Hustle Chat with Christi Barnes
Our EIC, Denisse, discovered Woven magazine in a little shop in Salem, North Carolina earlier this year. She raved to the rest of the team about how beautiful it is. Because of this, Denisse asked me to reach out to the Woven team to ask them where they print their magazines. It wasn't until after I had sent the email that Denisse realized that it said the name of the printer right on the back cover. But boy are we happy we didn't realize because if we did we would have never had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Christi Barnes. Christi is one half of the husband and wife duo behind Woven. She is kind, she is creative, she is smart and most of all, she very kindly answered our question about what printer they use to create Woven even though she knew full well that the answer was right under our noses. We are forever grateful and forever in awe of her grace and talent for storytelling.
LH: Tell us about yourself:
CB: I am the Managing Editor of Woven Magazine, based in Seattle, WA. My background is in Nutrition and Industrial Design, but my primary role is as a writer and business manager. My husband and I run the magazine together, sharing creative duties like direction, writing, and photography. We spend most of our time together working on the magazine, traveling, or hosting friends in our home. We have two pets, a cat named Selah and a Corgi pup named Fonzie that keep us constantly entertained. We affectionately refer to our house as "the Barnes' Barn" or "the Animal Kingdom" because we can all be a bit rambunctious, and all have things we like a very particular way.
LH: How did Woven begin?
CB: Woven began when Jeremy was working his first design job out of college. He was at an agency in Chattanooga, TN where we both lived at the time, and started getting more and more hungry to design something around storytelling. We had so many friends who had taken what we call a 'less than conventional' path to their careers and that intrigued us both in a personal way. How was it that people were able to travel so often and still do what they loved and survive? We started interviewing a few close friends and realized what a powerful concept it was to just ask questions and let wisdom present itself. Everyone has something to offer, and we just kept chasing that. Eventually we began reaching out to people that inspired us that we didn't know: shop keepers, small artisans, and the like – people who were doing things we wished we could do! From there it just kept growing. It was also a way to exercise a set of complementary skills we had between the two of us, with Jeremy in design and my writing, albeit pretty rusty at the time.
LH: You work with a partner on the magazine, what is your role vs. his?
CB: Jeremy, my husband, and I have been doing the magazine together since before we got married a year and a half ago, so it's always been a huge part of who we are as a couple. He is a graphic designer by trade, so he is responsible for all of our web and print design. We partner on the direction of the magazine, theme and so forth, but I am the primary writer and editor. I also schedule all of our interviews and handle the business end of the magazine.
LH: What advice would you give to other Lady Hustlers on good business partnerships?
CB: I think the best partnerships are built on respect and a great sense of humor. When Jeremy and I are strapped for time, or cranky because we've over-booked ourselves, it's critically important that we stay considerate no matter what. Laughing about how much work we have to do makes it more fun to dig in and get it done, and complementing each other on the work the other person is doing makes everything run so much smoother, not to mention encourage us to work better.
LH: When you were 10, what did you imagine your adult life would be like?
CB: I thought I would wind up working in an office and be a business person like my dad. He used to take me to his office and on errands all the time. It all seemed very important. Both of my parents always said I would be a writer, which I guess at some point I assumed would happen but didn't think that was a real job. I started college as an English major but got a bit jaded on the why of literature. It just didn't seem very useful in the real world to me at the time. I'm so thankful that I married an artist, because he reminded me of what I really love about reading especially, but also why writing is so important, and what a tool it is to inspire others.
LH: In what ways is it better?
CB: My life is 1000% better than I thought it would be. I still find things to complain about, but I could not have written a more perfect job description for myself. I thrive on setting my own schedule, which I do, and handling a kajillion responsibilities at a time. I naturally forget to be creative and my job forces me back into that mode. And I get to seek out and interact with the most amazing individuals. I listen to and tell stories for a living. Not to mention I have the best business partner on the planet.
LH: In what ways do you hope to improve?
CB: Procrastinate less, write more. Complain less, read more.
LH: What’s a major challenge you have encountered during the creation of Woven?
