The @DFV_Show and the wonder of @prettynostalgic. If you love vintage and nostalgia, you need this in your life!

Published March 10, 2015 by Crystal

Last June I dragged my family along to the Dig For Victory Show (follow them on twitter @DFV_Show)

I love wartime shows, and this one is a beautiful blast!  A bargain price, and a wonderful day out for all the family. And while I say I dragged my family, they don’t mind in the slightest dressing up for the event (except husband, but moving on!)

Don't mention the toilet roll, it was to clean up salad cream, my husband could have waited for me to put it down before snapping.

Don’t mention the toilet roll, it was to clean up salad cream, my husband could have waited for me to put it down before snapping.

I had packed us a suitable lunch.  Boiled eggs, corned beef or spam sandwiches, apple pie…..lemonade and ginger beer!  OK it was a stretch, they were modern versions of more traditional foods, but it was fun, and the kids loved that it was all wrapped up in paper, in a wicker picnic basket!

A family ticket was £20, and we were there all day!  We were lucky with the weather.  It hard been bucketing down on our drive there, but then the sun goddess blessed us, and there was nothing but blue sky and beating sun for most of the day!

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Son enthused at the idea of photo with his mother

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The odd newer vehicle, much to the delight of youngest

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Part of the show was a lovely big marquee, with various vintage selling stalls, organisations, and with the start of a kids treasure trail. The treasure trail was delightful.  A map was given, with various points to visit and experience things children growing up during WW2 would have experienced day to day, like pumping water, shucking peas, and “make do and mend”.  This was where we met the lovely Nicole Burnett of Pretty Nostalgic.  Amid bags of fabric, sewing needles, thread, scissors, and beautiful magazines, stood Nicole, here to introduce new people to the idea of Pretty Nostalgic, a beautiful magazine, covering all sorts of topics around vintage and nolstalgia, from sewing to preserving, to childhood toys, to the art of letter writing, to vintage cars, to vintage living, and so on and so forth and on and on.  When I met Nicole she was looking to turn Pretty Nostalgic into a society, to bring together like minded folk, with shared interests and ideals, and where folk can learn and share those skills and experiences.

In Nicole’s words, this is her journey;

Our journey so far…

The Pretty Nostalgic Society is the end result of many years of dreaming and I am thrilled now that I have a chance to share it with so many others.

But it has been quite a journey!

From Museum Curator to vintage dealer then independent publisher.

After a degree in History of Art and Design and 15 years as a museum creator, I changed career and opened a vintage shop and artisan market. Then after being constantly disappointed by the quality of mainstream magazines I then decided to publish one myself and jumped into the world of publishing with no real idea of what I was doing or how much hard work I was letting myself in for.

My Book Pretty Nostalgic: Home was published in February 2012 and issue 1 of Pretty Nostalgic Magazine went on sale in May 2012. We published six issues of Pretty Nostalgic a year as well as an occasional sister publication The Vintage Scrapbook. We also organised our own events, and printed greetings cards.

Pretty Nostalgic Magazine
Pretty Nostalgic was unlike other magazines; everything we did stemmed from a spark of excitement and a vivacious enthusiasm to share. I wanted to take magazines back to what they should be by definition, which is a storehouse of useful and inspiring information, rather than a vehicle for the mass marketing of big corporate brands.

Pretty Nostalgic from the beginning worked with its subscribers and each issue we pulled together an amazing team of writers, designers, photographers and illustrators and we wrote or commissioned all the content ourselves. We wanted raw passion and the sort of knowledge that can only be passed on by someone who is living their dream.

Supporting British.
From the very beginning Pretty Nostalgic only ever featured or promoted British makers and independent businesses and we were keen to work with them and avoid the standard advertising relationships, so from issue 4 Pretty Nostalgic went advertising free and we launched our Directory of Brilliantly British and vintage businesses both in the magazine and online. Pulling off the shelves of WHSmith and the Traditional newsstand. Pretty Nostalgic was stocked in WHSmith from issue 1, which is quite an achievement for a small independent magazine, we sold well in stockists all over the world including Barnes and Noble and this really helped promote the brand, however, selling on the traditional newsstand just didn’t feel right and we made the tough decision to pull out in December 2013. We felt it was important to follow our principals of supporting only independent businesses and so we regained control of the sales and distribution of Pretty Nostalgic and tried to make sure that they benefited from its sale and not big multi-nationals.

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Hitting hard times
Pulling off the newsstand and going advertising free really doesn’t help with income generation if you are a magazine. In early 2014 many of our founding team members left to explore other publishing projects and the Pretty Nostalgic team shrunk to just 2 people, Art Editor, Rae Edwards and me. All of our efforts went into the content of the magazine and we are so proud of every single issue, we worked with wonderful people. BUT we were just not focused enough on the money making side of things and a high production magazine like Pretty Nostalgic was very expensive to publish. We were in a dilemma, which really came to the fore in May 2014. We were publishing a beautiful magazine and our readers thought we were a big professional company which knew what it was doing and had wonderful resources at its disposal, when in fact it was me and Rae working form home and doing the jobs of 20 other people between us and I was barely managing to pay Rae, never lone myself. I tried getting investment though a fancy London firm, who found so called angel investors, they showed interest in Pretty Nostalgic, but wanted to change what we were about in order to make us the next lifestyle super brand, which was a no go for me – and so I had run out of money, £150,000 had been sunk into Pretty Nostalgic, we had published 12 issues but it was still costing 4 times more to print than I was receiving in subscription fees and I now couldn’t afford to get issue 13 (ironically) to print.

Time for honesty.
I was distraught – I had 800 subscribers expecting the next issue, we had it all written and designed and ready to go, but I couldn’t afford to print it. Really I just wanted to run away, jump on the next plane and never come back, but I have always believed in honesty and personal responsibility and so I wrote an email letter and sent it to my subscribers explaining the situation.

