Baring for y’all.

This article is something new.
Something different.
Something that we haven’t done before.
This article is the business.

In December, amongst the haze that was the culmination of Gippslandia #13 and the Book of Life, our first foray into creating a cookbook, we threw a little party. Around 100 of Gippslandia’s nearest and dearest were in our new pop-up store celebrating three years of printing words on paper for you to read.

It was somewhere between a vessel of goodness from Sailors Grave and a glass of grapes from Lightfoot & Sons that I took the opportunity to step back and observe the room around me. It didn’t take long to realise that Gippslandia has become so much more than just getting ink slapped onto some 55 gsm Nordstar paper stock.

Sharing the evening with us were some of the region’s finest business leaders, several of whom have been our partners for a long time, with others having their first Gippslandia experience. As the pop-up was also supporting local Gippsland makers; some established craftspeople and a promising crew, barely in their 20s, who have just launched their entrepreneurial journey.

After ensuring the guests are entertained with drinks in their hands and amazing local food, my thoughts turned to our partners. Not Gippsland’s advertising partners, but those that signed up for the long haul via wedlock. They’ve tolerated the late nights (occasional all-nighters), sorted our children while we hit the keys, been trusted sound-boards and have supported us through the many challenging times of establishing a new publication. Jen, Lil, Marietta, these words and this page wouldn’t exist without you — thank you.

Over the course of the Book Of Life project, which was supported by the One Good Community Wellbeing Grants, we were aided by so many of Gippsland’s food producers, restaurants and makers. Thank you! Also, a hearty thanks to those that helped man the Gippslandia pop-up store — including the ‘Retail Master’, Jenny Leeson — we were thrilled to have you as part of the team.

The establishment of Gippslandia has, gratefully, resulted in the team being invited to sit in on strategic discussions that impact our region, and provide comment on or support to people, businesses and places in Gippsland on a regular basis. Seeing the region thrive and then presenting that narrative to a wider audience is our driving passion, so we’re very honoured to engage so regularly with the community.

So, why am I sharing all of this with you now?

Here’s the fun part: in upcoming issues, I’ll be using this space to pop the hood on Gippslandia; tell you how it really runs, share some more of the insights I’m learning about the region and speak about some of the projects that we have in the works, as well as some of the ideas people have about the future of Gippsland. I think you’ll discover that we’re both much bigger and much smaller than you likely imagined, which, in time, will make more sense.

In early 2019, we made a giant leap to stand alone as a not-for-profit (NFP) entity. We’ve talked about this before, but the point remains extremely relevant and I can’t say this strongly enough: the paper you’re reading is yours — the property of the good people of Gippsland.

Possibly, the first surprise for you may be that there isn’t much of a Gippslandia team. We’ve explored the team before in issue #4, but what you may not realise is that we’ve all got ‘day jobs’ too. This means that the operational, governance and delivery side of Gippslandia happens when most people sleep.

The ship is steered by three core people: myself, Tim Leeson and John Calabro. The brief rundown of roles is that the words are Tim’s, the way it looks is thanks to John and the fact that it all came together and you’re holding a copy, well, that’s how I help out.

We’ve got Asheda Weekes, who helps with the running of events (like our cookbook launch) and acts as an editorial assistant; Lacey Yeomans takes care of our social media and manages our digital footprint, and Rebecca Fletcher, who proofreads these very words. Last, but not least, are our regular contributors from throughout the region; they are the lifeblood of this publication and we feel honoured to be able to feature their relentless creativity and community spirit in each edition.

These initial introductions are how we’ll begin 2020, but you’ll get to meet some more people as the year progresses, as we’re creating many new opportunities for people to get involved in Gippslandia.

And, please, never be shy to reach out if you’re keen to be involved in Gippslandia. We enjoy working and learning from the many talented people we have in our region. If you’re looking for amazing creatives to help your business, then we’ll likely know just the right people and can provide the links to make your next project a success.

Excitedly, by the time the ink dries on this issue, the team will likely grow to include a couple of new roles, but we’ll save their introduction for our next edition in June.

Gippslandia needs to continue its evolution. Currently, the NFP is governed by a board of three members, and we’re in the early stages of expanding beyond this to five people.

Throughout the coming year, I intend to be completely transparent in this column as I share with you what has worked for us and what hasn’t, along with our own business experiences. Who knows, we might just suggest an opportunity or an idea that’ll help you or improve your business.

To close my inaugural The Business piece, here are a few things I’ve learned about Gippslandia:

When the passion is there, you don’t need set hours or even a workplace. A phone and communications platforms, such as Slack, can make anything happen.

We’d like to have significantly higher numbers of social media followers, and if we followed other news channels and turned each of our headlines into ‘clickbait’ we probably would. But, this goes against our values and, at a financial level, we likely lose out for that. From an integrity level, when we sleep, we sleep well.

Once you factor in all the elements that make the publication what it is, the total cost of the copy you’re holding in your hand is $3.23. Yet, the copy you’re holding costs you not a cent.

Whilst we’re on numbers, by selling all our advertising slots in the paper, Gippslandia is approximately a cost-neutral project (a little extra becomes available for ‘rainy days’ or worldwide pandemics).

Those that work on Gippslandia generally do so below their standard hourly rate. It’s not all about the money, it’s about what’s being created.

The businesses that support us aren’t doing so to only market their business. Their involvement is much, much deeper. They can see a vision for Gippsland that many can’t, and they back us to communicate that. They’re incredibly generous and progressive businesses and I encourage you to support them, even if it’s just to call and say ‘thanks!’.

70% of publications never publish a second edition and the average lifespan for a magazine is 2.4 years. Yet, three years on, Gippslandia is getting stronger.

Seeing you enjoy Gippslandia in a local café or reading the emails or letters you send in is what gets us up to go again.


If there is something in particular that you wish to know or discuss, please get in touch and I’ll either address it here in a future column or via email at [email protected].

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