Photo by Nadia D.
I've known Heather since she first hit the Atlanta scene as the city's new mover and shaker in publishing. Since then, her Occasions brand has grown a following of fellow bright entrepreneurs and a new push into the Florida market. She just welcomed the birth of her first child and is fashionably adjusting to the ever-changing pace required of a mama mogul. Talking with her about magazines, margaritas, and mason jars reveals not just her enthusiasm for print but her love of life:
*What inspired you to publish a magazine?*
I am a lover of magazines. The first thing I do when I pick up a new glossy is smell it. Something about the glue and paper is intoxicating to me. Weird. So, when I had just graduated and worked in marketing, I had this dream to create a local magazine in St. Augustine where I lived at the time. But, I was young, broke and inexperienced, so that never came to fruition by the time I moved to Atlanta with my husband. When I started Occasions as a website, I knew eventually I'd love for it to turn into a magazine too.... and it did.
*Were you just hit with the name "Occasions" or did it slowly develop?*
Originally the company was "Atlanta Occasions" because we were based in Atlanta and only focused on that area. I just loved the way "Atlanta Occasions" rolled off the tongue. Fast forward to our growth and expansion outside of the area, so we dropped "Atlanta" and just used Occasions. And it worked.
*Each season, there are loads of new trends in the event industry. How do you select which ones are featured?*
I love to feature beautiful things. Whether they are long time traditions or new trends....if its beautifully executed, tells a good story and photographs well...that's how I choose whether it's feature worthy.
*What event trend do you think are publishers tired of seeing?*
I'm not really a critic of the over usage of trends or design elements as long as they are used in moderation and in the right circumstances. If you're having a super traditional wedding at the Ritz...maybe Mason Jars aren't the right glassware to use just because their trendy....but if your wedding is at a barn...use them! Who cares if it's trendy or not? When it fits, it fits. Ultimately, I think it's up to wedding and event designers to bring their clients unique ideas....some designers fall into the inventory trap...where they reuse their props over and over for each client, making all of their events look the same. It's using those props...in unique ways for each client that will make each stand out in its own way.
*You just had your first child. Congratulations!! What's the one word you would use to describe parenthood?*
Electric. Since this boy came out of me, I have experienced a transformation. It's like a vampire-spidey-sense type of awareness and caring that I never knew existed. Who knew you could love another human this much? Makes my skin tingle just thinking of how much I love Asher.
Maternity photos by Odalys Mendez.
Check out her 21 Must-Have Baby Essentials over on her blog.
*What was the last thing you read or heard that made you laugh out loud?*
"I'm Ron Burgundy?" LOL...I hate the Move Anchor Man...but man, the part that he reads from the teleprompter and someone puts a question mark after his sign off so he reads it as a question...had me laughing FOREVER!
*What would your friends say is your best quality?*
Sincerity. I want to be completely sincere in everything I do. Whether we're friends on facebook or have been best friends for life...I legitimately consider each of my contacts, friends. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I am honest to the core. Makes it hard to keep business, business, but hopefully people see me as authentic and sincere.
*What have you really been wanting to try/make/do/wear but haven't yet?*
Glittery head bands! I have a very streamlined, classic style and never really venture in boho fashions, but gosh darn it, I love glittery head bands. I just recently bought myself one, so coming to my Instagram feed soon. ;-)
*You've been publishing Occasions for 7 years and have continued to expand your brand. You work hard for your successes. How do you unwind and relax?*
Bubble baths. Seriously...I fill up our giant garden tub almost 3 to 4 times a week. I'm trying to get hubby to build me a jacuzzi in the backyard. ;-)
*I know you're an ocean kind-of girl. Salt water in your hair or salt around your margarita?*
I'm going to say salt around my margarita...poolside.
*What changes have you seen most clearly in publishing since the rise of social media and blogging?*
Publishing is not just one platform anymore. Publishers have to be putting content everywhere...from their magazines, social media pages, websites, apps, etc. If you're only active on one channel...you'll get passed by.
*What's one of your most memorable experiences thus far as a publisher?*
I met with one of our big advertisers, Agnes Scott College, regarding their advertising package with us, and I was scared they were going to say "We are not getting anything from my ad"....but instead, it was the complete opposite. There weren't up for renewal for another year, and they already wanted to renew to make sure no one else grabbed their spot, because their ad had worked so well. They said nearly all of their new business comes from Occasions readers. It's amazing to know that our little company is fueling so many other companies and keeping them growing and growing. The idea that if Occasions went away...it would negatively effect a lot of companies is intense. I like being such an important key to our clients' success.
*Where would you like to see Occasions Magazine in 5 years?*
Expanded into more markets for our local editions, and who knows...maybe a national magazine for entertaining/parties. A girl can dream. ;-)
*If you could click your shoes and be anywhere right now, where would it be and with whom?*
Exactly where I am now. Sitting in my living room in St. Augustine, Florida with my husband and son.
*Are you into DIY? If so, what was the last thing you made?*
Oh... ya know I used to be when I was younger, but as an adult, my creative outlet is exhausted through magazine design. Although, if it relates to interior design, I'm all for it. I bought some standard metal shelves from Ikea for my office and spray painted them vibrant purple. Does that count as DIY? ;-)
*What do you think is the biggest challenge to businesses today?*
Marketing. So many people think if you build it, they will come. So not the case. Marketing is the thing that I find so many business owners are reluctant to put money into when it's the one thing that can make you money. But there's no guarantee and not one specific thing that is sure to work...it's a little bit of a recipe that you improve on each time you make it. Trying new/different ingredients until you get the exact result you're looking for. Word of mouth is a part of that recipe...but not the end all, be all, and I think that's a big misconception for business owners.
*So what magazines are on your nightstand?*
Inc Magazine, Everyday with Rachel Ray (need to learn to be a better cook!), Coastal Living, Domino and HGTV.