Editor in Chief of SELF magazine
Transitioning Print to Digital
Carolyn Kylstra became Editor in Chief of SELF magazine in late 2016 when the brand folded its print arm. Since then, she transformed the historically print publication to a thriving digital-first brand. This was the first example of a consumer print brand to go digital and survive—let alone thrive!
To recommit the brand to its service mission, “SELF helps people feel better,” she created the brand’s four core values (inclusivity, accuracy, empathy, and autonomy) and ensured that everything from content to experiences to products upheld them. For instance, when the World Health Organization declared vaccine hesitancy a top 10 global health threat in 2019, Carolyn knew that the brand had to use its platform to help tackle this important issue. So in August, SELF magazine launched the #VaccinesSaveLives initiative. One component of the project was a stock photoshoot done in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, which created a medically accurate catalogue of imagery that positively convey the vaccine experience—a direct response to the shortage of non-fear mongering images available. SELF published the images on Flickr and the AAP website under a Creative Commons license so anyone can download and use them at no cost.
Carolyn didn’t stop there. She strategically plans all of SELF magazine’s digital cover profiles to ignite important conversations about wellness that drive a larger dialogue and help effect change. In the summer of 2019, SELF released the Black Maternal Mortality special digital issue featuring track and field star and Olympian Allyson Felix on the cover following her first major race since becoming a mom. June 2019 cover star Alanis Morissette talked about being pregnant at 45 and her past experience with postpartum depression, something many women still feel a stigma talking about. And Taraji P. Henson’s cover profile in December 2019 featured a very candid conversation about her own mental health experiences, her work to break the stigma around mental health in the black community through her foundation, and her experience with menopause.
Carolyn is strategically using SELF magazine platforms to create cultural moments, stimulate important conversations, help impact change, and fulfill the brand mission to help people feel better.