Publishing Green Chic with Coco Eco Magazine’s Anna Griffin

November 19, 2014

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good, and we’re so honored to have with us today my friend, Anna Griffin. She’s the Publisher, Editor-in-Chief and founder of Coco Eco Magazine. Welcome to Green is Good, Anna. ANNA GRIFFIN: Hello, John. How are you? JOHN SHEGERIAN: I am wonderful today, and I’m so thankful you came on the show. You’re so busy producing another great magazine. Before we get talking about your wonderful and beautiful magazine, Coco Eco Magazine, I want you to share a little bit with our listeners first about your wonderful and interesting life and journey leading up to the founding of Coco Eco Magazine. ANNA GRIFFIN: That’s very generous of you. Wonderful and exciting. It’s interesting. You never know in life where your journey will lead you. My background was modeling. I was getting into TV hosting and having a terrific time. I got to travel all over the world. I’m from England, originally. Being a model took me from Europe to America out to Asia and back to the States. About seven years ago, I saw this notion that global warming was becoming very consistent, alarmingly consistent. Because of seeing so much of the world, I really have been blessed to have seen beautiful places, really stunning. The thought that we would be destroying that without even knowing about it was unfathomable to me, absolutely. The thought that polar bears were going around in the Arctic but we might actually be killing them without even knowing, I couldn’t get my head around it. The thought that in several years you couldn’t find a polar bear in a zoo was remarkable. It’s a bear, one of the most common species in the world. I started this process of staying up late at night and researching what was happening with global warming, and after about a year of doing that, I asked how does a girl like me live? I was already recycling and I was doing some work with dog rescue. So, I said I’m already into that slightly more mindful state. I started to learn about all these products and companies, beauty and fashion, that were starting to dip their toe into more eco aware products. After about a year of doing that, I realized it’s a great amount of information I’ve got, but it doesn’t help the planet or other women if it’s on my laptop or in my head. I better do something about this. I’ve never launched a magazine before ever. I’ve always been in front of the camera. I didn’t want to just do a website. A few websites had sprung up that were great, but he positioning of Eco was still very grassroots and granola and crunchy. I had this feeling that if we’re going to capture women’s imaginations, we’ve got to do this on a scale that’s more in line with an aspirational glossy magazine. Women are feeling, sentient beings, I’ve got to capture their heart and excite them with the possibility of living this new lifestyle. That was sort of the beginning of Coco Eco. I didn’t want to print at that time. I thought that was a new trend in eco products, so it started as a digital magazine. Everyone looked sideways at me. We launched on October 22, 2008, and the first issue was online. Everyone thought it was wonderful and it was a more exciting way of looking at living sustainably, whether it’s travel or fashion or beauty or the cars we drive. That first issue, I remember, had the Smart Car in it, it had an eco chic trip to Bali, Indonesia. It was very, very glossy. The general consensus out in the world was that’s great and eco-fabulous. All of a sudden, we had the prime mortgage crisis, and advertising changed to the internet, Steve Jobs, may he rest in peace, launched the iPad. This was in the following year, 2009, and all of a sudden the pieces started to fall into place, and digital publishing was very much the way to go. It turns out once you save the planet and my passion, it’s the biggest genius I never knew I had. It’s really amazing how passions can drive you, push you to make the world a better place. It’s really incredible how the chips fall. That was that. We carried on digital publishing, and we were so glad to work with some tremendous people. We’ve had some great cover stars, we’ve had some great people inside. There’s one with Richard Branson and what he’s up to with the airplanes and Necker Island conservation. They’re greening it now. People like Sting, who came out the last few years for the rainforest. Leonardo DiCaprio, we’ve featured all of them. Where do we go from here? We’ve got a great product. What are we going to do with it? I was approached to go into print. Print, at the beginning, wasn’t an option for me. But I was really suggested that I needed to do this. So, we took it into print this year. We launched in June in LA, with Andie MacDowell on our cover, and there has been a fantastic response to it. There is a place for it, and there is a desire for the content. The general public now has shifted to get in line with something that I, and I know you, have been working on for years. Now people are more aligned with it. We are in preparation now for our second print issue. I can’t talk too much about that now, but that’s in development. That will be in October, and then next year we have a four-issue schedule. Hearing someone think the world of my place inspires and excites me every day. I’m an entrepreneur. It’s a tough climate out there. It’s really hard. You’ve got to have so much faith. I’m working really hard to build a really good product that can survive out in the general public, but if you build up a product and are fortunate enough as I am to have attracted phenomenal people such as yourself that really make my work day such a better day, it’s incredible what you can achieve. It really, really is. It’s so worth it, particularly if you an entrepreneur who’s out there. Once you feel caught for the world and its people, it’s a really great opportunity to jump in and get involved and be a part of this great shift that’s occurring and really have your work count for something. After 16- to 18-hour days, which I do 16-hour days, I’m exhausted. But I’m so happy and I’m so grateful and so excited for the moment my alarm goes off the next morning to begin again. That’s me. