De’Von Christopher Johnson Is Helping African-Americans Embrace Technology to Publish Print Magazines
In the age of the internet, most people feel that the best way to obtain information is through blogs and websites. You don’t even have to log into a computer in order to access the web at this point in time, just reach for your smart phone. There has been whispers that the magazine business is dead or on its way there, dying a slow death.
Don’t tell that to Bleu Magazine’s De’Von Christopher Johnson. Yes, his property does have presence on the web, but, who doesn’t these days? You ask him what makes magazines work and he’ll have an answer for you! If there is anyone who feels like there is no use for magazines these days, then they need to have a conversation with Mr. Johnson, he differs on that opinion.
The industry veteran who switched up from working at labels to publishing magazines is heading towards serial entrepreneurship as he works toward a lofty goal. Just remember, don’t tell him that magazines are dead.
BlackEnterprise.com: I know you’ve been involved in the entertainment industry for a number of years, could you tell us how you got started and which companies were blessed to have you as an employee?
My first job after graduating from Seton Hall University with a degree in Communications was at Def Jam. I owe it all to fate. I had heard of an open position from a friend that had just been hired as an assistant in the publicity department. The marketing department was looking for someone new and energetic that could be shaped and molded into the Def Jam culture. I was there for 2 years before moving on to Universal Music Group as an Advertising Coordinator. Luckily both companies were under the same umbrella at the time and only a few floors apart. I stayed there for 2 years also, that seems to be my max out level, lol. My last position at a record label was as a Marketing Manager for Warner Music Group’s Asylum Records. I think there is where my learning curve grew tremendously. From Def Jam, a well-established and well-known brand, to an upstart, put every skill I had acquired to the test. My former def Jam boss, Chonita Floyd-Sasso, was brought on to head the marketing department for Asylum. She called me up and offered me the position over the phone. She hadn’t even set up her office yet and I was hired. I miss my 24th floor office with a view. I’m almost there though, well at least halfway, Bleu Magazine has a 12th floor office.
You’re President and CEO of Bleu Life Media and Founder of Bleu and PYNK magazines, why did you decide to first start Bleu magazine and then later, PYNK? Could you explain the mission of both publications?
I started Bleu from my Harlem apartment. I always loved magazines and still do. There is something nostalgic about seeing yourself or people that look and live like you on the pages of print media. We set out to create a new platform for men of color to be shown. Then and now we were the only urban luxury magazine targeted at men of color. Moreover, we are Black owned. Yes, there are other “urban” magazines out there. But I don’t relate to them, and most of my friends and the people I grew up with don’t either. We decided to cater to an aspirational audience instead of emulating the status quo.
PYNK was just a natural progression as we developed our business model. Pynk is all about the “Pretty. Powerful. Provocative”. It is for any female that refuses to be defined by anyone other than herself. Finding the right voice and vision has presented some challenges. But, with a few staff changes we are getting the brand back on track.
Both magazines are positioned for greatness. They compliment each other like brother and sister. However, they are not simply mirror reflections of each other. Each publication has a defined mission and purpose.
Source: Black Enterprise | Cedric ‘Big Ced’ Thornton