Two weeks ago, out of the blue, I was contacted by Stampington to see if I would be interested in reviewing their latest offering. Bella Grace. Would I?! I had been hearing about this publication all over the Internet and was dying to get my hands on a copy. Of course I said YES! Bella Grace's tagline is "Life is a Beautiful Adventure". Since I was just heading off on my own beautiful adventure when my copy arrived, it seemed a fitting travelling companion so I tucked in in my suitcase.
The first noteworthy thing to tell you about this publication is that it's not just another magazine. It's presented as a soft covered book. The cover has fold over both front and back, which, if you're like me and never seem to have a bookmark handy, means you can use it to help mark your place in a pinch. The pages are nice and thick and it has that wonderful new book smell. (Though I seriously doubt Stampington is marketing it based on how it smells, but these are the kinds of things I notice.)
The content of Bella Grace is really lovely. When I was reading through it this past weekend, I was struck by how much it felt like the kind of important life conversations you would have with your best girlfriends over coffee. It's about women (and surprise, a few men!) telling their stories in the most authentic way possible, giving you a glimpse into their artful lives and how they've evolved. As I was reading, I had many moments of feeling a kinship with the writers. When you share your truth, it's relatable and I think the honesty of what's been shared in issue one speaks for itself. My favourite piece was called "Notes On How To Be A Dark Horse" by Jillian Lukiwski. I loved it because she talks about dog ski racing. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love snow and ice adventure. I am now following both her blog & instagram.
Another huge appeal of Bella Grace is of course, the photography. The images they've used are dreamy and ethereal and really quite magical. They've done an excellent job in matching images to content seamlessly. The photos are large enough so you can really soak in every little delicious detail. You can get a sneak peek of what's inside the premier issue here.
One thing I really liked about how Bella Grace is put together is that there is a wide variety of fonts and font colours used. It makes reading the content that much more interesting. While I really do like this feature, my only constructive criticism of it is that there were places where they used a very fine grey or light blue handwriting font superimposed on a photograph of a similar colour and/or used a very tiny font size. As someone with visual issues, I found had to skip over bits and pieces of the content because it was difficult to see. I think these are things they could easily fix this in the next issue to make it more reader friendly. Other than that, I really enjoyed the eclectic look of the text.
What sets this publication apart from other magazines is that it's also meant to function as a journal of sorts. Bella Grace invites the reader to become a part of the experience by way of prompts within the articles. Each prompt has space for the reader to write whatever comes to mind. It's a unique and personal way to create an interactive experience and one that guarantees that you'll never want to part with your copy.
On the whole, I think Stampington has created a winner. It looks like they plan to publish Bella Grace twice a year, in winter and in summer. I think the quality of the content, paired with a fresh take on how it's presented makes Bella Grace the kind of publication I would happily spend $20.99 CDN on twice a year. ($19.99 US)
Now the really good news, if you've read this far: Stampington has provided me with a copy of Bella Grace to give away to one lucky reader. Awesome right?!? If you'd like to be entered into the draw, just leave me a comment telling me what you've read recently for creative inspiration. One entry per person! I will randomly draw a winner on Friday, September 19th in the morning. Please be sure there's an email attached to your comment so I can notify you if you've won!