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Driftwood: vegan travel + culture

Driftwood: vegan travel + culture

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Can you tell us, about your magazine 

HF: Driftwood is a travel and culture magazine that makes the vegan assumption. Michele and I wanted to see a vegan publication that went beyond the starter kits. We love in-depth culture pieces, intimate profiles, incredible photography, and a view inside a vegan life that gives us a sense of community.

Much of what you see in vegan publishing is focused on helping people become vegan. There are beautiful publications out there that center entirely around recipes, but there is a short list of publications that appeal to the long-timers who know the lay of the land but want to kick their feet up and just have a good read.

Editorial wise… 

MT: We look for stories. Whether it’s a travel piece, a personal profile, or a photo series, our readers want to be told a story. How else are we to explore the possibilities of a vegan world?

There’s a huge difference between a Driftwood piece and an SEO-driven blog piece. Our writers and other artists are able to pour their voices into their work. No two people are going to write the same story about a town they visited, and that is so exciting to us. We love the diversity we see in our stories and the chances our contributors know they can take for us.

Tell us about yourself

MT: I’m a huge communications dork–I want more than anything to get data from people’s brains in front of others’ eyes and ears. Sharing our data helps us evolve. It helps us understand what we are as a species, as a global society, as communities, and as individuals. Because of that, I’ve worked with the printed word, either in publishing or as a bookseller, for more than 20 years.

A Chicago native, I’ve been pulled to New York, Los Angeles, and now Portland. Who knows where I’ll end up? I really dig London–so maybe that’ll be next.

HF: I spontaneously erupted from a pod 35 years ago in Nashville. After that, I moved around a bit in the southeast, through Florida, Georgia, back up to Tennessee, and onward to Kentucky before moving to the Pacific NW in 2009. When I was young, I lived with my nose in books. Storytellers helped me through a lot of rough years and taught me that there was the world outside of the craziness of my youth. Of course, I’m joking about the pod, but I did have a “non-traditional” childhood, to put it lightly.

When I was about 6 or 7, I was stunned by those commercials about the starving children in Ethiopia. I couldn’t believe that was able to continue. I thought that storytelling could solve those problems (hey, I was a kid). It seemed to me that if people could hear their stories, they would connect with them. I thought storytelling could create empathy, and I still do. I know that’s only one piece of the puzzle but I believe it’s an important piece.

Print: Why choose print? What kind of paper you use and why? Typography? (Explain)

MT: We love holding the paper in our hands. The right paper feels good, smells good, and looks good. Reading a printed piece is such a larger experience than just taking in information. I can plow through a story on my Kindle, but when I want that fuller experience, I reach for a printed book.

We knew Driftwood would need to be printed, not only because of the gorgeous visual pieces but because our stories want that connection to the reader. Our magazine wants that full experience with the reader and vice versa. We knew we would need thick, coated paper for the images to pop, not be bled through and muddied. And we knew our design and typography would need to be clean and open, again to allow the images to really shine–plus it gives the reader a break from the sensory overload we get in most of our media today.

How’s the public response? 

MT: We are, I guess, both amazed and relieved at the response. You never know how something you present to the world is going to be accepted, so to have so many people bowled over by Driftwood feels wonderful. We got a lot of early support, especially from the vegan blogger community I’d been part of, so I’m very appreciative of that. And the relief is that we took a leap in the assumption that enough people felt the same as us, who needed to explore vegan travel and culture. At a veg fest in Spokane, Washington, I had a woman almost in tears because she felt that in finding the magazine she’d found “her people.” That isolation isn’t something I’d ever dealt with, living in large, progressive cities, but wow, there are a so many in her position, looking for their people.

HF: One of the best moments of my life was after we published the first issue, an omnivore sent us an email exclaiming that he hadn’t been inspired to read a magazine cover to cover in years and thanking us for giving that back to him. That had me almost in tears.

Business: Good print mags get a lot of love, but is not always translated to sales or advertising. How’re the sales? Advertising wise, is it a normal approach of selling an ad page or more a brand ad approach?

HF: Advertising sales get easier with each issue, of course. At first, businesses are afraid of taking a risk on a new magazine that might fail, so they say, “Get back to us for your fourth or fifth issue.” That can be hard to break through. Luckily, there were enough vegan business owners who really wanted a magazine like Driftwood to simply exist that they took that plunge with us, and we finally are piecing together our fourth issue. Now, we’re starting to get businesses approaching us. It’s kind of an angel choir moment.

Upcoming projects 

HF: Last year, we launched a new project called Black Sheep Friday, wherein we encourage folks to get out and work with sanctuaries on the day after Thanksgiving, instead of shopping. It was an experiment to see how people would respond to it and it was an incredible day. It was also the first in a series of merit badges that we plan to produce.

We also plan to produce travel guides down the road, but we’re not quite there yet. We still need to pool a lot of info. Stay tuned to our Facebook account for more announcements. We’ve got some tricks up our sleeves.