It's not exactly a magazine--and it's not exactly a mail order catalog, either. Rather, what publishing veteran Amy Crain has created with the bimonthly ROOM is a little bit of both. "A lot of people use the term `magalog,' " offers Crain, 31. "That's pretty descriptive."
Descriptive, yes--and intriguing. Drawing upon her experience as an editor at House & Garden magazine, Crain crafts a home decor showcase in ROOM. Text blends with stylish photography; editorial sensibility merges into shopping functionality. Though everything in the publication is for sale, selling isn't its only service. Observes Crain, "It has the feel of a magazine."
So what gave the New York City entrepreneur the idea to turn this particular page in the first place? "It was the realization that people look to magazines not only for cues as to what's happening in design and what the trends are, but also to literally shop," says Crain. "My thinking was, `Why not combine the two?' "
The 28-page ROOM, which made its debut last fall, tailors its look of "relaxed elegance" to suit urban, affluent baby-boomer subscribers. The $3 price per issue is refundable upon product purchase. If early sales of $500,000 (for the few months of operation last year) are any indication, ROOM is clearly living up to its buzz.
As is its founder. Yet if you think it's glamorous to helm a home decor magalog, better double-check your facts. Sure, you get to see--and preview for others--some beautiful furnishings. Yes, your business takes you to showrooms in exotic locales like Paris. But Crain takes her work too seriously to lose sight of the big picture. "It's exhausting," she says of the appointment-packed time spent abroad. "But I'm not complaining--it's still a chance to travel."
Debra Phillips is a former staff writer for Business Start-Ups.