An Interview with Trish Shea, the Creator of Sole Magazine

Trish Shea is the Director of Marketing and Communications at the Academy of Notre Dame and a graduate of the Rosemont Publishing program. She has more than thirty years experience in her field and deep expertise in writing, editing, graphic design, communications, and brand development. I got a chance to catch up with Trish to discuss her thesis project Sole, a magazine dedicated to shoes. Here’s what she had to say.

What inspired Sole?

Sole was a culmination of everything that I learned at school and throughout my career and a way for me to develop a magazine that focused on something I am passionate about. What woman doesn’t love shoes? Sole helped me put into practical application, from concept to completion, a feasible magazine.

What were your first steps when developing Sole?

I started with research. I had to ensure that Sole would be unique. Luckily, there wasn’t another publication dedicated to shoes, except for trades published by industry associations that weren’t geared toward consumers. I also conducted five focus groups in person and an online survey with women between the ages of 24 and 60, my core demographic. I interviewed people in professional positions related to magazines and shoes, such as an executive at Condé Nast, a cobbler, a shoe designer, and a podiatrist. It was a fun process.

What was your mission and what did you want readers to walk away with?

The mission was to deliver interesting facts to people who love shoes. I wanted Sole to be similar to Real Simple in that it would be a quick read. I didn’t want long narratives or feature stories, but rather factual tidbits about buying and caring for shoes.

Where did you get your article ideas?

When conducting the focus groups, I asked people what they wanted to read. I took this information to heart and combined it with my own instincts. I curated a range of facts that included but wasn’t limited to the history of shoes, manufacturing, shoe care, fashion, and style.

What inspired the layout of the magazine?

I wanted the graphic appeal of bold colors and images, so I chose black highlighted with lime green and hot pink. I used lots of white space so that the images and text would stand out.

How did this experience advance your career?

The education I received at Rosemont, including the creation of Sole, has benefited me. While in school, I applied what I learned in the classroom to my duties at work. Plus, I had the chance to study under professors with expertise in magazine publishing, which shaped my instincts so that I could develop Sole from proven methods. The degree also helped me refine the way I approach creating materials at work. Rosemont’s Masters in Publishing program taught me so much more than what I would have been able to learn on my own.

What advice would you give to women that want to start a magazine?

I would say that they should figure out a specific industry niche and live it. They should get involved with professional groups and attend events. To be truly successful, they will have to cultivate a natural instinct for what people who read their publication and web site will think is newsworthy, interesting, and relevant.

Read Sole here.