Garden & Gun
No, it is not a typo. Named after a dance club that existed
in the late seventies, Garden & Gun's name seeks to “capture
that wonderful Southern sense of geniality yet strength.”
In the first issue, John Wilson, the editor in chief, who
has launched Charleston magazine among other things, set out
to explain the magazines mission.
“Garden & Gun is, at once, about the love of the
land and the sporting life that goes with it. It is about
conservation and the deep human calling that, unselfishly,
turns land into legacy. Garden & Gun's soul is about great
contemporary southern writing and storytelling, art, and the
art of living in the south.”
In order to accomplish this mission, Garden & Gun provides
its readers with a buffet of articles on cooking, hunting
and the home that is bound to please those in its target audience,
which is “the sporting Southerner.”
It seeks to accomplish this by reflecting “the modern
lives of affluent Southerners and those who aspire to the
sporting life of the South.” Since men aren't the only
ones that could be classified as a sporting Southerner. The
magazine seeks to speak equally to both men and women, thus
Rebecca Wesson Darwin
1. What do you consider the single most important achievement your
magazine has accomplished in today’s marketplace?
In a highly competitive and saturated market, Garden & Gun has carved out a
unique niche, addressed an underdeveloped subject and reached a new market.
It is indeed a new breed of magazine that has resonated with readers and
advertisers. What started as a celebration of the sporting life and the Southern
land has evolved into a magazine full of experiences and sights and sounds that
engages not only those living or intrigued by that lifestyle but also by those who
appreciate the art and culture of the South. It is “21st Century Southern
America.” It has filled the big shoes that we originally carved out. In fact, a
recent Associated Press article called a Garden & Gun “Saucy, Southern glossy.”
2. Looking back, what was the most important hurdle you were able to
No question – our “no-excuses” name. It has been most often a door opener, an
attention grabber, and as one writer said, “The best damn name I’ve heard for a
magazine ever!” It has been on only one or two occasions a door slammer. But
most importantly, it has been a point of discussion. We have always said, take a
look before you form your opinion, and have encouraged an open mind. And we
have delivered. A senior ad agency executive recently wrote “Well I am just really
impressed with Garden & Gun. It has turned out to be everything you promised it
3.What was the biggest pleasant surprise?
That the literary component – the caliber of the writing – has become such a
hallmark for us. But beyond just the big names, the “A” list of contributors, it is the
quality of all the writing in the magazine – and the photography. Our writers bring
their experiences to life. And readers have responded by telling us that they feel
like they are right there in the hunt or on the boat in the Biloxi Marsh. Quite
frankly, Garden & Gun has surprised people – and made them proud – that such a
high quality and literary product is coming out of and celebrates the South. The
positive outpouring of calls, emails, and letters from readers and their dedication to
the magazine has been beyond our wildest dreams.
4.What is the biggest challenge you are facing today?
It would be easy to quickly respond that the biggest challenge is improving
revenues – both in advertising and circulation. But it goes deeper than that. Our
biggest challenge is getting folks to understand that we aim to be a national
magazine with a regional focus (our subject matter is regional; our market potential
is national). This impacts where we are positioned on the newsstand, how media
buyers view us, which ad campaigns we get considered for and on and on. We are
clear on our position and we continue to look for talented individuals who can
communicate that message effectively and have some upcoming exciting
announcements on additions to our talent pool.
409 King St., 2nd FL, Charleston, SC 29403 • 843-795-1195 • gardenandgun.com
5.Imagine you have a magic wand and you can strike the magazine and
make it human? Describe that human being.
That’s a touchy question because they would have to be androgynous – half garden
and half gun! But if pressed, the magic wand would produce a good looking guy,
age 43 (but looks 37)
Profession: Architect (specializes in green building)
Secret desire: To be a fishing guide
Second home in: Cashiers, North Carolina
Last trip: Bonefishing on Andros Island
Drink: Makers Mark on the rocks
On his bedside table: Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen
Favorite cause: The Nature Conservancy
Thing he never brings to dinner: His Blackberry
6.The number of new magazine launches has been on a steady increase.
What advice do you offer someone wanting to start a new magazine?
There are a lot of good ideas. There are only a few great ideas. To put those
ideas to the test, one needs to write a strong business plan and clearly carve out
a position in the market. One needs a group of people – be it a board, a set of
mentors, whatever – that asks the difficult questions and makes one think
through all the challenges that are sure to come up once launched. It is
important to have a real affinity for the idea and to be able to defend it again
and again. And, in the best of all worlds, it is a strong advantage to have
investors who have deep pockets and understand the commitment of time and
money that will surely be involved. But money is not all it takes. Starting a
magazine from scratch like Garden & Gun vs. launching a magazine from an
established magazine company is a whole different game! It takes guts and
confidence and a willingness to do any job and make mistakes.
7.Finish this sentence: In 2011, your magazine will be….
In 2011, Garden & Gun will be around, profitable, and a cross-platform brand.
G&G (that’s what everyone will call us then!) will be a community that
encompasses the magazine, the television show, the radio program, the books,
the retail store, the catalogue, and a vibrant web presence. It will be one title in
a stable of magazines started by this new magazine division of Evening Post
Publishing Company. We will be fighting off bids from other publishing
companies to acquire us, but EPPC will be pleased that they invested in a new
strategic business and proud that the magazine division is performing so well!