| The Jersey City-Lovin' Crew | EIGHTY Magazine Showcases Jersey City's True Creativity
I can’t remember the first time I heard about EIGHTY Magazine, but it was some time last summer when the buzz about the inaugural issue was reaching a fever pitch on social media. I’d just launched B+aBBQ to document our journey of discovery here in Jersey City, and was beginning to really tune into the scene, primarily through Twitter.Then I saw the first issue of EIGHTY at Madame Claude Wine Shop (yes, I was picking up a… okay fine, a few bottles, but also our weekly CSA farm share) and grabbed a copy of the magazine to bring home. It was then I realized that wow, this really is a piece of work.
It wasn’t until the second issue hit “stands” (also known as the coolest spots in Jersey City, like The Kitchen at Grove Station) that the Love of My Life took notice. He runs ADC, the oldest advertising and design club in the world, and I handle the Club’s PR and Communications, and a lot of design passes in front of our eyes. Bad design, good design, great design and life-changing design.
EIGHTY stopped him dead in his tracks, and he immediately wrote to Marinell Montales and Chadner Navarro (the founders of the mag) to give them props because it is just so beautiful. It’s elegant, it’s clean, it’s classy, but it’s also modern and fresh. The content is just as wonderful with concise, well-written, engaging articles about the people, places and things that are not to be missed in Chilltown.
Issue Two now permanently sits on a side table in our living room, mostly because I think its beauty makes us look cool. Also because we subconsciously try to sell Jersey City to any Manhattan or Brooklynite that crosses our doorstep, and it provides the perfect tool to help us do just that (I know, we need to stop that so JC doesn’t become the next Williamsburg).
We can’t wait for Issue Three. So to help me pass the time until it drops, I asked Marinell and Chadner to share how this gorgeous publication came to be, and they graciously obliged with the following insight.
BURBS + a BBQ: How did the two of you meet and decide to collaborate on a project?
Chadner Navarro: We met in 2009 (or 2010) through a mutual friend, who went to college with Marinell and to elementary school with me. The three of us were all freelancing at the time, so we would often meet up at The Warehouse Cafe with our laptops. That friend works full-time now, but for Marinell and I, not much has really changed.
This is actually not the first project we thought of doing together. We've discussed other concepts that we eventually shelved. The idea of doing a magazine may have just come at a better time for us. And a great time for Jersey City, considering how much is going on. There is a lot to discover and to write about.
Marinell Montales: As Chadner said, we've dreamt up other projects before but have never been able to follow through with them because of funding (or lack thereof). Money still doesn't come easy to help produce EIGHTY, but it's the first project where we both just said, "Fuck it!" and went at it 100%. I think we definitely launched EIGHTY at the right time, when Jersey City was going through a massive change and it needed an avenue to put a more complete showcase on that change.
BURBS + a BBQ: Was there a more precise "a-ha!" moment when EIGHTY was born, or did the idea bake and materialize once you realized it was magazine time?
MM: I was just coming out of a full-time freelance gig and was in between one-off projects. I was itching for a new outlet to pour all of my creative energy into. One day, I was flipping through a local magazine from San Jose called Content that my fiance had brought back from a trip, and I guess that was sort of the "a-ha!" moment. I went up to Chadner right away, who was sitting a few tables away from me at The Warehouse Cafe, and said to him, "Let's start a magazine."
CN: Marinell came up to me at The Warehouse Cafe one day during the summer of 2013 and asked me if I wanted to make a magazine. It took us a year from that moment to launch the first issue, but there was never a lot of heehawing about what the magazine was going to be. It was always going to be a JC publication.
BURBS + a BBQ: Did you feel there was a niche that wasn't being filled in Jersey City that EIGHTY could fill?
CN: When we were plotting world domination with EIGHTY, there were already magazines about Jersey City that have been around for many, many years. I think our aesthetic is the differentiator. I don't know if that's a niche that we're filling, but that's certainly something that we obsess over.
