Jenesis Magazine is a monthly online publication that is made available to readers for free launched in 2007. In less than a 2 year span since starting from the hard work of 5 people, Jenesis has compiled readers from a low hundreds to over ten thousand readers a month. Our reading audience extends to over 5,700 cities in 150 countries. The magazine mainly highlights the relatively unknown and up and coming talents but they feature some well known artists as well. Jenesis has featured well known folks such as Mick Boogie, DJ Drama, DJ Don Cannon, Girl Talk, Joe Budden, Wiz Khalifa, Asher Roth, B.o.B, Pac Div, U-N-I, Dom Kennedy, Tanya Morgan, Raheem DeVaughn, and Shepard Fairey.
We recently got on the phone with co-founder Thomas Agnew and had a good chat about how the Jenesis all started, the work put into it on a daily basis, how he feels about the amount of success they have attained thus far, and how they want to be get the buzz they deserve out of their hometown of Pittsburg. Here is an abridged version of Jenesis Magazine’s, well, genesis.
Thomas attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh as a graphic design major. Thomas happened to glance at a classmate’s desk and spotted a notebook full of clothing design sketches, and his curiosity led to a conversation. The classmate was Brian Tolbert. The conversation led to Brian presenting a idea for a magazine and how he wasn’t able to develop the idea because he never found the right people to work with. Now that Thomas was in the picture, Brian could finally make the magazine idea a real thing.
Initially putting things into place was difficult for Thomas and Brian. It took a couple years of plotting ideas for magazine columns, feature stories, typefaces, etc while looking for the right outlets and team members before they could launch. Thomas and Brian were both graphic designers so they needed to recruit a photographer, a web designer, and writers. Even though they attended the Art Institute, finding web designers and photographers was more difficult they thought. They needed to find the right pieces to fit into the puzzle, however no one at school had the right mindset and the same interests in the magazine’s concept. After some searching through friends, friends of friends, etc, Thomas and Brian compiled Jenesis’ core team of 5.
The biggest decision to be made for Jenesis was choosing between print or digital. Print was the first choice, but after figuring out the costs and realizing dealing with publishers could be an absolute pain, they decided to go digital. It would also be much easier to distribute. Little did they know that the choice would put them ahead of the game.
Utilizing their personal networks within Pittsburg as well as a promoter friend’s network, things just started to fall into place for content for the magazine. Sean Don wanted to contribute to the “Dirty Mic” section of the magazine, and they locked in Skyzoo for the cover and a feature article. Being big fans of both, Thomas and the rest of the team were excited for the first issue of Jenesis especially for having two affiliates of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League wanting to be involved with them.
Four years have gone by, Jenesis is still consistently putting out issues and the staff has expanded to 14 plus a team of interns. Lasting this long is Thomas’ greatest achievement with Jenesis. Jenesis has earned its faithful following but Thomas wants Jenesis to become a bigger. They want to reach more people in more cities and they want to have physical copies of the magazine in major cities. Their grind won’t stop.
For the other young hustlers out there trying to start a magazine, Thomas advises you to do your research. Know what you are getting yourself into and get strong opinions from others. Make sure you have the right components and team. Have a strong marketing team and plan because you need to reach outside of your personal network. Find your niche, work hard, and let things fall into place.