Starting a magazine in today’s economy is not advised, especially for two recent college graduates, however, Dave Pittman and Cayla Mackey forged ahead anyway, creating Nashville’s trendiest new publication: Native.
In the span of only several months, Native magazine has made a name for itself in the Nashville community, partnering with local businesses, record labels and universities. The growing success of the magazine might come as a surprise to those who follow popular belief that print media is on its way out, however Native’s steadily expanding readership is concrete proof that risks really can pay off.
“When we started Native in 2012, we looked at what everyone else was doing and did the opposite,” said Pittman. “Everything going digital made real, tactile media almost more relevant and interesting to people because it is becoming so rare.”
With a distribution of 10,000, Native reaches an average of 30,000 each month. During its initial months, it took several weeks for distribution locations to run out of issues while today they are gone within a few days.
Native’s unique layout and magazine content are what set it apart from local competitors.
“We have a strong focus on design and high quality photography,” said Pittman. “We employ a very creative nonfiction approach to writing as opposed to journalistic, and encourage our staff to take risks. Ultimately, we want to give our readers the depth of coverage that they deserve.”
The name “Native” was initially derived as a joke due to Nashville’s uprooted culture. In Native’s very first Letter from the Editor, Pittman explains, “Native is a magazine for all locals, not just the true-to-the-dictionary ‘natives.’ As far as we’re concerned, you’re a native if you love this city. We decided to call the magazine Native because Nashville is the kind of city where anyone can become one.”
Native co-founder Cayla Mackey shares Pittman’s affinity for the city and acknowledges the important role college students play in shaping the future of Nashville. “We really want to encourage college students to stay here after graduating. Belmont students are an integral part of our creative community and we need them to make the city a better place to live,” said Mackey.
Native is headquartered in Nashville’s Marathon Village in a studio affectionately dubbed “Moonbase.” The Native staff continues to grow with Nashvillians who believe in the Native mission: “making Nashville awesomer.”
Alex Tapper, Native’s newest addition is no exception.
“When you read Native for the first time, it feels like you’ve been invited to a secret club and your initiation includes instant access to the best of Nashville: craft cocktails, live music, and great eats. The best part of joining the Native family is there are no membership fees.”
Pittman and Mackey have an optimistic outlook for the future of Native, however rather than focusing on immediate expansion, their efforts lie primarily on the improvement of their product.
“At the moment I don’t really see our business model changing at all,” said Pittman. “We want to stay relevant and exciting to people and fortunately we can do that with the content we deliver as well as how it is designed, written and produced. We want to keep making the product better for the sake of our readers and advertisers, as well as this city we are all a part of. As long as we do that I think people will stay interested.”