in concert and to a news clip of him being interviewed. It’s fun to introduce that digital technology with your magazine. I own the tag reader app we use.”
“The magazine provides me the opportunity to check out things. You get a lot of feedback from people who are successful in business. I’m going to a meeting in a few hours with the president of Angeleno magazine. He’s been a wonderful adviser to me.”
Lev: “What are the typical contents for the magazine?”
Rebecca: “The magazine used to do a lot of fluffy stuff. We’ve decided we want to mix it up and bring some interesting editorial, not only highlighting people in the community but global causes, a social scene, profiles… We recently profiled Nick Vujicic, who was born with no arms or legs. His book has become a best-seller. He tours around the world and is a motivational speaker. He’s from Agoura Hills, our neighboring community.
“We have somebody writing a more controversial editorial poking fun of the Kardashians, who are also a part of the community. Why are we putting these people in a position to be role models for our children? We’re trying to go outside of the box so we’re not so fluffy.
“We have 3,400 words on Hailee Steinfeld, telling her whole story of her journey from wanting to be an actress to going up against 15,000 girls to be chosen for True Grit and getting nominated for an Oscar. Most of the celebrities we focus on live in the area.”
Westlake Magazine comes out six times a year and typically runs 104-112 pages. It measures nine by twelve and has a circulation of 30,000.