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Below are the items mentioned in this episode of the podcast.
- The Rainbow Times
- Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index
- Boston Pride
- The Latin@ Pride Committee – Boston Pride
- Latin Vision
- Beantown Softball League
You can get in touch with Gricel & Nicole here –
- The Rainbow Times
- Phone: 617-444-9618
- Email: Editor@therainbowtimesmass.com
- Stumble Upon
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Would you prefer to read the transcript than listen to the episode? No problem! Read the transcript below!
AUDIO TITLE: Episode #18 – The Rainbow Times
AUDIO START: [0:00:00]
Jenn T Grace: You are listening to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, episode 18.
Intro: Welcome to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast where you’ll learn how to do business with and market to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. We’re talking about the $790 billion lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. We’ll help you grow your business, gain market share and impact your bottom line. And now your host – she’s an entrepreneur, a marketing maven and an advocate for the LGBT business community. Jenn, with two N’s, T. Grace.
Jenn T Grace: Hello and welcome to episode number 18 of the Gay Business and Market Made Easy Podcast. I am your host, Jenn T. Grace. And I am as always, thrilled to be bringing you another episode of the podcast. Today I have some great guests joining us. So today’s interview is with Gricel and Nicole, and they are with the Rainbow Times. And I want to point out that this episode was intentionally created for the month of September, because September is also Latino Pride. So you will hear from the two of them about some of the things that they are doing to support Latino Pride in their area of the greater Boston area. So I’m really looking forward to diving into the interview with them.
But I do want to announce a couple of updates before we get into that. And last episode, episode number 17 that I had with Beverly Winters, I had mentioned to all of you that there’s a little bit of a new format happening with the show, and it kind of happened unintentionally, but I’m not sure if I’m going to keep up this pace or not. So I still am looking for additional ideas from you as to what you would like to see. So for those loyal fans, and loyal listeners, you know that this podcast has always been a back and forth between me educating you on some particular topic, or thing going on in LGBT that I think you should know about, and having a guest who is some sort of expert in a way. So the last handful of episodes have all been expert interviews with guests. So I just want to find out from you what you’re thinking. Do you want to hear more episodes with guests, or did you enjoy having that one-on-one time where I’m just educating you on something new? So if you would let me know, that would be fantastic. You can let me know in the blog, you can send me a tweet, however it’s easy for you to get in touch with me, please do so and let me know what you think of this formatting change as of right now.
I can say that I have a couple of interviews already lined up that I am really excited about. So depending on your feedback, whether or not the next episode is educational, and then the following one is an interview. Or if it’s just interview, interview, interview. Just you let me know. I want to make sure that I’m not taking you out of your comfort zone from what you’re familiar with listening to, so let me know your thoughts. It’s as easy as that, just send it however it is easy for you.
And one other thing that I want to make a note of, and I want to draw your attention to, is over the last six to eight months- actually in the beginning of 2013, I started out wanting to create an online course. And somewhere along the lines in early 2013, I ended up drawing my attention to writing my book instead. And I’ve recently gotten back to my online course, and I’m really excited to talk to you about the fact that it is launching on September 30th. So this episode is airing right now on September 19th, so we are days away from a full launch of this training course. So I am really, really excited to share this course with you. And the name of the course is, ‘How to Authentically Market to the Gay Community.’ And it is the online training course designed to teach you everything there is to know about LGBT and how to successfully market to the community. So I’m really excited about the course. Like I said, it launches on September 30th. I do have a free training for my loyal fans, and followers, and listeners, and all that great stuff. So if you’re interested in checking out the free training, it’s three videos, it’s three parts, and it kind of gives a condensed version of what the course goes over. So I want to give you a special link so you can check out specific information for these videos. And if you head over to the website at www.JennTGrace.com/podcastvip. That will bring you over to a page where you can throw your name and email address in, and the videos will be delivered to you via email. It’s not going to double opt you in for my main mailing list, or if you’re already on my main mailing list you’re going to get duplicated things. This is very specific to just this video series. So I would highly encourage you to head over and check it out, because I put a lot of love and effort into the videos, and I’m pretty proud with how they came out, and they have some tips and educational pieces that will help you communicate better with the community, as well as market yourself better to the community, and at the end of the day that’s why you’re here listening, right? So head on over, check those videos out, let me know what you think, and we’ll go from there.
So without further ado, I’m just going to dive right into the interview now with Gricel and Nicole from the Rainbow Times.
