Tina Woods puts a lot of pride in delivering the New York City edition of Natural Awakenings. Often spotted with a stack of magazines in hand and a smile at every stop, she defies what most envision as a typical publisher. "In a day of digital media saturation, it really says a lot that people still love our pages," Woods shares ahead of the New York City Green Festival on Earth Day weekend. "There is still value today in having a concrete tangible service where people pick up the paper and get it sometimes directly from my hands as we deliver ... I say hello, look in your eyes, have a conversation about life ... I know it sounds simple, but it is a lost service in today’s market."
NOTE: The New York City Green Festival runs April 19-21 at the Jacob Javits Center. Visit Tina Woods and Natural Awakenings at Booth #105.
TFM: Spring is finally in the air around New York City. Are you looking forward to this year's Green Festival? How long have you been participating? Is it resonating with a larger audience and why?
TW: Green Festival launched on the scene in NYC last year in 2012. We were thrilled to be part of them along with other green leaders and associates in today’s market. We look forward to the return of Green Festival this year and see the event as a kickoff to spring where like-minded connect. It really is an all around good time!
TFM: What put you on the path you're on today as an independent magazine publisher? You spent more than 15 years in health care prior to launching the New York City edition of Natural Awakenings. When did you know it was time for a career change? Regrets or fears along the way that you've conquered?
TW: I grew up in simpler times when life was easier and honest … hard work, dedication and education were honored. I always wanted to work in a compassionate field and found myself very fulfilled by serving my Bronx community as a social worker assisting the chronically ill. Over my 15 years in health care, I saw huge shifts in the world, as we all have. The financial state slowly changed our roles as workers for the people to workers for the corporations that were buying up independent health care facilities and operating them as “for-profit” businesses.
During that time, physicians also became suppressed, no longer able to operate as their own entity, but now governed by what insurance companies would allow them to do for their patients. And, oddly during this time, society seemed to shift, where there was lack of morale, value and integrity. I slowly found myself working hard for a company’s pocket, outperforming others around me, and being deprived of any reward or acknowledgement for my dedication. It was at that time that I also became aware of natural health and healing and our environment’s vast resources. I suddenly realized I needed to put my time, passion and effort into preventive health care and get out of the final stages of end stage health care.
As far as regrets, I’ve had a few. ... oh, excuse me, I was singing Frank Sinatra! Life is full of challenges, fears, regrets, but we really can’t dwell on them. We must be lighthearted and easy-going to get through any of them.
TFM: Why does the New York City edition of Natural Awakenings connect with so many people on different levels and stages of their lives (health, fitness, wellness, simplicity)? Amid the current wave of social networking sites and emphasis on digital media, what do you envision for this publication?
TW: That’s a good question. I even question that myself. Natural Awakenings connected with me so much and made me so happy each time I picked up its pages that I decided to publish it myself. I really feel it is a divine purpose why Natural Awakenings continues to grow and outperform other avenues of health and wellness education.
In a day of digital media saturation, it really says a lot that people still love our pages. We have grown a lot to encompass digital media and social media, but honestly, at the end of the day, most people I meet say … "I picked up your magazine and I loved it." I don’t envision us needing to do anything different. There is still value today in having a concrete tangible service where people pick up the paper and get it sometimes directly from my hands as we deliver. It’s like old-fashioned milkman service. I say hello, look in your eyes, have a conversation about life and leave you with the paper of the latest wellness and green events happening in New York. I know it sounds simple, but it is a lost service in today’s market. May we continue to do what we always do … educate with the utmost intention of helping others.
TFM: Organic. All Natural. Vegan. The list could go on forever. How can consumers gain better understanding of such labels? What steps are you taking to ensure your magazine fulfills a substantial need, offering clarity, inspiration and solid information?
TW: It's pretty easy. Look for one label: USDA Organic. I know there is a lot of confusion out there and if you have advanced knowledge, you can go deeper than this basic rule of thumb, but this simple label is a green light! If you were to meet our CEO, you would be impressed with her sprout garden, nutrition awareness and her basic simplistic means to lead an inspired, authentic life. All our information in our pages passes through her eyes and she would never approve anything that she does not live by wholeheartedly.
TFM: I'm also impressed by your range as a photographer. Describe one of your most rewarding and challenging projects?
TW: I am currently working on a 3-year project with a man who is documenting his stages with cancer and publishing it as an inspirational guide to others who get hit with this diagnosis. In this project, we clearly outline his body form, and the effects cancer has had on his life and his soul, which is evident in his outward expression. I love helping people and hearing their life story and this has been truly meaningful for me to be alongside him through this and to see that he conquered this beast.
TFM: Day-to-day demands, a hectic schedule, pressures at home easily can drain the best of us. What do you do to recharge and find a place of balance?
TW: Easy - keep a calendar for work tasks and make plenty of time for pleasure. It amazes me that people put more emphasis on free-play for their children than they do for themselves. I have so many pleasurable passions, I don’t know where to begin. My favorite - ballroom dancing. I have had the pleasure of training at Dance with Me Studios under the direction of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars professionals, Maksim & Valentin Chmerkovskiy, and Tony Dovolani. Dancing is the one activity that is still highly social … no phones, no Internet, just socializing, smiling, dancing and being free. It’s the greatest exercise out there. You can’t dance if you’re not happy and I just love being around people who embrace this philosophy. I also love to play the acoustic guitar, and make time for absolute silence to hear our higher source. And, at times, the greatest balance is to stop doing me and to simply sit down by my son’s side and be with him wherever he is in his life.