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For our listeners out there, your magazine now is both online and offline. To look at it online, which I am right now, which is a beautiful website, it’s www.cocoecomag.com. And it’s also available offline. As you said, the last issue had the beautiful Andie MacDowell on the cover, and it was just the most gorgeous issue, chockfull of great information, and as is your website. For our listeners out there, both the website and the offline magazine are just wonderful to pick up in your travels and to enjoy. For our listeners out there that just joined us, we’ve got Anna Griffin, she’s the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Coco Eco Magazine, with us today. She’s also my good friend. Anna, for our listeners, share a little bit about the definition of sustainability, how you’re mixing both eco and stylish simultaneously with regards to sustainability. ANNA GRIFFIN: That’s a great question, John. Thank you. For your listeners, just to make it really simple for them, Coco Eco, I wanted to find something that was obvious in terms of our eco-commitment in our content, but also spoke to our love of fashion and beauty and glamor. Coco Chanel is one of the most legendary fashion designers of all time, one of my favorites. I think all girls love Chanel. Chanel herself, she had an incredible journey to get to where she was. She really, in her time, stood up against the status quo and forced her way through to be who she became. I wanted something catchy that also spoke to our love of fashion and beauty and that really signaled what sustainability is now, and it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun, and there are no compromises. Environmental activism has been a real grassroots movement that’s really been some of the people that have trickled out into the mainstream. I think the general public had an association of hugging trees and wearing hemp and smelling like patchouli. It’s just not that way anymore. There’s so much accessible. When I thought about starting the magazine, I noticed that there was a lot of messaging out there towards eco that was really bludgeoning. It was either fear-based or it was very lecturing in its tone. No one wants to be preached at. No one wants to be made to do something, and no one wants to be frightened into anything. I think women have very, very tough lives nowadays. They’ve got to worry about food on the table for their children, keeping a roof over their head, some women work two jobs. Life is not fun for everybody right now. So, I wanted to portray this in a way that was accurate and factual and in integrity, but could really excite women with the possibilities now living in this space, and that there are no compromises. I always say that living eco, you can have your cake and eat it too. It’s everything from travel to airplanes. I launched my first issue, and everyone was talking about airplanes. People were shaking their head, like airplanes? Most people have to get around. We’re not going to all of a sudden stop and go live in tipis. We have to incorporate it into our lives, being more sustainable and more aware. That was it, to give women choices, so they wouldn’t have to go and research all the information that I already knew. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Anna, speaking of choices, we have about five-and-a-half minutes left. Can you share some of your favorite eco-minded brands with regards to fashion, beauty, and lifestyle? Give our listeners a little tease of all the visibility that you have because of your hard work and you get to see a lot of these great sustainable and non-sustainable products. What are some of your favorite and great ones out there that women should be using in terms of not only making the world a better place, but also safer for them in terms of using products that have less chemicals that they should be avoiding and things of that such? Some of your favorite eco-minded brands. ANNA GRIFFIN: OK. It’s very easy. As far as beauty is concerned, I think we should all check labels. If there’s something that you can’t read on the back of it, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t put it on your body. Your skin is your largest living organ. It’s not a barrier, so anything you put on it goes directly into your bloodstream. The products we’re using, that we’re eating, foods with GMO, it goes on and on. You should stay away from anything that’s got sulfates and parabens. There are lots of great lines out there, everything from Burt’s Bees, which you can find in CVS, which is a great product for moms and for their children. I love Timberland, the clothing company. Everyone associates them with the great outdoors. Levi’s now has great jeans. Under Armour, Nike, even the big guys like Gucci. In terms of lifestyle, if you’re looking at cars, you should go with Mercedes has a B-class now which came out two weeks ago and it’s all electric. You obviously have BMW doing things, Cadillac, Ford. There’s something for everybody. With airlines, Virgin, and actually Lufthansa and Air France. There are major brands out there for everybody. Everybody is now doing something. It’s really, really exciting. Women really want to be careful of certain things. Change your deodorant. Get away from the commercial products that have aluminum in them. Aluminum has the ability to stay in your breast tissue, which is next to your armpit, so go with a more natural product, Tom’s of Maine. Great. I love Tom’s of Maine. Great toothpaste. You want to keep fluoride out of your mouth. Again, when you’re looking at things like fashion, for example, from Timberland I have a pair of boots that I just love. They’re great whether I’m in New York running around, in L.A. between meetings, I could also go out into the snow. They’re dyed without using formaldehyde. I think that’s the thing. I think women should know that there are lots of products, like lead going into lipstick, formaldehyde going into leather tanning, aluminum in deodorant. Mainstream commercial products are using these ingredients and they’re going into your bloodstream. No one wants lead or formaldehyde in their system. So, it’s really looking at it like that. Looking at going vegan is always a great way to go. Really stay away from the nasty chemicals. We need to take control of our personal health, and if it’s bad for the planet, it’s bad for you too. It’s really that simple. If it’s polluting our waterways and our land, then if you’re putting it in your body, you can be sure it’s going in your bloodstream. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Anna, we’re down to the last minute. Shameless plug. Where are people going to see Coco Eco in the years to come? ANNA GRIFFIN: If I have my way, they’ll be seeing it at Barnes & Noble and Whole Foods. Also, we’ll be going into hotels across the country, newsstands. Go to cocoecomag.com. There’s a new issue coming out October 15. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Thank you, Anna. We’re going to have you back. For our listeners out there, go to www.cocoecomag.com or to a great bookstore or store near you to find Anna’s great magazine on the shelves right now. Thank you, Anna, for being an inspiring ecopreneur and sustainability superstar. You are truly living proof that green is good.