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Diversity Magazine Quietly Hits Stands

Soul of Virginia bills itself as a lifestyle magazine covering an array of subjects from sports to arts to politics. “Any subject is fair game,” Ruffin says of the content and how he hopes it will sell. “It’s like the Atlantic Monthly, New Yorker, Look, Life, and New York Times Magazine all rolled into one,” he says, stressing that it’s neither “gossip rag” nor “black enterprise” publication.

Startup money for the magazine comes from a $20,000 state cooperative marketing grant Ruffin applied for and received through his nonprofit. Ruffin has raised $20,000 in matching money from individuals and regional businesses. It’s a drop in the bucket of what it costs to operate and maintain a four-color, 40-page magazine, he says. It’s why he’s aggressively pursuing advertisers.

Lorna Wyckoff, former publisher of the now-defunct 64 magazine and founder of Style Weekly, consulted with Ruffin about the concept for the magazine and edited its first issue. “You need to have someone get you in the stadium,” he says of Wyckoff’s expertise, “then you can find the seat yourself.” Ruffin recently hired Kendra Lee, a Dale City native, as editor.

Soul of Virginia is printed in Roanoke. It has a distribution of 25,000, which Ruffin hopes to double in the next few months.

“You can’t get it on the street,” Ruffin says. For now, the magazine can be found in visitors centers and welcome centers throughout the state and in advertisers’ businesses. Ruffin expects Soul of Virginia to fill a niche in what he considers a predominately white media market, with a kind of upscale magazine for people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. — Brandon Walters

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