So I am sitting here having a delightful chat with two friends here, Nicole and Gricel, and I always actually say Gricel first and then Nicole, I don’t know why but I’m trying to switch it up right now for you two, because why not?
Nicole Lashomb: Thanks Jenn.
Jenn T Grace: So I am excited to talk to the two of you, and I know that we have been trying to get an interview on the calendar for quite some time, so this is really exciting, there’s a lot of current things that are happening right now for your business that I think is great to be having this happen in September. So I do like to find out what your story is, and what your journey is, and what your path looked like that led you to where you are today, which is as the co-owners and publisher and editor of the Rainbow Times, which is a Boston-based newspaper. And you have quite a media presence as well, which is really exciting. So maybe we can start with you first, Gricel. If you want to just give the listeners just a little bit of your background, and how you came to be the publisher of the Rainbow Times here in 2013.
Gricel Martinez: Nicole and I, when we lived in Northampton, we noticed that there was a lack of LGBT media- lack of a presence, and we decided to embark in the idea of the Rainbow Times, which actually about that time it was really a local LGBT newspaper from Northampton, for Northampton, Massachusetts. So it was pretty much that. Me being the person that I am with my Journalism degree from Temple University, I already had had experience with not only writing, but the publication of other former bilingual newspapers. So with that under my belt, I decided to say to Nicole, “Let’s just move on this idea that we had,” and we started to- it was funny we actually wrote the mission of the Rainbow Times while we were sitting at a Dunkin Donuts drinking coffee believe it or not.
Jenn T Grace: That’s awesome.
Gricel Martinez: And so anyway, from there on we devised the Rainbow Times as we slowly started to know it, devise the printing schedule, the reporters we needed, and we started all of this with just $3,000 in our pockets, and just a lot of love and passion for what we did. And from there on we launched the soft launch online, it was in November of 2006, and then the first actual print issue came out in February of 2007. And from there on we’ve been here since then. So that’s kind of a little bit-
Jenn T Grace: So I didn’t realize, and I have known the two of you since I think it was around October of 2007, for some reason I didn’t realize that we had met the same year that you were launching your paper. That’s really interesting. I don’t know how I didn’t put the two and two together. But that’s pretty interesting, and I’m glad that you were brief because now we can hear what Nicole’s version of the story is as well.
Nicole Lashomb: Okay. So it was really interesting because we had lived in the western Massachusetts area for three years, and each year we found ourselves missing the Pride celebrations in those areas. And so we would always go to a local sort of boutique shop for the LGBT community. Back then it was called Pride and Joy, and we would go there looking for information. But even there it was more like word of mouth, people would be hanging out, and we would just sort of have to talk up to people about the local LGBT community, where to go, and really connect with people. So Gricel and I, as she said, we went to that Dunkin Donuts, and said, “You know we need to do something. How is it possible that there’s such a large and vibrant LGBT community in this area, and there’s nothing to sort of bring the community together, and to- at least in terms of finding out information specific to the community.” So after we started the newspaper we had found after our very first Northampton Pride celebration, people were really pulling us to expand the publication to different regions. And so we really threw ourselves into it and started to expand to Connecticut as well as the rest of western Massachusetts outside of the Northampton area. The Berkshires also, Vermont. And so at that point we were sort of this western New England kind of publication that was continuing to expand throughout the years. And it ended up driving us to Boston eventually by the demands of the publication.
Jenn T Grace: That’s interesting, and I feel like I’ve witnessed how your geographic expansion has occurred, and it’s been really exciting. And it’s really exciting that you have such similar backgrounds in the sense that you were able to come up with this company, and it’s the epitome of an entrepreneur, or just how entrepreneurs operate, where you see a very specific void in the marketplace, and you have decided that you’re the ones that are going to fill it. So I think that’s really admirable, and I find that that’s a very common theme with the entrepreneurs that I’ve interviewed. Is that they saw a problem and they went to fix it. And something that you were talking about with sitting down in Dunkin Donuts- I feel like we should have Dunkin Donuts sponsor this interview.
Nicole Lashomb: Yes, exactly right. A good corporate sponsor.
Jenn T Grace: Seriously, and it’s a great time of year because they just got the pumpkin spice is back, which I’m addicted to in almost a bad way. But that’s beside the point. You were talking about having a mission. And I find that a lot of companies don’t have missions. You hear nonprofits are always the ones that focus first and foremost on what’s the mission of our organization. But I find that that’s something that’s really missing from a lot of businesses, and a lot of business plans. What made that be your first step? Thinking like, ‘Okay we have this idea, what’s going to be our mission?’
