The Paper Trail

Anyhow, Anyway, Anywhere

"It was naive of us to ask people for money. We were editors, not publishers," admits Hershkovits. "But it's good to be naive sometimes, or else you don't get anything started."

"Sick of it," as Hastreiter says, they decided to publish a monthly without funding just to get something-even if it was small-time-produced, hoping an existing periodical would attract equal-share partners. Inspired by a poster in the subway, Hershkovits devised a plan: Print 16 pages without cutting them, make it fold out like a poster and sell it for 50 cents. Hastreiter, Hershkovits and two friends who were art directors from The New York Times each pitched in $1,000 to print 6,000 copies, and friends who owned SoHo clubs, restaurants and stores bought ads for $250 apiece.

They even had makeshift offices. "We did our first five issues at The New York Times during the weekends," says Hastreiter. "Our partners paid off the photo developers and typesetters. We had the ads delivered to The Times, and proofread at their cafeteria."

But by the sixth issue, Hastreiter and Hershkovits were left as a duo after the art directors decided Paper was too much effort for zero pay. "You're an entrepreneurial person, or it makes you uncomfortable," explains Hastreiter, daughter of an entrepreneur. But she and Hershkovits embraced adversity. Hastreiter supported herself by freelancing for GQ and Vanity Fair and subcontracting her fresh Daily News-magazine-style column to a writer eager to learn the trade. She even held onto past apartments and sublet them. Hershkovits freelanced for magazines and newspapers, and penned an unauthorized biography of Don Johnson.

"We were set on calling people's attention to really interesting things not being covered by the media," says Hershkovits. "We weren't a political magazine, but we were coming at it from that generation trying to save the world in one form or another."

Using The Weekly's former distributor, Paper landed on New York City newsstands. The operation moved to Hastreiter's loft after they severed their connection to The Times. But friends from various magazines came over once a month and stayed up "all night for many nights" to cut and paste (pre-Macintosh) the magazine together. Pooling their connections, they constructed Paper (which has evolved into its current 8-by-10-inch format) using everyone else's tools. "We were completely guerrilla," laughs Hastreiter. "We had Women's Wear Daily's waxes, The New York Times' rulers, the type from CBS and Xeroxes from Cónde Nast."

"Pony Express-style," Hershkovits bicycled around the city, picking up and delivering copy. Hastreiter's dad played taxi on weekends. And Hastreiter's mom? She eventually handled subscriptions for free (although she retired a year ago).

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This article was originally published in the July 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Paper Trail.

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