According to a study published in The BMJ, night shifts clubbed with an unhealthy lifestyle can put you at particularly high risk of type-2 diabetes. It is well established that unhealthy lifestyle behaviour like smoking, a poor diet and little exercise, and being overweight or obese increase the risk of type-2 diabetes. Shift work, especially night shift work, has also been associated with a greater risk of type-2 diabetes. However, the researchers believe this to be the first study to look at the combined impact of an unhealthy lifestyle and rotating night shift work on risk of type-2 diabetes.
For this study, working rotating night shift work was defined as working at least three-night shifts per month, in addition to day and evening shifts that month. Unhealthy lifestyle was defined using four major factors: being overweight, being a smoker, doing less than 30 minutes of exercise per day, and having a poor diet.
Over 22-24 years of follow-up, 10,915 of the 1,43,410 nurses reported having a diagnosis of type-2 diabetes. For every five years of working rotating night shifts, the nurses were almost a third (31 percent) more likely to have been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.
We said last year that Sony had put Bose “on notice” when it comes to active noise-cancelling headphones. Our review of Sony’s WH-1000XM2 reported that Sony not only delivered incredible audio quality, but that the company offered some high-tech features Bose couldn’t match.
This year, Sony fully eclipses Bose with its third-generation noise-cancelling cans: The WH-1000XM3. These headphones are superior to the Bose QuietComfort 35 II in almost every way. Sony retained all the features that we liked in the previous iteration, including adaptive sound control, gesture recognition, and great audio reproduction (at least when powered), and made significant improvements to its active noise-cancellation technology. Sony’s new headphones are also more comfortable to wear for long listening sessions.
The great features Sony retained
First up is the gesture control pad located on the right-hand cup. After a brief learning curve, I grew accustomed to controlling my music and podcasts with simple swipes.
Swiping up and down with your fingertip raises and lowers volume, while back-to-front and front-to-back strokes move up and down your playlist respectively. Holding your finger down for a few seconds activates Google Assistant on Android devices, or Siri for iOS hardware. This worked flawlessly, though I do wish the virtual assistant appeared more quickly after being summoned. Perhaps Sony can add a preference setting to its app.
Sony’s Adaptive Sound Control is something special. When this mode is selected, the headphones monitor your level of activity and automatically choose the appropriate noise-cancelling profile. You can also customize these profiles using Sony’s excellent Headphone Connect app.
If I’ve been sitting still for a bit, for example, the Staying profile will kick in with a short notification chime. This one uses the headphone’s onboard microphones to monitor ambient sound, so those noises can be cancelled out, while allowing the sound of human voices to come through. You get a personalized mix of your music and the sound of the outside world, with 20 levels of noise cancellation available. The Bose QC35 II offer just three stages of cancellation, so there’s no way to fine-tune the mix of music and ambient sound.
When I listen to music while walking home after work, I want to hear the environment around me, so I don’t get run over by a cranky San Francisco driver. I quickly learned that I couldn’t do that with Bose QC35 II. No matter which settings I applied, I couldn’t hear enough of what was going on. Sony’s headphones not only delivered a great listening experience—even at low volume—but I was always able to maintain situational awareness.
In conditions where it’s inconvenient to launch Sony’s app, you can control the headphones’ active noise cancellation using the NC/Ambient button on the left-hand ear cup. This limits you, however, to three values: Fully engaged (the strongest level of active noise cancellation), fully open (the least amount of active noise cancellation, with the mics piping ambient noise into the ear cups), or active noise cancellation turned off (in which case, the headphones behave as conventional Bluetooth headphones).
Audio performance hasn’t changed much compared to last year’s model, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In a head-to-head comparison with the Bose QC35 II, I found Sony’s WH-1000XM3 to be slightly more musical. Sony’s headphones maintain a more accurate frequency response across the full spectrum, where Bose seems to favor a scooped EQ that emphasizes bass and high frequencies at the expense of the mid-range. Sony’s cans never muddied the mid-range even while playing bass-heavy tracks at high volume levels, although I did notice some very minor distortion in the upper frequency range when I really cranked the volume.
