On a campus where flip-flops and pajama bottoms suffice for a fashion statement, a magazine devoted to high style might stick out like Prada at a political rally.
But Doreen Bloch, BS 10, editor, publisher and founder of Bare magazine, has proven that fashion consciousness does coexist with Berkeley's famous political consciousness.
"There's always been an underground fashion culture at Cal – even though it's sort of made fun of," says Bloch, who sought out Haas Lecturer Stephen Etter, BS 83, MBA 89, with her idea during her freshman year. "It's been cool for us to show off that eclectic Berkeley style, and we espouse the values that Berkeley is known for."
Bare – a word play on Cal's mascot – is a standout among the 20-or-so campus publications. Its fourth issue — the first to be printed on Hewlett-Packard's new Web-based MagCloud self-publishing service – was featured in the New York Times in March (nytimes.com/2009/03/30/technology/internet/30mag.html). Bloch oversees an army of about 100 students to produce it.
The full-color quarterly's slick photo spreads showcase a diverse array of student models posed in thrift-shop finds and local designers' creations. Features explore eco-friendly clothing, global fashion, and budget beauty tips. The Bare blog (blog.baremagazine.org/) attracted 11,000 unique readers last month, magazine readership has reached 3,000, and the May issue will double in size.
Yet Bloch had some trepidation when she pitched Etter about a fashion glossy targeting students. "I thought a business professor might laugh, but he loved how niche it was, and how it would target students as well as local businesses like salons and clothing stores."
She credits Etter and Senior Lecturer David Robinson in the Haas Marketing Group with boosting her business savvy. Bare broke even by the third issue, and made a slight profit by the fourth. The magazine receives some funding from the ASUC and operates on a $15,000 annual budget, Bloch says.
Bloch's discovery of MagCloud, then in beta, helped. The traditional printer she used for the first three issues charged $60 per page for changes to proofs. With MagCloud, users upload PDFs and receive as many free proofs as necessary. Printing is farmed out to HP's partners at a cost of 20 cents per page.
Despite Bare's success, Bloch doesn't see herself as the next Tina Brown. She's already passed along her editor duties, and is recruiting more business students to ensure Bare stays solid. She'll continue as publisher while training a successor. "I have so many interests, and Haas has given me so many skills to run my own business," she says. "I really see myself as an entrepreneur."
To reach Bloch about partnerships or potential collaborations, e-mail email@example.com.