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Sayali Goyal, Cocoa and Jasmine
At work with

Sayali Goyal, Cocoa and Jasmine

This week we’re excited to hear from India, where Sayali Goyal launched her Cocoa and Jasmine magazine and agency just ahead of the pandemic. She answers our questions as issue four of the magazine appears in shops.

Sayali has been working in textiles, publishing and brand consulting for over a decade, first in Delhi and now in Jaipur. Her writing and photography have been published in magazines across the world including  Hali, Lost, Kajal and Lodestars Anthology, and she has mentored MA publishing students at the London College of Communication.


Round work table in  front of window with view of lush, green garden


What are you up to this morning?
I moved Cocoa and Jasmine’s creative studio to Jaipur, Rajasthan a few months ago from Delhi where we still have our headquarters. It’s a lovely fall morning today, and I am sipping some camomile tea after two cups of black coffee at my home studio that overlooks a lovely garden.


Lush green garden


Typically I spend some alone time here journaling, responding to emails every morning before I head out to the city for my meetings and excursions.


A dark-haired woman (Sayali Goyal) sits at table, painting with blue paint


Describe your desk and your work space.
Krishna Das’s chants are a ritual at mine with some jasmine candles. I also plan to weave this winter and bought myself a small loom to set up at the studio and paint sometimes as a morning meditation. I like my desk small and clean with always something to read and a journal for when I have a stream of conscious ideas.


A round wooden table shiote from above, with laptop, notebooks.


Black magazine cover with three yellow panels and white logo

Which magazine do you first remember?
I studied in London and remember saving up to buy copies of Monocle. I think that’s why I am in this industry and made a move from my practice in textiles to creative independent publishing. Everything about monocle fascinates me. From journalism to the brand.


red and blue vertically-striped magazine cover

Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
Apart from Monocle, I am crushing on Cabana from Italy these days for its unique maximalist voice in the pool of minimal indie magazines. I see synergy in India and Italy in terms of aesthetics and also culture (people, food, customs), and for me the study of modern aesthetics that is rooted in traditional arts is inspiring.


Grey front ciover wiht black and white image of brutalist building Describe Cocoa and Jasmine in three words.
Inclusive, Authentic, Evolving.


Two people tear bread and eat Photographs from issue four of Cocoa and Jasmine


Where does Cocoa and Jasmine sit in the Indian magazine world?
I started the publication in 2018 officially but conceived the idea in 2017. Back then indie publishing was unheard of in India and in fact apart from popular Condé Nast titles and some magazines that were also backed by large media houses or corporates, one couldn’t find anything in bookstores.

I wouldn’t say that my venture was a response to the gap in the market, as it totally came from a place of wanting to create, tell stories and just pure love for paper and collectible objects, however it was an unknown challenging territory as I had no experience in publishing and even explaining what indie publishing was at first intimidating in a traditional institutional mindset.


Oranges arranged on table against pink wall


Today, five years later, I see a rise in indie zines, papers etc which is definitely good news, however we still don’t have many magazines that continue to stick to what they set out to do and none that I know distribute internationally. I see Cocoa and Jasmine as a cultural company that started the indie publishing in India and successfully modeled it beyond a traditional way of working within the industry ( fast content, algorithms, adverts etc)

Our readers are mostly international, as our stories are not limited to India, and infact the essence of the magazine is finding cross-cultural connections. I see print being a timeless journal that will (hopefully) sit in personal libraries and coffee tables for many years, whereas the digital is more like a platform where we intend to do beyond storytelling and extend our research to various creative services via our creative agency that helps design brands, institutions from around the world on many projects. The studio also funds the magazine as we are currently advert free.


Green magazine cover with black and white photograph of water


Congratulations on reaching your fifth anniversary!
Thank you! It definitely feels like a full circle. I have to admit there have many highs and lows on this journey, but in retrospect it all has worked out for the best. Highs would be us starting to distribute internationally from second issue on in some of the most reputed stores and also being able to do beyond print and truly create a cultural brand i.e with events, exhibitions, start a web art shop and bag some international agency projects too.

Lows would be when the pandemic hit, everything came to a stop ( printing, distribution, travel), and we were only two issues old and heard of stores shutting down. We needed to completely revamp the distribution channels, have a creative solution to printing, and work around traveling schedules, cash flow etc.


Double page spread from magaiznme: on left page, white text on deep green panel. On the right, a caravan of camels is led through the desert.

Share one story that sums up the magazine.
I think in spirit we celebrate the evolving cultures and their expression (in arts and design)  in context to place and people. I am sharing the first prose from issue four (covering Europe to India) that speaks of a traveler through a sarai capturing the essence of travel and a creative seeker.


What one piece of advice would you offer somebody wanting to launch their own publication?
Be clear what your intention is with the magazine. Are you starting a business that needs to make money or is it a purpose driven journal (supported by something else)? This will inform everything from your content, collaborations, sales strategy and be the guiding light when difficult decisions have to be made.

Also, questioning what value you add to the large ocean of content will help you be relevant.


Bright bougainvillea blossom against a concrete wall


What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
I am soon traveling for a very exciting project to Punjab where we are brand and design consulting a luxury permacultural farm. Also, Jaipur is so pink and pretty in this season with bougainvillea everywhere, so just walking around town is always inspiring. I have been going for hikes in the countryside as well, that helps me keep grounded with all the travel.


The new issue of Cocoa and Jasmine will be available in our shop soon.


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