A few weeks ago, I met with Crystal Gentilello, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Rue Magazine, and Alaina Kaczmarski, the magazine’s Art Director & Co-Founder, to get the inside scoop on their latest and greatest project. Over dinner and drinks, we discussed design, social media, and what’s to come in Rue’s premiere issue (it’s going to be fab). Read on for more details!
Fallon: Tell me the story behind Rue Magazine. Where did the idea originate?
Crystal: Well, my 27th birthday was in April. At the time, I felt somewhat unfulfilled in my career and I knew I wanted to get into interior design somehow. Suddenly I thought, “Why don’t I just start a magazine?” So that night, I went to Barnes & Noble and bought literally twenty-five magazines. I started studying them, noting what I loved—what typefaces I loved, what articles I loved—and thinking about how I would want my magazine to be. And it started going from there! I think Alaina was the first person I talked to about Rue. She’s a fantastic graphic designer, and I knew she’d be a great addition to the team. Anne got on board shortly after I booked my first photo shoot for Rue (with a famous NYC designer at that!). Knowing she shares my love for magazines and has a keen eye for style, I asked if she'd like to come to New York with me and help out. As soon as she agreed, we started bouncing ideas off one another for the shoot as well as brainstorming other people we could contact about home tours while in the city. Pretty soon, Anne, Alaina and I were up to about 100 emails a day fleshing out the details of the magazine. Before we knew it, it was taking shape. A short while later, we’d let our blogging friend Caitlin in on our secret [at the time] endeavor. Caitlin offered her support and a helping hand if we needed it. We were thrilled to have another person help out with the overwhelming workload! So, we asked her to join our team.
Alaina: My two cents, and I feel that I speak for all of us here, is that we shared Crystal’s dream of launching a magazine but were not ready to take the first step and make it happen. Crystal took the initiative and got the ball rolling. And we were all ready to hitch our horses to her wagon! We have our blogs because we have a desire to be a part of the design world. But to start a magazine, you need so much more than your own thoughts and an online database of images that other people have taken.
Crystal and Alaina with interior designer Tobi Fairley at an event earlier this year
Fallon: How do you feel advances in technology and the Internet have changed the design industry?
Alaina: People like me can get involved! I think in terms of networking, that has been the biggest difference. I was never good at networking because I don’t like asking for things. You know, you meet someone once and you think, “Can I send you my resume now?” and they’re probably thinking, “Well, I kind of remember you.” Using the Internet, it’s so much easier to forge relationships with other people who share your interests. It’s easier to get in contact with professionals in the field. I have no design background other than a passion for it. It was a hobby and now it’s hopefully turning into a profession. That’s the goal. But, I guess the Internet has changed every industry in the same way.
Crystal: It’s leveled the playing field in many ways because people like us who are design enthusiasts can build a name for ourselves and build credibility through blogging. And now we’ve had opportunities to meet top designers who are on the covers of national publications. Without the background of a blog or twitter or facebook, we would have never been able to get into that role. Designers have realized that bloggers are valuable to them, as well. We can cover their work, showing it to new audiences and demographics that otherwise might not have seen it. Before blogs and social networking, all we had were magazines. But now, you can post about news the minute it comes out!
Fallon: You ladies at Rue are such strong advocates of social media. How do you view the role of social media, and how does it play into Rue?
Alaina: I am floored by twitter. When twitter came out everyone thought, “What’s the point when there’s facebook?" And I was like, “But I can follow the cast of Twilight!” It used to be the days of instant messaging, and now it’s tweeting. I mean, doesn’t it make less sense? I guess with IM you used to have to carry on a five or ten minute conversation with someone. Twitter is simple. One tweet will suffice. With email, it can be difficult to get to the right person. But people can message Rue Magazine and we see that right away. We can message big companies, and their PR people see that right away. Plus, the power of a retweet is incredible. That’s how the news about Rue first spread. One person retweeted our message, and then another and another.. Pretty soon, we were reaching so many people and all of their followers. It was exponential!
Crystal: We see social media—twitter, facebook, and our personal blogs for that matter—as an extension of our entire presence. We love that we can post pictures or photo albums, and fans of Rue can comment and let us know their opinion.
A twitpic of Crystal and Anne taken shortly after the two wrapped up their final NYC photo shoot for Rue
Fallon: I think it’s so cool how you were tweeting and updating your facebook statuses during your New York photo shoots. It makes everyone feel like they are a part of Rue, as well.
Crystal: Yes, we really want everyone to feel like they are a part of the process. We want to feel accessible to them and we want to get feedback. And facebook and twitter allow for a fantastic online dialogue. We love that social media is a two-way street. We’ve been introduced to some really amazing vendors through our facebook and twitter page that otherwise we may have never known about.
"I mean, when was the last time that
Vogue featured an Etsy seller?"
Alaina: You know, people who may have never had the chance to get into a magazine can be in a magazine. Vendors will send us their link on facebook, we’ll check it out and if we love it, we’ll feature it. If their products are online, even better. I mean, when was the last time Vogue featured an Etsy seller? People on Etsy and other similar websites are crazy talented and they deserve a voice. That is what Rue has been able to offer. And bloggers, for that matter.
