PEOPLE ALWAYS ASK ME
Why I Created VERTICAL
The answer comes so naturally. And though I’ve said it over and over in private conversations, I find there are many who still wonder. Why did I create VERTICAL?
Fear and loathing in Tampa
It all began on a cool March evening in 2009. I gathered with a few people at The Centre Club for an intimate roundtable discussion. This was during the height of the economic nightmare and the professional people I was talking with that night, an interior designer, an exotic car dealer and a Realtor, were inspirational. Although fearful of the seemingly bleak future unfolding at the time, each one of us favored coming together to see how we could benefit one another, rather than bury our heads in the sand.
At the time, I was engaged in my first entrepreneurial endeavor—creating custom newsletters for lifestyle brands. Coming from the magazine biz, I thought, “Why do newsletters have to be plain? With plain type on plain paper with ugly clipart?” I felt that newsletters should be captivating, like something you’d find in a glossy magazine. Others agreed but at the time and considering the custom nature of the newsletters, the pricing was a bit tricky.
After the meeting, I couldn’t shake a feeling of sadness washing over me. I felt a little lost. Soon I realized it was because I was standing in the way of where I really wanted to be and what I was meant to do all along.
A moment of clarity
Alone at home later that night, I had a very honest conversation with myself. It started with one question. And that one question triggered my personal revolution. I asked myself: if you could do anything in the whole world, what would it be? The answer came so quickly. It even surprised me. “I would have a fashion and lifestyle magazine!” I said in my head.
Surely, this was too lofty a goal. Immediately, I was prepared to figure something else out when I stopped myself. “Wait a minute,” I insisted. What was the point of the exercise if I wasn’t going to honor the answer? Or even give it a moment to sink in?
I knew a print magazine was out of the question. Overhead. And stemming from the earlier meeting, one part of my motivation to start a magazine was rooted in a desire to help people continue to market themselves when it was terrifying to part ways with funds (no one knew where their next dollar was coming from or when). Online ads could be less expensive (without the cost of paper and printing) and carry more potential because those ads would link live to the advertiser websites—creating the instant gratification we all lust for.
But this is not a story about the advertising business.
That night, I mapped it all out—my vision for Tampa Bay’s fashion and lifestyle magazine. I named it VERTICAL, I established the eight departments, and created a list of people I would call the following day to get it started. Six months later—to the day—the premier issue launched auspiciously on 09.09.09. And it was everything I wanted it to be.
VERTICAL is a love letter. It is inspired by and speaks to the visionaries who call Tampa Bay home. It celebrates our local treasures—the people, places and things we rejoice to discover.
The next question I often get: Why is it called VERTICAL? That’s easy. At the heart and soul of VERTICAL is the desire to uplift our community. This philosophy pairs with the common thread that ties these three things together: Manhattan Skyscrapers (a salute to my roots), Fashion Models and Photography. They are all vertical. Although it’s quite funny; as a photographer, 9 out of 10 times when I would raise my camera it was to shoot something vertically. But since VERTICAL magazine’s arrival on the scene, I shoot primarily horizontally. What is wrong with this picture? Not a thing.
So it’s been three + years. And I am found. Living happily in VERTICAL-land. What I have learned is that a single decision can have a dramatic impact. And that following your dream is where it’s at. And that inspiration is everywhere. You only have to look.
May you be uplifted in the New Year. Get VERTICAL…and be part of something fabulous!
Meet LESLIE JOY ICKOWITZ
Leslie Joy Ickowitz possesses a passionate spirit devoted to exploring possibilities and her unique perspectives have earned her the reputation as an authority on the lifestyle experience. An avid world traveler, Leslie understands that the meaning of life lies in the journey. With appreciation for the beauty that surrounds her, she seeks opportunities to make a difference in her community, inspires others to achieve their potential, to get VERTICAL…and to be part of something fabulous!