Nicole Lashomb: Well we knew that it was necessary because we wanted to really hone in on specifically what we wanted to accomplish with the business. And we knew without a mission, it’s like we had all of these ideas which were really all over the place. And so by establishing that mission, it really allowed us to focus on the direction of where we wanted to go with the paper. Did we want it to be primarily about like fun and entertainment? Or did we want it to be more about hard news topics? Or did we want it to be about educational issues? And how do we reach the needs of the different sort of subcultures within the LGBT community? Like the people of color community for example, and we’re dealing with African Americans, and Hispanics, and Asians, and white, and black- we just wanted to make sure that we were able to reach out and address the issues of as many people in our community as possible. But without that mission statement it was really kind of like where do you go from there because there are so many different avenues you could go.
Jenn T Grace: Wow, that’s such powerful advice almost, because like I said, I find that a lot of companies don’t have it. So if you’re a business owner, or an entrepreneur who’s thinking about starting a business, and you’re listening to this, take this advice and go get yourself a nice good mission statement, and figure out exactly how you’re going to focus your time and efforts. Because like you said, it really just focuses you, and gets you started in the right direction, so that way whatever it is that you’re doing, you can always go back to, ‘Does this relate to our mission?’ If yes, continue. If no, stop. So that’s a fabulous way to start off this interview, thank you for that great little gem. And what I would love- so normally I ask a little bit about your journey, and then I like to go into just throwing people off their tracks just for a moment, and ask them what is something that’s random, perhaps it’s a fun fact, maybe it’s just something that very few people know about you that is just something that so few people know that they wouldn’t expect it. It’s just something completely random about both of you.
Nicole Lashomb: Well for me I think people are really surprised to know sort of on a personal level, is that my first degree- my Bachelor’s degree is in Music Education. And I have actually been an award winning- a nationally award winning classical vocalist before we started the Rainbow Times. And so I think that’s something that people don’t equate a business owner specializing in media to that type of background.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah, see that’s what I’m talking about. A nice little fun fact. Just something really random.
Nicole Lashomb: Right.
Jenn T Grace: Gricel?
Gricel Martinez: So I can solve the Rubix cube without any of the cheats, or the cheat sheets that you find around. I enjoy it, I sit down, it’s a stress reliever for me, and so I really, really like that and a lot of people don’t know about that.
Jenn T Grace: That is funny.
Gricel Martinez: And I also would like to say that I love- I’m a techie. I love anything technologically related. If I could have five cell phones, I would. If I could have two, three tablets, I would. Which I have like a couple, by the way. If I could have just any- like five computers, which the newspaper and then personal, I think I have more than five. So you mentioned techie, I am in love with it, it’s my hobby. So I don’t think a lot of people know that about me.
Jenn T Grace: That I would say is one thing that if somebody were asking me like what’s one random thing about Gricel, I would totally say you are the definition of the early adopter in the marketing cycle. You are 100% the definition of it. So it’s funny that you bring that one up. That’s awesome.
Gricel Martinez: See, there you go.
Jenn T Grace: So now let’s get us back on track somehow. So I like to just start off the interviews asking that because I feel like it puts people in a good place, and now your guard is let down a little bit, so now I can ask the real hard hitting stuff. So when you were deciding that you were going to start this paper, did you have an ‘ah-ha’ moment specifically? Was it one moment where you were like, ‘Oh my God, this is it,’ or was it a series of those moments? Did you each have it at the same time? How did that play out?
Nicole Lashomb: Well I would say- that’s an excellent question, Jenn. I think for me at least, it’s really been a scaffolding effect. Just starting out in a sort of small town and small town business mentality, where we just thought we were going to serve the immediate community in which we lived. A big ‘ah-ha’ moment came for me when we started really being requested to start distribution and coverage of different areas outside of that sort of nucleus where we’d started. And so that was- I sort of recognized the potential at that moment saying, “Wow clearly it’s not just this community that needs something more, but it’s all of these other communities that are surrounding us too.”
Gricel Martinez: For me, I would say Jenn, that the ‘ah-ha’ moment came in the form of the Boston market and the rest of eastern New England wanting the paper. But especially the first time that we- actually it was the second time that we bid to see if we could become the main media sponsor of Boston Pride. And when we won that bid, and we were still out of Northampton, that was that ‘ah-ha’ moment. That was huge, and I said, “Oh my God, we have to expand. We have to even put out more papers, get it out to more people, hire more contractors, move to Boston,” et cetera, et cetera, and little by little that’s what we ended up doing. But yes, now that Boston community actually is extremely supportive, and the main source of advertising income for the Rainbow Times.