Major strides in wearability
Sony’s WH-1000XM3 are much more comfortable than its previous generation headphones. I noted this during my briefing last month; it’s one of the biggest improvements over last year’s model.
Sony added extra padding to the bottom of the headband to distribute the weight on the top of your head more evenly. The ear cups are also wider and deeper, which reduces the pressure placed on the sides of your head and allows you to wear them for longer listening sessions without feeling fatigued. As such, wearability is another clear win against Bose’s product. Sony knocked it out of the park on this count.
“Why buy a headset when you could just buy a great pair of headphones and a good microphone for the same price?” So goes the conventional wisdom in comment sections around the world, every time someone dares to suggest that a gaming headset might not be so bad a purchase.
But what if the self-professed audiophiles are right? And what if you could get the same form factor as a headset, but with any top-tier pair of headphones? Wouldn’t that be a better deal?
We went hands on with the ModMic to find out.
(See our roundup of best gaming headsets for a thorough comparison of headset solutions.)
Hand in hand
ModMic isn’t new by any means. Since 2011, Antlion Audio has done one thing and done it well: It’s allowed gamers to take their high-end headphones, attach a microphone on the side, and thus get great sound with (most of) the convenience of a dedicated gaming headset.
It works exactly as you’d expect, basically. The ModMic costs $69.95 on Amazon and arrives in a tiny little box. After all, it’s just a microphone. Nothing too surprising here. Inside the box is a padded carrying case, and inside the case is the mic itself, along with a bundle of cables.
You then take the ModMic and affix it to the side of your headphones, probably the left ear as is standard. A bit of 3M double-sided tape holds it in place, and…that’s it. Your headphones are now a headset.
It’s a somewhat permanent installation, which can be a bit hair-raising when you’re talking about audiophile headphones. The Sennheiser HD 280s I had lying around aren’t even that nice, but I did hesitate as I affixed the ModMic to the outside. “Am I okay with this? Forever?”
The good news is that it’s somewhat permanent. The ModMic is actually two pieces. The larger piece is the mic itself, along with the boom arm. But the part that’s actually affixed to your headphones is just a small disc, about the size of a dime. The microphone attaches magnetically to the disc, so you’re free to remove the bulk whenever you’d like. All that’s left over is the weird magnetic rivet on the outside (as seen in the image below).
The next challenge is cable routing. With a headset, you usually have both your audio and mic cables combined into one, at least until they reach the PC. With the ModMic, you obviously don’t have that luxury. Instead you run a second 3.5mm cable from the ModMic to your computer, with the option to insert a mute toggle in the middle.
Our ModMic review unit came supplied with some cable sheathes, in order to wrapthe ModMic and headphone cables together. The problem is that the HD 280s use a coiled, telephone-style cable for most of their length, so I was only able to wrap the top section effectively. The result was a bit of a mess, aesthetically. With other headphones that use conventional cables, you’d probably achieve a relatively sleek result.
Still, overall, a dedicated headset is going to win out aesthetically. No surprise there—that’s why they exist. Combining headphones and a microphone into a single device allows for a more elegant and efficient design.
But what about performance? After all, that’s what people are talking about when they say you should separate your headphone and microphone purchases. The theory is that you could buy audiophile-grade equipment in both categories for the price of a single, middling headset.
produced by Julie Borowsky; photographed by Tayler Smith.
Participating in the democratic process is an essential part of living America. Though it does require time and energy to research candidates and come up with your voting plan, so after that part is done, you might require a little pick-me-up. This Election Day, you can get an extra pat on the back after doing your civic duty by visiting a number of different restaurants, bars, café, and coffee shops around the country.
Today, many spots will be giving out free food and drinks to voters who come in sporting their “I Voted” stickers. Even if you don’t need a free coffee to make you get out and vote during this vital midterm election, it’ll still be nice to reward yourself for exercising your rights. Take a look ahead to see where you can go to get that small reward.
Baked By Melissa:
Today, all customers who walk into a Baked by Melissa store with an “I Voted” sticker will receive a free cupcake. The mini cupcake company is also offering voters 10% off on bakedbymelissa.com with the code “IVOTED2018” today and tomorrow.
