In-spireLS is an award-winning lifestyle magazine dedicated to promoting positivity in all its forms.
Named Magazine of the Year at the Black Entertainment, Film, Fashion and Television awards (BEFFTAs) in 2011 and a recipient of a Future 100 social enterprise award, In-spireLS was co-founded by Sasha Shantel in 2010.
Originally launched as a free online magazine, the publication will be available in print and as a digital download from November this year.
Based in South London, In-spireLS comprises of a team of 22 writers and contributors in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Why did you decide to start your company?
In-spireLS started in September 2010 as my mother’s idea. I was raised on self-development books and I have a combined passion for life coaching and magazines. The idea was developed in our living room on one computer. Fast forward two years, the magazine is now created on more than one computer, but the vision is still the same.
On average my mother and I buy around 7-10 magazines between us a week. However, over time we realised that the content of each magazine was just duplicated over and over again in different magazines. So many of the magazines we read were fuelled by gossip and celebrities not wearing make-up.
We each craved a magazine that would focus on the good side of people, where their achievements would be the focal point. It started off as a hobby, but became so much more than that in such a short amount of time.
What was your career path prior to starting In-spireLS?
In-spireLS Magazine is just one of my ventures. I am also currently in the planning stages of Shop In-spire, which will sell inspirational merchandise in the form of t-shirts, jewellery and much more.
I have a background in both the employment sector and as a qualified mentor and I’m an employment development worker for the charity First Step Trust, supporting disadvantaged people.
Did you always know you would start your own business?
Yes and no. I’ve always wanted to create something that was mine and grow it from the bottom up. However, I always believed this would take place later in life.
We went at this on a whim, with no expectations. It’s not your typical way of starting a major venture, but as we’ve moved along we’ve learned every step of the way. Now I’m on this path nothing and no-one can or could make me venture off it.
Can you describe your business model?
Our business model is simple. To be the only magazine dedicated to promoting positivity. Shop In-spire is also a major part of the venture, it will sell inspirational merchandise and a percentage will be donated to a charitable organisation of our choice. This is a prime example of making revenue while possessing a high level of social value which is paramount to us as a brand.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on the main print and digital edition which will be out November 1. The promotional issue is out October 1. I’m also working on the planning stages of the shop and the re-launching on In-spireLSTV.
What have been the highlights of running your own business?
The satisfaction of knowing such a unique brand was co-founded by me. Recognising that if it works well, In-spireLS can and will be a major magazine. Working with a dedicated team who respect my vision and do whatever they can to contribute to it. Seeing the growth in only two years and working with my family have all been major highlights.
What is the hardest part of running your own business?
The fact that I fund it myself, I work many hours and pay for everything. That is not easy, but when you are driven by passion, nothing else matters.
It is also hard to work to deadlines when I’m here, there and everywhere. But, I have excellent people around me who are as passionate about In-spireLS as I am. They work non-stop to move it forward and we won’t stop until it is at the place where we have always known it had the potential to be.
Did you have a business mentor?
No, I have read many books, listened to seminars and continue to learn from leading business figures but I’m the first to admit that I don’t know everything.
I would love to get a mentor. That would be a great opportunity. Oprah Winfrey would make the best business mentor, her achievements are the main reason for this. I can dream!
What has been your proudest business moment so far?
Winning three awards in two years has been the best moment so far. When you create something, of course you are passionate about it and you only hope that others will see what you are trying to achieve. The recognition gained for In-spireLS so far has been phenomenal.
I receive several messages of support and emails from people who’ve read the magazine and have been inspired by the content. Nothing feels better than that.
What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
Life inspires me. Just being alive means that you have yet another day to turn your dreams to your reality.
My mother inspires me, for her continual strength in the face of continual adversity. My friends, PR/Creative Director and Team In-spireLS inspire me.
I inspire myself also. I haven’t done too bad for a girl raised in a single parent household in Peckham. I haven’t reached my destination yet. I’m more confident than ever that I will reach it though – that I can be sure of.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting an online magazine?
Plan! I jumped head first into this project and now in effect, I’m working backwards, learning as I go along.
Take your time, research the market, find your niche and seek advice from those who have done similar before you.
What does the future hold for In-spireLS?
The possibilities are endless. The digital and print editions are the focus, widening our distribution and taking the brand international.
I aim to travel quite a lot next year with the view of expanding the In-spireLS brand. There is no much more, but I’m one of those individuals who like to make it happen first, then I can tell all the gossip mongers and the ones that watch in silence “I told you so.”
Proving people wrong has always been a major driving force behind all my successes in life and the growth and development of In-spireLS is no different. I have major plans. Watch this space.
Sasha, is there anything else you’d like to share?
Our slogan is Be in-spired, dare to dream. This is something I live by and I encourage others to live by also. The (in)- spire means in-spirit. Everything we do is driven by faith and this is evident in all we do.
I’d also like to ask readers to subscribe to our Shop In-spire website – www.shopin-spire.com for updates on when the shop goes live.
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Sasha Shantel was interviewed by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club.
Octavia Goredema was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2012 for her work at the Twenty Ten Club, supporting Black female entrepreneurs.
Do you have a question for Sasha? If so, please feel free to post a comment below: