Both Debbee and I, being The Journal publishers, came from a background of having served as Marketing Director and Publisher respectively, of Surfer Magazine. I was there for twenty-one-years as the employee of the holding company that owned it (before that I mostly shaped surfboards and wrote), and Debbee for eight years, before we left in spring of 1992, to start our own publishing business. Luckily we could both wear a lot of hats because we started alone in a rented room in Capistrano Beach. There was circulation, marketing and business systems to figure out, surf shops to sign up, editorial to gather, refine and invent, graphic production and manufacturing to source and develop, and U. S. postal regulations to understand.
At the start Debbee swore she wouldn’t learn the complicated second-class postal rules-but she ended up knowing them well. There are thousands of processes necessary to create a periodical that succeeds, many hundreds of people to coordinate, and tens of thousands of supporters to attract. Our idea was to base a surf periodical on the constant of a surfer’s stoke rather than on the surf industry’s variable health and fickle advertising support.
Soon enough, we weren’t working alone, as Kathy Freygang came on board to help at everything, Jeff Girard to design and produce, and then Rob Gilley volunteered to photo edit until we could afford to hire him. By the next spring our small family was living in a 1,500 sq. ft. industrial office space with warehouse in San Clemente, CA, and we were releasing our first issue, with a cover price that no one had heard of before, $12.95. It was received well.
That proved that surfers would pay for quality when it came to honoring their love of the sport. Over the next five years, we knew for sure the idea was working as subscriptions grew to over ten thousand (now 20,000!). It was a good thing because we had invested all our savings without a second thought.
Now, approaching our twenty second year, The Journal has earned its place as the definitive purist voice of our sport, with a level of thoughtful in-depth literature and imagery that you might expect to find in a scholarly journal. We work hard to create a content package that peels back the surface of the wave riding culture, targeting experienced intelligent surfers.
As custodians of The Journal, and as fellow long-time surfers ourselves, we take that responsibility seriously…but not too! For despite all the philosophic and poetic waxing about man and wave, the connection to nature, and the quasi-religious experience of the ride, when it comes right down to it surfing resides in the toy department of human affairs, and we think it’s perfect there. -- S.P.
As we approach our 22nd anniversary, we encourage you to subscribe.