Cincy Chic: What inspired you to launch Cincy Chic?
Amy Storer: My inspiration came from being a woman in Cincinnati without an easily-accessible resource for living the type of lifestyle I wanted to have. I wanted to wear the fashions in Vouge, buy the skincare products I read about in Allure, get the hairstyle I saw in Cosmo and talk to healthcare specialists about the things I learned in Women's Health. But I didn't know where to go or the experts to see here locally. So, essentially, I developed Cincy Chic for purely selfish reasons; but I think women have taken kindly to it because they, too, were in need of the same things.
Cincy Chic: How do you plan to expand the Chic brand?
Storer: The business plan – which Veronica, our business administration manager, tirelessly helped me to develop – is structured to expand the Chic title into new markets in year three. Right now, we're seeing what works and what doesn't so we can bring a publication-in-a-box to other markets. We'll streamline certain services such as graphic design and I.T., and the point-person we choose in that market will plug in certain employees and freelancers to make it tick. The key will be to find the right point-person; one with great knowledge of the market, great contacts and the great drive it takes to make a publication come to life.
Cincy Chic: Cincy Chic is just one part of your very busy, jammed-packed life. What other "hats" do you wear that people may not be aware of?
Storer: In terms of "hats," my Cincy Chic hat is definitely my derby-worthy big, decorated and in-your-face hat. I'd say my athletic hat is next. I'm a Spinning instructor at Fitworks in Newport on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 6 a.m., and Fusion Studio in Ft. Thomas on Saturdays at 9 a.m. I really enjoy Spin instructing. Maybe it's because I quietly sit at my computer all day and instructing gives me the opportunity to yell my brains out. Maybe it's because I like to motivate people and push them beyond the limits they set for themselves. Regardless, I'm officially addicted to Spinning. I'm going to the World Spinning and Sports conference in Miami this summer, so I'm already getting pumped for all the fitness fun to be had there. The other hat (I wish I could wear more often) is my handcrafted and perfectly embellished Martha Stewart hat. I love to scrapbook, stamp, make my own cards, etc. In fact, I was up until 4 a.m. last night designing my wedding invitations and save-the-date cards, which I'll be hand-making for all 250 of our guests. Yeah, I know. I'm insane.
Cincy Chic: You are an avid runner who has two Flying Pig Marathons under your running shoes, with plans to compete in this year's run…have you always had a need for speed?
Storer: First off, the title of a "two-time marathon runner" might paint the wrong picture. I'm not the chiseled-leg, washboard abs, zero body fat runner you might be envisioning. In fact, I'm no good at long-distance running. My first marathon I finished by accident. I signed up to run the first leg of a relay because a group of my college friends and I wanted to sponsor a Wish-Child for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. I figured I'd just keep running after my leg to see how far I could run. Around mile 13, I wanted to stop; but I figured I had run one half, which means I could survive another half. Around mile 20, I wanted to chop off my legs, but I had too much pride to be picked up by the "Bonker Golf Cart" that scooped up all the tail-tucked runners that couldn't finish. I ended up finishing at the pace of a middle-aged tortoise, lost two toenails and couldn't walk for a few days.
My second Pig was two years ago, and I did that one because I wanted to see how much better I could do if I actually trained. Ironically enough, it wasn't much faster than when I didn't train. I'm doing it this year because I have a every-other-year-Pig-running tradition going, plus I'm getting married in September and I want to look buff.
A lot of marathoners just don't do well with just "working out." We need structure, a schedule and a goal. Next year, I might try a triathlon. Heck, I know I can do two of the three sports involved!
Cincy Chic: You were recently honored by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber for launching Cincy Chic. What does this award mean to you?
Storer: Like any business founder that's honored with an award, it's validation that you did the right thing to leave Corporate America and a steady paycheck to pursue a dream. But for Cincy Chic to get the "Best New Product or Service Award," it means that online-only publications are carving out a respected place in the publishing world. This is big for publishing, and it's big for it to be happening here in Cincinnati.
I mentally captured the moment when I looked out on that audience of 600+ business people, award in-hand and gave my acceptance speech. I have no idea what I said, but I remember how I felt. That moment, and the fact that all the big-wig competition judges think our business plan "has legs," will come in handy when I need the confidence to expand into new markets and to tap the great potential that the Chic titles have to offer.
