Who are you and what is your background?
Sam — I’ve worked in publishing for the past 10 years, and have been freelance for the past 6.
Elliot — I’m a designer; originally, I was a web designer and developer, before moving more into print and branding.
In what city?
Sam — We are based midway between Bristol and Bath in a village called Pensford.
Can you tell about us, about your magazine
Elliot — When I was still a web designer, I launched a typography magazine called 8 Faces. It came about because I wanted to make something that would last, as I’d grown tired of all my web work disappearing after a relatively short amount of time. I gradually built a small team, which included Sam, to work on the magazine, but after it finished — we only ever wanted to produce eight issues — Sam and I wanted to make something that was jointly our own and to reach a wider audience. We also felt that most lifestyle magazines were aspirational to a fault, and there was room for one with its feet on the ground, telling the stories of real people.
Sam — We wanted to create the kind of magazine we would like to read ourselves, that would enable us to speak to the kind of people that we find inspiring — creative people who had started out on their own to pursue their dreams, but who aren’t looking to grow their business to become a big empire.
Print: Why choose print? What kind of paper you use and why? Typography?
Elliot — I believe that if you’re going to do something with dead trees, you’ve got to make it special, so we use thick, uncoated stock throughout 140gsm for the interior and 300gsm for the cover. As well as the foil-blocked logo on the cover, we also apply a Soft Touch laminate, which gives it a really nice, substantial feel. Our typographic system is various weights, styles, and grades of Tabac, designed by Tomas Brousil and published by the Suitcase Type Foundry.
How's the public response?
Sam — Sometimes it’s hard for us to get a good sense of the public’s response to the magazine, but Instagram can be a really good means of seeing Lagom out in the wild. We’re always encouraged to see people in places all around the world enjoy reading the magazine on their Sunday mornings, or in a cool-looking store, we’ve yet to visit. Speaking to readers about it, they’ve often told us that they like Lagom because the content isn’t aspirational to the point of being unattainable — it offers a down-to-earth narrative of creative people who don’t have celebrity status, living their life with a bit of out-of-the-box thinking.
Can you give us a tour of your local media scene?
Sam — Bristol, and Bath both have a really strong publishing scene. Quite a few indie mags have started up here, and they’re in the company of some of the UK’s leading magazine publishing companies.
Elliot — Bristol, in particular, has such an independent spirit as a city: so many amazing cafés, retailers, and creatives doing their own thing. I don’t think either of us sees ourselves as particular involved in the local scene, per se, but we feed off the energy of Bristol for sure — and hopefully contribute some of it back in some way.
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?
Elliot — No-one makes money off unit sales alone; advertising is the only way we’ve seen for any publication to be sustainable as a business. It’s also a huge challenge for a small team like ours: we don’t have a whole load of experience in that area, and yet it requires a lot of our time and effort. Without a doubt, our advertising partners much prefer doing something content-based rather than simply placing display ads; it gives the brands more space to really tell their story.
What is your online strategy?
Sam — We’ve done a few trial-and-error experiments with social media, including running a blog, regularly posting, and even hiring an intern to help us with it. However, we’ve had to scale back quite a lot as unfortunately, we have neither the time nor the funds to put into social media at the moment. We don’t post stuff often, but when we do it’s good and relevant! We also enjoy putting together playlists on Spotify a couple of times a year.
Elliot — Yeah, online has been a mixed bag for us. In 2019, you have to have an online presence, but I don’t think we’re convinced that the time and effort it takes to fully engage with social media is worth it.
About design, what does your brand represent/reflect?
Elliot — Thoughtful design, sustainable design, less-is-more-but-not-overly-minimal design.
What inspires you and motivates you to go to work every day?
Sam — We enjoy working on our own projects. We like the freedom it gives us and we enjoy working together. It’s also been great to meet and speak to other people who are motivated by the same things.
Elliot — Yeah, meeting some genuinely inspiring people is one of the main reasons we do this. We also get a huge kick out of seeing the magazine being enjoyed by people all over the world. Keep those Instagrams coming!
What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
Sam — Making a living out of doing what we enjoy!
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a magazine?
Sam — Get a business plan together.
Elliot — Don’t underestimate how long you’ll spend on the un-sexy admin. The customer support, liaising with fulfillment, distributors, subscription management, social media management, dealing with all of the logistical stuff. The creative part — writing, designing, photographing, editing, etc. — makes for a very small part of the overall process. And actually, it’s impossible to really understand this until you get going. Just know that it’s there!
Upcoming projects (explain)
Sam — We have lots of ideas for things we want to do, including a book and an event, but those things might be some time off as our most immediate project at the moment is raising two young kids!
Elliot — Yes, we have some exciting stuff on the way that we can’t really talk about yet. I’ve also been doing a lot of work on my music-making project recently, and have another EP on the way.