How to Launch an Arts Magazine
Name: Debony Burrowes
Job: Publisher and Editorial Director, SOTAC magazine
MBA: University of Phoenix, 2004
"My parents said I was always the easiest person to get a gift for!" says Debony Burrowes. As a young Brooklyn kid, Burrowes didn't want dolls or clothes, but blank notebooks, which she would fill with stories, journal entries, pictures, and poems. It was good training for a girl who would grow up to start her own arts magazine, SOTAC (State of the Arts and Culture), focusing on cutting-edge artists and performers, both in its home base of Charlotte, N.C. and in the world beyond. Says Burrowes: "I've got a passion for folks who are not gaining the right exposure."
Burrowes brought a rocksolid business background to the launch of SOTAC. She had already logged eight years working at Dun & Bradstreet. And she earned her MBA from the University of Phoenix's online business school. "I used all of my coursework to put together my business plan for SOTAC," she says. "When I graduated in July 2004, we were able to launch in the same month. It was a hectic two years!"
Despite all the meticulous preparation, Burrowes has found that flexibility is key in running her magazine. "In the original plan, I didn't aggressively factor in the publishing industry's shift to the digital age," she says. She's now preparing for the spring 2009 launch of SOTAC Interactive. "There's no cookbook method to this business," she says, "so it meant revisiting the plan-shifting people, finances, and strategies in order to align the right resources with the new initiative." One other significant change: When SOTAC launched, Burrowes kept her "day job" at D&B; earlier this year, she resigned in order to dedicate herself full-time to her magazine-and, just occasionally, get a full night's sleep.
Originally appeared as "A Craving For Culture" in MBA Jungle, August 2008