In more ways than one, Mirzapur — Amazon Prime Video’s newest original Web series from India, out now — is a story that isn’t suited for Bollywood’s traditional space: the big screen. None of it has to do with the fact that Mirzapur is an episodic drama, which allows writers to explore characters and chart subplots in manners that isn’t possible on film. Instead, it’s the characteristics and behaviour of those characters, and the level of violence and sex that India’s moral-driven censor board, the CBFC, wouldn’t allow.
“It’s very refreshing because there are very few roles written for women in which their sexuality is acknowledged,” Rasika Dugal, who plays Beena Tripathi, the second wife of the show’s big crime boss in Mirzapur, told Gadgets 360. “We don’t have these conversations about women. Usually, women are objects that have been sexualised, as objects of titillation or as objects of sympathy.”
Films from India that have bucked that trend in recent years, the likes of Lipstick Under My Burkha and Veere Di Wedding, can be counted on one hand. Dugal remarked that the scripts she has read for TV shows in the past year have been “far more interesting” than any film scripts she’s read in the past few years. She believes that writers are possibly censoring themselves when it comes to writing for cinema, in contrast to streaming which isn’t regulated by the CBFC.
“Our films are certified in a very, very broad manner: it’s either U, U/A or A,” Ritesh Sidhwani, executive producer on Mirzapur, said. “But there is nothing in between. If you look at TV, you’ve a channel like Discovery Kids, which is only for 9-11-year olds. And there’s a show there, which I was quite surprised to learn, called Little Singham.”
Little Singham is an animated spin-off based on the Ajay Devgn-starrer 2011 action film Singham, which is itself a remake of a 2010 Tamil film. “They started with 60-70 episodes in concept and it’s reached 180-190 episodes,” Sidhwani added. “[That shows] there is an audience for every kind of story. With films, you can go to a 13, 15, and 18 [age bracket], but there shouldn’t be censorship. Beyond 18, once you’re an adult, you can’t tell me to cut something.”
Divyendu Sharma as Munna Tripathi, Abhishek Banerjee as Compounder in Amazon’s Mirzapur
But until the CBFC gets its act together, stories like Mirzapur‘s will be best told in the streaming domain. In fact, the ideal way to watch even Lipstick Under My Burkha is on Prime Video, which has the film’s uncensored version and not the theatrical release version that was subject to cuts, after originally being denied a release altogether.
That’s not the only way Mirzapur is pushing the envelope. Unlike the majority of filmmaking in India which still relies on ADR (automated dialogue replacement), colloquially known as dubbing, where actors re-record their lines in a studio after filming, Mirzapur made use of sync sound, in which the audio is recorded on location.
“Whenever someone mentions dubbing, I get upset. How will we recreate it in the studio?” Pankaj Tripathi, who plays the show’s central crime figure, Akhandanand Tripathi, asked rhetorically.
“Dubbing, I feel, cheats actors,” Divyendu Sharma, who plays Munna Tripathi, the son of Pankaj’s character on Mirzapur, added. “It’s like, ‘You said it once, now do it again.’ And this time, in a dark room, all alone. It’s so wrong to ask someone to repeat everything. And then, the person on the mic tells you, ‘We’re not getting the right emotion.’ Of course, that’s going to happen. That was filmed in extreme heat, and here I am wearing a sweatshirt in an air-conditioned room. I think it’s a crime to not use of sync sound in this day and age.”
But there’s one aspect that Mirzapur falls short in, technologically. Unlike some Prime Original series from the US, Mirzapur was neither filmed nor mastered in 4K. (Amazon’s previous scripted series from India, Breathe, was notably shot in 8K but received a 2K master.) 4K wasn’t considered for Mirzapur because of two reasons, says Prime Video’s India content chief Vijay Subramaniam, in that not many customers have access to the technology and the post-production infrastructure in India needs to level up.
“We will get there but I don’t think we are there yet,” he added. “Is [4K] important to us? Absolutely.”
