I discovered Mamalode by accident. If you had told me, as I tore out of Montana for college at age 17, that one day writers from New York City to Silicon Valley, from Alaska to Florida, would be agog over a parenting magazine being printed right under their noses in my hometown, Missoula ...
... well, I'd have accidentally spilled my pop on your face.
Mamalode, published by Elke Govertsen and her colleagues in -- yes -- Missoula, Montana, is unbelievably different from the parenting magazines on most newsstands. This magazine, which has celebrated bloggers from Kelle Hampton to Matt Logelin, is beautiful. Profound. Real. Raw even. See what I mean?
What a witness to the real lives of families -- this beautiful child, the world-class image and headline that packs her world into a word. And inside? No slick models or model-children presiding over how-tos that might matter if I weren't wrapped up in the real mental engagement and moral leadership that it takes to mother and stepmother every day of my life. Instead, the reader gets just what the blurb promised: Sexy, world-class writing:
"Enough is about reaching the point where you're just fed up! Enough money, love, time, energy, stuff, enough, enough, enough! With ... Kelle Hampton (who blogs Enjoying the Small Things) on Secret Reserves, Randi Zuckerberg (sister of Facebook founder Mark) in a Q&A on her life and times in Silicon Valley, and Aimee Mcquilkin & Lael Gabrian -- Mamaloders Don't Airbrush (But Some Days We Sarong)"
Got that? No airbrushing. But some days? We sarong.
Now Publisher Elke Govertsen is working to take her labor of love to the next level. Govertsen, whose team designs and sells local ads to entice readers to support local businesses and sell magazine subscriptions and back issues, is applying for small business loan. She's seeking Facebook votes for missionsmallbusiness.com, a contest by Chase and Living Social, to be one of 12 small businesses awarded a $250,000 grant, as she described at an Innovate Montana event I attended last week at the University of Montana business school. Here's her post:
"[My son] heard me talking tonight about a grant I applied for. He heard me say how much I want it. How much it would mean for me and for Mamalode. He asked me to explain what I meant when I spoke of how it is almost the exact amount I needed from investors. He told me equity was a weird word and somehow equated it to Pokemon. He is right about that; it is totally weird and trade-able. Then he looked at me, square in the eye, and he is not a kid for eye contact, and challenged, “Did you ask?”
"Crap-ola. That kid was born with a hammer in hand to hit the nail on the head. Smack. I said, “Kind of ... ” and he just raised an eyebrow. He looked just like his mother.
"So I bucked up. I asked and asked. I will ask again, because it is true. This grant would allow me to grow Mamalode in all the ways I dream, without investment at this stage, which means I keep equity and creative control, which means we are that much further along this exciting road ... "
Elke's got her work cut out for her to grow this business, despite the fact that Montana is heating up on the start-up front. As I shared in my talk last week, 99 percent of funding for start-ups comes from outside of Montana and most of that money will go to biotech, telecom and software. And of course there's the fact that if the funds follow national patterns, most of this venture capital will be granted by men to men.
What does that mean for a print magazine that extends the voice of a Web community aimed at sharing the lives and independent voices of women AND men in an authentic parenting magazine? It means that Mamalode needs our help before June 30. I don't know of another such start-up aimed at distributing in print a space where mothers -- and, yes, fathers -- examine the realities of parenting in a celebrity-free zone, made to leave around on couches and chairs and offices for our children and community to see and read and appreciate. With issues like Enough and Home and Work and Faith, I think Mamalode is special and important -- especially since Brain, Child is no longer (sob) in print.
So I'll boil down the ask: America's best parenting magazine in print is a small business founded and led by women in Montana. And if you want to be published in this book, as I do, please vote up their bid today for one of 12 small business grants by Chase and Living Social. Here's how:
Log in to support (Facebook sign in)
In the blank box that says Business, type “mamalode” and click Search.
It should pull Mamalode up and click Vote.
Easy as pie, right? And while you're there, why not support one of the other amazing businesses by women who are going for this grant, too:
Thank you. Your karma bank is now full. Unless you know of other businesses applying for this grant that you recommend we all support -- I'd love to read about them in the comments!
But wait, there's more: I asked Kelle Hampton, Bloom author and blogger of Enjoying the Small Things (named The Bump’s Best Special Needs Blog and The Blog You’ve Learned the Most From in the 2010 BlogLuxe Awards), why she became Mamalode's first paid subscriber and what she thinks of the magazine. Here's our interview:
BlogHer: Why did you become Mamalode's first subscriber?
Kelle: After reading Mamalode online, I knew I wanted to read more and support what I loved -- good writing and insightful essays that were more than just motherhood "fluff." The photographs, the essays, the poetry in Mamalode -- it's all real life, nothing polished -- and it's put together in a way that leaves you feeling encouraged and capable not only of being a great mom, but a woman of good soul.
I also had the privilege of meeting Elke and some of the magazine staff when I traveled across the country to meet a blog friend and later at BlogHer in San Diego. Elke's passion for building and expanding this magazine is palpable. She has a lot of soul, and the purposeful choices she's made in hiring writers, selecting essays and photographs, incorporating readers' opinions and beliefs -- that soul reflects in every aspect of Mamalode.
BlogHer: You have a blog, yet you write for print publications such as Mamalode and your beautiful book, Bloom. Why do you take the time to publish in print?
Kelle: I think it's good for writers to switch gears and expand their platform when possible, especially when you have the opportunity to write for a publication that represents values and issues of importance to you. Blogging is an incredible way to connect with other women and an outlet where we can write about whatever it is we we want to write about and be our own "boss." I never want to be myopic in my writing, though, and occasionally writing for other publications helps me continually sharpen my perspective, consider the views and opinions of readers outside of the blog and practice varied styles of writing expanding from the blogger/follower dialogue.
BlogHer: Elke Govertsen is applying to be one of 12 small business grants of $250,000 from Chase Bank and Living Social to grow Mamalode magazine. Do you think women should be paid to write?
Kelle: Women should absolutely be paid to write -- and not because we are women, but because the written word is of great value.
While I certainly don't want to suggest that women only write for other women -- because there are plenty of men out there reading blogs and books by talented females -- I do think women possess an innate desire to connect with and relate to each other. The depth of female relationships exemplifies this. Economically, that very fact creates a supply-and-demand situation, and writing and reading -- whether it's through a book or a blog or a column in a magazine -- gives women opportunties to connect, relate, challenge and encourage. That opportunity is one of incredible worth, and I'm willing to pay for it.
I'll continue to buy great books, subscribe to magazines that encourage and teach me new things, and support blogs of writers who inspire me.
Thanks Kelle! And congratulations again on your book, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected -- A Memoir.
Lisa Stone, BlogHer Co-founder
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