10-Year Journey to Create a Top Notch Magazine

For Naziah Ali and her business partner, Dovi Kanaimawi, establishing Cover Story Limited and acquiring maiLife magazine six years ago held a future they may not have expected at that
08 Jul 2017 11:17
10-Year Journey to Create a Top Notch Magazine

For Naziah Ali and her business partner, Dovi Kanaimawi, establishing Cover Story Limited and acquiring maiLife magazine six years ago held a future they may not have expected at that time.

As the years went by, the local magazine earned its way to the top and won prestigious awards of recognition such as the World Travel Awards, Australasia Airline Magazine this year.

Behind the glossy magazine are a team of 10 full and part time staff and a pool of over 20 regular contributors from Fiji and abroad, travelling and sweating to provide for one of Fiji’s top magazines.

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the magazine.

“To celebrate our tenth year, we have 10 different covers that people can choose from. The stories inside the magazine are all the same, but they choose who they want to be on the cover,” said maiLife magazine editor-in-chief and publisher, Naziah Ali.

“All in all, we’ve been honoured to bring you the stories of inspiring Fijians for a decade now. We were proud to bring you current affairs, sports, literature, art, business and share information with the regular Fijian.

“We take pleasure in harnessing the creativity of our team of writers, photographers and innovators to continue serving you with Fiji’s favourite magazine.

“From the team at maiLife, thank you for being a part of our 10 year journey and may our success and the success of our fellow countrymen and women be celebrated by all.”


Background: maiLife Magazine started 10 years ago (in June 2007) by Stanley Simpson, Richard Broadbridge and Judith Ragg and including the Mai TV Channel.

The maiLife brand was then sold to Cover Story Limited four and half years later (December 2011).


  1. What do you believe is the magazine’s biggest achievement?

I think surviving 10 years in a challenging publishing environment is a major achievement especially for a lifestyle magazine.

I believe it is the longest surviving lifestyle magazine that is published regularly in Fiji.

maiLife magazine’s publishers, Cover Story Limited, has also expanded to include other publications such as the Fiji Airways’ inflight FijiTime magazine and specialised publications focusing on travel and fashion.


  1. Tell us a bit more about maiLife magazine and how it has grown over the years especially being involved in the digital platform?

maiLife magazine has a hard copy subscription base. It also has an online presence including a digital version that can be bought on Press Reader, a website that is regularly updated with news relating to lifestyle as well as a strong social media presence such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Other publications include maiLife Style and Travel magazines.

We also publish the award winning Fiji Airways’ inflight magazine (FijiTime). It won the World Travel Awards,Australasia Airline Magazine of the year.


  1. What were some major challenges you’ve faced as the publisher and female leader?

Starting a business with very little experience was my biggest challenge. I was still in my 20s when we started Cover Story Limited.

Those in my shoes would agree that being a young female entrepreneur has its added challenges. You have to prove yourself first before you are given any credit.

I’ve had to earn my reputation by working hard and proving my worth, which meant that you had to put in even the years to get there.

I struggled a lot the first few years, learning the ropes, getting to understand the market and working out how the business world operated.

I did have people who I could go to for advice and support, but like most small businesses, you have to go out there and do it yourself.

I had experienced a fair bit of sexism and racial bias against me, but I learnt to grow a thick skin. It’s been a steep learning curve and I’m still learning five and half years on and there’s still a long way to go.


  1. What are some obstacles that you believe have turned into triumphs?

Being the new face for the magazine meant I needed to work harder to gain recognition, acceptance and credibility. In a way, this pushed me into a do or die situation.

I had to make sure we stayed relevant to our market and created content that our readers wanted to read.

In the age of digital dominance, publications like ours had to deal with a new competition in the form of social media and blogs.

Around the time we bought maiLife, there were a few more publications in the market that were closing shop.

I was advised that it was a wrong move getting into publishing. I was even told that I wouldn’t survive and that the business would fail. I’m glad I took heed of that warning and worked harder to ensure it survived and grew.


  1. Please share one or two of your favourite memories from working on the magazine?

I’d say it would be the first day in the office when I met the team I was going to work with.

I had just quit my fulltime job to start the business. I had put my lifetime’s saving into the business and I had to make it work. The pressure I felt was intense, because I also had to make sure we lived up to the expectations from the readers.

I knew that moment that there was no looking back and my life was never going to be the same again.

The other memorable events would be of the magazine covering major events, including the last General Elections and the lead up to the elections as well as the coverage of Tropical Cyclone Winston.

You realise the influence and the value of the media even more, when your audience seek information or help from you during such times and you know that all the work you’ve put in has been worthwhile.


  1. How do you foresee the magazine growing and changing in the next five years?

We would like to expand our digital reach in the next five years.

We have a few digital products in the pipeline for later this year, but I will share more information when we launch them.

Feedback:  monica.aguilar@fijisun.com.fj


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