Throughout the June issue, we are celebrating our official birthday month and our 10th year of doing what we love—creating a publication that inspires and encourages women in Central and Southwest Virginia. When our publisher, Joey Coakley Beck, started the magazine, she did so because she knew the women in this community needed a magazine that would cover the topics we are and should be discussing with our friends. For us, celebrating our 10th birthday is not only about recognizing that success, but also continuing to meet that need for years to come.
What was your inspiration when you started Bella? Why a women’s magazine?
I saw a need for it. There was nothing for women in our area. At the time, none of the publications were focused on them. I had many years of experience in graphic design, and I ready to branch out, do my own thing, and fulfill that need.
There have been challenges. For example, as a woman in this industry, it is very rare to be respected by men in the same profession. Bella’s success proves that their opinions have been much less relevant than their egos have led them to believe.
At the end of the day, it is worth it to know that we are putting out something that is applicable to local women in a sea of national (and even some local) publications that do not speak to them and continues ten YEARS later!
Over the years, you’ve made some subtle (some not so subtle) changes to the publication, including its size. Why are those changes important to the growth of the magazine and our relationship with readers?
I don’t want our look or our voice to get stale. Bella has always been a step ahead of everyone else, and I want to maintain fresh content and a new look as often as it makes sense. It is important to change and grow with our readers.
What have you learned from the stressful moments and publications that have failed?
It always works out in the end. I am a firm believer in karma, and what you put out there comes back to you. The stressful moments pass as long as you keep your head up and do what you do best.
Other magazines that have come around and failed did it to themselves. You have to genuinely care about this community, what you are putting out there for readers, and the product you are creating. You have to be honest and respectful of others. This isn’t an industry that is about making money, it is about bringing people together and making them stronger as a community.
This year we have made a point to cover at least one local maker in each issue. Can you talk a little bit about why it is important to you to help introduce these small businesses to the community?
There are so many hidden gems and wonderful artisans in our area that otherwise go unnoticed and I think they all contribute to how wonderful this region is. The newspaper and other magazines continually highlight the same handful of people or businesses and there are so many more out there that go unrecognized. We are trying to recognize those people that get overlooked so often.
If you could encourage every woman reading this to do one thing, what would it be?
No matter what it is, to do something that makes you happy—that is truly something just for you. For example, I recently took up knitting. I truly enjoy it and it is 100% me time. I don’t think women take enough time to do things that are just for them. They try to please others in the workplace or at home and they forget about themselves. So my advice is to do something, at least daily, that makes yourself happy.