Ritesh Sidhwani at a press event for Amazon’s Mirzapur Photo Credit: Chou Chiang/Amazon
From page to screen
Mirzapur comes from the same team behind Amazon’s International Emmy-nominated original series Inside Edge, including producers Farhan Akhtar and Sidhwani, and co-creators Karan Anshuman and Puneet Krishna. The last of those — Krishna — did much of his schooling in the Purvanchal region, the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh the show is based in, which meant he knew people who dealt in the illegal arms and drug business Mirzapur depicts.
None of the on-screen characters are directly based on someone they know, though. “They are all a mélange of many characters and characteristics of many people that we put together,” Anshuman said. “That’s what writers do, right? We steal from real life and make them better.”
And given the large size of the ensemble, Mirzapur is able to paint a vivid, unflinching picture of what life is like in some of India’s most impoverished corners. Anshuman thinks a common theme is “the angst that small-town India is going through, in terms of the aspirations they have, why they can’t fulfil their dreams, and how that goes haywire”.
“And I think we are very, very political in terms of what we stand for, and what our beliefs are,” he added. “The entire writing team — and Ritesh would agree with that — [wanted] to say something beyond just putting a fictional piece out there.”
Mirzapur was part of the original slate that was unveiled at Prime Video’s India launch in late 2016, but having the same creative team as Inside Edge, which premiered in mid-2017, meant it could only go on the floors early this year. Anshuman and Krishna revealed they spent about nine months scripting the first season, going back and forth with Amazon, exchanging drafts and feedback.
“The key here is to accept the fact that the battle is won and lost with the script,” Subramaniam said. “With cinematic TV, you tend to either make it too plot-heavy or not define the motivations of characters as strongly as you need to. But that’s the whole point of the iterative process and we are extremely collaborative.”
There’s one area where PC gamers get consistently overlooked: haptics. Haptic feedback (or rumble, in the vernacular) has been a mainstay of console gaming for almost two decades now, and for good reason. Smart usage can both increase immersion and provide invaluable feedback to players, e.g. letting you feel the moment digital tires lose traction on slick asphalt, or warning that an enemy’s shooting at you.
There have been a few experiments, like SteelSeries’s Rival 500—a mouse with built-in haptics. But it’s hard to make a mouse with rumble because it’s bound to affect your aim, and keyboards are too large and heavy to effectively produce the effect.
That leaves us with headsets. Razer’s the latest company to explore this space, this week revealing the new flagship Nari Ultimate. Get ready for sound that rattles your bones, quite literally.
This review is part of our roundupof best gaming headsets. Go there for details on competing products and how we tested them.
As I said, Razer’s not the first company to explore this haptic headset space. I actually reviewed one such headset a few years ago, the GX Gaming Cavimanus, and once upon a time Mad Catz also dabbled in similar ideas with the FREQ 4D.
It’s a popular gimmick. What better way to make bass feel more intense than to literally vibrate your skull, right? Feel the explosions. Feel the gunshots. Feel the rumble of that V8 engine.
The Nari Ultimate might be the first to make haptics feel like more than a gimmick though, for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, Razer made a comfy headset. The Nari Ultimate lifts design cues from a number of Razer products without fully matching any. It uses the Thresher’s floating headband design, two metal arcs above another wrapped in both leatherette and sports mesh (on the inside edge). The earcups are similar to those of the Razer Kraken, generously padded and with cooling gel on the inside. And it’s a wireless headset, so the Nari Ultimate duplicates the on-ear controls from the Razer Man O’ War of course.
It’s Razer’s most comfortable headset. Like all floating headband models, it can feel too loose at times—tilting my head forward or back results in noticeable slippage. But I can (and did) wear the Nari Ultimate all day long, no problem.
The cooling gel is fascinating as well. Like built-in haptics, Razer isn’t first to this idea either—I know Turtle Beach did something similar a few years back, and I wouldn’t even swear that was the originator. The effect is subtle, but when you first don the Nari Ultimate the ears are noticeably cooler than the usual leatherette or sports mesh surface.
Unfortunately the effect doesn’t last long. You’ve got maybe 15 or 20 minutes before the ears heat up to your skin temperature; taking the headset off for a brief period rapidly cools it again. Those dedicated to cold ears can also take the padding off and throw it in the fridge for a bit. And maybe you should, because if I have one complaint about the Nari Ultimate, it’s that once it heats up, your ears really sweat.
