I was first introduced to Debbi Evans a few months ago through Ada’s List, of which she is a member. Recently I had the opportunity to meet her a couple of times in person, and to learn about Libertine, the publication for ‘interested women’ that she is currently founder and editor of. She was spurred to launch it after noticing how few pieces of enlightening reading actually existed in a world where women were catered to primarily with publications like Hello, Glamour, Vogue and Cosmopolitan (not that there’s anything wrong with them, I’m know they have their fans and satisfy a different need state).
Anyway, Debbi launched a crowdfunding campaign for Libertine on Indiegogo yesterday. She is trying to raise at least £60,000 ($100,000):
to develop and market our content and digital products – this will cost at least £60k ($100k). We want to pay for better app development and our contributors, fairly – so that we can commission proper reportage and long form think pieces, and package them up beautifully for your enjoyment.
Libertine is meant for a global audience. I fully support the campaign, and urge you to too. I know more than enough intelligent, interesting, interested women and men who know them to hope that this campaign will succeed.
Debbi also kindly answered a few questions for me about Libertine (if you need more reason to support it!), here’s what she said:
Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be a founder.
I’ve always been at startups – my dad works for himself and I knew I didn’t want to go the traditional corporate route. I’ve worked in account management, biz dev, PR/marketing and finally went to retrain as a journo, which is what I always wanted to do as a child but somehow got waylaid. While I had the idea for Libertine years ago it was actually at my last job as editor at (behavioural insights consultancy) Canvas8 that I gathered sufficient insight to finally take the plunge.
There’s definitely a need for an entity like Libertine in a world overwhelmed by fashion and beauty publications. Who do you see as your closest competitors, both in the women’s publishing space and more broadly in the publishing world in general?
We don’t really have any direct competitors (yet) although people often mention us in the same sentence as the Gentlewoman, Monocle and Wired. I think Harpers is quite interesting as well – they’re an elegant brand going after the senior professional market quite seriously.
In your opinion, what’s been the best article you’ve commissioned for Libertine so far? Why did you commission it?
My favourite is still Kate Mew’s essay analysing the tech industry by using Star Wars as an analogy. The rebellion are the hackers and makers who want to see the workings of their devices, and the Empire are the smooth, sleek you-know-who that won’t even let you take the back off your smartphone without voiding your warranty. We published it as the intersection between tech and culture is a space we – and other women we know – have always been really interested in but that’s not reflected in the media out there at the moment.
What kind of change do you hope to create in society and for women through Libertine?
I would like to set the benchmark for what a truly different kind of women’s media could be – one that is not dependent on fashion and beauty, which elevates intellect above appearance and which shows the next generation of women that it’s far cooler to be smart, interested and ambitious than it is to be pretty.
I love the names you’ve chosen for your Indiegogo reward tiers: Parker, Walker and Lovelace. When there are so many women who have inspired us in the past, what made you go for those three?
Dorothy Parker has long been a heroine for her caustic wit and complex personality, as has Ada Lovelace for her pioneering work in computing. We actually stumbled across Madam Walker when we were researching for a third woman, and wanted someone related to business – I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of her. Well, actually, I could believe it – which is one of the reasons we launched!
You mention that you’d like Libertine to encompass community events, products and services in addition to a publication. Are there any partners you see as more in sync with the Libertine sensibility that you’d like to work with in the years to come?
Certainly. Our readers are ambitious, bookish, active and possibly slightly nerdy alpha women – that’s a term lots of people hate but after much heated debate (it’s seen as quite aggressive by many) I can’t think of a better way of describing it. Our editorial content means we’re covering serious topics that don’t usually appear in women’s magazines, and I would like that to be reflected in the advertising: tech (please don’t shrink it and pink it), business, finance, automotive, spirits, travel, culture and design. Advertising is missing a trick, in most cases, by not speaking to women like intelligent grown-ups. But, you know, we can help with that – we’ve started offering specialist content services as well 😉
Thanks for your time, Debbi, and wishing Libertine’s campaign all the very best. The video is great by the way – I spotted a few women I know, even!