Jenn T Grace: That’s really awesome. So I know the two of you work day and night, and your schedules are somewhat of chaos when trying to plan things with you. So from my own personal experience, I know that it requires a hell of a lot of motivation to continue doing what you’re doing every day. So what is that source of motivation for you two, and what inspires you just to keep on moving forward every single day, regardless of how much work there may be to actually execute on this stuff?
Gricel Martinez: For me it’s the fact that- or the responses and the answers that we receive not just via the email, or the phone, it’s the one-on-one feedback that we get through the Pride events, through just interactions with people, but especially I have been touched by the LGBT youth community of color. I have given presentations in different parts of the state, and I am always in awe, and I actually leave almost in tears when I see the need that there is for role models that are from the LGBT community of color, and who speak on behalf on showing the kids that there’s a future for them. When youth come to me and say, “You are my dream, you are the person that I want to be in other words,” I just want to cry. I just want to hug them and cry because if I can give them that hope, and they can look up to me, and I can tell them I made it as a woman of color, bilingual, bicultural, and I am the proud publisher of this paper, so can you. That’s how I end most of these presentations. ‘So can you.’ So when that happens to me, that’s the glory of it all.
Jenn T Grace: I can totally see that.
Nicole Lashomb: Yeah and like Gricel, I share a very similar viewpoint. It’s really about the rewards that we get back. Obviously monetarily to be able to continue the business, but what drives us is impacting people’s lives really. And there was a young boy, seventeen years old, who was from a rural community on the North Shore in Massachusetts, and he was distraught, he told us that he was at the brink of contemplating suicide, and then he found our newspaper out on the street. And he picked it up, and he said to us, “It was at that moment that I realized even though I feel isolated in my own town, there are so many people out there just like me.” And that was really a very rewarding conversation to be having. And so those types of stories, and those types of relationships that we have built with not just the youth population but other young adults, also with the transgender community, with the senior community. The types of feedback that we get from people, that’s really what keeps us pushing harder no matter how tired we are, or what we’re doing.
Gricel Martinez: And Jenn, may I add something else?
Jenn T Grace: Yes please.
Gricel Martinez: When it comes to the transgender community, I can tell you that we have received feedback from well-known members of the transgender community telling us that what they like about the paper is that we just don’t say, “Sure we’re going to be transgender and cover trans issues,” but we hire people from their community, from the trans community, to be a part of the Rainbow Times. To lend their voices, and let the rest of the LGB community know what their struggles are. And so to us that was very important since the very beginning. When the first issue hit the streets, we had a transgender writer on board even then.
Jenn T Grace: I’m so happy you brought that up because that was actually going to be one of my next talking points, was the fact that I know that your paper goes above and beyond anything else that’s out there in terms of your transgender coverage. And I know that I personally take a lot of responsibility on being an advocate, and being a champion for the trans community. And I feel like more of us as LG or B should be doing that, because at the end of the day the trans community is still so marginalized comparatively to the L, the G, and the B. So I feel like it’s a duty of mine to help propel and move that movement forward. And I know that the two of you do an amazing, kickass job at that. So I was totally going to bring that up, and I’m happy that you beat me to it. And Nicole your story gave me goosebumps just FYI.
Nicole Lashomb: Thank you. And yes, and those goosebumps, again those are the goosebumps of motivation for us. And so people never cease to really amaze us, and the work that we’re doing. It’s very rewarding.
Jenn T Grace: That’s such good stuff. I feel like maybe that’s why we get along so well, because I feel like the things that motivate me are exactly the same things that motivate you. It’s just- it’s making a difference is really at the heart of what we’re all doing.
Nicole Lashomb: Exactly.
Jenn T Grace: Good stuff. And so I want to move over to business a little bit, and you already gave a really good gem of business advice in the beginning around mission statements. But in this process of your becoming business owners, was there a piece of business advice that somebody gave you that’s just one of those sticking points that’s really helped guide the way that you go about business? So let me just give you a random example. So for me, I had somebody early on tell me it’s always better to ask for forgiveness versus permission. And I have always run with that type of model. So is there some sort piece of business advice that’s just one of those core things that you operate on?
