I Create Birmingham: Laura Bento

“The more time I spent in Birmingham I realized that there was something special going on here. I decided to start a business here…”

Name: Laura Bento
Occupation: Publisher of Good Grit Magazine
Creative Industry: Media & Film

1. You recently began publishing Good Grit Magazine; what was your inspiration behind the magazine?
My inspiration wasn’t an admiration for magazines or the magazine world. It was based more off of a need. Every business that I’ve started is based off a need and very soon after you identify your why. When I looked at southern culture as a whole what I realize is there really wasn’t a publication that was niche enough to really identify with who we are as southerners. We’ve spent so much time looking to California or New York for cues on fashion and what not. What’s happening now is people are looking to South for cues. I think that’s where Good Grit comes in. We needed a classy, but edgy publication so that we can tell our story.

2. What sets Good Grit apart from other Southern-focused magazines?
Well one of the things we’ve done is to not allow sponsored content in the magazine. Some people have called it a dumb move. A lot of publications survive off of sponsored content, but it’s not something we wanted to do. We decided the integrity of our book was going to be based on the strength of our editorial content. We want to be a story-telling book not a reporting style book. I think that as people delve in, people will see who we are coming to life.

Birmingham is a Mecca of incredibly talented creatives. We want to find the talent that hasn’t been discovered.

3. You have a very exciting and aggressive distribution plan that will have you in a lot of markets quickly. Can you tell us about it?
The distribution for our second issue has quickly expanded from just book stores to grocery stores around the region including 106 Whole Foods stores. Getting on shelves in Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million is very easy; anyone can do it. It’s not as easy to get a magazine into Whole Foods because they don’t have a designated magazine section. The great thing about getting the magazine in Whole Foods is that they solicited us.

4. Being new to publishing, tell us one thing you’ve learned throughout the process of launching a magazine.
I have learned more in the past year than I have learned in my entire life. People will tell you you’re crazy and what you’re doing won’t work. You just can’t give up. There’s always going to be really hard days and you’re going to want to quit. Those are the days when you’ll have a break through. Stay focused on your dream.

5. You aren’t originally from Birmingham; what brought you to the Magic City?
Before I decided that I wanted to publish a magazine, I was working for a company based out of St. Louis. There was a franchise that I worked with out of Birmingham and they were struggling. I had to come to Birmingham to check on this franchise. The more time I spent in Birmingham I realized that there was something special going on here. I decided to start a business here and for the first time in ten years, let my son get in the car with me and not go “shhh I’m on a conference call.”