2.5
March 30, 2012

“We cannot afford to sit on our butts & play yoga anymore.” ~ Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine.

“We cannot afford to sit on our butts and play yoga anymore.”
~ Maranda Pleasant, founder, Origin Magazine.

It’s a cliché, but it’s true: Maranda Pleasant is a force of nature. As she notes below, she doesn’t sleep—she runs on inspiration. She’s built a national magazine up from nothing, and fast—and as a former magazine publisher myself, I know how hard that is. 

It’s my hope that elephant readers go out and buy a copy of Origin. Not just ’cause I happen to be featured in the current issue…but because Origin is as mindful as they come when it comes to media. It’s mixing it up: “We wanna bring consciousness and yoga to the masses and redefine it, expand it,” notes Maranda. “Hip hop artists and low income black youth doing yoga, not just white women in expensive yoga clothes.”

What you can do right now is ask for Origin Magazine at your local grocery. “Like” them on Facebook. You’ll see other ways to help at the very bottom of this interview.

Please do help. Because that’s the definition of grassroots media: not top ——> down, but individual responsibility, up. ~ ed. 

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

So, Maranda, honored to finally “meet.”

Most folks think of magazines as “old media”—quality, beautiful, well-edited journalism. But you seem to be taking a new approach—using new media, talking about transparency in business.

What is Origin Magazine doing differently as a brand-new startup to expand or change the notion of traditional media?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

We’re interested in changing the game.

We want to bring consciousness and yoga to the masses and redefine it, expand it. We want real unexpected conversations. How ’bout hip-hop artists and low income black youth in our next photo shoot doing yoga, not just white women in expensive yoga clothes? We’re partnering with large organizations to give them a print voice. Everyone from VH1, KCRW, to the Nature Conservancy and Whole Foods. We’re bringing people together and introducing new ideas. We have global hip-hop artists making an Origin mix supporting women and children’s organizations and yoga programs. It’ll be sold in retailers across the country this fall.

Enough preaching to the choir. There are a lot of broken hearts and bodies in the world. How are we going to heal the world, if we can’t heal ourselves? Good people need a louder, bigger voice. We need to shake this shit up. We have strength in numbers and our intentions.

We’re building a national community of yogis and artists, bringing amazing individuals together to create positive change. Our circles are expanding exponentially. We’re better together.

Our ambassador program is the grassroots foundation to making the Origin family strong and supportive. Origin ambassadors will hold it down in cities across the country, igniting our mission of cooperation, collaboration, and creativity through gatherings, launches. This model connects badasses in each city, supporting conscious businesses, artists, yogis, and musicians.

We don’t do boring. We are selling out in Whole Foods and becoming a best seller in two issues because of a bunch of strong organized women are coming together.

We’ve also creating a new conscious business model based on transparency and a new wave of media possibilities. It’s not business as usual around here. We’re not interested in just selling ads; we’re creating family and a mutual cycle of support. We give awesome local businesses a national voice.

We give smaller awesome businesses a national powerful voice. We are connecting yogis in cities across the US in one publication giving them an affordable way to expand, connect and grow. for their yoga retreats, workshops, studios, conscious products. I’m not sure anyone has every done it before.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Okay, wow, backtracking a bit, how did Origin start? How many issues are out there?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

We’re working on our sixth issue. It’ll be our third national one. I started it in Texas. Yeehaw!

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Nice. So on a practical level, how/when did you get the idea for starting a national magazine? Seems like an immense, intimidating undertaking.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

I didn’t chose it. It chose me. I would never want to take on something that you’ll know will swallow you alive.

I was tired of watching women suffer of having no real voice in our society and no tangible, real way of healing themselves…no economical way.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Who are some of the voices you’re proudest to have featured? Any favorite issues or stories?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

OMG. So freaking proud to have Al Gore, Deepak Chopra, Jason Mraz, Chuck D (Public Enemy), Moby, and Woody Harrelson all talking about consciousness and activism…these peeps are using their fame and redirecting it to bring awareness to issues

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

So where can we find Origin?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

You sound like a reporter.

Every Whole Foods in the country (except Hawaii). We’re expanding to Barnes and Noble and some other big boy national retailers next issue, along with eight more countries. Awesome.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

As you know, elephant was a magazine for six years before jumping online. Our concern was about the environmental impact of our magazine as we grew. How do you handle such concerns?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Yeah, that’s a hard one. It’s a delicate balance. We use really expensive recycled paper, and hope peeps recycle. We also wanted to make it so beautiful that it’s more like a collector’s item, like a coffee table book than something to be tossed. It’s 212 pages this issue.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

You bet. That’s great. And Origin looks gorgeous, so I’m sure many will keep it. elephant printed on New Leaf (eco, 30% recycled, FSC) Paper. But our concern was newsstand sell-through—most mags nationally only sell three or four copies out of 10, because magazine distribution companies don’t seem to care about eco responsibility.

So you’re engaging the mindful community nationally in some creative ways—how can elephant readers get involved, have fun, and support?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

We sold 94% of all copies on the stands last issue. Seriously. Our first national issue.