Aside from its heat-trap tendencies though, the Nari Ultimate’s a smart little device. It even copies over one of my favorite tricks from the Man O’ War, which is that you can store the USB dongle in the bottom of the right earcup when not in use. As someone who’s lost quite a few dongles over the years, I’ll never stop being grateful for this small courtesy. The volume wheel rounds out the right ear, while the power button, MicroUSB charging slot, a 3.5mm jack, mic mute, and chat-mix are found on the left ear.
Note that you can use the Nari Ultimate with a 3.5mm aux cable unpowered, though obviously you lose the haptic effects. Keep it in mind regardless, as battery is one of the other weak points—haptics and lighting reduce the Nari Ultimate to a piddling eight hours of runtime. (It’s “up to” 20 with both features disabled.)
Ain’t that a kick in the head
But the haptics. That’s why we’re here, right? Sure it’s comfortable, and sure it’s got cooling gel in it, but those aren’t the features to justify spending $200 on a headset. Certainly not one by Razer. Even if you think Razer’s audio quality is worth $200 (questionable), you can undoubtedly get that same sound from Razer’s recently refreshed Kraken lineup or the lower-price Nari variants, all of which lack haptics.
Razer calls it HyperSense. It was designed by Lofelt, a company experimenting in haptic effects for VR, phones, headsets, and more. HyperSense differs from previous haptic-equipped headsets in two key ways: It operates across the entire LFE range of 20Hz to 200Hz, and it’s processed in stereo.
What that means for you, the wearer, is nuance. A lot of haptic devices are binary, either on or off, but a few (like the Xbox One controller’s triggers) are capable of more sophisticated feedback—so you can for instance, as I said in the intro, tell when your digital tires have lost traction. The Nari Ultimate is the first headset I know of to fall into this camp.
I find it easiest to notice in music, where there are a lot of easily distinguishable elements. You’ll get a thick oomph of haptic feedback for the kick drum, a rumble for any low-end synths, and maybe a bouncey bit with some haptic reverb for the bass guitar. And the Nari Ultimate’s drivers are sophisticated enough that it can layer all these different rumbles on top of each other.
Jumping over to games then, maybe you drive around Forza Horizon 4 in an angry-sounding dune buggy, tires rumbling over dirt roads, and with the lush EDM soundtrack blasting above the din. Again, you’ve got three different sounds all contributing to the Nari Ultimate’s haptics in tandem. And as I said earlier, the Nari Ultimate works in stereo.
That’s an important aspect to separating out the various elements as well, and one that’s not so prevalent in music (because low-frequency instruments are usually mixed in the center). So in Horizon you might feel the kick of the soundtrack’s bass drum in the center, and probably the engine most of the time. Turn to the right however, and you might feel that tire rumble slide in that direction—or vice versa, if you swing wide.
It also comes into play in shooters. If you’re getting shot from the left, expect to feel a small kick on that side of your face. Intensity depends on the amount of bass, so a grenade going off will field a slightly larger kick usually, and so on. It’s a neat trick, and one I haven’t seen in other haptic-enabled headsets.
My biggest issue is that the intensity of the haptics is dependent on volume. The louder the headset, the more intense the vibration—and Razer apparently wants you to go deaf. If you listen to the Nari Ultimate at normal, safe levels you will barely notice the haptics exist. Call me an old man, but protecting your hearing is important. There’s an option to crank the intensity in Razer’s Synapse software and I suggest you do so immediately. In my opinion it should default to a higher level, or at least not roll off the haptic effects so sharply as you decrease volume.
As for the actual audio quality? It’s pretty solid. Razer’s sound profile isn’t my favorite, and the Nari Ultimate is certainly heavy on bass—probably to be expected, given the haptic effects. But both music and games sound relatively clear, with the mid-range and low-end coming through nicely. There’s a bit of a hollow feel to the center channel at times, but like the Man O’ War, the left/right stereo play is fantastic, and in games I find that’s usually a more important factor. Regardless, Razer’s slowly but surely closing the gap between it and companies like HyperX and Logitech.
