Anita Chu and Stephanie Shih, successful food bloggers from America, are the co-founders and editors of a new magazine that has taken the food world by storm: sated. A cross between a really glossy reference magazine and a photographic publication, sated showcases intelligent, thought provoking writing around a single food theme per edition, with the glamour, gloss and greed of skilful styling, composition and art direction. Everyone is talking about it, so we did not want to make our readers feel left out. We tracked down Anita and Stephanie to ask about the reasoning and research behind their work, and here is what we found out.
The Foodie Bugle: Anita and Stephanie, how did the idea for sated first come to you both? Did you feel the need to grow your writing organically and develop your work from blogging and books?
Anita: Yes, we’ve gotten some wonderful professional opportunities in the food world, and it only whetted our desire to have a project we could fully call our own. Since we’ve both spent a lot of effort crafting our websites into a reflection of our creative aesthetic, we wanted to apply that energy and vision to a new format – a magazine.
Stephanie: We definitely felt that both of us wanted a “next step” in our development as writers and photographers, and instead of waiting for opportunities to come to us, we decided to take action and carve out our own paths.
TFB: The print market for food magazines is very competitive – what do you think will be sated’s USP and niche, that other food magazines cannot provide?
Anita: We are looking at a combination of insightful writing and gorgeous imagery to create a strong, unique aesthetic for the magazine. We see our publication as almost a cross between a magazine and a coffee-table book – it’s meant to be kept, admired, and used as a reference. The quarterly schedule plus the in-depth exploration of a topic in each issue also makes it more like a monograph – we really want to take the time and effort to explore a subject thoroughly and present it beautifully, and we hope our audience appreciates the results.
TFB: Where have you found contributors and photographers to help you with the first edition? Did you search within the blogging community or create most of the features yourselves?
Anita: The wonderful thing about being part of the blogging community is finding so many immensely talented – and giving – people. There was no shortage of people contributing ideas and suggestions, and we’re eager to give them a place in our future issues.
Stephanie: The first edition was very much an experiment to see if we could produce what we both saw in our minds, and in order to really develop a strong feel and direction for sated, we created most of this edition ourselves. But, we do also have several contributors–recipe developers, writers, photographers etc….
TFB: Clearly beautiful photography plays a very important role in all the work you do – how did you both learn the craft in the very beginning? Are you both self-taught or went to train specifically?
Anita: Well, Stephanie is the in-house photographer, so all the credit for the magazine photography goes to her! I also do my own photography for own website, and I’m pretty much self-taught as well, but for sated my contributions are in the writing and organizational department. Maybe one day Stephanie will let me sneak a photo in!
Stephanie: I am self-taught, learning (and still learning) from experimenting, practicing, assisting, and observing over the years.
TFB: Did you already have the art direction-graphic design skills necessary to create a magazine when the idea for sated came to light or are you out-sourcing the design to a publisher?
Stephanie: We are doing all of the design for sated in-house because we wanted to maintain a very cohesive look and feel while developing the first issue of the magazine. In the future, we hope to work with designers to continue to build out and refine the style that we’ve now started.
Personally, my design skills are far too limited, but it was important for us not to compromise the look and the feel we envisioned for sated by working with a designer whose style didn’t match our own. We are continuing to search for designers to partner with!
TFB: How will the magazine be financed – will you be looking for advertising revenue or just financing through the cover price?
Anita: For the first edition, we had no advertising so we could focus on creating a pure product that really expressed our vision. For future issues, we are exploring traditional advertising models, and also working with manufacturers and companies we admire to perhaps produce magazine features with their products.
TFB: How are you going to sell your magazine – will you be using distributors or will social media be your marketing platform?
Anita: The magazine will be available as print on demand through our websites. We are looking to leverage our social media presence to spread the word about sated. However, we would love to see the magazine distributed physically as well – that’s one of the goals we’re working on.
TFB: Will readers in Europe be able to buy it and if so where and how?
Anita: Yes, we will ship sated anywhere in the world! Ordering information is now available on the sated website and international shipping rates are given.
TFB: Will the online world play a part in sated’s future ? Will you be posting a few articles on the www.satedmag.com website or using it as an entry point into sales for the print editions?
Anita: Making the sated website a more content-rich experience is definitely on our to-do list. Posting original articles is a definite possibility; we’d also love to include material that expands on current issues, such as videos, behind-the-scenes looks, resources, etc. The print magazine is our first priority, but the website is never far from our minds.
Stephanie: We really want sated magazine to be a full, aesthetic experience, which includes the touch, smell, and sensory experience of the printed page. A tablet interface, if developed properly, could be in our future.
TFB: Behind the scenes have you found creating the first edition harder than you envisaged, was it a lot of fun and did you enjoy the process?
Anita: I started working on sated knowing there was a ton I needed to learn about creating a magazine, so I guess we knew we were setting up a challenge for ourselves! Definitely this is a project I could have never undertaken on my own. Having the support of others, especially Stephanie, has been invaluable from turning sated from flight of fancy to reality. As we’re finishing up the first issue, seeing so many of our ideas taken solid form on the printed page has been immensely satisfying.
Stephanie: I never thought it would be easy, and there has definitely been a lot that we’ve had to learn and figure out on the fly. It’s exciting to have so much that’s unknown to learn, and working as a team really helps me from getting too discouraged and giving up during the rough parts.