Meet The Makers Monthly Feature - FOLKLIFE

A woman-owned semi-annual print that entices the heart and the mind to "slow the folk down"

"FOLKLIFE is a premium semi-annual print publication inspired by island dwellers who live close to the earth, move with intention, and craft life as an art form." -

Author's Note:

"I first stumbled upon this beautiful publication earlier this summer when I signed up to member-powered creative community, MakeShare. When I picked up my member package, inside was the 3rd issue of FOLKLIFE magazine. I have to say, I couldn't put it down. The way the matte print felt in my hands, the smell of fresh printed paper, and the incredibly captivating photos and stories inside excited and inspired me. I knew at that moment that I had to meet the woman behind this magazine and get the opportunity to tell her story."

"I hope this article inspires entrepreneurs and creators to continue on their path and enjoy the entire journey. Alina is a total inspiration of badassery!" - Kristina Kinzel

Photo by: Stasia Garraway

Meet Alina Cerminara, founder and creator of FOLKLIFE Magazine. At the age of 18, Alina came from Calgary to live on Gabriola Island to experience a more peaceful laidback lifestyle. Because she had been coming over to the Gulf Islands throughout her childhood, the move made her feel as if she was returning home. Alina described that first year living on the Gulf Island as one of the best times of her life. "My family had a little waterfront summer home on Gabriola Island, so my friend and I moved there. I got a job at the only grocery store, and she got a job at the only gas station. It was the best life ever!"

At 19, Alina decided she wanted to return to school. She went to the University of Victoria for five years and double majored in two of her passions, theatre and creative writing.

Coming out of University, Alina wanted to write her own novel. "I moved back in with my parents on Gabriola Island, got a job at a coffee shop, tried to write a novel, but I only did it for two weeks. They say that the thing about becoming a successful writer is not how good you are at it, but if you actually sit down and do it every day.” Leaving her novel aside, Alina went on to become a reporter for the local newspaper. She enjoyed the publishing world and decided to turn her attention to a master's degree in publishing.

The Birth of FOLKLIFE

"I found that there wasn't a publication like this that really celebrates the beauty in the way people live on these islands."

After completing her masters degree, and a 4-year job as a festival planner, Alina felt it was time for a break and went traveling the world for a couple years. "I went to Guatemala, Thailand, spent a year in Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, and over to parts of Europe. But in the end I did miss home." While on her travels, Alina found these beautiful keepsake magazines everywhere. "This type of print isn’t found much around here, but internationally, coffee table magazines are popular. I found that there wasn't a publication like this that really celebrates the beauty in the way people live on these islands, so while in New Zealand, I started putting together a business plan." Alina returned home to Gabriola Island with a 28-page business plan in hand for FOLKLIFE.

Building The Aesthetics

Alina's next step was to find a designer to help make her dream become a reality. Two weeks after her return, she found her designer, Patrick Belanger. "Patrick is so lovely. He is very experienced and was willing to take a bit of risk and a pay cut to be a part of creating this magazine together. It was a bonus that he was very responsive via email too!”.

Alina and Patrick brought their creative visions of minimalism and depth together to create the aesthetic of FOLKLIFE. "Because we are covering a very earthy, grounded subject, we wanted the aesthetic to be matte, earthy, with thick pages that you can really feel."

Photo by: Thirza Voysey

Finding Guides In The Publishing World

At the beginning stages of building FOLKLIFE, Alina felt she needed consultants to help her launch the magazine as successfully as possible. "I honestly couldn't find anybody. I found a lot of consultants that were either not in magazine publishing, or if they were, they were either too busy for me." She also mentioned that many folks thought it was a difficult road and a little too ambitious, perhaps. None of this deterred Alina from pursuing this dream. "Though I have found consultants since, it was a LOT of learning on my own. It would have been really nice to have some mentors at the beginning stages." Once the magazine was launched, Alina said she met some great guides including Amanda Soloudre from Saskatoon Home, who helped Alina by generously answering every question in depth (and there were a lot!).

Distribution Pros and Cons

"By the time distribution for the first issue came around, I had no idea how to do it or how it would get placed in stores. So, I went to BC Ferries to talk to them about stocking our magazine." This led Alina to realize that most publications are stocked at larger chain locations through distributors.

Alina said that going through these distributors allows you to get your foot in the door of retail stores such as Whole Foods and Chapters, but it's mainly for visibility’s sake. "[We as the creators] only get about 33% of the retail price of sales, with distributors. Another downside to larger distributors is that the magazines that are not purchased get shredded—so if they ask for 1,100 copies and we only sell 300, that's a lot of waste." Despite these drawbacks, Alina explained that at this time, it is still pertinent to stay with larger distributors while FOLKLIFE becomes more well known world wide. Currently they have 3 distributors, stocked across Canada, the States, UK, and Europe, and are on their way to expanding to New Zealand and Australia.

