Good-old-fashioned print publishing is having a rather hard time of it, and launching a new magazine is a very risky proposition. It takes a new kind of talent to succeed in this new landscape. But if anyone's going make it — as far as we're concerned — it's Cherry Bombe creative director Claudia Wu.
She began her career in earnest at Visionaire and V magazine, learning how to make award-winning editorial on a staff of 10. After wearing many, many hats in those offices, she got an education in high-profile corporate publishing at Harper's Bazaar (where she met her Cherry Bombe partner, Kerry Diamond), but the regimented system there didn't suit her. After freelancing for The New York Times Magazine, Index Magazine, and others, she founded her own boutique-design firm, working with many high-profile corporate clients. During this time she founded Me Magazine, a unique publication dedicated to and guest-edited by a different creative star every issue.
All of this is to say that Claudia Wu has the independent spirit, grit, unconventional perspective, multiple editorial talents, and drive to survive in a media climate that forces publishers to find news ways of reaching audiences and making money. Her latest venture, the fashion-heavy food glossy Cherry Bombe is proof positive. Featuring Sofia Coppola, Garance Doré, and cover star Karlie Kloss, it is, as Wu says, a new mix of "sustenance and style” just novel and sharp enough to make it.
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“Food magazines might be the new fashion magazines.”
Wu funded the first issue of Cherry Bombe through Kickstarter.
It’s more of a traditional magazine in conception, perhaps because Kerry and I grew up reading fashion magazines like Vogue or Harper's Bazaar. People tell us we’re filling a niche that had been missing in food magazines — it’s sustenance and style.
I’ve always been indie and DIY at heart. For me, going from very, very indie publications like V to Harper’s Bazaar was like night and day — there you really only had one job. At V, I was doing art direction, design, layouts, production, press checks, working on Visionaire, and doing campaigns for the in-house ad agency. I needed to take back control. I guess you could say I started my first magazine, Me, out of frustration.
It takes a lot of perseverance, and it's not very glamorous most of the time. I mean, it's wonderful to make a magazine that people appreciate and looks great. But it's another issue to make something that's self-sustaining financially. Print-advertising dollars are drying up, and publishers are shutting down titles. You have to find more creative revenue sources. That’s the next big challenge we’re working on it at Cherry Bombe. For the moment, though, it's a real labor of love.
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Article by Gabriel Bell, Refinery29