Letter from Publisher, January 2019

Many of the readers of Natural Awakenings are aware that we are part of a national franchise of healthy lifestyle, green living publications known as Natural Awakenings Publishing Corporation (NAPC). As you can see from our cover and the article on page 25, we are celebrating, in this new year of 2019, NAPC’s 25th year of publishing.

Our own Natural Awakenings franchise is in its 10th year of publishing. I have been the owner and publisher for five years, having taken the reins of the magazine in January of 2014. As I reflect on how being part of this unique and talented NAPC family has impacted my life, I am reminded of how serendipitously the journey began.

In 2013, I was searching for a business that would ignite my passion and creativity. I had recently moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Anderson, South Carolina—a big step that would lead me to new beginnings both personally and professionally. I investigated different businesses, mostly franchises. I felt that a franchise would lend the support and direction that a new business owner, such as myself, would need.

I happened to be in downtown Greenville one autumn day in 2013 and spied a rack of Natural Awakenings magazines. Since I had read and enjoyed the magazine for years while living in Charlotte, I was delighted to find it available in the Upstate. As I thumbed through that issue, I came across an ad that listed NAPC franchises for sale. This was the first of many “aha” moments that I would experience over the next five years as an NA publisher.

I called the franchise number listed in the magazine and spoke to a very helpful gentleman by the name of John Voell. At the time, John was the Vice President of Business Development. I was thrilled to discover that I seemed to have just the right combination of skills to qualify as an NA publisher. I had many years of sales and marketing experience, and I had writing skills from my years in business development and in working for a newspaper.

My next step was talking to other publishers who gave glowing testimony to the integrity and insight of Sharon Bruckman, the CEO and founder of NAPC. As you will see in the article on page 25, Silver Thread and Golden Opportunities, to this day, Sharon continues to publish her own magazine.

I was excited, but determined to do my “due diligence” in scoping out the details of what it would be like to be a publisher of a monthly magazine. Over the next two months I did exactly that. I investigated and reflected and asked John lots of questions through emails and over the phone.

By December of 2013 I was still on the fence. This was a big step. How could I be sure it was the right choice? What if I was making a mistake? That evening I fired off several questions to John via email. He answered my questions in his customary thorough and patient manner. Then he added this line:

“Roberta, sometimes you just have to trust…”

The next morning I received a call from NAPC. In a shocked and sad tone of voice I was informed that John Voell had died in his sleep of a heart attack. That email was the last communication I received from him.

That was enough. I believed then, and still do, that his last words to me were a signpost that would set me on a path that would change my life in ways that I could never imagine and have yet to fully comprehend. And the journey continues…

Wishing each of you a healthy, happy and wondrous New Year!