Here in the frozen tundra of Minnesota (yes, it's still snowing in May), most teenagers hunker down and play video games. Not Bethany Aleshire. This sixteen-year-old single-handedly developed, produced, and publishes a new online magazine called SHINE & SOAR. Grab a cup of java, sit back, and have a chat with this talented young lady.
Making a magazine fulfills all the passions I have (okay, maybe not my passions for eating caramels and snuggling with puppies, but still!): designing, writing about all things God, life, and entrepreneurship, connecting with other creatives, coming up with ideas, and working with/making beautiful photographs. Honestly, it’s like creating your own little world.
It also gives my team and I pressured accountability and space to practice skills that we need to hone. From working on leadership development to finding our writing voice, and from working on our design skills to being creative on a deadline…all skills that we need in our careers that we’re aiming for.
Where did the idea come from?
I've had the name "Shine & Soar" in my idea book for a while as a name for a movement/conference for entrepreneurs. I was planning that I would bring it to life down the road when I was "ready” (aka when I felt like my life was together enough and I had "made it” enough with my business). But in 2012 God showed me that that time would never truly come. I will always feel like I’m not good enough or influential enough to start my crazy ideas and I just need to push through those feelings and DO it.
The magazine part came as I started graphic design classes last fall and was exposed to the programs that are used to design a magazine. It opened my eyes to see that I can actually design a magazine. Little, young me. But how could I possibly design and lead and run this magazine all by myself AND put it out more than once a year? I couldn’t, so I needed a team. That’s when I sent a very long email to Ciera, Mackenzie, and Sarah (girls that I met the month before at a retreat for young Christian women photographers) pitching them the idea and asking if they’d be on board for it. They were all beyond the moon ecstatic about it! And from there, we were off running.
What is the biggest challenge in putting out a quarterly ezine?
Gathering up content. It is a worthy challenge to manage 15+ writers and photographers (myself and my team included). Deadlines and time management don’t really jive with the right brain. The hour before we launched, I was still editing my main article I wrote, because it just didn’t seem right. But my team and I have to remind ourselves that it is progress not perfection that counts. Every masterpiece, book, creative venture, could’ve been better…but the point is that they launched it. We’re working on making the process more streamlined for our creative contributors and ourselves for the next issue and beyond.
In putting together Shine & Soar, what's one thing that surprised you about the process?
How hard it is to keep things consistent and of quality when you have a variety of writers and photographers contributing to it. My team and I saw other magazines that looked all over the place design wise and the quality of their articles bounced from great to not so much. We decided to go for quality over quantity and keep a consistent feel to the magazine…which is easier said than done. Even though I do love our Spring Issue a lot, we still have to learn how to make the magazine feel entirely cohesive while retaining the unique spin of each article.
What piece of advice would you give to other aspiring teen writers?
Put yourself out there! Share your work. You can have thousands upon thousands of words and a million ideas stored on your hard drive, but no one except you will know they exist. You don’t get paid to be your own client and reader, so you need to share your work. And the best way to share your work right now is to blog. You’ve got ideas inside you that no one else has, and the world needs to see them. Just remember, it’s about progress not perfection. Keep practicing and excellence will come.
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring teen writers' parents?
Support them in their pursuit of their passion, but know when to pull them back from it. Subconsciously, we’re hardwired to want our parent’s approval and it hurts a lot when we don’t get it from them. So definitely give it.
But, on the flip side, as writers and creators, we can get consumed with our work. Yes, it feels great to do our passion, but there is more to life than work. As a parent, you can help instill that balance in them now. Maybe it’s saying to your daughter after she’s been working a lot on her writing lately, “Hey, take a break from your work for a couple of days,” or “Let’s do something not related to writing tonight.” There are going to be some times when we need to meet a deadline or have an energy spurt for a couple of days and we pound out a lot of work, but there is a difference between working well and working too much. Give (and thus show) your kids the benefit of having a life outside of work. Building relationships. Going on little adventures around town. Being silly with the family. That is where true life happens.
What's your goal for Shine & Soar?
To reach, inspire and challenge young women, deeper than ever before. We just want to keep helping them and making a difference in their lives. For now, that means doing the magazine and blog on a consistent basis, but in the future we're hoping to bring it to print, host a workshop, and accomplish some other big dreams we have up our sleeves.
Thanks for stopping by today Bethany and readers. Great nuggets of wisdom and very inspiring...even to us old folks!