Brain, Child celebrates 15 years of success


In an age when most niche magazines struggle to survive, Wilton-based Brain, Child has found itself in an interesting set of circumstances — its Facebook page has grown 1,500% in the last three years and its owner is readying plans to launch a second quarterly magazine called Brain, Teen.
Its success might not seem so surprising — The New York Times once described Brain, Child as a “small-but-mighty award-winning parenting magazine” — but it was on the verge of shutting down when owner and Wiltonian Marcelle Soviero purchased the magazine three years ago.
A writer for Brain, Child during its early years, Soviero worked for years on the business side of an e-library before taking ownership.
“I went one day to submit a story, and there was a note that said they were closing,” she said in her Newtown Turnpike home office Monday. “I just had to buy it.”
Today, the magazine is largely produced by a partnership of local editors, Soviero as editor in chief and Randi Olin, of Weston, as managing editor. It’s a literary magazine at heart, relying on strong writers to keep its content fresh.
“The magazine enriches perspective,” Soviero said. “We had one issue with a story about a child who almost overdoses. I’ve never had that experience, but it’s the kind of thing mothers worry about. That kind of story makes you realize, ‘Wow, my kid just stays out late.’”
When she bought the magazine, Soviero knew she could keep the well-read publication in business — as long as she took no shortcuts.
She redesigned the magazine, leaning on The New Yorker for inspiration, and took to social media to spread its readership.
“The most important thing is to put out the best possible product, and eventually it will succeed. It won’t happen if we cheese on the cover paper,” she said. “All of our art is well-done. I don’t want to sell a magazine that doesn’t have good art.”
The mother of five children in what she calls a “blended” home of biological and stepchildren, the owner started buying the magazine so she could escape the how-to-change-a-diaper guides of major child-rearing magazines, and she intends to keep it that way.
“There’s an inspiration and a texture to the magazine,” she said. “People feel a community after they read it. People tell me all the time, ‘It was as if I was in the writer’s head.’ We get a lot of that.”
Brain, Child isn’t similar to many parenting magazines and it avoids common topics in favor of new perspectives. Among the stories recently featured by Brain, Child are ones about the death of a husband, teaching religion to children, and the benefits and challenges of a post-high school “gap year.”
Soviero’s own daughter is, in fact, about to pursue a gap year, and her own magazine proved useful.
“My daughter went through the whole college process and May 1 was the deadline to pick a school, and she suddenly didn’t pick. So I immediately went to that issue, found a lot of resources and said, ‘You’ve got to check these out. If you’re going to do a gap year, it’s going to be structured.’
“My life mirrored that piece so exactly it was crazy,” she said.

Social success


On the social media front, response to the magazine has been astounding. Though the page has grown at breakneck speed — adding almost 100 fans per day for three years — all of the magazine’s Facebook growth has been 100% organic.
“It’s the emotional resonance that brings readers in” and keeps readers coming back, Soviero said. “One of the things that keeps us going is the quality of our writers. We’ve always attracted good talent, and we still do.”
And while other media outlets have struggled to monetize Facebook success, Brain, Child hasn’t had that problem, since 18,000 of its Facebook fans are also subscribers.

Salon


To celebrate its 15th anniversary, Brain, Child is hosting a literary salon at Cobb’s Mill Inn in Weston on Thursday, May 21.
Featuring a number of the magazine’s writers reading from their stories, the event will be an “evening of conversation and community.”
The event is free and open to the public.
Information: brainchildmag.com.