Crystal: We’re really cognizant of that. We want to show a broad range of talent. Rue will have the famous designers that everyone knows and loves, but we’ll also have those people you may not have yet heard about.
Alaina: When an issue of a magazine comes out, everyone is excited and people will post about it for about a week. Images from the magazine will continue to pop up now and then like they always do, but excitement inevitably dies down. For the first several months, Rue will be a bimonthly publication. After we launch Rue in September, eight weeks are going to go by where there isn’t news. And this is where social media comes into play. We plan to use facebook and twitter to keep readers interested during that time by giving them new information, thus staying relevant. It’s going to be a huge asset.
Fallon: Do you think that digital magazines are the wave of the future?
Crystal: That’s the million-dollar question. I think that both will always exist. There’s something that people love about the brick and mortar of a magazine. But, our society spends so many hours on the Internet each day that digital magazines make sense. And the two serve different uses. With digital magazines, you can instantly save an image and put it in your inspiration file on your laptop. But with a paper magazine, you can get cozy with it in your bed and travel with it.
"I'd say that nothing is out of the question.
We like to dream big."
Fallon: Do you ever see yourselves going into print?
Crystal: I’d say that nothing is out of the question. We like to dream big. But, I feel like online will always be a big part of our publication.
Fallon: I can’t tell you how excited I am to have another shelter publication!
Alaina: You know, we love Lonny. I met Michelle Adams in New York – she’s like a role model to me! I was a journalism major in college so it was like meeting a celebrity. When we announced Rue, I think one or two people were like, “Uh oh, another up-and-coming magazine. Is there room for two?” And we thought, “Is there room for the 20+ shelter publications currently in print? Of course!” That is the beauty of media. The more ideas, the better. We all share the same goal: to bring inspiration to the world. It’s like bloggers. I don’t look at other bloggers as competition; I look at them as my friends. My grandmother was noticing my home décor the other day and said, “Where do you come up with these creative ideas, Alaina?” And I answered, “I saw it on blog!” I can’t tell you how much I use the phrase, “I saw it on a blog,” in my daily life. The more inspiration, the merrier. I never think to myself, “Oh shucks, another creative person inspired me.”
The gorgeous Seattle Skyline
Fallon: What is your inspiration behind the first issue of Rue?
Crystal: Well, our premiere issue will be our fall issue. We’re going to focus a lot on how to get your home ready for the change of season. That will also lead to our market pieces. We’ll be showcasing fall trends and using fall colors.
"...cities like Seattle have so much to offer.
Because it's not just in New York!"
Alalina: So much of the design industry is out of New York, L.A., Paris and London. Our biggest goal was to not have it all focused in one place. We want to show our readers that design is accessible to everyone. Which was kind of Domino’s thing, but I think they meant it on more of a price point level. We wanted Rue to be more on a geographical level. I mean, look. Coco+Kelly, one of the biggest design blogs out there, is based out of Seattle. Who thinks of Seattle as a hub for creativity? True, New York has quadruple the resources that any other city has, but cities like Seattle have so much to offer. Because it’s not just in New York! We’re featuring homes on the East Coast, West Coast, in the Midwest and in the South. We feel like we did a good job covering our bases. And, we’re hoping to take it to an international level in issue two.
Crystal: Also, we want to utilize our digital platform. We’re including video, downloadable items, and a variety of multi-media experiences. This includes playlists. Music is such an integral part of the creative process! We want to give our readers a whole experience beyond just the visual.
Fallon: I want to know a little bit more about you two. Who are your style icons?
Alaina: Kate Spade. I only own one article of Kate Spade clothing, but it’s more about the company’s branding for me.. the overall look that Kate Spade is known for. I love their ads! The colors, the preppy.. The entire company is fantastic.
Crystal: Well, mine is kind of cheesy, but Kate Middleton. She’s classic and elegant, and very sexy but not at all showy or flashy. She has such an understand beauty and elegance. I just love her style.
Alaina: That’s not cheesy! Put her down for me, too. She’s my fave.
Crystal: And she’s sort of a mystery. She doesn’t do interviews. I think that’s another attraction for me.
Sara Ruffin Costello's famous living room
Fallon: Can you talk about your interior style?
Alaina: My two favorite living rooms belong to Deborah Needleman and Sara Ruffin Costello. They’re both in the Domino book. There’s no single color theme, and that’s my favorite look. I like a space that’s been developed over time. I’d never encourage anyone to go out to the mall and get everything at once. You know, collect antiques, collect family heirlooms, go to thrift stores and make over something. That’s my style.
Crystal: That’s what my apartment is like, too. More expensive antiques mixed with pieces from ikea and $10 treasures from Salvation Army. That look doesn’t have to be outrageously pricey. And we’re incorporating that into Rue. Not everything in Rue will be budget living, but there will be elements of that from the beginning to the very last page. We want what we feature to be obtainable. I think it’s going to turn out well.
Thank you, Crystal and Alaina! I think I speak for the entire design community when I say that
we are eagerly awaiting Rue’s launch on September 16th. We wish you, Anne and Caitlin the best.
we are eagerly awaiting Rue’s launch on September 16th. We wish you, Anne and Caitlin the best.
P.S. -- Rue Magazine can be found on facebook here and on twitter here. Be sure to follow!