Cincy Chic: What do you love most about the magazine?
Storer: Hands down, I love that we've never turned anyone away. Not too long ago, I was a struggling freelance writer, desperately trying to get published with one of the local publications. Rarely did editors even respond to my e-mails requesting work. So, I take great pride in responding to every e-mail I receive, and finding a place for anyone who wants to help make our publication happen. We use all local writers, all local models and anyone that wants to help us with other logistics like promotions or public relations are always welcomed with open arms. If anyone reading this has an idea, wants to volunteer their help or just wants to see if I really do respond to every e-mail, feel free to contact me.
Cincy Chic: What advice do you have for other women who want to break out in their field?
Storer: Two things: Stop making excuses, and stop fearing your dream. Many people don't break out in their field or start their own businesses because "the timing isn't right." They're waiting to overcome a different obstacle or think their calendar will free up in a few months. But it never does. Just set it motion now and you'll find the time. Otherwise, you'll put it off until you finally "have time" in your rocker at the nursing home. Also, stop fearing your dreams. One of my favorite quotes is, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." We fear the unknown of starting a business or new profession. But instead, you should have a greater fear for that rocking chair analogy.
Cincy Chic: So there's a running joke amongst the staff on the weird pronunciations we've heard regarding the magazine's name. Which is your favorite/weirdest?
Storer: I'd be a very rich woman if I had a penny for every time it's been called "Cincy Chick," but by far the weirdest has been "Cin Sheets." We had a booth at an event, and the planner had a sign with "Cin Sheets" written on it reserving our table. Now, honestly, what kind of a publication or company did she think we were if she thought our name was "Cin Sheets"? Please, start a revolution and tell one person a day how to pronounce Cincy Chic…. sin-she-sheek, sin-she-sheek, sin-she-sheek… (Editor's note: watch a Web cast of how many people mispronounced "Cincy Chic" when Amy recently visited a local mall.)
Cincy Chic: Cincy Chic turns one on January 15. How has the past year been for the magazine?
Storer: It's been the perfect storm. We came in at a great time, there was a big need for it in the market, readers loved the idea, sponsors saw results, other media outlets were open to partnerships and we received a huge award from the Chamber. It's been the best first year any publisher could ask for.
Cincy Chic: So what's a typical day in the life of Amy look like?
Storer: Every day is different. Some days are office days where I catch up on e-mails, write and edit stories or set up future meetings. Other days are meeting days where I romp around the city to meet with female business owners we need to spotlight in our publication or interview for an upcoming story, media partners to promote our next big idea, new sponsors or new venues for events. Regardless of what kind of day it is, though, I'm always thankful that I get to do this for a living at the young age of 25.
Cincy Chic: You've had the opportunity to meet a lot of incredible women (and men) through Cincy Chic. What's the one reoccurring need that they say Cincy Chic has met or could meet in its future plans and goals for the city?
Storer: I do get to meet a lot of incredible people. And with everyone I meet, I always try to find something interesting about them to feature in Cincy Chic; whether that's to feature them as a model, as an expert for a story or the interesting people they know. We've found some really interesting businesses in Greater Cincinnati that have the most spectacular products or services, but don't always have the money to buy advertising or public relations services to inform the masses. As a result, local women don't know about them. We're hoping to turn that tide. Cincy Chic is designed to provide a localized, online version of Women's Day or Cosmo, so we dig to find those diamonds in the rough. And now, across the board – from the business owners to the readers – people are thankful for this resource we're providing.
Cincy Chic: Describe the ideal stress-free day off for you.
Storer: Day off? Does. Not. Compute.
Just kidding. As any business owner or work-o-holic will tell you, days off are hard to come by. But, now that I'm in the thick of planning for a wedding, owning a new puppy and training for a marathon, I don't have a choice but to find more personal time in my schedule. But as I mentioned in a previous blog my rare nights away from it all spells sushi, manicures and Marilyn Monroe movies.
Editor's note: To learn more about Amy and the birth of a magazine, check out this week's feature story.