In January, Southsea Lifestyle will be fifteen years old, Kate Thompson talks to Zirrinia Austin Dean about how it all started.
Beginning with a few copies delivered to neighbours, Southsea Lifestyle now has the largest independent magazine readership in the city.
“Our first title was The Southsea Directory, I never imagined we’d be still be publishing in fifteen years, but people have been so kind and supportive we’ve never had a good reason to stop,” said Zirrinia Austin Dean, who used to design books for the publisher Dorling Kindersley.
“It’s hard work as Kevin, (my husband) and I do most of the work ourselves. Although we do have some highly creative people who help us, Charlotte runs our social media, Sophie, the ‘What’s On’ and Danny looks after our website.
“Then there’s all our wonderful writers, John Worsey, Emma Beatty (and of course you Kate), who do a lot of the writing and we keep finding new talented writers to publish. And then we have about 12 people delivering the magazines door to door in all weathers, it’s become quite a big operation”
So what’s the magic formula? “We don’t really have one, we just try to work with people who have similar values to us, which I guess, revolves around wanting to create a caring and humane community.
“Giving a voice to people or ideas that might otherwise get overlooked. Currently we are very concerned about climate change and we intend to keep publishing on that subject, but also homelessness, the LGBT community, as well as trying to support new businesses and the arts.We are so lucky that Southsea is full of so many amazing people and stories that we want to expand upon the usual ‘lifestyle’ topics which can become a bit predictable.”
How about the commercial side of things? “Kevin and I are artists and designers. We loathe cold calling and in the main we don’t! Virtually all of the advertising comes from people contacting us, and because so many businesses get a good response they stay with us, some have been advertising with us for the past 12 years. Of course we need to keep the revenue coming in and we always welcome businesses who want to promote their services to our wonderful readers, by supporting Southsea Lifestyle.”
Here’s to the next 15 years … Congratulations Kevin and Zirrinia.