Bullett when I interviewed Chuck Holliday and as soon as he handed me the hip publication I knew that I had to feature it on my blog. Bullett is the baby of brother and sister duo, Erin and Nick Ralph who launched the publication last September (10/10/10 to be precise) to a lot of anticipation. Not many indie magazines get slots on Access Hollywood, MTV and NY Daily News prior to their launch but this new kid on the scene managed just that. Bullett covers everything that is cool in films, music, art, fashion, travel, beauty and design plus it has a retro feel to it and manages to be slick yet cool at the same time. The premiere issue has a flip layout cover for both sexes - Cindy Crawford for the ladies and Mark Ruffalo for the guys. However, Bullett is much more than a magazine, it is a multimedia brand with videos, digital and mobile content on offer. Erin Ralph took time out to tell me about the concept behind Bullett.
How did you get into journalism?
When I was around 12 I started freelance writing articles on celebrity fashion and anything “up & coming”. I’ve always loved researching and finding new things and developed a bit of an eye for it- the pay was just a bonus. I started getting consultation and job offers, they didn’t know how young I was. When I was around 14 the Internet was becoming popular so I decided to start my own online magazine called LuxuryFashion.com. I ran LuxuryFashion for 11 years and also started several other media/communications companies with my brother Nick in this time.
Describe the concept of Bullett and the idea behind the name.
The magazine is a quarterly print style, arts and culture guide that transcends demographics, appealing to a diverse international unisex audience. The aim is to unify, inspire and uplift through our content. We like to celebrate and collaborate with true talent/artists/visionaries in their respected industries. Mainstream doesn’t seem to have a filter these days, we seek substance. To us Bullett can be interpreted a few ways. It’s fast moving, pierces through many barriers. Moving with precise aim, steady direction, as I wrote about in my editor's note for this issue. When we were gchatting brainstorming quick and cool names, Nick liked Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, which was the epitome of "cool". It’s a strong word. I thought the word could look pretty like ballet, so it has that balance. I also like the idea that it is usually associated with things that are not so great. We then spin it, making it beautiful and as a source of inspiration and intelligence.
The design is very stylish, how did you decide on the art design of the publication?
Thank you. We didn’t want to overload it. We wanted simplicity and space for readers to also think about what they’re seeing and reading; a bit of imagination space. In the design, we wanted something classic and beautiful, yet strong and powerful. Fortunately we have an incredibly gifted art director who not only shares the same vision, but comes in with some unique artistic elements of his own.
After Nick and I sat down and wrote out a strategy, operational and business plan, we sat down a group of creative individuals/friends and asked them to become part of it. Nick became publisher and secured us international distribution and newsstand placement by the first issue and developed the marketing team. James was onboard from our last project. Sah, our Creative Director, understood the depth of our mission right away as did Johnny, who brought in Sah and Idi (Idil). Idi became our Chairwoman after raising funding and is Executive Editor in day-to-day. We work as a team, a family. It's nice.
How many members of staff work on the publication?
33-ish including freelancers/contributors. It grows depending on what projects we're working on. Having a strong core team is important.
Describe a day in the life of Erin Ralph.
Each day fluctuates and there is usually a lot of life in one day! The basics are making sure everything is flowing at Bullett on the production floor and that there is a nice synergy between the creative and business side. I stay involved in all aspects from reading every pitch we get to developing concepts to strategizing transmedia development (how we take the feature from a print article through video, interactive, short film, etc) to marketing opportunities and all elements of the business and publishing side. Then there is prepping for the next steps, which include launching Bullett TV (an online network of original shows, films, videos) and Bullett Creative, a branding extension. Then there is the strategy session time which includes research and development in the further future of Bullett and solutions to issues when we run into them. There are, of course, the social elements to my job that require going out. We've also started to do gatherings at the Bullett Loft after production hours. Personally, I also like to walk around and see as much as possible for inspiration- New York is filled with this. It’s important to take that time. I try to balance all of this with family, friends, being social and taking care of myself. It's a lot of focus.
What was Bullett's involvement in New York Fashion Week?
We just had our first event at Loft hosted by Jessica White. It went very well. We had a live artist, a nice bar, art work of Jessica and she screened a very touching personal video that introduced her charity, Angel Wings Foundation. In this time Cynthia Rowley's publicist called me to ask us to co-host her after-party, which is turning into a much bigger collaboration. Should be a nice event!
Which blogs do you check out regularly?
I like a nice range of topics from fashion to art to film making, music to psychology and lots of different news sources. Then to stay in the loop WWD News, TED, Refinery29, National Geographic, Fashion Gone Rogue, Cool Hunting, T magazine, and there are endless others. I am a chronic Googler and come across new ones on a daily basis in my searches.
What magazines do you read?
For fashion and art I read a lot of internationals. I also like Vanity Fair for the articles, Elle has a commercial value, Rolling Stone, V is cool, the new W is interesting but thin. Sometimes I just like to go so a nice magazine shop and see what grabs me.
What tips do you have for anyone who wants to become a magazine editor?
Develop a thirst for knowledge! I love learning about new things, finding unique elements in things and thinking broader which is how you get a more well-rounded eye for things. Stay informed - visit a variety of sites, know what’s going on in other countries. Study trends but don’t get stuck in them. When it comes to the process, you’re basically editing a lot of options and curating the project like an art instillation. It’s good to think about the overall message you want to send in what you’re doing, whether it be a fashion story or a written feature, and then edit accordingly.
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