If this issue had a song, it would be Drake – Started From The Bottom. You know the lyrics, “We started from the bottom now we’re here. We started from the bottom now my whole team is here.”
OAK celebrates four years this September which coincides quite nicely with the launch of Issue 10. It deserves a moment to pause and reflect.
When I started OAK, I had only my experience in a newsroom as a 22 year old journalist and sub editor, combined with a lifelong passion for print magazines.
The magazines I’ve reached for have changed with the seasons of life – Smash Hits as a teen, Cosmo and Cleo as a young woman, baby magazines, wedding magazines, baby magazines again.
There are lots of little puzzle pieces as to why I started OAK. One crucial corner piece was that I couldn’t find a magazine that spoke to me as a woman living and running a business in regional Australia (I still stand at the magazine section in a supermarket wishing OAK was there). We often create a business to fill a gap.
We dive in heart first. Yep, heart not head.
The first few issues, albeit years, of OAK were a struggle. I was trying to navigate an industry I didn’t feel confident in. I had little idea of advertising, distribution, profit margins, gosh, I even forgot the barcode on our first two issues! I couldn’t find a ‘how to’ manual.
It’s taken me a while to build an inner circle who I now credit for OAK’s trajectory.
Firstly, Lou Davis our art director who does more than just develop visual concepts for the publication. She is my right-hand wing woman on this journey. Nat Dowling who understands and articulates the ethos of OAK far better than myself. Eve Ritchens who comes to every launch party, sends me leads, proofreads each issue and lets me vent. There are, of course, so many other women who write stories, take photos, share our Insta content and check in on me (these friends are golden – Kylie, Jess, Brikitta).
In the last 18 months, I’ve watched with sadness as some magazines fold and I’ve watched in awe as new ones have soared. All the while, I haven’t considered that I belong alongside those publishers who I was convinced have special training, insider knowledge or a rule book we’re meant to follow.
OAK has grown whilst I’ve been stuck mentally back at the beginning as someone who didn’t know anything about this industry. An imposter. Hacking my way through. Not doing anything terribly special. Not realising the value of OAK’s multi-distribution channels.
It was my incredible new business coach Chris Edwards and her friend Leana, partnerships extraordinaire, who made me realise that, ‘You have to let go of who you were to become who you are.’
It was a moment of sudden realisation. This is not a side hustle anymore. I’m a magazine publisher… twice if you flip the cover! And I’m doing really well at it.
I did start from the bottom but because of you – the reader, the advertiser, the contributor, the Instagram follower – we are here. Four years. Ten issues. Lisa Messenger. Samantha Wills. So many collaborations. A community ecosystem of print, digital, events and audio. Something to be incredibly proud of.
Here’s to 10 issues... and the 10 after that!
Founder + Editor
P.S. They really deserve more than a postscript thank you but I know they’ll be embarrassed by anything more. A heartfelt thank you to my husband who gives me the space to create and the encouragement to keep on going, who cooks and cleans and wrangles the kids and most importantly, when I ask if I should get a real job, tells me that I already have one.