Entrepreneur Interview - Tonya Brown - Witch Way Magazine
A few months ago I came across Witch Way Magazine and was so taken with the idea of a pagan publication that I purchased a year-long subscription. Each issue varies in length and topic that can run from reviewing a particular tarot card, to herbal remedies, pagan holidays and various stories from contributing writers. I was surprised to learn that as a year-long subscriber, I would receive extras each month such as a spell guide, lucid dreaming workbook, divination guide, journal pages and tarot spreads to name a few.
Being so excited about the magazine, I contacted the creator Tonya Brown and asked if I could interview her; she agreed and I had a great time chatting with her. Going through the questions I could tell how passionate Tonya is about paganism and her desire to share it with others. She describes the magazine as a digital pagan resource that aims to engage and give new perspectives to modern pagans.
The goal of these entrepreneur interviews is to provide you, as a reader, with the encouragement of following your own dreams and making them a reality. What better way than to satisfy a passion (mental wellness) than taking that leap of faith and stepping into a new realm filled with possibilities?
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture and how did the idea come about?
I was working in a very stressful, financially based job straight out of college and it became my life. I gave myself to a company that didn’t care for me. I wanted to make on impact on the world in a good way and that job didn’t make me feel like I was helping people so I quit. During a quarter life crisis I decided to work for the library. You can spend so much time reading and looking at the same thing. I loved the magazine section; there are magazines on everything imaginable. I thought how cool it would be to have a magazine for witches, that there must be others out there.
I wanted to write what I read. I put a magazine together with help from a friend about two years ago as something fun and suddenly people wanted to contribute and write some things they felt passionate about to share with the world. The magazine became a project to a platform that I wanted to give people.
Describe/outline your typical day and how many hours do you work on average?
I work every day because I do everything. We have writers and contributors but as for running the business it’s just me. I wake up at 6 am to work on the housekeeping – emails, updating the subscription list and answering messages. At 9 am is a break. At 10 am I start working on projects, trends, issues, anything until lunch time. I write or read in the afternoons. There needs to be a continuous refreshment of knowledge to bring to the magazine. Then I work on any projects and to do list until dinner time. In the evenings I respond to emails; my days are full. The pagan community is close and family-like. I don’t want them to feel that their questions aren’t being answered so I try to be available as possible.
Has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Being an entrepreneur has affected my life in a great way. Before the magazine I was working 3 jobs, at the library, as a receptionist and the magazine. It took until the second year mark when I was able to leave other jobs and focus exclusively on the magazine. Also I just moved to be with uncle and aunt to help with their health needs. No children or husband.
What motivates you?
I’m an Aires and very motivated in general. I’ve always had very good work ethic and worked hard. The lesson I had to learn is the difference between working hard for a company that doesn’t appreciate you and working for yourself. It also helps when people leave me an email saying that they never felt like they could connect until they read the magazine; it’s very fulfilling.
How do you generate new ideas?
Knowledge is power. I read a lot. It helps to be around other people, other writers. You can take the same idea and ask 10 different people, and get 10 different answers, which teaches you another perspective, a new outlook or triggers your own OMG moment. I like to read and talk, being around people who are passionate. I watch a business mentor daily on Facebook. When it comes to being an entrepreneur you must fulfill both sides, the creative side and business side. If you’re creative, be sure to feed that other side and talk to other business people.
How do you define success?
I definitely don’t think you can define it with money. If you make the world a little better in any way, then you’re successful. Be financially able to keep your business going as comfortably as possible is important as well.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
From a business standpoint it would be Dalia Abdalla who is a business coach. She is such an inspiration and helps you keep going. She has free videos and I love watching her.
I’m obsessed with Amy Poehler quotes. Whenever I have moments when I need inspiration, I pull up her quotes. For both anniversary issues, I’ve quoted her at the beginning of each one.
How do you build a successful customer base?
I am definitely a big believer in treating people well no matter how successful you feel you’re doing. Whether that’s your contributors, customers or their friends, treat them well and they’ll treat you well. Being authentic and honest; if you mess up, be honest about it. People like honest people who are transparent. The readers are there with you. If you do everything with them in mind, such as how can I bring value to them; you’ll do well.
I also think of how much value can I provide the community. Our readers who subscribe get extra stuff; that’s how I bring them value. We do workshops on Facebook weekly, along with free downloads. Treat the community well and try to give them as much as you can, realistically.
How do you find people to bring into your organization that truly care about the organization the way you do?
I’ve never really looked for people. They will typically reach out to me and want to contribute. I ask for a sample of their work to see if it feels passionate. We lean more towards academic abilities. If all their stuff is backed up, I put them on board. With each issue I give the contributing writers an outline and ask them what they want to contribute right now, what they’re into and passionate about. I don’t want to demand anything from them. They are a part of the pagan community and I want them to write about what they want to and I pay them. Treat the writers well and you will hang on to the best people. Some come and go, but the most amazing writers have been contributing since the beginning.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
I started magazine to be digital, environmentally friendly, to provide 80-100 pages of content ad free. There are still a few people who want a printed issue and I didn’t know how to deal with that so I stood my ground on staying digital. A year ago, I decided to do printed issues. Our digital issues have 80-100 pages without ads and the printed issues are about 30 pages. We also take the best content of the year and make such issues such as a divination issue, herbal, book of shadows, etc. In order to grow you have to be uncomfortable and do something about it. People like the digital issue, but there is something awesome to being able to hold the magazine in your hands.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
You have to be disciplined. Others have a hard time doing a daily task without someone telling them to do it. You have to be motivated to yell at yourself. You also need to be somewhat of a people person to interact with numerous different types of personalities and be able to communicate well. I learned this very quickly from my various jobs. You have to love whatever it is you’re doing. There are professional students and professional entrepreneurs who just want to get things out there, which is not sustainable or fulfilling. There are hard days where you have a lot of orders, cancellations or someone is mad at you. Passion is what’s going to keep you going.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
What makes me feel really good is when readers email me about how much we’ve helped them. Also when contributing writers are thankful for the platform they are provided; they are grateful to talk about the things they love and get paid for it.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I’ve done a lot of different jobs from being a manager to the starting position. My favorite thing is that when I have a really good idea, I don’t have to ask someone to implement it. It is so immensely fulfilling. If I read a book or go to a workshop, I can just do it and not have to convince other people.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
I want to be doing exactly what I’m doing right now, with 5% more readers. I am very happy with the size, contributors and everything. I’m just now becoming a sustainable business. Money is huge, trying to do everything the right way financially and responsible. In 10 years from now it would be awesome to have a printed subscription service.
Any words of advice for my readers?
Just do it. So many people get caught up in their head. You will need to learn about taxes, trademarks, copyright or you may need to hire an accountant. Don’t get caught up in the small details, you’ll figure out the other stuff as you go.
“You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing.”
― Amy Poehler, Yes Please
If you are interested in checking out Witch Way Magazine, see the contact information below.