The Grace Tales turns five next month. Just like that. It's hard to believe how quickly time has flown (and how little sleep you can survive on!). In that time, I've transitioned from a big corporate job to running a small business; I've had two children; and I've never been more passionate about building something in my life. Ahead of some big changes we're about to make, I wanted to open up about our journey and where we're headed. Because without you guys, we wouldn't be here, so it's important for me to be as transparent as possible about our new direction...
My goal when I created the site was to build a hub for mothers. I wanted it to be inspiring to look at, filled with honest words and I wanted mums of all ages, no matter what life stage they were up to, to feel like they weren’t alone. I wanted to spread a simple message: “You’ve got this mama”. Because there are many moments where you wonder if you actually do. In the beginning, I’d publish one piece of content to the site a week. I was working part-time at Vogue and navigating new motherhood, so it was something that I did at night or when my baby napped. It was escapism for me. And a chance for me to connect with other mothers. Slowly, the site grew. We now have editors around the world who passionately work on the brand and a global community of mamas who follow us. We recently did a reader survey and were blown away by the responses. We asked how you’d describe The Grace Tales to a friend. Here’s what you said:
“Inspirational and aspirational mama life”
“A go-to platform for all things ‘mum-life’”
“Amazing online magazine for mothers and women”
“A must-read for women”
“Think of Vogue for modern mums”
“A place full of interesting and inspiring mums”
“A stylish injection in my inbox once a week or so – fun to read!”
“Beautiful content about interesting, intelligent women who still appreciate the finer things in life alongside the circus”
“An escape from the everyday”
Feedback like this keeps me going. Because since we launched five years ago, there’s rarely a day where I don’t work on The Grace Tales (it’s a little like my third baby). It’s not glamorous behind the scenes. It’s just a lot of work. We create all of our unique content from scratch and the site is extremely costly to run. The beautiful content you love requires a lot of investment. We don’t rip off other people’s images and never will. We don’t syndicate content from other publications. It’s all created by us for you. It’s not the easy way, but I’m extremely passionate about bringing the magazine experience online and having a truly unique brand. Why shouldn’t websites be as good as magazines? They should be even better.
I grew up completely magazine obsessed. I’d save up for my favourite magazines each month and rush to the newsagency the morning a new issue was due to arrive. I ended up spending over 15 years working in magazines and I never thought the day would come where I stopped buying them – but it came. Since I started in magazines, the entire industry has significantly changed. The way we consume media has completely transformed and we’re all trying to keep up. Print is unfortunately declining and digital media is now the norm. Publishers are all trying to work out which way to go and it’s inevitable that we’re all going to have to look for alternative ways to fund the exclusive content we create for our loyal readers.
Editor Georgie Abay photographed by Julie Adams
Digital is still relatively new. Publishers like myself are having to quickly adapt to this new world – we don’t know what’s around the corner. I’ve always been honest about the reality of running a publishing business – it’s not easy. And it’s a tougher market than ever before. Something has to give because the current model – relying solely on advertising in a fiercely competitive market – isn’t sustainable.
I was at dinner a couple of years ago when a friend’s husband (who now works at The New York Times) asked if I’d ever considered a subscription model for The Grace Tales. Charging readers a small fee each month to access our content. It was so simple and now the norm in the world of news, but I’d never thought about it. I knew the current business model wasn’t sustainable and had been searching for ways to keep the site running without compromising content and quality. But since that moment, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Sure, some people don’t want to pay for digital content. It has always been free, why pay? It’s a mindset shift for us all. But ask around… even if you don’t currently pay for digital content, most people we know already subscribe to a digital news channel (there are very few reputable global news channels that are free) or subscribe to industry and community hubs. Most of us also invest in other monthly entertainment subscriptions such as Netflix and Spotify.
I’m looking into the future here and predicting that other women’s lifestyle sites won’t always be free to access. They can’t. Because just like I used to pay for my monthly magazines, we need to support the sites we love and who produce quality content. The sites which invest in quality content. And I’m incredibly proud of the content we produce on this site every single week. If we don’t support our favourite online publications (just as we’ve always supported the print magazines we love), they won’t thrive. If we want to maintain the level of quality in terms of content, events and imagery, we need the support of our readers. And in return, we’ll create a two-way conversation, a collective, between our audience, all over the world – inspiring, listening and also connecting with our readers and introducing them to each other. What we have worked so hard in creating for you, is a lot more than merely a subscription… it’s a collective, a membership program, a movement to empower and connect mothers at every stage, and in every part of the world.
So we’re making the bold move of moving to a membership model. It’s scary and exciting in equal measure. It’s new and might take some people a while to get used to, but I hope it’s for you because we’re going to offer you even more than you’re currently getting from The Grace Tales. You’re part of this site and we hope you’ll be a reader for many more years. We’re not going anywhere and we hope you’re here to stay too.
When we were planning our membership offering, which we’ve called GRACE COLLECTIVE, we knew we wanted to offer you more than content. We wanted it to be a bigger and more engaging than this. We want every mama that signs up for our GRACE COLLECTIVE membership to feel like they’re really part of our community because it’s this community that drives us every single day. You’ll get a profile on the site. You’ll be able to connect with other like-minded women – anywhere in the world. You’ll have access to our new forum (did we mention, we love a chat?). You’ll get a beautiful welcome GRACE box delivered to your doorstep, filled with products curated by our team especially for you – just wait until you see what’s inside. You’ll get discounts to our GRACE TALKS events and discount codes to some of our favourite brands. And this is just the start…
Whether or not you become a member, I hope you’ll continue to follow us. You’ll still have access to limited content each month and we have further brand extensions (podcast, anyone?) that will be available too. But if you’re ready to come on this exciting next stage of The Grace Tales, we can’t wait to share it with you. We’ll be announcing the date and further details of the GRACE COLLECTIVE launch very soon.
Georgie & The Grace Tales team xx