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VOL. 126 | NO. 90 | Monday, May 9, 2011

Friends Launch Joy Magazine Memphis

LESLEY YOUNG | Special to The Daily News

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Much of the friendship forged between Anthony Milan and Henry Nelson stems from a continual exchange of ideas.

“Tony and I have been friends for a very long time while living in Memphis, and we’ve had many philosophical and analytical and very engaging conversations about why we live here, what we love and what we can do to make a difference,” Nelson said.

A recent exchange ended up taking on a life of its own.

Bound by a bright pink cover featuring eight smiling women, Joy Magazine Memphis’ premiere issue hit the shelves May 1, bearing with it the two friends’ hope of impacting the city they love so much.

“We thought it was the season to create something positive and something needed in the city,” Milan said.

The pictorial monthly focuses in large part on the black demographic in and around Memphis, with the position of remaining inclusive and expressing diversity.

“One of the things we became obsessed with is a great number of the population, 65.4 percent, is African-American, and they’re not being reflected in the editorial and pictorial content in this city,” said Milan, the magazine’s editor in chief and co-publisher. “We want to show who African-Americans are in the community.”

“The idea is to give African-Americans the chance to see themselves as they really are –living, playing and loving in Memphis,” said Nelson, the other co-publisher.

The first issue, a 36-page edition, centers around Mother’s Day and features eight mothers – some more well-known than others – black, white and Latino, in the community.

Also included are several columns focusing on the holiday; Craigmont High School students’ notes to their mothers; an event calendar; a restaurant listing; and coverage and pictorials from several local events, including the Salt-n-Pepa concert, a Grizzlies game, an Oscar party, and a book-signing by author and entertainer Steve Harvey.

“We need to know we’re all connected here, that we’re not as separate as we might think,” Nelson said. “There are interesting things happening in South Memphis and we need to know that, and South Memphis needs to know there are interesting things happening in Shelby Farms. This is one of the most diverse communities, race-wise, in the world. I think we need to celebrate that.”

“One thing we’re trying to put forth through inspirational articles is excellence, especially excellence of spirit,” Milan said. “That trumps gender, race and economics. We all want to be people who are more excellent. It’s a wonderful city, and we need to be as joyous as we can be in moving this city forward.”

The duo settled on the name of the magazine with that purpose in mind.

“Joy means well-being, good fortune, gratitude and blessedness. It’s one of the things Henry and I have always been interested in – not giving our joy away, but working on developing it and cultivating it,” Milan said.

“It’s something everybody wants to have and always desires,” Nelson added.

So far they’ve spread the love to more than 120 barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons and restaurants across town, admittedly strategically.

“A number of men and women go to beauty salons and spend two to four hours to be beautified,” Milan said. “Some go daily, some weekly, some bi-weekly. This business model is very sound and profound. We’re giving business owners who advertise with us an opportunity for their ad to be viewed within two to four hours.”

They see the potential of an untapped market in their business model.

“This is an awesome opportunity for a number of businesses and entities in this city to allow more African-Americans to know their business is welcome and target their patronage,” he said. “African-Americans are half the purchasing power. We shop all over the community.”

The two publishers’ goals are to eventually get out 30,000 printed copies monthly and as many hits on Facebook. Gauging by their experience since the beginning of the year, they’re well on their way.

“We started this the first of the year (with our own money), and we’ve discussed a lot of ideas over the years, but this one is definitely divine. It was like it was given to us. It came from the heart,” Nelson said.

Joy Magazine Memphis can be found on Facebook, Twitter at @JoyMagMemphis, via their website, www.joymagazinememphis.com, or in their offices in Clark Tower at 5100 Poplar Avenue, suite 2700. They can also be reached at 322-6122.

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