The Mr. Magazine™ Interview
New American Kind & Enlightened Diet (NAKED) Shows Us an Organic and Healthier Way to Choose the Foods that We Eat. The Mr. Magazine™ Conversation with Margarita Restrepo, Founder of Naked Food Magazine and Peter Walsh, Circulation Director For the Magazine…
After being born on the web a year ago, Naked Food is going print, with the mission of getting the Naked Concept of life into the hands of more people across the country. Margarita Restrepo is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine and along with Peter Walsh, Circulation Director; the two are determined to see this dream become a reality.
After adopting the plant-based diet when her boyfriend was diagnosed with Stage IV brain cancer, Margarita saw a drastic reduction in the growth of the tumor through the food changes they made during the catastrophic experience.
Unfortunately, it was too late to save her boyfriend, but Margarita is now on a mission to teach others and get the information out there that a person’s diet can make a major difference in their overall health and wellbeing with the print edition of Naked Food.
So sit back and get ready to be “Nakedly Enlightened” as you read the Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Naked Food Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Margarita Restrepo and Circulation Director, Peter Walsh.
But first the sound-bites:
On why the print edition and why now: I think the most important part of this whole story is that going through that experience (her boyfriend’s cancer) was extremely difficult, of course. But the most difficult part about it was that there wasn’t really any information that could have actually saved someone’s life or change their future.
On the aspirations and goals for the printed magazine: Of course the goal is to go out there and change the current paradigm that we have in regards to food, nutrition and health. I think that although there may be somewhat similar titles out there, there’s really nothing that will bring food as medicine and food as a tool to prevent and reverse disease.
On the name “Naked Food”: NAKED (New American Kind & Enlightened Diet) refers to foods that have not been tainted and are not toxic with genetically-modified organisms; in other words, the closer the food is to nature, the better it is for you.
On changing the style of the printed cover from the website design: Because not so many people know about the magazine yet, when they see it, there are a lot of people who would have to look into the magazine to see what it is about and I don’t want to turn people off. And sometimes when they don’t know, it’s easier for them to say, well…this is weird or this might be porn with the title, I mean, you never know.
On where they hope the magazine will be a year from now: I think a year from now the Naked concept is going to be a lot more known and I think it’s going to be a popular magazine. I completely believe in it because I know that it’s something that people need to know.
On what keeps Margarita up at night: The one thing that bothers me the most is that we’re trying to survive through a food system that is killing us. And I believe that there has not been a clear voice out there that teaches people why it is so important to choose the right things.
And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Margarita Restrepo, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Naked Food Magazine and Peter Walsh, Circulation Director.
Samir Husni: Congratulations on the new magazine. My first question for you has to be why now and why in print?
Peter Walsh: Margarita has a bit of a back story on that – the plant-based diet having been something she studied and is certified for and she also has a bit of a personal story with her boyfriend who contracted cancer, a GBM, which began her quest, the two of them together, of using a plant-based, natural and organic whole food diet to combat his disease. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late for him and he passed away. So it’s a mission for Margarita and a passion.
Margarita Restrepo: I think the most important part of this whole story is that going through that experience was extremely difficult, of course. But the most difficult part about it was that there wasn’t really any information that could have actually saved someone’s life or change their future, either reverse a disease or prevent it. There just wasn’t anything widely available.
And although there are a lot of sources on the Internet, as we know pretty much everything and anything is on the web, there’s really not a source that is proven and scientifically factual. And something that people can actually read and trust that has scientific purpose and is backed up by doctors and by evidence. The one thing that I found really difficult when I started this whole journey was the lack of information.
I’m a designer, that’s my background. I’m a designer and I’m in branding and I’ve done that for about fourteen years. My other background is in music and that’s actually what I was doing before this. I had nothing to do with nutrition and I probably knew what the regular Joe knows about nutrition; I knew about calories and not getting fat and that’s all wrong. It’s not about that. If you eat the right things you don’t have to worry about all that. Food can actually be treated as medicine.
