Who are you and what is your background?
My name is Gigi (Guðbjörg Gissurardóttir) and I´m a graphic designer who found a way to put my passion for sustainability and good food into a beautifully designed magazine.
In what city?
In Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, where you have only 200 thousand inhabitants, which is why I also have it in Englis. That way it also appeals to the travelers who come to Iceland and food enthusiasts all around the world.
Can you tell about us, about your magazine?
I also publishe a magazine in Iceland called By nature, which is about green and healthy lifestyle. In such a small market, as in Iceland, it is really tough to produce high-quality mag so finally I decided to launch another one FÆÐA / FOOD, which would focus on Icelandic food, sustainability, creativity and have it both in Icelandic and English. Food is something I´m passionate about and I published my own cookbook several years ago. Food also reflects our culture and I also love the creativity around food. The first issue came out 2016 and I thought I would just do one issue and see how it would go. I had a hard time making a decision since it didn´t literally fly off the shelves. But then I went to a lecture with Carlo Petrini, the Slow food founder. He talked about how important our local food culture is, our unique taste and, the importance of small producers and gatherings around food and not to mention the sustainability and environmental factors. After his powerful talk, I was convinced I was not just doing something that I really enjoyed but it was also very important in the bigger scheme of things. So I carried on and now it comes out once a year, for the last three years.
Fæða / Food is a magazine meets-book about Icelandic cuisine, people and culture. Independently published we set out to feed readers curiosity and fuel their love for food.
Print: Why choose print? What kind of paper you use and why? Typography?
I love high-quality print objects, maybe because of my graphic design background and age (just turned 50). We print the magazine in a sustainable print shop on uncoated paper.
How’s the public response?
In Iceland, it turned out to be hard to get it into travelers hands but now with distribution in 20 shops in England and recently I got a worldwide distribution, I´m very excited to see how that will go.
Can you give us a tour of your local media scene?
With 300.000 people living on this island where the local language is Icelandic almost all media companies struggle to some extent. But the literacy rate is very high and Icelanders love to read. We have more bookstores and sell books in more quantity than any other country per capita.
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?
I´m giving the magazine 2-3 years before I decide if the sales are good enough. By having it bilingual I can send it to my subscribers here in Iceland, sell advertising to Icelandic companies and therefore have it work financially. Now the sales abroad are just an extra bonus and I can have the patience to let it grow slowly. I´m in slow publishing anyway!
What is your online strategy?
I am working on a website for the magazine which will be called, icelandicfood.is. From the online platform, we will sell the magazine, handcrafted Icelandic food, events and more food related stuff. And of course it will have good content.
About design, what does your brand represent/reflect?
Our brand is modern but focuses on traditions and quality content.
What inspires you and motivates you to go to work every day?
My ambition drives me to constantly do better and I get a lot out of seeing my ideas come to life. I believe in what I´m doing, matters in the world and I think that has been a big factor. My slogan is LIVE BETTER – one magazine at a time. I´m constantly gaining something personally from my work that makes my life better.
What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
The business side of it. Selling ads and make ends meet. I´m the only person who has been able to sell ads successfully since it is a project driven by passion, not mass media. I didn´t expect to be doing that when I started. But my magazine business is now 9 years old and I´m always getting better when it comes to the business. Especially after I started to treat the business as a creative project, not just a duty that I was not enjoying.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a magazine?
When I started I said to myself. It´s a tough business to go into, people are going to advise me not to do it – BUT I will do it anyway, no matter what! And I´m still doing it. I would start thinking about it as a business from day one. I didn´t go into print until I sold enough advertising to be able to pay the cost of making the first magazine, you can’t count on sales in the beginning. First, it was just about covering the cost but now it is more about creating a thriving business that can make an impact.
I have too many ideas, but for now, I’m focusing on making the most out of what I have created already.