MM: I knew immediately that EIGHTY needed to be design-driven for it to stand out. I wanted something that would show off the creative economy that was already thriving in this town. There are a lot of incredibly talented artists and young creative professionals living in Jersey City, and I didn't feel that there was anything coming out of the city that visually represented that creativity. I personally wanted to induce a 'wow' upon someone's first impression of the magazine, and I'm pretty proud to say that we've achieved that.
BURBS + a BBQ: Why "EIGHTY"?
CN: It took us a long time to come up with a name. It's difficult — trying to come up with a title that will hopefully represent everything you're trying to accomplish. So we had a lot of terrible ideas, and we're not 100% confident that EIGHTY isn't a bad idea, too, but it's named after the NJ Transit bus that runs from Greenville to Exchange Place. In the 20 years I've lived in Jersey City, I've been a reluctantly loyal passenger.
MM: I love telling people that we named the magazine after the bus! The 80 bus route cuts through most of Jersey City, so you can say that it serves Jersey City in a way that EIGHTY does. It's also a great, unexpected detail that also brings back good memories to people who have been living in Jersey City and taking the 80 their whole lives. Plus, it's such a non-descriptor name that's easily transferrable. If we ever expand to other forms of media or take the brand elsewhere, the name is the least of our troubles.
BURBS + a BBQ: How do you plan each issue and decide what to feature?
CN: The process is fairly fluid. There are a lot of stories that have ended up in the first two issues that were last-minute ideas. But for the most part, we talk about what interesting stuff has been circulating around the city. And then from there we narrow down to the stories we're most inspired by. I admit that I have very specific interests. Something that may speak to someone else could be totally boring to me, and I do have to fight against that if there's a story worth telling.
MM: We try to put out timely content, like an opening of a new shop or restaurant or seasonal activities to try out in Jersey City. But yes, for the most part, the stories that make up every issue are what we love most and can proudly get behind. Although there are times I get hung up on things like how people will react to a certain story or the choices we make, which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing, because after all, we have to cater to our audience; but as Chadner mentioned, we won't print a story just because it'll cover our bases. (People have called us out on not featuring more "minorities" or places outside of Downtown!) We only have room for 16 pages of content, and printing is very expensive! At the end of the day, I want to make sure that Chadner and I are both happy before we try to please others.
BURBS + a BBQ: As proud, long-term JC residents, I need your wisdom: what would make for a perfect day in Jersey City?
CN: I'd sleep in, have Filipino breakfast, maybe force my sister to sing karaoke with me, do silly stuff with my niece — who is seven and an absolute gem of a human being — and have lunch with my family at Ashiya, this super casual sushi joint on 440 that personifies the meaning of erratic service. If it's nice out, I'd like to play tennis at Lincoln Park. And then sleep some more.
I love cocktails so I might ask some friends for a post-dinner drink or two at Dullboy. Then I'll WhatsApp Marinell to find out if DJ StadiumStatus is spinning at Porta. If he is, I'll force her and our friend Lauren for a couple of hours of dancing.
MM: Brunch at Sam AM or Madame Claude Cafe with my fiance, getting a couple hours of work done at The Warehouse Cafe, dinner at Razza, a mini-cone from Milk Sugar Love, a night cap with friends at Roman Nose or Dullboy. And yes, on nights when StadiumStatus DJs at Porta, Chadner and I, along with our friend Lauren, burn all the calories at the "Boom Boom Room."
BURBS + a BBQ: Um, that sounds awesome. I have a sudden craving for Filipino food, Milk Sugar Love (they have mini cones? That makes it perfectly okay to get one regularly!), cocktails and dancing the night away. At least I now know where to do all of the above!
A huge thank you to Chadner and Marinell for this glimpse behind the scenes at how EIGHTY got its start. One thing is certain: this is only the beginning for this duo and the EIGHTY brand, and I'm thrilled to be able to watch what the future brings for them. Like the next issue... is it out yet?
Catch up with the first two issues in the meantime, and connect with EIGHTY Magazine on the interwebs so you don't miss the third:
Also of note, because I think it's awesome and is yet another we-love-Jersey-City platform, is Marinell's (and Jersey City's first and only) streetstyle blog, Downtown, Natch! You will never see me on there because apparently yoga pants aren't stylish. Whatevs. I already ranted about that.