Nicole Lashomb: I would say we were told once about partnering with organizations for the mutual benefit of everyone involved. And so I think that that’s something that we have incorporated really since day one.
Jenn T Grace: A win-win.
Nicole Lashomb: Exactly.
Gricel Martinez: I don’t know, Jenn. I am thinking about that still. Because I use that same kind of model; it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.
Jenn T Grace: It’s good advice, I run with it.
Gricel Martinez: Yeah, me too. I like it a lot. Nicole and I both do the same thing. What would I say?
Jenn T Grace: So I just want to throw out the fun fact of the day, is that I have a five year sitting on my lap with bronchitis while we are recording this interview. So if someone is listening to this and something sounded choppy or edited funny, it’s because we’re dealing with this type of road block at the moment. So Gricel, I know I was in the middle of asking you for some type of piece of business advice that is one of your guiding principles. Would you mind sharing that, and hopefully we can have the child quiet?
Gricel Martinez: Yes I finally- I was thinking about the fact that my father is still, and was always a business owner. And he was a successful business owner at that. He owned a jewelry store and he still works for that same jewelry store. And so one of the things I remember him telling me was that communication was key for you to communicate with your customers, and clients. But most importantly beyond that communication, was the fact that there were times that even if I were to get less money for a certain ad, or a certain transaction, it was really in the art of keeping that customer happy what I was after. And so that’s what I aim to do, and that’s what we do in the Rainbow Times. We are here to work with our clients. We’re not here to just get money. So that would be it for me.
Jenn T Grace: That’s really, really good advice. That’s awesome stuff. You two are just cranking it out today, I’m loving it. Even despite all of our stops and starts with the child issue at the moment. So my next question, and we’re getting nearing the end of the interview, but we do have a couple of questions left. Is around marketing to the community. As you know, my podcast is all about helping business owners and entrepreneurs figure out how to market themselves to the LGBT community in the right way, the authentic way, the transparent way, all those great things. So especially I can’t wait to hear your feedback on this because the fact that you are media professional. For people who are listening to this, and they want to make that step into marketing themselves to the community, do you have a particular piece of advice that you would give them, that you think would help make them successful in doing that? It could be something small. I know before we hit record we were talking about how making sure that your photography is matching the ad buy in that kind of stuff. So what are your thoughts on that?
Nicole Lashomb: I think like any marginalized community, it’s important to make sure that you’re putting out messages that speak to the marginalized community. For example, like you said we were sort of discussing before about the imagery use in advertising, and things like that. So if someone is putting together an advertisement, or a video, or whatever it is for a company, and you’re trying to target specifically the LGBT market, then you’re going to want to make sure that you should not be featuring a heterosexual three generational family for example. It’s not exactly an accurate depiction of the market that you’re trying to reach. And the same thing goes with the message in advertising. One time a message came through through an agency that I was working very closely with that said- used words like ‘they’ and ‘those people’ when referring to the LGBT community. So automatically that is isolating the community. It doesn’t matter if you’re putting the advertisement in an LGBT publication. If the language is something that could be offensive, or seems like you’re out of touch with the LGBT community, then that becomes problematic. So it’s really about getting messaging out there that is inclusive of everyone. Because we really all do belong to this sort of collective global community, and it’s about understanding each other, and knowing how to reach each other.
Jenn T Grace: That was so well said. That’s awesome.
Nicole Lashomb: Thank you.
Gricel Martinez: Yeah, definitely. I was going to say that the message also should be consistent with the mission of that company. If you are really targeting the LGBT community, it should be because you really care about the community. Not just because you want our money. Because that just doesn’t- we notice it. As a customer myself, I know what companies to support and not because I follow the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. And I do not spend my money in companies that are not listed as having a good score in that index report. So to me, that’s extremely important as well.
Nicole Lashomb: Yeah and equally important I would say is going along the lines of what Gricel was saying in the company’s own mission, and how they view LGBT people, and how they are going to include the LGBT community within their own workforce, or their own objectives, and vision for the company. Is that it’s important that the company is not then turning around and giving funds to groups and organizations that are anti-LGBT, and fighting to sort of take away rights from our community. So it’s really very much a full circle in that sense, in terms of how you’re reaching out.
