Starting Cinnamon in May of 2019 was an act of desperation, and an act of hope. Tired of feeling pigeonholed as “just” a music journalist, and continually drawn to report on other cultural topics, pitching out was exhausting when I already had plenty of ideas and the experience to execute them. Tired of tepid “pass, best” emails from old guard (male) editors who had already made up their minds about what I was capable of, and noticing friend after friend hack their way into working for themselves, I acted quickly — and honestly, without much of a plan.
Someone told me to take jealousy as a sign of your own desire, a good omen pointing toward what you want: I was jealous of women who ran their own companies. I envied the creative freedom, the process of building community with other entrepreneurs, and the ability to follow their own instincts without asking for permission. So I decided to try. I didn’t have savings or a business plan, but I knew I could write three articles a week to give the magazine structure. And I knew I had an incredible network of friends that wanted to be a part of something bigger, too. Plus, I was consistently pitched by young writers who I thought would be great if they just had a byline or two for confidence, but didn’t know where to go to get a headstart. I wanted to create a place where that could happen, especially for young women.
Thus began the last year and a half of Cinnamon, one of the most joyful, illuminating, painful and exhausting of my life — and that’s not even counting COVID, Trump, or the embarrassing process of reckoning with my own privilege. Sometimes being an entrepreneur doesn’t feel like a privilege, but it is. Even if Cinnamon stopped at the end of 2020 — which, trust me, is a thought that crossed my mind more than once this past spring — taking the risk of turning a seedling idea into a full-fledged publication is an incredible experience.
What I didn’t realize is that starting a company is like taking a microscope to all your own deep-seated fears, toxic patterns, and self-sabotaging tactics. Starting the company meant losing financial security and job stability, putting the company first meant losing some relationships, and keeping it going meant digging deeper into old parts of myself to root out fear and shame that was no longer serving me. Every single late night and bout of self-examination, and low balance alert was worth it — and I wouldn’t change anything that came before, even if I could.
We’re launching a brand new design of the magazine today, along with a slight modification of the URL and the name. Now living at cnmnmag.com (all old content redirects, hang tight for any glitches being smoothed out there) and officially going by CNMN, we also have a fabulous new logo courtesy of Traci Larson, who did the site design via her company Visual Issues. Look out for a profile on her and her work, coming soon. Our name will always be Cinnamon Magazine, but this new label allows us to take ownership of the footprint we’re building online and trademark our name without encroaching on the cooking and spice world — some changes really are just practical.
Cinnamon is going to be changing in other ways, too. The posts will be looser and shorter, less formal profiles and more recommendations or introductions as they come in real time instead of planned out weeks and months ahead. They might publish on a Tuesday or a Friday or even a Sunday, the topics and run dates will be less rigid, as will the number per day, and there will be lengthy profiles and cover stories, coming for subjects worth going in-depth about. At first the structure was necessary, especially for me to organize the magazine’s content, but now it’s holding us back from being more nimble. In the future we’ll also be using headlines, as the short, simple labels never really did some of our best stories justice in the end. We’ll still be using original photos whenever possible but necessarily pivoting on occasion to get posts up quicker; we’ll continue to cover women- and queer-owned brands and creatives, but we’ll also be covering stuff women and queer people like, ownership isn’t always the only indicator of values, on both ends of the spectrum. Oda speakers are a good example of this, Dark Horse Cooking Club is another.
I’ve tried to communicate this many times, but once again, though Cinnamon will always be dominated be feminine and queer voices, it’s not not for men. I think plenty of men will want to read what our contributors have to say or what they want to write about and feature. And happily, we do have a handful of solid contributors now who bring so much to the site. I’m hoping to add more and more heading into 2021 so my work on the brand isn’t as focused on creating editorial content but building out our footprint in other ways.
Events have obviously pivoted and pivoted and pivoted, so figuring out new ways to connect and grow our community is necessary. We’ll be hosting a series of Zoom breakout groups to get your opinions on what Cinnamon should do next and what we should eventually become. I’ll be inviting the friends, collaborators and fans that I know are interested, but if you’re reading this and think I might not know of your interest, please feel free to reach out and let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org. I started the site knowing it would probably morph many times over the course of its existence, and it’s been fun to watch the first phase come to a close as I experimented with what worked and learned to let go of what didn’t. Ushering in this second phase during one of the strangest years of my life feels right. Welcome to 2.0, thanks for being here.
Founder/Editor-in-Chief, CNMN Mag