De’Von Johnson is the CEO of Bleu Life Media – http://bleumagazine.com as well as Editorial Director and Publisher of Bleu Magazine, Bombshell, PynkMag.com and LACED. De’Von Johnson always knew he wanted to leave his legacy of excellence, and where possible, he wanted to help and guide others on the way. Having studied at Seton Hall University and Harvard, the Harlem resident started by levering the successful careers of music industry icons such as Jay Z, LL Cool J, DMZ and Sum 41 during his time as in marketing and advertising at Def Jam, Universal and Warner Music Group.
Seven years ago, and without any external funding he launched Bleu Life Media. First taking its form as a reimagined lifestyle magazine for men of color, the title has now expanded to an all encompassing men’s magazine with an emphasis of high-fashion, on-trend reporting and an in-depth look into male influencers and opinion formers of the time. 34 issues later, Bleu Life Media is now a fully integrated lifestyle destination for both sartorially informed men and women through Bombshell and Bombshell Beauty, the female-focused print inserts, and its sister publication PYNKmag.com. Bolstering the media portfolio are Bleu TV, Bleu Digital, and sneaker and street wear title, LACED.
In addition to building Bleu Life Media, De’Von mentors budding entrepreneurs with the ‘Young Faces Smiling Organization’, and reviews real estate through ‘DCJ Holdings Inc.’ De’Von lends philanthropic support to ‘The Studio Museum in Harlem’, ‘NAACP’, ‘National Museum of African American History and Culture’, ‘New York Historical Society’ and the ‘Urban League’. Read the full interview with Johnson below and be sure to check out the current issue of Bleu Magazine.
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): How are you?
De’Von Johnson: “I’m exhausted from my work and travel schedule. It has been pretty intense this quarter. Catching up on rest is a challenge!”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): What is Bleu Life Media and what does it all encompass?
De’Von Johnson: “We are a boutique media company that publishes our flagship, Bleu Magazine, and also our new start-up Bombshell Magazine. We also have a women’s focused website pynkmag.com. Outside of publishing our business includes real estate and technology. We are launching an app called Baagd in the fourth quarter.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): I love the concept of your magazines, who would you say is your type of reader?
De’Von Johnson: “Our first reader is myself. I created these brands for my friends and people like us that wanted to break the rules and create a unique path. Our readers have been bored with traditional media and were looking for a voice that spoke to them directly. We are smart, traveled, optimistic and self-aware.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): With many magazines and other media publications closing and laying off writers and employees, what is your secret?
De’Von Johnson: “Let’s face it, how people receive news has been disrupted by social media. Traditional legacy media outlets are struggling to hold on because consumers of information have so many choices now. Its no longer just the morning paper and the five o’clock news. For us, we have always said we are a lifestyle publication. We are a reflection of our readers likes and aspirations. That serves across all our platforms. Our secret is that we never tried to be like any other brand, we’ve always known who we are.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): The current issue features “Revenge” star, Nick Weschler, what, if any details did he share about their upcoming season 4 premiere?
De’Von Johnson: “Nick is a wordsmith. He is witty and charming simultaneously. He didn’t reveal much about his character Jack on the show. But what he did make clear is that he is very different from his character! He is very outspoken, and doesn’t mind who it may offend.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): New York and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is quickly approaching, what styles are you expecting to see on the runway and what shows are you looking forward to attending?
De’Von Johnson: “The color blue is hot right now. We’ve seen enough black. I doubt that fashions go-to-color will be completely eclipsed. But blue or bleu will definitely make an impact. My must sees are what its my closet Ralph Lauren, J Crew, Nautica and Lacoste.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): How critical is social media in this industry?
De’Von Johnson: “Without social media we wouldn’t exist. Our readers are so crucial to what we produce that we need to interact with them in a tangible way. With a tap they can cast their votes on what we produce even before we go to print. Finding the right strategy takes time. There is no sure fire model.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): What challenges, if any, have you encountered, and how did you overcome them?
De’Von Johnson: “We started in the middle of the print media business disruption. so convincing advertisers and talent they should be in the the book was a tough sell. I literally used every favor from colleagues from my days in the music industry just to get enough content to print the first issue. We still have a few hurdles to overcome. However, we refuse to sacrifice quality. That’s what will move the brand forward, consistency.”
Examiner (Anthony Bowles): Lastly, who are three stars that you would love to have on the cover in the future?
De’Von Johnson: “Pharrell because he’s simply awesome all around and is a creative genius, Channing Tatum because he’s a better dancer than me, and the lovely J. Lo, she’s the only person that can ever get me to take the No. 6 train.”