Mache Magazine, By and For Creators
Sometimes you just need a creative outlet. And if you're going to be creating anyway, says Ananda “Annie” Spadt, “it might as well look like a gorgeous magazine in the end."
The Omaha native has done just that, along with Baltimorean Heather Winkel and Alexandria, Virginia couple Adam and Joanne Gallagher. This summer they launched the first issue of Maché
(pronounced as in papier-mâché), a bimonthly digital magazine featuring food, crafts, and other lifestyle topics.
The first issue's seventy-six pages include recipes for sangria spritzer and gazpacho, fabric gift wrap and napkin crafts, and features on two complete events, a rainbow party and a crawfish boil, that cover invitations, menu, and even playlist suggestions. All for free.
Without much advertising besides social media and word of mouth, Maché is now accelerating around the Internet. While its creators originally thought to aim for a younger crowd, they have been surprised by the wide range of people praising the magazine and its rapid spread. “Now we don't know who the people are who are liking it on Facebook – it used to just be family and friends,” Joanne Gallagher says.
Part of that, this writer speculates, might have something to do with the group's philosophy in making Maché. Every featured item is tested and refined by the founders not only for quality, but for feasibility. “If we come up with an idea for a recipe and it's not something that a home cook could reasonably do, we throw it out,” Spadt says. “We want people to actually look at it and say, I could do that, and then turn around and do it. Otherwise, what's the point?”
Moreover, the founders want their creations to be easily accessible, so they include free downloads. As readers flip through the digital pages, they can click on a small circular icon which links to either a printable 4x6 card outlining directions for the featured craft or recipe, or to a ready-made party invitation.
“That's something that we really wanted,” Winkel says, “to give people the resources to really do the things that we're doing in the magazine.” Joanne Gallagher agrees. “It's putting our hard work into somebody's hands so they can then go and do what we really want them to do, which is have fun with our ideas.”
Appropriately, the magazine was conceptualized at a party. During their niece's birthday celebration, Winkel and Joanne Gallagher were chatting about their creative pursuits (Adam Gallagher is Winkel’s brother-in-law). At some point Winkel not-so-seriously suggested they should start a magazine. But after Joanne went home and mentioned it to Adam, the idea's appeal grew. Soon the three of them, along with Spadt, Heather's college friend and co-owner of her paper design business, Quite Like It
, had teamed up.
Says Winkel, who like Spadt works a day job in design beyond Quite Like It, “The content I work on during the day isn't interesting to me – it's fine but it's not like paper and parties and food and all of that fun events stuff.” Spadt agrees.
In contrast, the Gallaghers by day are engineers. But, as Adam says, the “cubicle thing” is not enough, nor is the work particularly engaging. “We really just needed an outlet that was more what we wanted to do.” Both foodies by nature, Adam started photographing the dishes Joanne made and they began a blog, Inspired Taste
Besides appealing to their culinary desires, Maché offered Adam a liberating layout size for photos. “On our blog we only have 600 pixels to put a picture,” he says, “It's a very tiny little photo. We don't get to be creative in the recipes that we do and the concepts.”
Spread geographically, all four collaborate by co-editing an online document, email, and phone calls. In fact, the Gallaghers have yet to meet Spadt in person. (Though they've been dying to, says Joanne in a conference call. Spadt replies that she will have to book a flight to Baltimore soon.)
Though it's a product of love, all the work of producing Maché is work. The four say many of the features overlap with their own creative pursuits anyway, but Joanne cautions that this is a somewhat modest description. Their server, stored in a closet in the Gallagher's condo, crashed at three a.m. one day shortly before the launch – because Heather and Annie were both still working frantically. “That happened for quite a few days,” says Joanne.
“I don't even remember that week,” says Heather.
Also despite its non-economic origins, Maché has a strong flavor of entrepreneurship. Especially now that it's taking off, the four are talking about advertisers, inviting new contributors, and other business-like expansion. Right now, says Spadt, “We're just following what we really love to do, and none of us really love to go out and get people to give us money.” However, she continues, “I think that is definitely in the future, figuring out: Ok we have an amazing product, how do we turn around and make money?”
The Fall issue is set to appear on September 19th.
Until then, Joanne sums up the group attitude. “We just have a great time – and it's not a bad job when you get to eat at the end of a photo shoot."
Amy Dusto is a freelance writer who has been contributing to Bmore since last November.
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- Heather Winkel, 1 of a team of 4, of Maché Magazine - Arianne Teeple
- A design by Maché Magazine - Photo by Arianne Teeple
- Adam Gallagher - courtesy of Maché Magazine
- Behind the scenes with Joanne Gallagher & Ananda Spadt - courtesy of Daniel Johnson
- Heather Winkel - Arianne Teeple
- A design by Maché Magazine - Arianne Teeple