Local fashion magazine folds after 4 years


POSTED: Thursday, February 05, 2009

The latest issue of SMART Magazine is the last issue of SMART Magazine.

The fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazine begun and run by local women for local women issued its last issue at the beginning of last month, its January/February edition.

This space announced the magazine's launch nearly four years ago and co-founder Molly Watanabe is sad to have ceased publication just shy of its fourth anniversary.

Her initial partners were Amy Alston and Sarah Honda. Alston left the company and was succeeded by Stacey Makiya.

SMART had a circulation of 10,000 bimonthly and also contributed - and benefited from - a lifestyle page in MidWeek.

“;We had to make the decision around the holidays,”; she said.

“;Had we published a March/April issue we would have had four new advertisers,”; she said. Unfortunately, larger, longtime advertisers, including Macy's, had withdrawn.

Macy's and the others “;had their own problems”; with the downturned economy.

In the early to middle part of last year, “;several advertisers,”; many of them small businesses, “;stopped paying us, so at this point we were kind of floating on our own, borrowing money.”;

“;Everybody we got advice from said it was going to get worse”; and to “;get out now.”;

“;It didn't make sense to continue.”;

Knowing that even long-running national titles are shutting down “;doesn't make you feel better,”; Watanabe said.

The magazine had great support at its start.

“;We sold ads before we had an actual product,”; Watanabe said.

The SMART team considered going online-only, “;but the type of magazine that we are, our readers actually like having the magazine there”; in their hands.

The three may stay in publishing.

“;I'm sort of wanting to try different things ... (but when you learn about) editorial, sales, circulation and distribution, you kind of feel like you could do a lot of different things ... using those skills.”;

Her father, Honolulu businessman and Star-Bulletin minority investor Jeffrey Watanabe, was among the advisers who provided difficult counsel from years' worth of perspective.

He told her “;a lot of things that people love are going to go away now,”; she said.

Upsetting to her when he said it, she sees it happening.

“;You come to terms with it in your mind,”; sort of like the stages of grief.

Subscribers' grief over losing SMART Magazine may be somewhat assuaged with replacement subscriptions to Honolulu magazine.

“;They helped us and definitely gave us some good advice. (Owner) Duane (Kurisu) is really very supportive.”; Kurisu is also a minority investor in the Star-Bulletin.


Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).