The “industry” was dumbfounded. Yogis are powerful.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Barnes & Noble etc. say generally they’ll always order 10x or whatever what they think you’ll sell. So no matter how popular, they want many more copies for the shelves if you sell out. You probably know all that.

Anyway, I’m happy to move on to other questions. I asked about the Ambassador dealio.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Are you getting irritable? Do you need a cuddle?

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Look, I destroyed my business of six years and held it down circulation wise for two because of the sell-through issue. I don’t think there’s any way you can sell 93% through middlemen.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

We are with One Source and Whole Foods. It’s true. They’re more conservative because we don’t do buy backs.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Yah, you can rock [with] them.

But once you play with big boys, it’s tough. We looked at Delicious and other direct distribution models [like Vice], but for that you need big investment, and indie media was another value [of ours].

It’s a tough business, and I salute you for toughing it out. The middle men distributors are the bad boys.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Did you use Ingram?

They’re only gonna order what they can sell…Sprouts, Central Market, etc.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Think that’s who we rejected. We never actually signed the deal—for two years I kept circ down while I tried to find an eco-responsible way, but finally just tore up the contract.

Anyway…happy to move on to Ambassador stuff.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Good on ya. We’re negotiating and doing a lot of new models. Loads of yoga studios are selling us, art museums, independent bookstores.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Nice.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Okay. Moving on cranky pants.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Yes, I get cranky about wasting paper and shipping and ruining the earth through a green magazine…it was six years of my effing life!

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Wow. You do need a cuddle. The magazine will be only about 15% of what we are building with Origin.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Nice.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

We wanna connect. We give smaller awesome businesses a national powerful voice. We are connecting yogis in cities across the US in one publication giving them an affordable way to expand, connect and grow, for their yoga retreats, workshops, studios, conscious products. I’m not sure anyone has every done it before.

1. We want input from yogis and readers…we want it to feel like their magazine. Not a corporate machine. They can send us story ideas or submit to be an ambassador that we do events with. We want every city to feel a part of it. Rep each town each issue. We’re looking for ambassador editors.

2. Buy us at Whole Foods. Ask the body department—bug them, love them.

3. Like us on Facebook

It’s not just a magazine: It’s a movement.

The online aspect is about to boom, then the video series and conference and concert series with national leaders.

Do you hate all print?

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Sweet. Amazing how much you’re doing all at once. Do you sleep? How do you maintain personal balance/energy/happiness/presence of mind with everything you’re creating and pushing forward?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

I do not sleep. I’m channeling some crazy awesome energy at the moment. To the point where the ideas come to you, and you realize it’s much bigger than you.

I miss sleep. I would dream about sleep, but I don’t sleep.

I’m working on the balance.

Are you on Facebook?

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

[busted] Nope I’m here.

So you’re engaging the mindful community nationally in some creative ways—how can elephant readers get involved, have fun, and support?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Al Gore and Jason Mraz sent in their story from Antaractica, that was pretty extraordinary.

I already told you. I’ll repeat here: 1. We want input from yogis and readers..we want it to feel like their magazine. Not a corporate machine. they can send us story ideas or submit to be an ambassador that we do events with.want every city to feel a part of it. Rep each town each issue. We’re looking for ambassador editors.

2. Buy us at Whole Foods. Ask the body dept—bug them, love them.

3. Like us on FB

They can email us ideas..[email protected]

They can run a super stupid cheap ad, buy us, “like” us on FB.

This is gonna take a village.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Right but it’s best in conversation mode. What’s an ambassador editor do?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

If yogis and conscious people cannot learn to organize and communicate thoughtfully, effectively and get their shit together…no real change will ever happen.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

How much to advertise a yoga studio, or natural product, or ecofashion or whatever?

Amen to  that, sister. We [spiritual community] are pretty anemic, with some amazing bright exceptions, about creating external social action or change in the world. We’re strong in creating internal harmony.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Non profits and yogis start at $300 for a 1/4 page. Seriously.

We created small biz rates so mom and pop shops can compete with the big boys.

Wealthy peeps pay more…so it doesn’t fall on the backs of struggling yoga studios

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

That’s amazing. That’s a real deal. So what’s your staff situation, so we can visualize you? You work out of Austin, and travel a lot?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Oh dear lord. I need a team. A sharp, awesome team quickly.

We’re so grassroots budget-wise…my teenager is my current full-time staff

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Wowow you’re amazing me right now.

Well I’m sure half the country, half our readers would love to apply…and out of that a few would be brilliant.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Ha.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

So who does design and editing? And distribution and…egads.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Ambassador editors help organize and get stories to us in their city…they are our eyes and ears.

We are looking for a full-time designer. We have a copy editor and transcriber…I handle almost everything else.

Good news! We have a new awesome website coming in time for Tadasana [Festival].

We need a full-time ad person too. Put that on the list.

Half of your writers are our columnists, btw.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Yah everyone’s always borrowing elephant stars (we don’t own them, duh, but we lose good folks to worthy allies constantly).

Two things I love about your mag: You say “It’s not just a magazine: It’s a movement.” What’s that mean, in concrete terms?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

How else do you become #3 in Whole Foods in two issues?

People are coming together. People are hungry for something real. We are shifting this planet. Our voices are getting louder.

