The question of how print magazines will fund themselves is a topic that has been on everyone’s lips for the past few years: how can we put time into making something that we love whilst simultaneously generating some form of income? Mark Hooper and Sam Walton of Hole & Corner are braving a new world for independent magazine funding: to finance the next step of their venture, they’re setting up their magazine as a business investment. It’s a confident move into uncharted territory.
‘Up until now, magazines have been using Kickstarter,’ Mark points out on the phone, ‘And the name Kickstarter demonstrates exactly what it is: a way to get new ideas off the ground.’ As Hole & Corner already has an established audience and a coherent sense of identity, Mark and Sam decided to take their vision even further. ‘We thought: we’ve got a printed magazine, so lets expand that into a lifestyle and a brand. Hole & Corner has already moved from a pipe dream to something we did in our basement to something that’s now occupying all of our time. So let’s take it to the next level.’
They’ll be raising funds through crowd-sourcing website CrowdCube. Like Kickstarter, friends and family can make small donations, as little as £10, but CrowdCube’s reach is also aimed at serious investors. ‘We had to propose an investment plan, just like on Dragon’s Den, and they had to approve it before it went ahead.’ Mark explains. Hole & Corner will be giving up 16.6% of their equity in return, which is very different from the world of Kickstarter where the most you end up giving away is thank you gifts and tokens for particularly charitable donators. CrowdCube also carefully analyse the business model and financial projections before selecting which investments to take on. What Hole & Corner are planning is serious business.
With a new injection of funds, they plan to increase their print run and global distribution, develop the brand and make a more prominent move into retail. Mark has explained their proposal carefully and coherently on the investment’s accompanying video, which will go live on the 9th of February to mark the beginning of the 60-day investment period.
On the phone, just days before the investment launch, Mark is excited and energetic. He tells me that he’s currently at Heals on Tottenham Court Road finalising a publicity event, which Hole & Corner are the media partners for. The shop has built a modern craft market on the ground floor, and its focus on handmade, quality products is very much at the heart of magazine’s philosophy.
Events like these bring content out of the printed pages and into the streets, and Hole & Corner have been hosting similar projects for the past couple of years. Yet as they move from a purely printed publication into a fully fledged brand, events are something they hope to be doing a lot more of.
‘We’ve got an almost holistic vision where readers will not only be able to meet a craft-maker in person, but they’ll also maybe be able to make a product with them; they’ll be able to meet them and learn something new.’ Mark tells me, ‘Hole & Corner is more than a magazine, it’s about promoting a lifestyle that is hugely appealing, based on age-old values of skill, craft and substance.’
This transition sees Hole & Corner seeking to follow in the footsteps of Monocle, a magazine that has become an iconic brand in its own right, boasting its own radio show, restaurants, and shops. Many magazines are becoming something other than a printed publication in order to sustain themselves, and this new venture marks an intriguing moment when independent magazines are potentially becoming capable of drawing the interest of big and serious investors. Whether this is the first of many or just a one off is yet to be seen.
Read our At Work With interview with the magazine’s Sam Walton.
Interview by Madeleine Morley