If Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu were trend followers, they would now be the cocreators of a website. Instead, when these former coworkers decided to pair up for a business venture, they ignored every industry death knoll declaring the demise of print. And they launched the biannual indie food publication Cherry Bombe. In another bold move, the mag has full-page color original photographs, very few ads, and nearly 200 pages printed on decadently heavy paper stock. The result is as delicious and indulgent as the recipes nestled between the covers.
Cherry Bombe‘s name is a more than apt description of the magazine’s spirit. “It just popped into my head one day,” explains Diamond, the editorial director. “It’s food, femininity, and a kind of fierceness in two simple words. It sums up what we’re all about.” The publication’s fierceness comes from being a complete negation of the idea that women aren’t great chefs or groundbreaking leaders in the food industry. The first issue, which debuted in May 2013, was nicknamed “The Tastemakers Issue.” The second centered on female bakers around the world, from the ones making the treats to the ones running the businesses that sell them. And the third, which comes out in June, will showcase more of the women behind the growing foodie movement. “I’d like the magazine to continue to be a force for good in the world,” says Diamond. “I think we’ve made certain people in the media and food world wake up and realize that perhaps there’s some institutional sexism they weren’t aware of.”
As transgressive as Cherry Bombe may be, it is a natural career progression for Wu and Diamond. Not only do they have print backgrounds, including their time together at Harper’s Bazaar, but they share a deep appreciation of food, stellar design, and storytelling. When Diamond left Bazaar, she co-founded Brooklyn-based restaurants Seersucker and Nightingale 9, as well as a coffee shop. Wu opened her own graphic design firm, Orphan, and started the indie publication, Me Magazine. They knew they wanted to do something as a team, but weren’t sure what. “Claudia and I got together to talk about a project involving one of my restaurants and it evolved into Cherry Bombe,” says Diamond. “We don’t really remember the aha moment. It was more of an evolution.”
A Kickstarter campaign in early 2013 gave them the financial backing they needed to begin, bringing in more than $42,000. It was also instrumental in letting the food industry and potential readers know about their plans. What happened next is reflective of the kind of community that the magazine is intent on celebrating–they called up friends, friends of friends, and even strangers who they thought might care and were met with enthusiasm and access to chefs, stories, and more than a little help. Today, as a Brooklyn-based business with a staff of just them and a part-time intern, it is this network that helps to get each issue out the door. “We have some kind friends who don’t mind lifting boxes and proofreading,” says Diamond. “I love the process of making magazines and the community of people we’ve amassed who help make it happen,” says Wu, Cherry Bombe‘s creative director.
So far, they have found success in a field that many warn is rife with failure. Each issue has sold approximately 10,000 issues and is in demand even with an $18 price tag. More importantly, the brand’s reach continues to grow, as evidenced by the success of their latest creation, Jubilee. “It is a conference we decided to do in the wake of Time magazine’s ‘Gods of Food’ controversy,” explains Diamond. “It was clear there were events taking place in the food world that didn’t include women or cover issues of particular interest to women. So we decided to do our own.” Jubilee took place in March in Manhattan and was full to capacity. They plan on making it an annual event and expanding to other cities.
Next for Cherry Bombe is slightly unusual: they are writing a business plan. “We did things backwards,” admits Diamond. “We started with passion, then we had a product. Now we need a plan.” They are also focusing on boosting their online presence with a redesigned website. And they began Radio Cherry Bombe in early May, a talk show that features conversations with some of the food world’s most interesting women. “We like older mediums,” says Diamond, who has a simple, unflinching response to anyone who wants to tell them that print is dead and that if people want a recipe, they can download an app. “When print is dead, so is civilization.” It is a motto that speaks volumes to Cherry Bombe’s continued success.