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Natural Awakenings Indianapolis

An Interview with Nancy Caniff: Nancy Says Her Goodbye to Indy

photo by Yelena Yohontova

In her graceful exit from the publishing business, former Indianapolis Natural Awakenings Publisher Nancy Caniff shares the challenges and rewards of pioneering a healthy lifestyle magazine in Indianapolis.

How did you first learn about Natural Awakenings?

In July 2009, my friend Carrie Stafstrom announced that she was quitting her “day job” and moving to California to start a franchise. When I inquired about the details, she said, “Oh Nance, you’re gonna love this… it’s called Natural Awakenings.” I went upstairs to the cafeteria in my building and found a copy of the latest Jacksonville issue and realized that although I had never seen it there until that day, I never wanted to put it down. After a few minutes of reading and checking the website, I noticed that the Indianapolis franchise was available, and that was my newfound destination to be closer to Sean, my husband. Carrie did go on to publish the Ventura, California franchise, and my first issue in May 2010 launched the next three years of our publishing career.

Life suddenly was filled with adventure. I met new people weekly, learned about all the holistic and natural businesses in Indy and attended many events. There was a small, tightly knit group of holistic folks that readily accepted us and supported the magazine with advertising dollars and articles and through distribution. From the beginning, they were absolutely amazing, and I knew then that I wanted to expand that circle to share the vision with more people, hear their stories and touch more lives. And Sean and I did. We built and shared the support between the local farmers and chiropractors, spurred new interest in ideas such as juicing and upcycled products and even made worms sexy (for gardening).

After I got into the rhythm of monthly publishing, my creativity exploded and I began adding new segments such as our expos, Eco Fest Indy and the Natural Living Fair. I even overcame my fear of public speaking with regular radio interviews, and appeared on the Indy Style television program to promote our community forum and events, which led to new discussions and increased my desire to further give back to our community. For three years, we sponsored Earth Day Indiana and the Humane Society and Art With a Heart, along with dozens of local businesses and schools. We also participated in their outreach programs and volunteer roles.

In retrospect, how has being the publisher of a magazine affected your life?

From a personal standpoint, publishing the magazine has been the largest growth opportunity of my life. This magazine did not exist in Indy when I moved here. It took long days and nights to establish distribution locations, which we did by talking to business owners and their staff. We put out 100-pound outdoor boxes in strategic locations so we didn’t miss anyone from our audience; found the decision makers to let them know we were here; and then wrote the articles, news briefs and calendars and ensured that the ads were effective and professional and got results. It took a team. I lost a lot of sleep.

What were some of your most personal challenges?

I struggled with how to be more extroverted. I had many piles of unfolded laundry. But I also had the best job I could imagine, meeting folks for coffee or lunch and at events. Turning on the curiosity, I heard about why they were passionate about their work, then had to pull it all together into a monthly journal of profound resources to share with the entire city. I was proud to hand out the magazine to anyone that wanted a copy. I carried magazines in my car and purse and had the app on my phone in case I was ever without a hard copy.

I feel like life puts us where we are needed most, for our own growth and learning opportunities and to assist others. I’m so proud to hand off the magazine to Kim and Teona and their family, because I know their vision will meet and exceed mine and continue to enlarge and enliven the existing circle of holistic enthusiasts in Indy.

“To our friends and supporters,thank you from the bottom of our hearts, we will miss you dearly. Connect with Nancy on her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nancy.caniff.”

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