Gute Leute Magazine: The Many Faces Of Hamburg

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Bulding a print magazine from scratch isn't easy - especially not in the digital age. Here's how the Hamburg based Gute Leute Magazine managed to do it and become successful!

Who Are “Gute Leute”?

Gute Leute means “good people” in German, and comes from the Spanish expression “buena gente”. This literal translation was widely used by a friend of Sabela Garcia Cuesta, Madrid-born and founder of the magazine, when they were both fresh off the boat and still struggling to learn German and find their place in their new city. He would meet random people and tell them “I am good people! You can trust me!”, in the attempt to break the ice with locals.

What Sabela discovered during her first months in Hamburg is that her favorite thing about the city was the people itself, and their stories. The idea behind the Gute Leute Magazine is to tell these stories and destroy the barrier between expats and locals. “I really don’t like the word expats”, says Sabela, and explains that she sees the city as a community made of shared spaces and experiences, and open to everyone regardless their nationality and their background.

Taking The First Steps

Making a paper magazine in the era of digital startups might seem unusual and maybe even delusional, especially considering that Sabela alone had no money to invest and no editorial experience. But she had a lot of motivation and the ability to transmit it to others.

First she recruited Irene Broer, Dutch and now Editor in Chief, then with the help of friends lending their photography and graphic skills, and even their faces, they came up with a prototype for the magazine. Short interviews with lots of pictures describing Hamburg through the experience of those who live in it, written in English to make it accessible to as many people as possible, printed on high quality paper.

Thanks to their enthusiasm and their ability to transmit it to others through a great deal of networking efforts, they convinced photographers, writers, graphics designers and illustrators to collaborate, found sponsors, and payed for the first issue and the release party with a crowdfunding campaign. The prototype issue featured six interviews, three internationals and three German ones, as well as insights on local business and venues.

A Community In The Making

After the release of the first issue in November 2015, it became clear that the magazine was not only a platform for stories, but it also became a way to connect inspired people and allow the collaborators to showcase their creative work, local businesses to promote their activity, or anyone to simply tell readers about their favorite restaurant or café.

This led Sabela and Irene to spice things up a little and change the format of the magazine: without abandoning the print, they decided to crowdsource the interviews. Now everyone can submit pictures of themselves and receive three questions from the editors. The picture, answers and contact details of the interviewees are then posted online and will be printed in the paper issue along with the sponsored articles (including whole interviews and comprehensive photoshoots). Gute Leute is no longer just a collection of stories and experiences, but also a collaborative insider city guide.

What’s Coming Next?

The new, crowdsourced blog format launched in the beginning of February is available on the website now and is delivering about two interviews every week. The next print issue is expected for June, and will be available in the online shop.

It’s possible to follow Gute Leute Magazine also on Facebook and Instagram. The latter is often given to a collaborator for a week to manage and show Hamburg through their eyes.



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Photo Credit: Medici Robles