Spokane Journal of Business

Natural Awakenings focuses on nontraditional health

Magazine targets women readers ages 35 to 70

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-—Jose Angel

A college job at Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute translated into a passion for intercultural communication for Amber McKenzie, and that passion led her around the world and back again.

In September, McKenzie, 42, launched Natural Awakenings Inland Northwest magazine—a publication covering the latest natural approaches to health, sustainable living, nutrition, fitness, creative expression, and personal growth.

With communication studies degrees from Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga University, you might say McKenzie has come full circle.

“I love to write,” she says. “But when I went to Japan at 20 through Mukogawa, my mind was blown. It changed everything. I knew I needed to travel.”

After graduating from EWU, she took a Portland-based job, marketing a language program throughout Europe and Asia.

She returned to Spokane in 2002 to help care for her dying grandmother, and accepted a position at Gonzaga, promoting the university internationally, specifically in Asia.

Prolonged exposure to other cultures led to an affinity with nontraditional medicine and healing techniques.

“I loved my job,” says McKenzie. “I was able to create it as I went—and I got to travel.”

But in August 2016, her mother died.

“It was a life-changing moment,” McKenzie recalls. “My mother was my best friend. She was my North Star—my home.”

As a single mom of two girls, then 3 and 5, she says she knew she needed a career change.

“My sister had a Natural Awakenings franchise in Charlotte, North Carolina. I swear it felt like magic when I held a copy in my hands. My fingers tingled. I thought, ‘Oh my god, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene needs something like this.’”

She left Gonzaga last January, and using an inheritance from her mother, she purchased a Natural Awakenings franchise. Nine months later, her first issue hit the stands.

Currently, there are 83 franchises throughout the U.S., and the novice publisher received training at the magazine’s headquarters in Naples, Florida.

Natural Awakenings provides the bulk of the editorial content, but McKenzie is able to localize it with news briefs in the front of each magazine and a local resource guide and calendar in the back.

In addition, she says she welcomes local sidebars to the national articles, and those can be written by non-advertisers as well as advertisers.

“My job is to create a brand new market in the area,” she says. “My mission is to be a resource and connection to readers and holistic providers, and to get the word out about all the amazing things happening in the wellness communities of Eastern Washington and North Idaho.”

The magazine is free and can be found throughout the area at traditional grocery stores like Fred Meyer and Rosauers, organic grocers like Huckleberry’s and Natural Grocers, as well as in chiropractor clinics, acupuncture clinics, naturopath offices, farmer’s markets, fitness centers and yoga studios.

McKenzie has more than 200 distribution sites and is looking to expand her market to Sandpoint. Current monthly circulation is 10,000 copies, and readership is approximately 22,000.

She says the target demographic for the magazine is women age 35 to 70, and the readership is 75 percent women.

“I also have an online magazine that I send out every month to those on my email list, which people can sign up for on my website: inwAwakenings.com,” McKenzie says.

So far, it’s a one-woman operation, but that might change as the market grows.

“In the next year, I hope to increase my number of distribution sites by 100, increase my advertising base, and continue receiving articles and content from local holistic practitioners,” she says. “I’m also excited to assist providers educate our community on their various specialties and services or products, and grow their businesses with new clients who will truly benefit from what they have to offer.”

With five issues under her belt, McKenzie’s passion for travel has evolved into a passion to empower others on their journey to health and wellness.

“I want to feel connected to my readers,” she says. “I’m learning as I go, right along with them.”

  • Cindy Hval

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