I did start the magazine digitally; the magazine has been in digital format for about a year. But not everybody has access to digital, and although, yes, that’s where we’re going, there’s a lot of people, like myself; again, I’m a graphic designer, a web designer and a very good researcher; I love Google, but still when I needed the information to save somebody’s life or at least help them, it wasn’t there.
I think that having the magazine in print is going to allow us to reach out to a wider audience. This is not just for adults. Obesity is a huge problem right now; so it’s for parents, it’s for kids, elders and families. And it’s something that affects our country and our planet. It has a lot of potential to change our healthcare system because I think if we focus on it, it’s something that we can control ourselves and it’s not about healthcare reform.
Peter Walsh: I would add to Margarita’s answer on your question why print and why now. I think that there has been, as she’s done her digital issues and she has the Facebook followings, there has been a certain amount of demand for people who have said we would love to see this in print, the online looks beautiful, but we’d love to see it in print. And that’s kind of where I come in, being an old print guy myself. We will have a digital version and it will be on all platforms, including mobile, and yet, I really believe that, first of all, no one in print is doing exactly what we feel we’re covering editorially and secondly, I am a firm believer that in order to make a go of it and make a profit, to have a sustainable operation, print helps you to monetize the online audience tremendously. And I think a lot of other print publishers would share that opinion. So that’s “why” print.
Samir Husni: I was looking at your launch plan and I noticed that you’re starting very small. What’s your roadmap? Your first issue comes out in April with around 5,500 copies. What’s your roadmap for the future to make Naked Food a talked-about brand and a major brand? There’s a magazine called Clean Eating that you can find on all the newsstands. Is that one of your aspirations; to be everywhere or would you rather keep it limited?
Margarita Restrepo: Absolutely. Of course the goal is to go out there and change the current paradigm that we have in regards to food, nutrition and health. I think that although there may be somewhat similar titles out there, there’s really nothing that will bring food as medicine and food as a tool to prevent and reverse disease. Nothing that is really evidence-based.
There are a lot of magazines out there that will talk about something similar, but it’s really not the same as ours. Naked Food is more of something that people can apply to their lives. Whatever lifestyle they lead, this is something that can help them.
Because it’s a mission-driven endeavor and magazine; I think that the more people know about its actual mission, it’ll grab attention and it’s going to let people understand what it’s all about. And it’s really not something that is about dieting or anything like that; it’s about true health. And it’s already happened and I haven’t done really any advertising or promotion.
Peter Walsh: As someone who helps small publishers, I feel like my role is to avoid the landmines and I quote you all the time because a long time ago, you used to say things when, for example, there would be 850 to 900 new titles to come out in any given year, and after one year 80 percent would be gone. And after the second year 50 percent of the remaining twenty percent would be gone, so that makes a two year attrition rate of 90 percent.
And I don’t know if it still holds true, but I always think about that with regards to small magazines. And I think at the same time what you had said was: what makes a magazine good enough to last the two years and get to long-term growth? And number one is funding, capital. A lot of people get into the magazine publishing business with a great idea, but they don’t have any idea of the capital that is involved in investing for that first year until you turn cash flow neutral in year two and then cash flow positive in year three.
So I feel a large part of my role is a steward and as an experienced magazine guy is to teach my clients like Margarita, what things cost and when you get paid and how much per copy you get paid and how subs work and etc., etc. And knowing how you have to struggle to get advertising the first year; my goal for a publisher like Margarita is basically to run the circulation profitably in the first year.
I tend to advise toward keeping the cover price a little on the high end and we want to know when we’ve broken even and we want to get a high sell-through on the newsstand, so by design we’ve started out with the organic grocery stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts, they’ve given us very nice newsstand orders through one source in Denver. So the standard shot approach and trying to be in every retailer would make you go broke very quickly.
We’re not afraid of the growth and we can scale it and we do have some capital that is available to us; it’s just that we wanted to make sure that we walked before we ran so we didn’t trip.
