Publisher - April 2019

Publisher 0419"Don’t let anyone
your dreams."

Nothing good ever comes easy. That is the case with this magazine. It is not only a labor of love, it is also a labor of passion, work ethic, determination, excellence, desire, patience, humor and pure heart. Not just mine, but also my family’s and staff’s. The publishing industry is hard and not for the faint of heart. People either love it or hate it. It’s like the speeding bus Sandra Bullock has to drive in the 1994 movie Speed. Basically, Bullock has to keep the bus moving at a minimum speed of 60 mph, or it will blow up and everyone will die. Welcome to the world of publishing.

Sound dramatic? Somewhere around 4 a.m. on yet another long, deadline week, my Art Director, Lindsay Gifford, who will celebrate her 10th year at Pink this month, and Meredith Millen Deal, my Regional Director for Paisley Magazine since its inception 11 years ago, (Paisley is identical to Pink, only local to the Golden Isles, another lovely Southern Coastal area, which includes St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, Brunswick, Darien, Eulonia and beyond) can assure you it is. These two have been by my side at every deadline for two-thirds of the existence of the company. We have worked tirelessly, and I’m happy to report fairly drama free, even in the wee hours of the morning, when we are all at the peak of exhaustion. I am beyond blessed to have such dedicated leaders on my team. In fact, our entire team is invested. They have to be. We do a lot with a little.

This month we are celebrating a milestone: Pink, my company’s flagship product, is 15 years old, which equates to 181 issues, and if converted into publishing years, I’m pretty sure we’re pushing a thousand. To put things into perspective, my children are 25 and 20 years old, and they were 9 and 5 when Pink was born in a small room in our home—the same home we live in today. Pink is like a typical baby sister to them because often times, she isn’t flexible. She demands attention and gets her way regardless of what the rest of us want or need. We plan everything around her. And yes, I have been accused of liking her more and putting her first, and my children (and staff) have gone to heroic measures for her on numerous occasions. The good news is she gives back.

The Genesis:

Like I said, the first issue of Pink was born in a small room in my home in Hilton Head Plantation. It was the end of January 2004, and I stated my dream for Pink out loud. From that moment on, the bus was cranked and rolling.  On March 31—63 days later—I held the first issue in my hands. I didn’t have much. My starting-a-business-and-a-magazine tool kit (haha) included: A BS Degree in Business Administration from the University of SC, a very used G-4 Apple computer, $2,800, marketing experience from a strategic string of excellent jobs, a working knowledge of Quark Xpress, the favored layout software at the time, above average writing skills, innate creativity, and two stints in sales jobs right out of college. Oh, and I was willing to lose it all for a chance to follow my heart. I had no clue if I was ready or qualified. What I knew is I had a dream that had ahold of my heart, and if I didn’t give it life, it would die a thousand times as a vacant, bottomless hole, filled with regret and emptiness until the end of my days.

The First Issue:
I serendipitously enlisted two people to help with the first issue: Brooke Allen and Karen Burky. Brooke helped with sales, and also helped me create our mission statement. We were sitting in Starbucks near the Sea Pines Circle. It’s funny how people come together at certain times to accomplish certain things; I believe God puts the right people on our path at the perfect time. I met Brooke through her husband, Richard Allen, an attorney I had worked for while on my path for law school, from which I obviously veered. Nonetheless, he did the legal work for the creation of my LLC, and in the process introduced me to his wife, Brooke. I shared my vision of Pink with her. She totally got it, and agreed to sell part-time. She only worked for a few months, but her contribution still permeates the magazine today. Karen is a graphic designer. The two of us designed the first magazine. She stayed on for several years in a part-time capacity. Some of her work still wafts through the pages, as well.

Back then, digital pages had to be burned onto a CD and mailed to the printer. Even taking into account overnighting the CD, I did not finish in time for overnight delivery. I finally finished around 2:30 A.M., at which point I loaded my family into the car and drove to Columbia, SC. From there, my mother and I drove to Union, SC to hand-deliver the files to the printer on time. It took all day for the prepress department to prepare the files. There were many glitches and times I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen. Finally, the plates were burned and placed on the giant web press. The press began slowly and gained speed, just like my anticipation. Minutes later, the first magazine rolled down the conveyor belt, where I was standing with my mother. Thousands of copies followed. When I picked up the first one, tears began to trickle down my cheeks, which morphed into full sobs. I had just experienced something many never will, and I knew it. The reality that I had transformed a spark—a fleeting thought—into something I literally held in my hands all in 63 days. It was a dream come true in action. I was over-whelmed, exhausted, elated, shell-shocked and relieved all at the same time. Of course, I sobbed.

If It’s So Hard, Why Do It?

Last year, I was speaking with a coach, who works for motivational speaker and author Tony Robbins. As I told him all I was trying to accomplish, overcome and build, he asked me one simple question: “What is your Why?”

“What?” I said.

He repeated, “Not what. Why! What is your Why? When your Why is large enough, you will never fail. You will never have excuses.”

Many of us attach most of our hours, thoughts and deeds to things without truly ever understanding why we’re doing it. Maybe it’s the paycheck driving the bus, or the fact that society, or our family, expects us to provide a comfortable life. To truly follow your heart, you must figure out your Why.

I was having a conversation with a mentor and she challenged me as to what is important to me in regards to Pink and Paisley. As I began to answer her, she relentlessly prodded me to dig deeper. I defined my Why as building a company, where I get to utilize my talents every day, melding business with creativity, blah, blah, blah. She kept prodding, and I kept throwing out answers that made a lot of sense, albeit very shallow. Finally, she looked me in the eyes, and I stared back. She asked me one more time: “What is important to you? Why do you put yourself and your staff through such a grueling, demanding process month after month?”

These words quietly came out of my mouth: “I have to make a difference in women’s lives. I want them to know they are enough. I want them to know they are strong. I want them to live their best lives. I want them to be positive and support one another. I want them to know their worth. I want the little girl, who dwells inside of every woman her whole life, to feel loved.” The more I clarified, the harder I cried. I had found my Why. It had always been there, but I had never defined it. Now, I never forget it. It’s in everything my team and I do.

Empower, Inform, Encourage and Evoke thought.
This is the mission Brooke Allen and I came up with before the first magazine ever went to press. Perhaps these words were a mere goal back then, but I don’t think so. I think they dwelled inside me long before they were verbalized. I want to empower, inform, encourage and evoke thought because it is my WHY. I was born to do this, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to fulfill this part of my heart’s longing.

I am thankful to you, the reader, and to the advertisers who support us…you all get it.  Not everyone does. You all are the reason we exist. These two magazines are the conduits for a powerful mission and a huge Why. We hear people who don’t get it tell us every single day that print is dead. Not here. It’s impossible to be dead, when every single page is filled with a vibrant, powerful, beating heart.

I am humbled by the journey and by so many of you who reach out to me when your life takes twists and turns. Do you know how much I value you choosing me—somewhat of a mere stranger? I know why. I’ve earned your trust through my willingness to be real with you. There is a bond here between you and Pink. It is real, and vulnerable, and raw, which all build relationship, community, trust and mutual respect. You know I see the light and beauty in you, and I want it to shine. Thank you for these fabulous, rewarding, real, laborious years. And, almost 11 in Paisley. Girl, we're in this together. Get in; we’re going places. Let’s go do 15 more!

Think Pink, 

Elizabeth Millen