What do you get when you take magazines like Vogue or Cosmopolitan and transform them into something for equestrians?
You get Heels Down Magazine, a young adult rider’s “monthly guide to the latest equestrian fashion trends, riding how-tos, and celebrity styles.” Everything from style tips to riding exercises to informative articles is packed inside a convenient digital package, ready to be downloaded onto your nearest device of choice, and all for under $4! With a plethora of equestrians working together to produce the issues’ content and design, Heels Down is created by riders, for riders.
As a member of the Heels Down Style Team, I am beyond excited to feature the magazine on my blog, and I managed to snag some of creator, publisher, and editor-in-chief Patricia Da Silva’s precious time to ask her a few questions about Heels Down.
Where did the idea for Heels Down Magazine come from?
I don’t remember the last time I bought anything in print since having an iPad. I get all my books, magazines and even my daily newspaper downloaded directly on the tablet and voilà. I can access everything everywhere. Equestrians are always on the go and you’d be hard pressed to find a rider that doesn’t travel with a smartphone or tablet, so a digital magazine for mobile devices made a lot of sense to me.
With regards to the content, I felt there wasn’t anything out there specifically for young adults. In my media work, I love interviewing up & coming riders… so I connected all those dots and made it happen. The challenge was financing it. This magazine is very expensive to produce and when people think digital, they often think “free”. Heels Down Magazine relies on sales ($3.99/monthly subscription or $4.99 per issue) but I felt if we offered something unique, and good obviously, riders would support it. So far so good! The response has been fabulous – 5 star reviews on iTunes, one even called us the “Equestrian version of Vogue”. Now we just need to get it better known.
Did you have a background in horses before creating the magazine?
People might not know this but I rode when I was younger until the age of 14 or so. I loved being around horses and taking care of them (tacking up, brushing them) but the falling off from the horse part…not so much.
A few years after university, I started working at ECOGOLD, my family’s business, and found my way into the equestrian industry. Then in 2011, I launched Horse Junkies United as a passion project to give amateur riders their own media. The spotlight is on top professionals but that’s not the reality of 99.9% of riders. Horse Junkies United took off beyond all my expectations, thanks to the fearless bloggers who share their personal stories very honestly, warts & all. Then earlier this year, we won Equine Canada’s prestigious Media Award. It was an incredible honour after only 3 years in the media world, and gave me the confidence boost I needed to start Heels Down.
What is so special about your magazine compared to other equine publications?
There’s nothing like it (if there is, I haven’t seen it).
#1. It’s an App.
Other equine publications are either print-based (a magazine you get delivered at home) or web-based (news websites, blogs). Heels Down Magazine is an App that you download – right now on iTunes App Store and in the next few weeks in Google Play – and then you subscribe to get the issues or get them individually.
#2. It’s Interactive.
Heels Down Magazine is not only 100% digital but it’s very high tech with touch-screen interactive features. It almost feels like a game with pop ups, animation, panoramic images, things that slide along the page, pinch & zoom. You can click to shop the different products, web pages open without going outside of the magazine… it’s really cool. Also once you have downloaded the issue, you don’t need internet access to read it (except external links, obviously).
#3. It’s FUN.
Equestrian magazines tend to be very serious. Heels Down Magazine is fun and cheeky, with a strong fashion content. It’s the kind of magazine you read to relax at the end of a stressful day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not “fluff”; there’s a lot of meat: informative articles, videos from the USEF Network, riding tips… but everything is delivered in an engaging way.
#4. It creates opportunities for young riders.
It’s hard to get a foot in the door when you don’t have a lot of experience. Since Heels Down Magazine is about young riders, we can take chances on unproven talent and give them an opportunity to shine: writing, graphic design, photography, even modelling. We have a Style Team, comprised of 20 young riders from around the world, who have the finger on the pulse and provide the fashion suggestions you see in the magazine. We offer a lot of opportunities to get involved.
What are your goals for Heels Down Magazine in the future? What is next?
We just published our 7th issue, yay! The immediate goal is making it available to Android devices – we’re almost there. After that, the #1 goal is to make each issue better than the last one.
Do you need any more convincing? In addition to the magazine itself, the Heels Down Magazine Website is full of blogs from the style team and other contributors on fashion, music, food, and much more!
I am always checking for when the next issue comes out and when it does I can get it instantly, no matter where I am, because it is right on my phone!
P.S. Keep an eye out. You may see a little bit of Ax and I in there!