Economic realities have forced many publishers to downsize, but Toronto’s Sway magazine is bucking the trend.
Geared towards a black audience, the glossy lifestyle quarterly is spreading its wings and going national. This month it is available in 150 stores across the country, including Chapters and Indigo locations.
“We’ve seen our revenues go up by 30 per cent in the last year and we’d like to make the magazine accessible to the whole country,” says Alan Vernon, Sway’s associate publisher and editorial director.
“There are 800,000 black people in the country. Half of that number is in Toronto, half is not. We want to raise our brand visibility outside the GTA.”
Vernon says the magazine, free in Toronto, will be sold for $4.95 outside the city and adds, “We’ll make a few thousand copies available across the country, around 20 copies per store.”
Although the majority of the magazine’s 50,000 circulation remains in the GTA, content is now more national in scope, says Vernon. “Our current issue has political stories on topics such as why Canada is getting out of Africa and why paleness of skin colour has been used as a measure of black beauty. Our content is inspirational and positive, not fluffy.”
Unlike other publications that have seen their budgets shrink, the three-year-old magazine’s ad base is growing.
“We’ve never had so many national ads as in our current Caribana issue. Agencies are waking up to our first-class product. Yes, times are tough, but we have buy-in from the community.
“We’ve got national ads from companies such as Movado, Blackberry, Appleton Rum and Kraft. I have to pinch myself and ask, ‘Is this really happening?’”