NEW TASTE OF HONEY
A NEW EDITOR IN CHIEF WITH A FASHION BACKGROUND GIVES HONEY THE STYLE ADVANTAGE.
Byline: Elena Romero
NEW YORK — Amy DuBois-Barnett and Sydne Bolden are stirring the pot at Honey.
The urban young women’s magazine, launched nearly two years ago as a quarterly, became a 10-times-a-year publication this year and now has a new focus: fashion first and lifestyle second.
The publication has gone through a series of changes since its inception. It has a new parent in Vanguarde Media Inc., which took over ownership in January, a broadening of its target reader and several key staff changes, including DuBois-Barnett, who became editor in chief in June, and Bolden, its fashion director, who was brought on board in February with the magazine’s relaunch.
“Honey has done a tremendous job since its inception in identifying this niche and really, there is no other magazine like it,” said DuBois-Barnett. “I, of course, have my own vision for what the magazine is and that vision differs from the vision of the founders and the vision of the previous editor in chief. Like any new magazine, it’s been evolving.”
Her vision is to offer readers more style stories, entertainment scoops and imagery than ever before.
“It wasn’t so much that when I first came in that I found fault with the magazine, as much as it was I wanted to actualize my own vision,” she said.
Leonard Burnett Jr., group publisher of Vanguarde Media, said, “Over the past year, Honey has become a credible fashion resource for stylish, young, urban women. As a result, Honey’s fashion ad pages have increased by 36 percent, diversifying beyond the urban brands to also include the mainstream, popular labels.”
Honey’s current fashion advertisers, in addition to urban brands, include Levi’s, Calvin Klein, Sergio Valente, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Tommy Hilfiger, Iceberg, Lady Foot Locker, Reebok and Nike.
Implementing fashion was a natural fit for DuBois-Barnett, who has a broad background in fashion, pop culture, entertainment and lifestyle journalism. DuBois-Barnett has been covering fashion since 1994 at Web sites like fashionplanet.com and totalnewyork.com. She was also the founding managing editor of the bimonthly fashion magazine, Fashion Almanac.
DuBois-Barnett also spent time as editor in chief of Inside New York, a yearly guidebook for hip newcomers. Most recently, she was the lifestyle editor at Essence.
“I wanted to be a journalist when I was really young, but my parents said it was a triangular field,” she recalled. “I thought I was going to be a lawyer for the longest time.”
“I envision Honey as a fashion magazine+[with] cutting-edge style coverage and also intelligent features and stories that have a broad range of topics — health to technology,” she said. “I really believe Honey has the potential to be the preeminent fashion and beauty book for the young urban readers 18 to 34.”
But don’t think the word urban is limited to just covering African-Americans.
“Urban culture has transcended race, class and gender,” DuBois-Barnett said. “When people think urban they really do think African-American. The urban culture is multicultural — Latino, Asian, White and Native American.”
At the same time, DuBois-Barnett notes that the reader is interested in a variety of products and is searching for information.
“She’s not just buying Enyce, but also buying Dolce,” she said. “They are not just watching ‘Moesha’ and ‘The Parkers,’ but are also watching ‘Sex and the City.’ Our reader is interested in seeing herself on the pages, but also wants a multicultural mix.”
DuBois-Barnett has increased fashion pages, as well as the length of fashion features. She has increased the number of single-page or double-page-spread service-oriented stories. In addition, DuBois-Barnett has moved them from the back of the book to the front of the book to emphasize the style conscious nature of the magazine.
“I’ve also increased the number of beauty pages,” she said. “The fashionable urban woman who picks up Honey can get a look from head to toe: makeup, hair, shoes, clothing, everything.”
Entertainment coverage has also become a large focus. For DuBois-Barnett, Honey should be a place for great behind-the-scenes stories and insider scoops.
“We want to give people a backstage pass to movies, television and music videos,” she said.
At the same time, DuBois-Barnett wants to offer more thought-provoking profiles.
“[The Honey Reader] is also career oriented, well traveled and wants to know world issues,” she noted.
According to DuBois-Barnett, she also is looking to developing the magazine’s table of contents, which will be unveiled early next year. In the coming year, DuBois-Barnett also plans to solidify Honey’s mission and fill the current void for the young, multicultural style readers, as well as help build Honey as a brand.
DuBois-Barnett also is interested in improving the caliber of Honey’s writing. DuBois-Barnett’s first issue has already seen signs, with the October issue featuring a story on Jada Pinkett Smith and a look at her battle with hubby Will Smith’s son’s mother.
Since DuBois-Barnett came on board, the staff has been “stable.” The big new hire has been Angela Burt-Murray, who filled the managing editor position, which had been vacant prior to DuBois-Barnett joining Honey. She had most recently been the beauty and health director at Teen People.
Working at a style-conscious publication is also something with which Bolden is familiar. Bolden, a 10-year fashion veteran, has worked at a number of fashion magazines, including Vogue, Allure and most recently, W.
“Initially, I really wanted to make the magazine upscale and show different images of women in fashion,” Bolden said. “I felt that was something the old Honey didn’t do in a range. I felt the niche that needed to be filled was the woman who has a working salary in which she splits with eveningwear, the clothes she has to wear to work and her fantasy clothes.”
According to Bolden, she wants to portray clean, beautiful and simple fashion.
“There are three points I am interested in making,” she said. “One, woman of color can be simple and pretty and bask in their own personal beauty. [Two,] I feel I can get them out of their box. They can be a lot of different things.
“I want to reflect the wildness, fun and humor in life and in pictures. I want them to see images that are unexpected — intimate moments. [Three,] We will have fantasy fashion. That always pushes the envelope.”