At the end of the letter I asked a question – Should I carry on – was Pretty Nostalgic worth it? Well I hit the send button and sat in floods of tears – my husband stood by me, never once mentioning that it was his money (inheritance from his parents) that helped fund my now fallen apart magazine and that he would probably never see it again.

So what happened next???
Well nothing short of a miracle really, within minutes of sending I started to get replies, not from irate subscribers demanding refunds, but heartfelt and concerned outpourings of sympathy and genuine offers of help. I was totally overwhelmed by the comments people made and how much support and appreciation there was for the magazine and for what Pretty Nostalgic stood for and so many people with their own independent businesses opened up and shared their experiences with me. I felt an amazing amount of love and support and then released the letter to the rest of the world via social media.

Pretty Nostalgic was unlike other magazines; everything we did stemmed from a spark of excitement and a vivacious enthusiasm to share. I wanted to take magazines back to what they should be by definition, which is a storehouse of useful and inspiring information, rather than a vehicle for the mass marketing of big corporate brands.

Pretty Nostalgic from the beginning worked with its subscribers and each issue we pulled together an amazing team of writers, designers, photographers and illustrators and we wrote or commissioned all the content ourselves. We wanted raw passion and the sort of knowledge that can only be passed on by someone who is living their dream.

Did issue 13 get to print?
Yes it did! Within a week we had raised enough money to get to print – people took out subscriptions in their droves, lapsed subscribers rejoined and people bought back issues to complete their collections. Issue 13 arrived with our subscribers a little later than planned, but arrive it did! Now something had to change. I knew I had to carry on – I stopped pretending that I was a big fancy pants magazine publisher and concentrated on why I started in the first place – I wanted to publish great original content, share my love of British history and vintage and support British makers and independent businesses and communities. I did not start Pretty Nostalgic to run a big company and make lots of money for myself, unlike other magazines; my focus has always and will always be those who read it and not advertisers. I realised that I was never going to be motivated purely by profit and as I had closed off traditional methods of income generation, something had to be done differently – the business model had to change.

The Pretty Nostalgic Society is born!!
So if my focus was on the readers, then it made sense to base it all around them. From the beginning of Pretty Nostalgic I have received emails saying how glad readers were to have found us, how they had always felt a little odd and now they knew there were other like-minded people out there who they can identify with – the start of a community?. Pretty Nostalgic readers are different, they are not sheep, they do not do what society and celebrities tell them to do and don’t buy what the advertisers want them to buy – they are creative, free spirits and we had managed to find 1000 wonderful subscribers, who were to become our first Pretty Nostalgic members. After speaking to everyone, it was clear that they also wanted to meet up with other members, to socialise, share skills and just have the chance to be what they want to be and so The Pretty Nostalgic Society was born.

The Pretty Nostalgic Society.
Pretty Nostalgic the magazine has now become The Pretty Nostalgic Society. We held a successful kickstarter campaign in August 2014 to help us transform and in September we went off to The Goodwood Revival to promote the Society and recruit new members. Instead of a bi-monthly magazine we now publish a quarterly book called The Pretty Nostalgic Compendium, the first of which was our Goodwood Revival Special Edition, published September 2014. Our members contribute to its features and content and together we share our knowledge, skills and enthusiasm for the benefit of others. Soon we hope we can all meet together as Pretty Nostalgic Gathering groups set up all over the country.

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We are now striving forward and we need your help!
It isn’t going to be easy, and we need at least 5000 members before our survival becomes more assured, but now I am not working on my own, we are a community and together we can do amazing things. So this is the honest truth and I will be open about everything the Pretty Nostalgic Society does. Once we make enough money to cover costs, profits will go back into the society to help it prosper.

To Our Members.
If you are a member – we are so pleased and honoured that you have joined us, please tell others about us and help us to grow. We want to work with you and get to know you – you are our reason for being after all!

If you would like to join us.
If you are a fellow lover of British history and vintage, like living in a more hand-on way, agree with what we stand and you like to read beautifully produced, designed and passionately written publications then please consider joining us as a member as the more who join us the more wonderful things we can do together.

We would like to help promote your British indie business.
If you run an independent British business that fits with our ethos then you can join us as a business subscriber and together we can help each other grow – you get magazines in return worth more than your subscription costs and also get listed in our business member directory both in paper and online.

A jolly good read!
Even if you can’t join us you are very welcome to read our lovely publications, you can order each new issue as it is published and many of our magazine back issues are still available to buy and our members can buy them at a discounted price.

We have many more publishing projects planned and we will always be totally committed to supporting independent shops rather than being sold on Amazon!

A happy ending?
I now run Pretty Nostalgic with a sole purpose to produce the best publications imaginable with the help of our members and to help promote British businesses who deserve to be recognised rather than just those who can afford to pay. We have sacrificed a lot in order to keep to our mission and thrive on our own terms, and now we’re delighted to see the Pretty Nostalgic Society start to thrive. I invite you to journey with us into a bright and prosperous future and let’s show everyone that sometimes the little guys can win!

Wishing you many happy days from vintage ways,

Nicole Burnett
Founder, Publisher and Editor

In my opinion The Pretty Nostalgic Society is something to be treasured, and for lovers of history, of golden times passed, of vintage fashion and retro and resourceful living, it is a breath of fresh air in a very commercial live-for-now world.  But the Society needs members to survive and thrive.  Go along and have a look at the website for yourself.  I certainly hope to be meeting like minded folk, and to be learning from others simple things I just can’t do now, like sewing and knitting!

We will be heading back to The Dig For Victory Show this year.  It will be on the weekend of the 13th and 14th June.

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