Jenn T Grace: That was some really awesome advice, and it’s definitely things that I have covered in past blogs, or even on this podcast. Because it’s all really important, and it’s great to have it be said by the two of you who are- you’re media professionals, you run a newspaper, you have a really large online presence. So for you to give advice- for me to say it, it’s one thing. For you to say it is another thing because you’re the ones who are actually receiving these really ill-worded ads, or poorly designed ads. So it’s great that you just kind of drove that point home. That’s good stuff.
Nicole Lashomb: Thank you.
Gricel Martinez: And also Jenn, I was going to speak about the fact that the LGBT Latino community is really growing, and there is also a different way of marketing to this segment of the community. And there are people who still don’t know that at times an advertisement in Spanish is still quite important to get. That’s why also at the Rainbow Times we have one page dedicated to the LGBT Spanish speaking community. It’s called Latin Vision. And in it we have obviously advice, and columns from Wilfred Labiosa, at times the columns are from myself, and we go and we do this because I know, and we know based on the numbers from different research companies that have worked with us in the past and currently, that there is a need. And that we actually right now at the Rainbow Times has I believe over 25% of our readers are people of color. And from those, I think like almost 15% are Latino or Spanish speaking.
Jenn T Grace: That’s fascinating, and I’m really happy that you brought that up, because I know that one of the things that I wanted to mention on here is that we’re right in the season of Latino Pride, and I know that you were just recently awarded with something that I would love for you to talk a little bit about. Because basically what you were just saying, how you have a dedicated section of the paper for this particular niche, because of the fact that when a company is saying, “Oh I want to market to-” and a lot of times they’ll just say the gay community, they’re thinking of affluent, white, gay men. And it really eliminates everybody else out of the equation. So women are always the minority, and then of course any other ethnicity other than being someone who’s white is also a minority. So why don’t you share with us just a little bit about what you were just awarded with? Because I know it’s really exciting and really important.
Gricel Martinez: Well we were one of three recipients. We were awarded by the Boston Latino Pride Committee with the Solidaridad Award, which really means solidarity award. And the committee members in their letter said to us that it was mostly because our longstanding promotion of Latino Pride, which we have been there for them every year that they have been celebrating Latino Pride. And they also made it- it was important for them to give us the award as well because we are a Latino owned and run business, as you well know, I am first generation Spanish, Puerto Rican. And so as such this was very important to me, and very dear to me. And so the award to us, it’s incredible because we have tried our best to not only have a print supplement for Latino Pride every year, expose their events, expose the importance of it, interview Latino leaders in the community to tell us how they feel being LGBT Latino, and what other things that they think we can accomplish as a double minority, and triple minority at time status; which I hate to say that word, but it is obviously we’re not part of the majority. So as such I guess we’re just very proud of the work that we do with Latino Pride, and we were awarded the Solidaridad Award, and we were not even expecting it frankly. We just do this because obviously I believe in it, Nicole believes in it, and in the same way that we believe in trans’ rights, people of color rights, youth rights. And I think that’s what sets us apart from other papers.
Nicole Lashomb: Right, and that was also a big part of our mission as well. Was to not only sort of educate the mainstream community about the LGBT community, but also the LGBT community about itself. Because there are so many subcultures within our own community that there’s no way my experience as a white lesbian is the same as a gay man. Or as the same thing as a Hispanic lesbian. Or anything like that. And so again, it’s about really learning and understanding about each other, and not just this sort of privileged, mainstream LGBT ‘norm,’ because there’s so much to our community than just that.
Jenn T Grace: That’s such an important thing, and I feel like it’s one of the biggest myths that are out there in terms of people just viewing the LGBT community as such a monolith. That everybody shares the same views, and beliefs, and values, and all that kind of stuff. And even with your point that you as a white lesbian- or someone marketing to you would be very different than somebody marketing to Gricel. So even though you share a lot of commonalities, there’s still a very different marketing style that one would probably take in order to reach the different demographic. And even I’m thinking I’m a white lesbian, you’re a white lesbian, but marketing to the two of us would also be very different because I happen to also have a family. So I have children to worry about- and I don’t want to say deal with because that sounds terrible, but you know what I mean. So marketing to me would be very different from marketing to you as a married Bostonian- I love that I can say Bostonian now. But you don’t have children right now, so that marketing tactic would be very different as well.
Nicole Lashomb: Right so it’s all really also about what the companies and organizations are looking for in their messaging. Like what is- they need to be very focused on what their intent, and exactly who from the LGBT community are they targeting? So yeah, I don’t think that that can go easily overlooked.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah it’s not a one size fits all by any means.
Gricel Martinez: It never is.