If we isolate, we die.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

The other thing I love? “Bringing leaders in every field together to talk about shifting the planet. issues instead of self promotion.” I feel like so many “mindful” or eco or yoga events are all about theism, half-baked celebrity, schwag, business before ethics…how does Origin connect with leaders without allowing them to just self promote?

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Well.. I came up with the ORIGIN series of questions. We don’t really give them a chance. We ask them real questions about real issues. You get these unique, powerful answers…things you’ve never heard them talk about…because no one has created a platform/medium for it (We give national figures, artists, and leaders a blank canvas, a space to express, write, and create. Their ideas. Their voices. Not filtered through our eyes or limited to a few quotes. Straight up. Direct access. You form your own opinion. Our interviews are not cut to bias. They’re raw, real, and personal.

Fascinating people with powerful ideas featured in every issue.

We also launched the Origin video series. Interviews with innovators. No B.S. No fluff. We only care about that really matters:

Why do they wake up in the morning? What makes them vulnerable?

How do they transform their pain? What causes are they most passionate about?)

You there? Wake up.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

I’m just reading your amazing words.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

I’m telling you it’s big, big work!

Rockers and rappers talking about health, transforming their lives and what makes them vulnerable.

More importantly…what if the youth are offered options…another way.

Dead Prez are writing.

[Deepak Chopra is in our current issue] He’s keepin’ it fresh.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

I like that you’re engaging celebrity, rappers, folks who may not have really connected with explicitly mindful media.

That’s all wonderful but I have a hard time imagining that Deepak etc can’t take all that and make it into sales pitch. Not that that’s a problem, as Deepak says selling peace is much better than selling bombs and guns.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Well. His article is about reversing aging this issue.

I am rubbing coconut oil on my face right now.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Yah. That’s bullshit.

He’s aging just like everyone else.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2009/10/nostrums-remedies-new-age-quackery/

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

He’s telling us to drink water…I’m down with that.

And he says to sleep…but I won’t listen.

DEEPAK CANNOT MAKE ME SLEEP.

I let him loose.

Al Gore is writing on climate change…does that neutralize it?

If I was gonna cut everyone that I didn’t agree with 100%…it’d be a thin publication.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

What else should elephant readers know? We want to share up the word about Origin and what you’re doing and get everyone going to Whole Foods and asking for a copy!

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

Go to the body department. They handle the mags. Say, what up! Where’s my Origin..?

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Well elephant is all about dialogue and disagreeing respectfully…but allowing self promotion is what you said you don’t do. Just sayin.’

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

We really need love and support. Advertisers would be great. We also really need Facebook likes…since a lot of companies check that before running ads. Seriously. And please buy one at your local store. Tell your students, sell it at your studio..shout it from the mountains.

We also want editors in each city that would volunteer their time and let us know the most important events and organizations in their community.

You know what I love…

Mr. Party Pooper.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Okay. Well we’re gonna bring it! Huge honor to talk. I’m a fan of your hip, clean, beautiful, no-nonsense style. Huge thanks and kudos on behalf of everyone who has been and will be effected by Origin.

Yah but party pooping is why we love each other. We’re keepin’ it real and having fun and rocking it, hopefully. Not giving into schwag-hype-corporate-BS.

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

I love having articles dealing with eating disorders, rape, female genital mutilation, giving eight of the largest conservation organizations space to inform and raise awareness about their programs; miscarriage, telling the truth…where else you gonna read that.

Let’s talk about Somalia, and women getting raped in tent cities in Haiti…that’s next issue. Inform, and then call to action. We cannot afford to sit on our butts and play yoga anymore.

The articles have a call to get involved.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Amen. Well we in the big ol’general good-good community need to step up and lend a hand. Thanks, Maranda, for your time, energy and love and for being willing to keep it real and outargue me (not a hard thing to do).

Maranda Pleasant, Origin Magazine:

I adore you…and you need a whoopin’ (Texas-style).

Thank you babe for your time.

I miss you already.

Go get your dog insurance.

Waylon Lewis, Walk the Talk Show/elephantjournal.com:

Gassho, psyched. This will be good.

A few points to remember about Origin Magazine, via Maranda:

“1. Our belief is that if we don’t support people doing/creating good things on the planet, they go away and we’re left with mass produced, corporate products and messages. That’s why we created super cheap rates for yogis and small conscious businesses.

Advertisers. quarter pages: $300. Yoga retreats, workshops, studios, conscious products. 

We give smaller awesome businesses a national voice.

Connecting yogis in all the cities in one publication. Giving them an afforadale way to expand, connect and grow. Deadline is in 2 weeks.

2. Buy us at whole Foods. Ask the Body Dept. Bug them. Love them.

3. Like us on FB

4. Artist and yogi driven publication. 212 pages.

5. We’re aiming at distribution at yoga studios across country

6. Want every city to feel a part of it. Rep each town each issue. We’re looking for ambassador editors.

7. We’re interested in changing the game. We wanna bring consciousness and yoga to the masses and redefine it, expand it. Hip hop artists and low income black youth doing yoga, not just white women in expensive yoga clothes.”

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