The microphone is surprisingly decent too. Voice reproduction is good, as is noise isolation. I miss the dedicated mic volume wheel from the Man O’ War though, and the mute button’s too small by half.
The main sticking point is the price. The standard Nari (no surname), the mid-tier entry, runs for $150 and includes every feature from the Ultimate except the haptics. Is a bit of face-rumble worth $50? And for that matter, does the standard Nari compete with devices in its price tier like Logitech’s G533 and SteelSeries’s Arctis 7?
I’d answer yes and no, respectively. The $150 Nari is a tougher sell, and I think you’re probably better going with the G533 or even the Arctis 7 (or a wired headset for half the cost). But the Nari Ultimate’s haptics are seriously neat. Still a gimmick? Sure, maybe—but one I could see taking off. The PC is desperately in need of some haptic devices that aren’t as goofy as the various vests and so-on out there. The headset seems like a smart place to start, and evidently a bunch of other manufacturers have agreed in the past.
The Nari Ultimate is simply the first one that has the tech to make it stick. Feeling the rumble of a tank in the distance or a fat ol’ synth kick in—it’s completely unnecessary, even outright dumb at times, but adds a lot to the listening experience all the same.
Recently, Victoria Beckham was honoured with her first-ever People’s Choice Fashion Icon Award. But what is even more impressive is that the fashion icon decided to style her hair at the last minute where she got her hairstylist Ken Paves to give her a haircut in the back of a moving car en route to the award function. Come to think of it, maybe that’s exactly why she is a fashion icon.
Victoria Beckham took to Instagram and documented her super fast transformation in her Instagram stories. The star wrote, “So we are now doing hair and makeup in the car, just having a quick haircut. Why are you doing this, Ken? Was someone late today?” To which Paves replied, “I’m never late.”
Victoria Beckham got a last minute haircut for People’s Choice Awards. (Source: Instagram)
In the videos, we can see Paves leaning forward from his back seat to snip her hair while make-up artist Wendy Rose can be seen giving her a final touch-up. Isn’t her beauty squad just the stuff dreams are made of?
If you are wondering about the final look, the 44-year-old ex-Spice girl stepped out of the car only to turn heads. For the occasion, she picked a classic white blazer and matching trousers from her own brand and teamed it with a lace slip-style vest. She wore a pair of glamourous black heels to complete her look and posed for pictures with hands in her pocket.
What do you think of Radhika Apte’s look? (Source: File Photo)
Radhika Apte is mostly known for her unconventional choices – be it fashion or movies. Recently, the Andhadhun actor graced the cover of Maxim magazine in a front-zipped black leather dress and floored us with her sartorial sense.
The black leather dress complemented her svelte frame and the look was rounded out with hair tied into a bun, hoopla earrings and a nude shade of lipstick.
In another photo, the Sacred Games actor was seen looking scorching hot in a sequin blazer. Messy hairdo, minimal make-up, and stilettos rounded out the look.
We were also very impressed with her sharp fashion choice at the Toronto International Film Festival where she attended the premiere of The Wedding Guest. Styled by celebrity stylist Shaleena Nathani, she wore a royal blue brocade blazer from the label Tutla and teamed that with matching trouser. Although it could have gone wrong, the black camisole balanced the look very well. The look was rounded out with black stilettos, hair neatly parted at the centre and a shade of brown lip shade.
ALSO READ | Radhika Apte looks sharp in this matching brocade pantsuit
A while back, Apte was spotted wearing a pastel blue embellished lehenga-bralette from the house of Kalki Fashion in Mumbai and looked lovely. Styled by celebrity stylist Tanya Ghavri, the look was rounded out with diamond studs and two delicate rings.
What do you think of her latest look? Let us know in the comments below.
“I can afford it” is a thought that will stop you getting rich. It’s especially bad if it crosses your mind after you receive a raise or a new, better paid job.
Like all the most-effective lies, it is built on a destructive truth. You probably can afford whatever it is you want because you are making such a great salary here in the UAE. It’s probably also something you have always wanted. Now, it’s within your reach.
