Welcome back, everyone!
In honor of Women’s History Month, this week’s title is Bust. This title was founded in 1993. It is published in Brooklyn, 6x/year, by editors Debbie Stoller and Laurie Henzel. It’s a “women’s magazine”, but not based in the fashion industry. Their focus is interviews with smart, influential women from culture at large. It includes a lot of celebrity/film/music industry interviews and coverage, but alongside that are news items, art scene coverage, discussion of environmental and social issues, craft as play, makeup use, medical updates, and political news. The content is delivered with a cheeky, self-aware sense of humor, and less of a condescending sales pitch than mainstream fashion magazines.
Stoller, Henzel, and Marcelle Karp met in the 1990s while working at the Nickeleon network. Their goal was “to start a magazine that would be a real alternative to Vogue, Cosmo, Mademoiselle, and Glamour, something that was as fierce and as funny and as pro-female as the women we knew.” The team started out by writing the content and copying the pages by hand and carrying them to local stores to sell. Gradually they figured out inexpensive ways to put up a big website and tablet-formatted versions.
Their DIY aesthetic has helped them remain in business. They finally got the nerve to sell the company to a bigger publishing studio in 2000, in order to earn money for themselves and improve Bust’s production values. But the company folded in the financial crash after September 11, 2001. They bought the company back and continued publishing the magazine themselves.
They try to put game-changing women on their covers, which have included women like Hillary Clinton, Tina Fey, Amanda Stenberg, Amy Shumer, Solange, and Mindy Kaling. Because the title doesn’t quite sustain itself, the organization also hosts craft fairs 2x/year in the NYC area. These feature lots of women-owned businesses and artists.