There are some things you experience when you travel that just don’t fit into words. The same can be said about my time with Souvenirs, the organization which I have called home for the past two years. Just like travel, this magazine has changed my life in ways I could have never imagined. It’s hard to write about how much Souvenirs means to me and the impact it has made, but I will give it a try in this very last article of mine.
I first got involved with Souvenirs as a blogger when I studied abroad in 2017. After I returned home, I was buzzing with a wanderlust that could not be satisfied, and I wanted to be involved in something that could keep my antsy dreams alive and inspired.
Before I knew it, I was editor-in-chief.
I dove straight in without having previous editing or leadership experience. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I had a fearless companion, my co-editor Ruth, and together we poured our hearts and souls into Souvenirs to make it the best it could be. Soon it became my life – in the very best way.
And it paid off. Ruth and I enhanced Souvenirs from a humble, student-run journal to a stunning, award-winning multimedia publication, if I do say so myself. We started with zero staff when we began our leadership in 2017 and built a family of 20+ writers, editors and designers by 2019. We established a new brand, directed a layout redesign, doubled the print run, raised $1,200 in advertising revenue and increased social media presence by more than 200 followers. Most recently, Souvenirs won under our leadership an ADDY award for magazine design from the American Advertising Federation Madison chapter.
Looking back, I realize how absolutely perfect this magazine is for me and what a blessing it was to stumble upon it. It combines my two biggest passions of writing and travel. It was this perfect pairing that inspired me to work so hard to achieve what I did. The four stunning publications of which I led the production are my proudest pieces of work, and I know they will be for a very long time. I’ve said over and over that if I could do Souvenirs as a full-time job for the rest of my life, I would do it without a second thought. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever find something so fulfilling again.
As inspiring as the content is that we produced, an even bigger inspiration were my staff. This group of curious, dedicated, fierce and talented women and men make Souvenirs what it is. I loved every minute of working with them. I will never forget the awkward meetings with Ruth before we became close, trying to figure out what the hell we were doing. Taking hours to sift through incredible photos and beautiful stories. Staying much too late in the WUD office designing the first magazine with Kenzie. Throwing our first launch party with just a few attendees and a pretty cake. Reuniting the following semester to discover we missed each other because we had become friends. Spending more time at meetings talking about travel than magazine business. Having absurdly fun movie, game and wine nights. Staying up too late again with Kynala and Lily to perfect our final magazine. Turning a bunch of strangers into family.
If I haven’t inspired readers to travel through Souvenirs’ inspiring content and beautiful publications, the one thing I know I made a difference in was the lives of my staff. By being a leader, I helped bring together a group of people that otherwise probably wouldn’t know each other, creating friendship, joy and love in their lives.
Souvenirs, thank you for everything with which you have blessed me. You have meant more to me than anything else in college – even my grades (which – if you know me – goes to show how important you are). I can’t imagine a better way to have spent the past two years of my life. Like a “souvenir” that one keeps as a reminder of a place or event, I will take my memories of this magazine with me for the rest of my life.