Samir Husni: Tell me about the name; it’s not every day that you’re going to find a magazine with the name naked in it and it has nothing to do with nudity. What does “Naked” stand for and Naked Food as a whole?
Margarita Restrepo: I’m not sure if you know about the Standard American Diet; actually it’s called SAD (Standard American Diet). I’m trying to move away from that and invite people to look at a different plan.
Peter Walsh: And NAKED stands for New American Kind & Enlightened Diet.
Margarita Restrepo: I’m trying to move away from the SAD diet and into the New American Kind & Enlightened Diet, which as Peter said, is what NAKED stands for.
Besides that, NAKED refers to foods that have not been tainted and are not toxic with genetically-modified organisms; in other words, the closer the food is to nature, the better it is for you. And that’s evidence-based fact. The more you eat foods that have not been processed or tainted, the better. Most of our foods are based in petroleum, believe it or not, and actual aluminum. There are so many carcinogens in the foods, it’s just ridiculous. Every day we’re just ingesting toxins.
Naked Food really refers to that. And it teaches and encourages people to make the right choices; for themselves and their families. So NAKED is really a lifestyle. You become acquainted with organic, non-genetically modified foods. And most of the Standard American Diet is an animal-based diet. Everything has butters, oils, creams and fats that are causing our veins to clog, giving people heart attacks and unfortunately cancer feeds off of fats and sugars. So it’s teaching people this: the more the food comes from the ground, potatoes, legumes, vegetables and fruits, the better it is for you.
Unfortunately, when man attempts to create food, there are a lot of things that is added to the food that are dangerous.
Peter Walsh: And it’s profitable for the food manufacturers.
Margarita Restrepo: Yes, it’s about how much money they can make and there are so many different dangers in the food that people are not aware of. This information needs to get out there, so people can make better choices.
Samir Husni: Having said that, I noticed looking at the website, you were really playing on the word “Naked” with the covers that you had. But now with the first print issue, it seems that you’ve decided to go with a more standard food/advocate/celebrity cover approach. Why did you change the style of design from what you had on the web to what you’re doing with the print issue?
Margarita Restrepo: Because not so many people know about the magazine yet, when they see it, there are a lot of people who would have to look into the magazine to see what it is about and I don’t want to turn people off. And sometimes when they don’t know, it’s easier for them to say, well…this is weird or this might be porn with the title, I mean, you never know. And I didn’t want that connotation with the magazine because it’s going to be in Whole Foods, it’s going to be in Barnes & Noble and there are kids there; I didn’t want parents to feel weird about something like the title.
I think the essence of the point stands. In other words, I do want people to understand that, quite honestly, if they eat healthy, they can look great naked, that’s for sure, because that’s what happens. It’s something that occurs naturally. When you eat healthy, you don’t have to worry about being fat or calories; you don’t even have to own a scale and that’s true. I don’t have one, because I don’t need it.
Naked is one of the concepts that apply to a lot of things. It applies to our lifestyle, because you’re getting rid of toxins, chemicals and carcinogens, etc. and you’re also picking better foods and you’re demanding better food, which is going to hopefully help change the food system. And you’re also doing great things for your body. So it all goes together.
Everybody loves the name and everybody gets it. Everybody knows that it’s about clean eating, which is great. We just went a little different with the cover, because we didn’t want to turn anybody off.
Peter Walsh: We have heard from different people about cover treatments. My own opinion is that we don’t want to show just a food or a recipe on the cover because there are a lot of other magazines, like Clean Eating, Eating Well and Allrecipes that are already doing that.
We’ve heard from people who say food on the cover sells well, yet we have a dual mission. Do we want to start out looking like a medical magazine; no, we really don’t. We really feel like the first step of our two-part mission is to introduce people to food that is good-tasting and that you can make, and yes, there are recipes inside.
A core part of what we’re doing is showing that recipes are no longer the traditional recipes; we’re introducing people to a whole lot of food that they’ve never eaten before. And it’s wonderful.
