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Girl Crush magazine

Girl Crush magazine

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Who are you and what is your background? 
My name is Meg. My background is in photography, but I’ve been working as a photographic retoucher for over 10+ years as well as working actively in social justice.

In what city?
I live/work in Los Angeles by way of New York City.


Can you tell us about the journey to making this magazine?
I started Got a Girl Crush in 2009 with a woman named Andrea that I met on TUMBLR. It started as a mutual blog to write about women we admired (out of mutual long-distance admiration of each other). We met in real life after a year or so of running the blog together! Given my background in photography and still finding seeing my work in print more rewarding/gratifying than on the screen, we printed our first issue in 2011. We knew nothing about print or publishing and used an online print-on-demand service as a no-cost-to-us means if starting the magazine. It was definitely a learning experience! Our second issue we printed with a printer in upstate New York to have more control over how the end-results looked (but fronted all of the money to print out of our own pockets). By Issue 03, we hired a real designer (instead of trying to keep doing it ourselves) redesigned our format to the cute digest-size (6″ x 9″) we still use today, changed printers to the wonderful Prolific Group in Winnipeg, Canada and raised money on Kickstarter to go to print. The support was overwhelming and it encouraged us to continue to print annually as well as continue to interview women online. We had our second Kickstarter for Issue 06 so we could finally start paying all of our contributors (cover artists, illustrators, journalists, photographers) fair wages (I still rarely get paid since we have no real advertising and all profits made go back into printing the next issue). In 2015 Andrea parted from the mag as a busy business lady and new mom, and my good friend Amanda stepped in as our Creative Director. We are now LA & Brooklyn-based, with help from all over the globe!

Editorial… (Explain, can you tell us about your editorial line. What do you look for? Your mission?)
Given that the magazine is 100% DIY and not my full-time job, we print on an annual basis (with the exception of 2018 where we attempted to print twice that year…which was a lot of work). We always have a running list of “dream women” to interview, but a lot of the best stories we’ve learned about are from reader submissions!
Got a Girl Crush’s mission aims to disrupt the broken narrative of most women’s publications and tell stories of all ages, races, and backgrounds of women all over the world.


Print: Why choose print? What kind of paper you use and why? Typography? (Explain)
We believe that print is not dead and that there is value to having a tangible medium to read, digest, and share–rather than sharing a link online that is easily forgotten tomorrow.
Our Cover is 100lb. #1 Cougar Opaque Cover (bright white smooth) / printed 4 colors with an embossed foil logo. Inside we use 70lb. Rolland Enviro 100 Satin / printed 4 color process throughout. We’ve worked with Prolific Group since our second issue because they are a small, but green-minded printing facility. We chose Prolific because we care about our impact on the environment. We print the magazine on recycled paper and vegetable-based inks.

How’s the public response? (Explain)

We’ve been doing the print magazine for nearly 10 years and our readership has always been very supportive. Those that are newly introduced to Got a Girl Crush usually have the response that “it’s so much nicer than I thought it would be” — which sometimes comes off as a dig, but understand most assume it’s just a low-budget “zine” versus living somewhere between a magazine and coffee table book, rather than something disposable–Got a Girl Crush is something to keep and re-visit.

Can you give us a tour of your local media scene? (local magazines, bookstore and more)

While I’m still new to LA, here are some of my fave bookshops & other vendors in NY & LA:

Los Angeles






The Strand

McNally Jackson

We also used to have a blog feature called Stockist Spotlight that similarly profiled our fave vendors all over!

Business: Indie mags get a lot of love, but it doesn’t always translate to sales or advertising. How’re the sales? Advertising-wise, is it a normal approach to selling an ad page or more a brand ad approach?  (Explain)

We’ve tried to do traditional advertising space in the magazine but are now competing with media “influencers” online for the same ad money and it’s HARD. While we try to reach out and align with brands we like and value, it still doesn’t always translate (and being such a small publication — just don’t have the capacity to hunt it down on my own). We’re also not a non-profit, so that makes seeking grant money equally as challenging. The dream is to get an angel benefactor to support our independent print.


What is your online strategy?

I don’t know if it’s been a strategy per se, but since it started as a TUMBLR in 2009 and then translated fairly easily to Instagram, I think just profiling real people who might not typically get the spotlight is what attracts folks to what we do.

About design, what does your brand represent/reflect? 

Our design is simple and straight-forward. I think the digest size of the magazine sets us apart from most and makes it more portable/easier to stash.

What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur? 
Finding money to go to print!


What advice would you give someone who wants to start a magazine? 

I knew nothing about print and figured it out! When I was in NYC I was a part of an all-female and nonbinary coalition of independent publishers called The Mag Mob. We met to talk about the ins and outs of publishing and share our collective knowledge and resources with each other. We put on a few events as well for the public about starting a magazine, too! While it’s sort of on hiatus, we still have an online resource guide.

Upcoming projects 

I’m excited to share that I’m starting as Program Director for Dynamic Girls; a Los Angeles based nonprofit with a mission to create job training and career opportunities in the creative industries, for underserved young women in our communities. Through our training and internship programs, we strive to increase socioeconomic, racial and gender diversity in the creative fields.

Dynamic Girls is excited to be partnered with Got a Girl Crush Magazine! Our partnership will focus on a semester-long Publishing class for our students this spring, with the end result being a fully bilingual and entirely youth-produced issue, with the girls taking on roles as interviewers, writers, photographers, and illustrators! I can’t wait to share this coming late spring 2020!