By Lisa Charleyboy

UNGTV Episode One ‘The Magazine’ is full of segments that have been filmed over a span of years while the show was in different stages of development. There’s clips spanning from 2011 – 2015. One thing that I’ve noticed while looking back at the earlier clips is my vibrancy, lightness, and excitement. I feel like I’ve had a lot of adversity over the past five years as I struggled to “make it” happen and in that quest, I’ve had a lot of struggles financially, and personally that have really weighed down on me. Seeing those clips of the early years when I held such optimism and excitement is a good reminder of how I really want to be. My best self: excited, passionate, and vibrant. I need to find that place again, and this is the quest that I’m on now.

During this episode when I spoke to both Shelley Ambrose (Walrus Magazine), and Jamie Monastyrski (SPIRIT Magazine) I gained that spark back, that vibrancy and drive to go forward with this dream and feel like anything is possible. Although they both gave me the hard facts and realities of running a magazine, they also offered invaluable insight and encouragement for me to go forward.

Me: Do you think there’s room in the Aboriginal world for Urban Native Magazine in print?

Jamie Monastyrski: Yes

Jamie, former Editor-in-Chief of SPIRIT Magazine, has been my mentor since 2006, when he took me under his wing. I was studying professional writing at York University and he brought me on as a guest Assistant Arts Editor for an entire issue of SPIRIT Magazine <insert year and photo of cover, etc.>. This opportunity not only gave me the inspiration to create Urban Native Magazine after SPIRIT Magazine folded in 2008, but this experience was also the catalyst for me to reach out to the Native community, and imbed myself in this welcoming community. I am forever thankful for that gift, and this gift is one that I hope to give to many others along my journey.

“The traditional business model for magazines is advertising floats the boat … this model is now broken.” Shelley Ambrose

Shelley Ambrose, Publisher for Walrus Magazine, encouraged me to move forward with the magazine and to seek out charity status as a way to attract supporters for the magazine. She also shared that the key to financial success and stability for the magazine is to accept all potential advertisers, and to diversify revenue streams beyond print. This wisdom I hold close to my heart, and as I now create a new business plan for the magazine for my final project for my Executive Masters of Business Administration (EMBA) at Simon Fraser University (SFU), I will ensure that I follow her tips for success.

Being an entrepreneur with no capital backing (investors, loans, grants, etc.) has really been a challenge, and yet I’ve somehow persevered and continued my journey to make this magazine happen. It’s not a straight path though, I’ve since gone back to school to do my EMBA so that I can gain the business skills I need in order to make this magazine financially viable.  

There are so many stats, figures, and trends that can make me say to myself “this is a pipe dream, and it will never work,” but I choose to see both the opportunities and business challenges that lay out in front of me and learn to navigate them. That is the life of an entrepreneur, a business person, an artist, and essentially every human on this planet. There are no guarantees in life, but it’s crucial to be aware of your sandboxes and the rules of the playground and learn to do your best in that place. That’s all we really can do. Well, that and live each day to seek out happiness and joy so we continue to have that spark, and that vibrancy with the work that we choose to do.