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  March 11, 2002

Latina Businesswoman Tells of Trials
Faced in Establishing Magazine
By Richard Veilleux

When Christy Haubegger had found the investors, hired a small staff, and started marketing Latina magazine, she wasn't worried about advertisers but about how to attract a large enough readership to make her foray into the publishing world a success.

She soon realized her focus was on the wrong audience.

"Remarkable things happened" when she began soliciting advertisers and trying to place her new magazine at newsstands, she recalls. "The stereo-types we faced were a wake-up call. 'Can Hispanic women read? Are they going to steal the magazine? Why would it (the magazine) work if there's never been one before?'

There were a lot of misconceptions, a lot of stereotypes."

Haubegger detailed the trials and tribulations she faced as a Hispanic woman trying to make her way in a white man's world March 4 in the Konover Auditorium. Her talk kicked off Women's History Month. Another dozen events, including lectures, workshops and seminars, are scheduled throughout March.

Despite the challenges, Haubegger - a short, dark-haired Mexican-Americ an who noted that she was adopted "by a tall, blond family named Haubegger" - forged ahead. After a lengthy search filled with rejections, she found investors, lured enough advertisers to get started and, in 1996, launched the magazine, with the then little known Jennifer Lopez gracing the cover. Today, the magazine boasts a circulation of more than 250,000 and, Haubegger says, is "almost" profitable.

The magazine, which targets Latinas, was an almost immediate success among its readership, with news of its development spreading rapidly by word of mouth.

"After our focus groups and mailings, we knew we would do well with readers. We asked them if they'd like to see a magazine filled with people who look like them, with their moms' recipes, stories about careers, and health issues faced by Latina women. The results were very positive," she said.

Not so with advertisers, however.

"I thought it was important for me to tell the story of Hispanic women, to show them faces that look like us, to change the (media-drive n) image of Latinas," Haubegger said. "But that isn't what advertisers wanted to hear.

I realized my pitch should be that the (Hispanic) population was exploding, that we were huge consumers, and there were no magazines out there for us."

Before long, the pitch began to work, although it was years before advertisers began submitting ads that included photos of Hispanics. The breakthrough was an ad for Timex watches she was expecting in the mail. That week, she noticed a Timex ad featuring a white family, smiling from the bow of a large sailboat that was moving briskly through deep blue water.

"In the bottom of the picture, it said this was the van Arsdale family or something, and they wore Timex watches. They didn't look anything like me or my readers. I don't even know anyone who looks like that," she joked.

But, when her Timex ad arrived, it featured five smiling women standing by a piano. They were Latinas wearing Timex watches. On the bottom of the photo was the caption "the Gonzalez Family." That was when Haubegger knew the tide was turning - somewhat.

Several months later, on a trip to a facial care products advertiser in Minnesota, Haubegger said the representative noted during their conversation that she was the first Hispanic person she'd ever met.

"At that point I realized I wasn't just introducing a new magazine, I was introducing a new species," she said. "It wasn't racist, it's just that these people had never seen anything like me before."

Haubegger told the audience, comprised largely of Latino and Latina students, that they had already beaten the odds by making it to college. But she challenged them to do more.

"You have a special obligation and responsibility. It's a huge burden and it's unfair, but you're going to be seen as the first banker, the first homeowner, the first businesswoman," she said. "It's going to be tough, but you're going to open the doors for those behind you, you're going to put the ladder down so others can climb up. It will be a lot of extra work, but it is your responsibility to help those who come behind you.

"We're a generation that strives to be normal, to do normal everyday things, like be a sea lion trainer at Sea World, be a pediatrician. We're middle class," she said. "But until people look at me and say 'she must be a lawyer, she must be a publisher' instead of 'she must be a housekeeper' - until I see that I know we're not done."

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