Jenn T Grace: No, exactly. And I’ve used deodorant as examples in the past of just thinking about deodorant, like think of how deodorant’s marketed to a man versus a woman. It’s entirely different. So just because someone’s a lesbian, and someone happens to be a gay man does not mean that you would market the deodorant the same way just because they’re L and G. Like it doesn’t make sense, but for some reason people think it does. So this is why we’re here, and this is why we’re having this interview, so we can educate people. So I’m hoping that some folks are picking up some good tips because I feel like this whole interview has been hacked with good juiciness. So thank you for the fiftieth time for providing such fabulousness. And so I want to talk about how you feel like you’ve been able to leverage your status as an LGBT business owner. And I know that in your situation it’s unique because you are a part of the LGBT media. But do you feel- and you probably already covered this, but this is one of my routine questions. Is do you feel that you have been able to leverage your status as a business owner for the benefit of your business?
Gricel Martinez: Okay.
Nicole Lashomb: Well it’s complicated because we are media, so everything that we do is objective, and is focused on a community in general. And so I think that we have certainly grown to a point as a business owner, where we have been successful, where we have- last year and the year before our business has grown by over 200% each year. So I think that we’re definitely gaining momentum, and still continue to gain momentum. I think our status in the community in terms of being reputable and trustworthy has been increased exponentially from the time that we started. And the partnerships that we have with various organizations have also increased. I mean this year for example, we just became a sponsor of the Beantown Softball League team. They’re called the Rainbow Times Terriers. And so that was a financial contribution. We’ve given hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth in kind and monetary contribution. So I think that any time that you really put yourself out there as a business owner, and give back to the community, it helps to increase your leverage in the community.
Jenn T Grace: I totally agree. Awesome. So I have one question, and it’s more of like a logistical/tactical type of question. Is do you have some sort of business book, or a program, a course, some kind of tool, just something that’s really helped transform the way that you go about business?
Nicole Lashomb: Well we first- every year we re-examine our business plan that we started way back when, and have added to it, and subtracted to it, and modified it to sort of suit where we are right now. For example we’ve recognized that there’s an inherent need for different additions of the newspaper. Again it’s because all of these different regions that we represent have different needs, and we are just in the process actually right now of someone is going to be acquiring a Connecticut version only of the Rainbow Times, though it will be called the Rainbow Times Connecticut. So that’s a very exciting thing. And where you go from there is really- it’s anywhere really. So it’s sort of like a franchise without being a franchise, and it’s about community building, and really being able to target our market. And so really the sort of bible that we’re guided by is really that business plan, and also our marketing plan, and about to be effective in the future in the communities that we are representing regionally, and perhaps nationally.
Gricel Martinez: And when it comes to that, the Connecticut situation, or the great Connecticut situation, it’s something that has given us the ideas to further I guess transactions like those, and perhaps even move in a pace that takes us- like Nicole said, nationally. What we have done really, and that has been I think successful, has been that we have been able to adjust and readjust to the economy, to the conditions of the market, the specific market that we are in. And then to reinvent what we do in such a way that it is still profitable. It doesn’t have to be largely profitable. We aim for that always, but if it’s not largely profitable at least a degree of profit, it is still acceptable, and actually being good business practice. And behind all of this Jenn, it cannot happen if we don’t have good faith. If we don’t put out good faith, and good karma, and good intentions to the readers, the advertisers, the people who trust us, and trusted us the first day that this paper came out, then we would be nothing. We would have nothing today. But all of those things tied together make the Rainbow Times as successful as it is today.
Nicole Lashomb: And especially in the era that we’re in where the Internet is so prevalent in people’s lives, a lot of mainstream publications are finding it difficult to exist. Whereas niche publications like the Rainbow Times, or other niche publications, they’re really quite thriving because they haven’t been around as much, there’s still a need for justice, and equality, and things of that nature. And so I think that they’ll pretty much always have a place in our lives, but on top of that, although we believe that to be true, we also have expanded our website, and our social media presence, and that sort of all ties into that reinvention of the Rainbow Times that Gricel was speaking about. Because if you just sort of go along in your traditional sense of, ‘This is how we do it year, after year, after year,’ it’s inevitable that you’re not going to end up growing the business to the potential that it has. So it really is about being creative, and finding different sources of revenue, finding different ways that you can reach the community widespread, and that’s something that I really think that we’ve been able to capitalize on.
Jenn T Grace: You two are just killing me today. I feel like you have literally given solid concrete answers for every question, and we’ve also had fun while doing it.