CB: I think the biggest challenge has been finding a balance between work and play. I forget sometimes that this is my dream job and get bogged down in the details and the stress of it all. I think honestly the biggest challenge has been learning to not get in my own way with worry.
LH: What do you attribute the success of your Kickstarter campaign to?
CB: Kickstarter was a huge risk and also a huge project in and of itself. I'm not sure I can attribute our success to anything but people resonating with what we wanted to do. Since we had already been online for a year at that point, people knew our vision pretty well. But we also gained so much exposure from a few folks who decided to share the project just because they found us and liked what we were doing. It was great in that way because we found out who our audience really was. Our work is also naturally collaborative and I think that helps when it comes to getting the word out.
LH: If you had the opportunity do it again, what would you change?
CB: I can't say I would change anything except the rewards portion. I wish we were able to ship our rewards sooner than we did, even though we met all our promised dates. I wish I had priced our rewards more specifically before the campaign, as well. Things are always more expensive than you think they will be!
LH: What has been the scariest part about starting your own magazine?
CB: I think the investment has been the scariest thing. I don't think about it as much now except for managing the investment, but we have put ourselves on the line financially time and again for this project. I'm proud of how we've invested in quality, and how we've invested in the people that make this magazine worth buying. Those are two of our core values, but they aren't cheap. It's also scary just to put yourself out there creatively, but honestly we get so busy making the thing that I don't worry too much about whether people will hate my writing.
LH: How have you dealt with doubt? Whether it be self-doubt, or doubt about the success of your publication?
CB: I try not to let it settle in. Doubt comes and goes constantly in life, but it only holds you back or stagnates the work. I don't have time for that. As best I can I try to see it as light and passing advice from my subconscious. I just naturally assume that things will work out if we put our effort in the right places and keep a good attitude. Self-doubt is a bit trickier, but again I just have to shake myself out of it in order to be productive. Jeremy has always quoted a design professor he had in college reminding us that, "Nothing works unless you do." I think it's very similar to Picasso's advice that, "Inspiration exists but it has to find us working."
LH: We can imagine that running your own business is extremely time-consuming. What are some ways you prevent getting burnt out?
CB: Running a business is a lot of work and very time-consuming, so you have to love it. You realize very quickly when you don't love it. I think finding ways to stay engaged with the part you love most even when you have to do the things you love least is important. For me, that's peeking at photos from a feature I'm writing to remember what an amazing time we had with the folks we interviewed. Beauty lights the flame again. I try to work on some other aspect of the business, too, because there's always something that needs tending to. Finally, I think taking serious time to stop working and reflect on other parts of life are critical. We don't do it often enough, but we try to read more or take a weekend hike when we feel like we aren't as engaged as we should be with the content or process.
LH: What is your favorite time management tool? (App, journal, exercise, etc.)
CB: I can be kind of a Luddite so I keep a physical planner and to-do book with me at all times. Also a fine tip pen. I've come around to Google Calendar, but my Large Monthly Planner by Mochi Things is my sidekick. I would say I manage my time with yoga or a run, but that might be the one thing on my to-do list I don't get done.
LH: What does being a Lady Hustler mean to you?
CB: I think being a Lady Hustler means you have incredible focus and a high value for people. Nothing that I do would mean anything if there weren't people attached to it, so while I try to hustle through tasks, I have to remember that human beings are not efficient. They have feelings and their own set of values, and sometimes they don't do what you want them to do. Being a lady means I treat people well, considerately and hospitably. Hustling means I work around and in spite of people letting me down.
LH: What advice do you have for fellow Lady Hustlers?
CB: Keep your butt in the chair! Advice to myself, really. But don't waste so much time doubting yourself or doing menial work that doesn't inspire you or anyone else. Work in such a way that honors your own time. If you can't do a job with zeal, do everyone else a favor and find something else to do. Also, be around people that lift you up and encourage you, and seek out people that challenge you. Make yourself uncomfortable often and quit worrying so much.
LH: Who is one female that has influenced your hustle the most?
CB: Does everyone say their mom? Because, my mom. She has hustled her whole life and always encouraged me to work my butt off. She taught me how to value relationships and get your work done regardless of how you feel. Also Julia Child, Dr. Kate Thornton, and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.