I had a teacher friend who used to pull up to work every day in a new luxury convertible. It was a very pretty car. One day I asked her about it. I thought she might be independently wealthy or have a husband making way more money than we do as teachers. But, no.
She told me something I’ve heard many times since moving to Dubai: “I figure, I’ll only be able to afford it now, while I live in Dubai, and why not live a little?” She bought it on credit, and followed that up with: “It’s probably why I’m not saving much money.”
In the financial independence world, we refer to that as “lifestyle inflation”. Basically, as you make more money, you spend more of it on nicer and nicer things – because you can afford it. There’s always something else to buy, no matter how much money you make and what you’ve bought before. Thank you capitalism.
When you’re a print magazine and your vital signs are strong, what do you do? Enjoy the ride and thank your lucky stars that you’re bucking the secular trend of print decline? Bet the ranch on risky new investments? Or develop synergistic new events and retail initiatives?
For Garden & Gun’s Rebecca Darwin, CEO and co-founder of the magazine, it’s option three, and all initiatives come down to one strategy: Deepening the connection people have with the brand.
Founder and CEO Rebecca Darwin.Garden & Gun
Garden & Gun has become a living case study for a successful magazine in the digital age, offering rich, textured, carefully focused stories, lush layouts and striking photography on Southern culture—touching on travel, music, food, upscale hunting, literature, home, lifestyle and more, and winning three National Magazine Awards among many other forms of recognition in its 11 years of existence.
Garden & Gun, Darwin points out nearly every time she’s asked to describe it, is not a Southern magazine. It’s a national magazine about a region. And G&G has always stressed that it’s not just a print magazine—it’s a full-service media brand, encompassing print, digital, creative services and events. In fact, Garden & Gun does more than 50 events per year—everything from crafts expositions and clay-shooting competitions, to international travel tours and a Mint Julep Month for the bourbon distiller Maker’s Mark, in which G&G brought bartenders from around the South to an event in New York.
“I’m always thinking about what else would our readers like?” Darwin says. “What’s an additional touch point for the brand?” This activity has ramped up in the last 12 months especially.
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In April, Garden & Gun opened its first-ever restaurant, the Garden & Gun Clubin Atlanta. Located in The Battery Atlanta (near the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park), the restaurant seeks to bring the magazine to life.
The brand also expanded its online and real-world retail experiences by bringing its online retail concept Mercantile & Co. under the company’s existing Fieldshop, offering an assortment of products from makers and artisans across the South. Fieldshop now includes an e-commerce destination, a brick-and-mortar shop in The Dewberry Hotel in Charleston, and space in the Garden & Gun Club.
Garden & Gun‘s Made in the South Weekend just concluded at the magazine’s headquarters in Charleston. It celebrated Southern craftsmanship and makers, with live performances, panels, exclusive shopping experiences and a dinner at the historic Aiken-Rhett House.
“We still think about the reader,” Darwin says. “This obviously has grown way beyond the reader, but we look at what the different entry points are where people intersect with the brand. Our whole thinking is about deepening the relationship, not so much about broadening it as deepening.”
As important as deepening the connection is, the magazine has demonstrated some broadening in recent years as well. From 2013 to 2017, Garden & Gun’s total audited circulation, comprising both paid and verified distribution, increased by 31.8%, to 396,609. Its total paid circulation grew by nearly 100,000, to 342,656. Average newsstand sales increased as well, from 34,114 to 42,207.
Advertising has been more challenging, with print shaping up as slightly less than flat for 2018 (Darwin attributes this to the strong 10th-anniversary issue last year, saying the brand will be up slightly from 2016).
Like most print magazines, digital is a small piece of the advertising mix. “We brought on more people to work on digital and social,” Darwin says. “Year to date, we’re up about 35 percent over last year. It’s still a fairly small piece but you have to focus on it.” Not surprisingly, a lot of the digital advertising is from branded content—newsletters, agency-oriented marketing services and similar work.
“We’re having to be creative like everyone else in finding new ways to skin a cat, but we’re a very, very healthy magazine and a healthy company at this point,” Darwin says. “If you give people something that they want to read, then I definitely don’t see the end of magazines in sight. If you give them something worth taking their attention off all the noise out there, then they will.”