Outside of these distributors, Alina has been able to put FOLKLIFE on the shelves of dozens of local and smaller retail stores. These boutique shops purchase smaller amounts of the FOLKLIFE publication which, fortunately, results in less shredding. They also have a 60/40 deal, leaving both sides more financially rewarded. This avenue has also allowed Alina to form great connections to these local businesses and communities.

Expanding Outside of British Columbia

"Our goal has always been to make FOLKLIFE an international magazine. Originally, our branding was a little too Gulf Island heavy." Alina explained that she wants people from anywhere in the world to be able to connect with FOLKLIFE. When she travels to areas outside of BC, she wants people to know that this magazine "celebrates people who live close to the earth with intention and creativity.While the content is from the Gulf Islands, you don’t have to know or care about them to be interested in the stories and lifestyles featured.”

How Has COVID Affected The Start of FOLKLIFE?

"Originally, I had intended FOLKLIFE to be a media company, more than just a magazine. We launched right during COVID, so we had to cancel our event planning, including our big magazine launch, and various other gatherings that represent the lifestyle of FOLKLIFE." Alina said that in the end, it was best that this side of her business got put on hold so she could solely focus on the magazine. "I have a tendency of doing way too many things, but maybe one day we can revisit that direction."

The first volume of FOLKLIFE was released in April 2020. "We sent the first issue to print on March 12, the same day the whole world closed down due to COVID." Alina explained further that they originally decided to print 4,000 copies, which was ambitious for a magazine start up. "The printers allowed us to lower it to 2,000 copies last minute which ended up not being the best thing, as we were sold out by the summer, and we still have people who want the first issue to go along with the FOLKLIFE collection." The way that FOLKLIFE has been designed, readers can collect and enjoy these publications for years to come, as it is all timeless content. Alina has plans to give her readers the chance to own a copy by printing more of the first issue in the near future.

What Has Been The Most Rewarding Aspect of Starting FOLKLIFE?

"It can be a real slog, and it's easy to forget why I'm doing it, but every time I get an email from someone saying what FOLKLIFE means to them, that's all that I need to keep going." Alina painted a picture of people snuggled up in their cozy corners at homes having an afternoon or evening to themselves while reading her magazine. Their happiness brings her happiness. "The appreciation that our readers show is really the most rewarding thing for me."

What advice would you give to aspiring business owners?

1. "Just take baby steps. Only look at one small thing at a time."

Alina advises new entrepreneurs to steer clear of overwhelm by not looking at the big picture all at once and instead, tackle one thing at a time.

2. Have a partner you can be accountable with

When Patrick first came to Alina and said he was in, that was the moment she knew she was accountable outside of herself to make FOLKLIFE a reality. "I had someone counting on me, and there were many times I wanted to quit. Having that person really helped me to stay on course."

3. Keeping your head held high when people tell you "that's not possible" or "you can't do it"

Finding the strengths within yourself to stay resilient, no matter what anyone may say. "Have bravery. Make a timeline and a budget. You will learn to believe in yourself through practice and experience along the way."

4. Volunteer

Whatever field you may be in, volunteering can be an amazing way to connect you with the right people. "The people that I work with the most now for FOLKLIFE are the ones who said 'hey I'd love to volunteer' and now they are getting paid." Alina explained further that she received many of her initial opportunities through volunteer work.

5. Find A Mentor

Alina highly recommends seeking out a mentor or multiple! Alongside many influences, including her mother, her main mentor has been Charles Hart, FOLKLIFE's main editor, who appeared in the very beginning. "He is always keeping me on track with all of his valuable suggestions. FOLKLIFE wouldn't be what it is without him."

Photo by: Sweet Sea Photography

What's Next For FOLKLIFE?

Short term goals

"I would like FOLKLIFE to be a quarterly magazine, and perhaps to pay me too." Alina also wants to expand her team to help reach her big goals and vision for the publication.

Long term goals

Alina hopes to expand her reach of FOLKLIFE world wide. She is also thinking of one day turning her publication into a franchise, allowing for more communities around the world to share their stories of how people are living slow, close to the earth, with intention, and creativity.

Alina has dusted off the way people see print publications. FOLKLIFE takes eyes from everyday screens, and turns their attention, captivating readers to the very last page. And hey, who doesn't want an opportunity to "slow the folk down" these days, ammiright?!

Have you picked up a copy of FOLKLIFE yet?

Click here to find out more!

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Author: Kristina Kinzel

Other Photo Credits:

All other photos throughout this article are taken by: Thomas Kinzel

Models: Kristina Kinzel and Zak Cohen (Woodshop Recording Studio)

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