There are few seemingly benign industries as vicious as the cobra pit of publishing. To many, what merely seems to be a bound stack of pages is composed as much of blood, sweat and tears as it is ink.
The problems facing a magazine are myriad, the easy answers few. There are articles to be solicited, written and edited, photographs to be sussed and selected, distribution points to be ascertained and above all advertisements to be sold if the magazine is to exist at all. All of which are tenfold for a fledgling title, whose lack of resources and name recognition makes the entire endeavor an uphill battle.
The thorns are thick and plenty for a venture such as this, and if one is willing to accept the challenge as a junior in high school, one could do worse than have the assistance of family at their side through it all.
That was how Tiara Mitchell and her mother Syreeta Mitchell made it to the other side, and EH The Mag is the result. The publication's name means "EverythingsHappenin," according to Syreeta Mitchell.
"It was very difficult," Tiara said. "It took a lot of thought processes … you just really have to be mentally strong, physically strong and just believe in yourself because it's a lot of hard work."
When her mother and father were in the process of launching a general interest magazine, Tiara was inspired to start one of her own. The Pottsgrove High School student decided to start a teen oriented spin-off to act as her senior project.
"That's the initiation of the high school version of the magazine," Syreeta Mitchell said. "And since the high school magazine is in publication currently, we kind of set aside our idea, my husband and I, to do the general magazine ... Tiara and I are just going to move forward with the high school edition of it."
Tiara sought a platform to "highlight teenagers and all the positive things they do in the community."
The magazine's topics of interest include sports, lifestyle and "everything that a real teen experiences on a daily basis," Tiara said.
The plan to focus on teens struck a chord with Syreeta Mitchell, who saw a chance to reach out to and encourage a group that at times can be struggling to find a place in the world. Syreeta Mitchell, whose background is in nursing, used to work at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where she often found the staff had the hardest time connecting to patients who were on the precipice of adulthood.
"I was on a cardiac transplant floor," Syreeta Mitchell said. "I kind of formed an attachment with the teenagers because everyone else had an affinity towards the infants and the babies, they want to sit there, rock and hold them, whereas I liked to counsel the teenagers. I knew a lot of the things they were doing, as far as noncompliance with the medication and just acting out, was more attention seeking than anything else, and a lot of the other nurses wouldn't want to be bothered, so to speak, for lack of better words, but they wouldn't want to take on the teenager as their patient."
Syreeta Mitchell would take on these patients, polish their nails and talk to them about what they were going through.
Those cardiac ward experiences shaped Syreeta Mitchell's views on an often difficult to pin down demographic - one she encounters in her own home.
"Watching (Tiara) grow and develop, I would see some of the same things that I saw in my past experiences with teenagers in the hospital," she said. "Some of this acting out stuff … It took me back to a time that I actually loved - when it was me working with the teens."
When Tiara approached her parents with an idea that tapped into that love, her mother was on board.
"I thought about it in the same way I thought about when I was just counseling teenagers on a one on one basis," Syreeta Mitchell said. "It actually allowed me to impart some wisdom and some positive choice making into a generation that is kind of going in a different direction than my generation was."
That mission of bringing positive press and reinforcement to a demonized part of the population is a core component of EH.
"I want people to understand that the choices you make have consequences," Tiara said. "And whether they be good or bad, those consequences set you up for life. So I want teenagers to know that it is okay to make mistakes, but once you do you have to rebound and get back on your feet and do the right thing, and do it in the most positive way. Because if not, you will allow yourself to be overwhelmed and fall back instead of rising to the top and being the best you that you can be."
The consequences of Tiara's choices included long hours and tireless dedication from her and her mother to put together EH's debut issue.
"We just really had to sit down and state and make plans," Tiara said. "We had to make a checklist and one by one, check it off. What we needed to do that day, the next day, that night."
Syreeta Mitchell and Tiara share all of the positions on the magazine's masthead, "When a team is a team primarily of two or three, every title is yours," Syreeta Mitchell said.
Tiara soon found herself explaining her dream to local businesses to lock up ad space and distribution points.
"Initially, I was going out and I was seeking the advertisers by myself," Syreeta Mitchell said. "And I didn't feel as though it was as authentic as it should have been ... What we decided was we would take two weeks, and for two weeks she would go out with me and talk to business owners about acquiring advertisements. And she got pretty much a fast forward business course."
Syreeta Mitchell and her husband explained to Tiara what businesses want to know, "because they're not going to just give you their money on your hopes and dreams for a project," Syreeta Mitchell said.
Tiara rose to the occasion, visited local businesses and sold them not only on EH, but herself as well.
"She was able to articulate all the points to the point where business owners were referring her to other businesses," Syreeta Mitchell said.
With the ad space sold and the magazine placed -- the first issues can be found at Books 4 Less in Upland Square, Towne Book Center in Providence and the Getty on High Street -- among other places. All of the locations that sell the publication are listed on the magazine's website.
Then came time to go to print.
The Mitchells used a professional graphic designer for the layout, giving EH a legitimate look that Syreeta Mitchell compared to glossy periodicals like Seventeen.
"Everyone who actually advertised in the magazine or has seen the magazine all says the same thing, 'Oh my God, this is a real magazine!' I don't know what people were anticipating," Syreeta Mitchell said, laughing.
For Tiara, seeing her vision come to life as a tangible publication was awe-inspiring.
"I was shocked," she said, her voice cracking briefly with joy. "I was just in disbelief to have the very first copy because I had been there along the journey of making it happen, receiving all the articles, writing articles, doing interviews with different people, reaching out to people at the school. So, to actually have the finished product, it was just like, 'Wow. Look at the job I've done' ... I was very excited. I cried and I was emotional, but I just feel so blessed and it turned out just how I thought it would - even much better than I thought it would be."
Of course, the first issue is just the beginning. For EH The Mag to survive in such a brutal environment, Tiara and Syreeta Mitchell need to continue to find stories and advertisers for volumes to come.
"I want people to know that if you're a student and you're interested in writing for EH The Mag, you can contact us," Tiara said. "We are always looking for interesting stories and articles. Businesses that want to advertise with us, they can contact myself or my mom ... Most importantly, don't keep us a secret."
While it may be impossible to ever truly gauge the impact Tiara and Syreeta Mitchell's magazine will have on a new generation, EH has already achieved its dream in at least one household.
"It has definitely been a challenge," Syreeta Mitchell said. "But the beauty of it all is the fact that it has definitely brought her and I closer together."