Today we’d like to introduce you to Anika Baty-Mills.
Hi Anika, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Our publication was born out of our love for Columbia and Howard County. Creating a publication that is focused on introducing the wonderful people, places, and events in our county to our readers is what we are all about. We launched our first publication in print at the end of 2019 and by March of 2020, the world stopped turning. We recognized very quickly that the organizations and businesses that we supported through advertising found themselves in a tough situation. They needed to keep advertising, but their doors were closed or they were functioning on a limited basis and they couldn’t afford to continue. As a company, we decided that we had to help them and one way we did that was by allowing them to run their ads for free/reduced price for a limited time. Realizing that covid-19 was not going away, we recognized that we (ourselves) needed to change course and reinvent ourselves. Going digital just made sense; digital media is here to stay. This allowed us to reach more people in our community, provide awesome opportunities for our advertisers to expand their presence on the web, and help create community connections between our readers. This move has been a win win.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It definitely has been a work in progress. We had to change from a print process to a digital one. It definitely required us to become more technologically savvy. Whenever you change your business model, you have to help people understand the benefits of that change. Entrepreneurship is a challenge period, we don’t have a big staff or different departments that handle certain aspects of the publication, so we juggle a lot.
Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Columbia Inspired Magazine?
We specialize in community! What does that mean? Our goal is to tell the good news about the events, the people, and the places in our community. We focus on introducing our readers to not only the movers and shakers in our community but to everyday people doing awesome things. Our brand is community! Columbia started out as an idea in the mind of Jim Rouse, its developer. It was to be a place for all people. That is what we believe as well, we love to tell stories of the people (all people) and provide a safe space for all of our readers. We are super proud of that! We are supporters of small business. We know that many businesses are in need of a partner to help share their message and grow their business. We know how hard it can be to find ways to reach more people, we work with our businesses by creating a strategic plan to help them market their services and tell their story. We don’t just put their ad up and move on. That’s not who we are.
Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
Luck…hmmm. Well, I don’t think there was anything lucky about covid-19. So I will talk about perseverance. We had to be innovative, flexible, and open-minded. There was a problem and we had to solve it, allowing covid-19 to kill our business was not an option. So perseverance played a huge role in our business. We never stopped working.
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Poemtography (women on the staircase), Imiivo (May and June cover photos)