Nicole Lashomb: Yes!
Gricel Martinez: Well if we are in the business of asking questions, and we don’t answer them well ourselves, then there’s a problem.
Jenn T Grace: That is a valid point. So my last question, and then we will say goodbye, but I want to make sure that you give yourselves a plug, the Times a plug, get it all out there. But my last question for you is what is one thing in your business right now at this very, very moment in time that’s just really exciting, and lighting your passion?
Gricel Martinez: For me it is the Latino Pride. And the connection that it has obviously with other adjustments and new ideas that we have for the Rainbow Times, and for the coverage of events, and the giving of more information to the Hispanic community. The Spanish speaking or bilingual Hispanic community.
Nicole Lashomb: Yeah and for me it’s kind of- it really has more to do with the impact that we’re having on the subcultures of the LGBT community. We’ve really started to create a platform with the Rainbow Times that very much displays sort of this dialogue, and very ‘controversial’ types of subjects relating to discrimination; people of color, women, and the LGBT community. So those types of issues, like bringing these sort of taboo topics that a lot of people don’t want to talk about half the time out of either fear, ignorance, or any other reason that they may have. I think for me personally, that’s what’s helping to fuel my passion in going forward, is really exposing these topics that have sort of been taboo for all these years.
Jenn T Grace: That is amazing, and that is awesome stuff. And thank you so much for taking the time out of your day. I know that the two of you epitomize busy, so I know that carving out this time was not an easy task. But I’m so grateful that you did because I feel like anyone listening to this is going to walk away with some concrete advice, some concrete things that they can go back into their business and implement, which I think is amazing and is really the whole point of these interviews. So thank you for that. And can you just let people know how they can find you, and how they can maybe subscribe to the Rainbow Times, or your website, and all of those great ways?
Gricel Martinez: So yes, they can contact us via the www.TheRainbowTimesMass.com. They can also call (617) 444-9618, and remember I speak Spanish as well. So you can call us, and also Nicole?
Nicole Lashomb: If you prefer to contact via email we have a contact form actually on our website as well. That will be directly sent to my inbox which is firstname.lastname@example.org. And you’ll hear back from me within a 24 hour business day span. Also you can find us on Facebook, and Twitter @TheRainbowTimes. And we have a huge social network, and we always look to improve and grow that.
Gricel Martinez: And Jenn, we are everywhere. So Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, you name it, we are there.
Jenn T Grace: That’s amazing. And this has been fabulous. I think that we should have some sort of follow-up interview down the road. We’ll figure out a reason to do that.
Nicole Lashomb: We’d love to.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah, thank you so much, this has been fantastic. And we will certainly stay in touch.
Gricel Martinez: Definitely, it was a pleasure. Thank you.
Jenn T Grace: Okay and now we’re back. I hope you enjoyed that interview with the two of them. They are great people, they are two of the most sincere people I know, and I’m very honored to call them friends. So I hope you enjoyed that interview. It’s a little more punchy than usual, as you can tell we definitely have a long standing relationship together. But I hope you enjoyed it. I know I certainly had a great time talking with them. I hope that you are supporting Latino Pride wherever you happen to be, it’s certainly a great time to celebrate, and the month of September is what it’s all about.
So before I let you go, as always I want to make sure that we hear a special message from my sponsors at the Human Performance Academy. So stay tuned, and I have one more announcement when we get back.
Okay so we are back, and I just want to point out that if you enjoyed what you heard in this episode, I encourage you to spread the love. So if you want to head over to the website at www.JennTGrace.com/love that will pre-populate a tweet that will just send it out to your followers to say that you enjoy this podcast, and you think that they should listen to. I think that would be fantastic, and I just want more people to know that this free resource is available to them. So anything you can do to help will be fabulous.
And as always, everything that we talked about on the show, all the links that we mentioned on the air can be found on the website at www.JennTGrace.com/018, that is for episode number 18. So I did tease you before and say I had one more announcement, and I want to let you know that I am still holding true to my commitment of running a half marathon which I had mentioned to you previously in the last episode. And I’m very grateful for the feedback that I’ve already gotten from many of you in regards to tips and tricks on running. So I am still 100% all for understanding how to do this more efficiently. So if you want to send me over some more tips, please do, I am far from an expert, I really don’t know what I’m doing and I need all the help I can get.
So that’s all I’ve got today. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast, and I look forward to seeing you in episode number 19.