February 17, 2013

A few weeks ago a copy PROUD Magazine ended up in our office, it caught all our attention, and after reading the articles we just had to track down whoever’s responsible for this mag. We got our UO German man Vincent on the next plane to Berlin to hunt down Emin, co-founder of PROUD Magazine. We wanted to know about the foundation of the Mag and his view on Berlin. Here’s what happened…


Hi Emin, what is PROUD Magazine?
Okay to keep it simple, we created this mag to give people stories of Berlin that everyone can relate to. We have lived so many great moments and this is our way to give something back to the city. It’s mostly about personal stories, the typical tales you tell your friends when you hang out in the kitchen. Almost everyone has their own Berlin story even in London or Hong Kong. We wanted to publish these stories, combined with events and parties, and put all the content in a glossy magazine.


What needs to happen before someone says: “I’m going to create my own Magazine”. What was the key cause?
I think the most important thing is familiarizing with the stuff first. Richard (co-founder) and I were on a year abroad in Hong Kong and worked for a publisher. We did pretty much everything there: Graphics, Marketing, Events. Once we were back in Berlin, we realized that there is no such thing as a glossy magazine from the people of Berlin for Berlin.

You need to work hard and bring a lot of perseverance to raise money by offering ad space. It’s simple really; if you don’t sell enough ads you can’t go to print. We just jumped in at the deep end and I must admit we got a little lucky as well. We met the right people, the right friends and the right partners in marketing and advertising.


Did you ever find yourself in a situation where the project was in danger?
You need to know that one issue costs around 15.000 Euros .All costs combined like print, distribution and then you want to give something to your staff too. There was one time where we just barely managed to have the issue printed. So there we were with an issue ready to be sent out but we had no money left for distribution, not even enough to pay the rent, and on top of that we had 8 pallets with magazines in our basement. For the record, that’s 20.000 issues.

This is the point where you go: Fuck it, I don’t need this. However, we sold two of our iMacs to pay for distribution. From then we just continued, motivation returned. That was definitely very close to a financial dead end. The funny part is that it didn’t even happen in the beginnings, but for our 15th issue.


This is a topic everyone is talking about at the moment and I’d like to know about your point of view, having a Berlin-based Magazine: Everyone seems to be mad at everyone, it’s original Berliners VS. people who move to Berlin, and then everybody seems to hate people from Swabia. What’s up with that?
I was born and raised in Berlin and except for my year abroad I never really left Berlin, so you definitely feel the change if you move in the same area. Sure people are complaining. Be it drunk Brits, loud Spaniards and everything that’s happening to Warschauer Strasse / Revaler Strasse. Personally, I think “Where are you from?” is one of the best conversation starters. In other countries people say that before they ask for your name. Generally speaking I think it’s up to us to change things.

I for one don’t feel crowded out or offended. But that’s maybe because I have my own projects: own magazine, own company, own events. Actually it’s the opposite: We had lots of people from France and Italy working for Proud in the last 50 months. It’s especially those guys who just arrived in Berlin and are really enthusiastic to work with a magazine. Basically Proud wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for them. And that’s also one of those stories to tell: An Italian Guy who comes to Berlin and wants to become a DJ and who is working part-time as a photographer. Seeing things from this perspective I think the trend is rather positive.

What I do understand is when people complain about higher rents and kicking people out of the Kiez. If you ask me, I’m pretty sure that within the next 20 years most of the locals and their shops will move to the outskirts. But this might have a positive effect: new clubs, new lifestyle. Marzahn, the new Kreuzberg? People in other cities don’t mind if it takes them an hour to go to a party. That’s normal. Even if this happens in Berlin, that doesn’t make the party any worse or means that you’ll have less fun.


Your last event was called “Gangz of Neukölln” – how did it go? What is it like to plan an event like this?
It was a success. The main reason we do events is so we can all work together, everybody is involved in the process, everyone’s sharing ideas. There’s not many things you can actually do in a group, it’s the typical “everyone’s sitting at their desk” scenario. We’re always excited if we plan an event.

We’ve heard that you are doing 4 big parties per year and the great Oliver Koletzki was playing a DJ-Set as well.
Oh, we don’t set a limit to ourselves. If we get the chance to throw a party we’ll do it. All we need is a top-notch idea to make it a special event, that’s what makes our events special so it stays dynamic. There’s nothing worse than a party where you can feel the routine. We also worked with clients like Carlsberg and created the event “Support your Local DJ” which will be up for the 10th time soon. It’s not that we stay in Berlin all the time; the event takes place in Cologne and Hamburg, too. But yeah, regarding Koletzki, it’s a great thing when DJs contact us directly and want to play at our events.

What are your top three tips for people who’d like to start their own thing, be it a magazine or an event series or whatever?
The most important is to understand from the beginning that if you have an idea, you have to follow that idea for several years. It’s not enough to have an idea and then follow the idea more half-assed than with real effort. You have to stay on it…

…And how do you do that? Or: it that the moment you realize your idea wasn’t good enough if you don’t chase it all the way? Or does that have to do with oneself?
I guess sometimes it has something to do with the person. I struggle as well to implement some ideas. But most of the times the idea is just not good enough. But to be honest, it really takes some time for a good idea to emerge. Friends are a great help. Being able to work with my friends has helped a lot. If you’re by yourself it’s easy to get desperate, so I’d say, tip 2, your Team. A team can be formed by two people but in my opinion you cannot do it completely by yourself. And you need to be willing to run a risk once in a while.


These Proud people made us a Spotify playlist too…

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