INSPIRED: Lionheart magazine

We all dream of setting up our own magazines, but very few of us actually make the fantasy a reality.

However, Helen (Hels) Martin has done just that with the wonderful Lionheart Magazine – a bi-monthly publication that she has lovingly brought to life and edits, combining features, reviews, and interviews with ideas, photography and so much more. In short: it’s a treasure trove. Each issue is themed, with the first issue – available now – entitled Bravery.

But how does one turn a dream into a reality? We spoke to Hels and found out. Hear her roar…

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I am currently based in Bristol, but grew up in the South Down hills of Sussex. After having two years out – including one horizon-expanding year in Australia – I went to university in Cornwall, where my love of the ocean, wild open spaces and creativity flourished further. The next two-and-a-half years were spent working as a news journalist, music and arts reviewer and freelance writer. I also interned for various publications and agencies and became the Music Editor of Amelia’s Magazine. Though I enjoyed exploring these writing avenues, I could clearly see a gap in the market for a magazine that related to people’s lives. I desperately wanted to create a collectable magazine, almost like a book, that people would treasure and always gain something from each time they picked it up.

What gave you the idea for Lionheart Magazine? What first steps did you take to make the dream a reality?

I tentatively explored the idea on my blog. The declaring of my idea to start a magazine and the response on both this and my Twitter made it all the more real and feasible. After a little minute of deliberation, I decided I absolutely had to – and COULD – do it. I organized group chats with those who I considered my future readers, researched magazine production, met with as many wise Editors as I could, and continued to blog my journey throughout.

Was it difficult to initially get the project off the ground? Was it easier or harder than you imagined?

I heard that when you have a baby, your memory obliterates many of the difficult times. Though I haven’t had a baby myself, I would liken this to working on your ‘dream’! It’s extremely hard work and you only have yourself to cross off that 40-page to-do list. Support from others is invaluable, however. Talking everything through and bouncing ideas over a Sainsbury’s half-price Merlot is amazing. I suppose I never considered not making the magazine, and I think it was that commitment that means I refuse to dwell on the hard bits and bask and dance in the shiny good bits. But in short – for me, corporate is hard, production is easy.

What is the philosophy behind the first issue of Lionheart? (i.e. why bravery?)

Hels

There are so many incredibly strong, brave people in the world and bravery is a very interesting topic, perhaps not discussed hugely these days. I asked each person I interviewed what they considered brave – and it threw up some extremely interesting answers. I also believe, on a personal level, that Lionheart Magazine is a brave endeavor. The belief I had in Lionheart Magazine made me feel quite brave.

What are the best things about running your own magazine? And the worst?

I love being an Editor! Chatting to my contributors, exploring feature ideas, design and concepts. Following this enormous jumble of ideas, rifling through my scrap books, turning it into pages and actually seeing it all become real. Wow, seeing this wonderful world, printed. I LOVE, LOVE it. It’s the best thing in the world. Lionheart Magazine is fantastic – I am biased of course, but it really is.

The less nice things pale into insignificance when the shining bright light of the ROAR beams out – like a sunny peacock! If I had to say one thing though, it would be the fact I have no other staff to help do the marketing, advertising, books, distribution etc. Apart from my contributors, it is a completely solitary affair and can get rather intense, especially as I am still freelancing. I work in a vintage and fancy dress shop for one day a week. Got to pay the bills!

What do you believe makes the magazine unique?

Not compromising on anything. I’m proud of every single page and I know it’s exactly what I hoped and envisaged. It has been created with intrigue and inspiration in mind. The idea of getting to know interviewees perhaps differently to other magazines, honesty, creativity and stylish features, mix with beautiful photography and illustration. Lionheart Magazine is a real reflection of life, and a celebration of the amazing people, crafts, plants, foods… and the little idiosyncrasies, within it. I think Jessica Furseth encapsulates the Lionheart spirit and perspective perfectly.

Where can the magazine be bought?

Online or there is a list of stores on the website. Predominantly, it is sold in independent boutiques and record stores, soon it will also be in Waitrose. Hooray!

What lies ahead for Lionheart Magazine?

I hope Lionheart Magazine continues for many years to come – FOREVER! I really, wholeheartedly believe in the magazine and there’s just so much to write about, photograph and illustrate in this world, it’s brilliant and wonderful. ROAR!

Buy Lionheart here. Visit the Lionheart website and follow the magazine on Twitter: @LionheartMag.

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