There is a movement out there, the fastest growing supermarket chains in America are the organic ones like Whole Foods and Sprouts. So there is a movement and a trend and we feel like we’re answering that market demand and we’re kind of leading with the food part of it. As to whether there is a celebrity or not; we could have a celebrity on the cover on every issue probably, but I think what we’re going to do is test different covers in different ways. That way we can read the results of what the market is going to react to the best.
Whether it’s a celebrity or a non-celebrity or a close-up of a food dish, or like our current new cover with Laura Prepon, who is kind of our target audience and she has obviously embraced this lifestyle. If you read the article, it’s actually been her salvation, more or less, regarding her own health, which was really pretty poor beforehand and she really raves about how the nutritionist that she was working with introduced her to this type of diet and she is so much healthier because of it.
So, I think that we’re still small and we’re still growing and we still have things that we’re testing and that we want to learn along the way.
Samir Husni: A year from now, if I’m doing this interview with you; what are you going to tell me about Naked Food?
Margarita Restrepo: I think I’m going to tell you: thank you, Samir, for being the first industry interview that made us go everywhere in the market because of something here, hopefully.
Honestly, I think the magazine has had a tremendous growth, even in one year. The magazine started from nothing to what you see today.
I think a year from now the Naked concept is going to be a lot more known and I think it’s going to be a popular magazine. I completely believe in it because I know that it’s something that people need to know, people really need this information and I do know that once somebody knows about it; they can’t wait to tell someone else. They can’t wait to tell their parents and friends, so I think that there is already growth that we’ve seen in a year. And it’s been pretty much word of mouth.
And I also think that now that we’re going to be in stores with a wider approach and a wider audience that the growth is going to double.
So when you interview us again in a year, we’re going to be celebrating success.
Peter Walsh: A year from now we want to thank you when we’re awarded the Title Launch of the Year and we’ll dedicate it to you, Samir.
As the circulation guy on the business side of the equation, I would say that I really am confident that we’re going to run the magazine sensibly and ethically and we’re going to hit circulation milestones and achieve higher circulations. But that’s something you really can’t do the first issue, you have to kind of grow into it and add-on the Safeways of the world and Wegmans and wherever else we end up.
We’re going to grow immeasurably and sensibly. So we feel like we will be adding a much higher milestone in that our advertisers will be getting lots of responses throughout the next year.
Samir Husni: What keeps you up at night?
Margarita Restrepo: The one thing that bothers me the most is that we’re trying to survive through a food system that is killing us. And I believe that there has not been a clear voice out there that teaches people why it is so important to choose the right things. It’s not just for your body; it’s also for the greater good. And the greater good means sustainable living for everyone around you: the planet, the animals, the trees. It’s just seriously so important, because every time that you choose something that is bad for your body; you’re increasing the potential of damaging our oceans, our soil and our planet in general.
I think that the only way for people to be able to make a sustainable choice is education, just like with everything else in our country. The more that we educate people regarding a more conscious, more enlightened way of living, the better off we’ll be.
It’s a Catch-22 really, because the more you eat these dangerous foods, the sicker you’ll be. Unfortunately, the healthcare system wants you sick because they need your money. If everyone ate really healthy, they wouldn’t be making a lot of money. And if we are to be healthy, we need to stop buying all these crappy foods.
I believe it relies on education, so my goal and my purpose is to empower people with information and have them be instrumental tools themselves for their own life and the planet. I do want to be able to help people in ways that I was not able to help my boyfriend. Unfortunately for me and for him, it was too late. It was a very advanced cancer and in Stage IV when they found it. He only lived eight months after that.
However, when we started the plant-based diet, we did see a reduction of tumor growth. It was unbelievable. That never happens in that kind of cancer, in that particular stage.
So I have seen it with my own eyes, the difference that a diet can make for someone with a deadly disease like cancer. I’m hoping that people can see that and to be honest with you, that does keep me up at night. The more we can get that information out there, the more we can save people and teach them to take control of their health and hopefully keep them around for a long time.
Samir Husni: Thank you.
© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2014