SNEWS Lady says so long; time to ‘repot,’ reinvent, reinvigorate

After some 11 years of being the “SNEWS Lady,” Editor in Chief Therese Iknoian is bidding adieu to the nickname, the company and the era. She explains why the decision is bittersweet -- both difficult and, at the same time, easy. Therese explains her “repotting” and thanks everyone for their support.
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I didn’t ask for that moniker, SNEWS® Lady. In the first year or two of running SNEWS there were more and more industry folks subscribing, outdoor and fitness, who didn’t know what I looked like or hadn’t met me personally. Our subscriber rolls grew at such a fast pace it was impossible to know everybody. So when I’d go to an event or show and somebody would see my nametag or I’d introduce myself, the response was often, “OH! You’re the SNEWS Lady!”

After some 11 years of being the “SNEWS Lady,” I am bidding adieu to the name, the company and the era. The decision hasn’t been easy. Yet, in some ways, it also has been easy ….

First, what you must realize is that I was practically dragged into this SNEWS stuff. I was freelancing and writing books and really quite busy and happy when my husband, Michael Hodgson, galloped over to me one day at home and said, “We can build this SNEWS thing.” My response, “What’s SNEWS?” First, he needed an editor, and since our dogs weren’t so good at that, I was the next best thing. Didn’t hurt that I had a journalism degree, daily newspaper experience and knew how to make a grown man cry when he saw a story bleeding from my edits. Second, he wanted to add the fitness industry to the news ticker. Certainly he was a guy interested in fitness, but his strength was not in AC/DC motors and the shape of an ellipsis, but in GPS technology and the curve of a ski.

So off we went, building this thing called SNEWS, with myself fully involved by the end of 2001. That’s when I officially became the “SNEWS Lady” – a name that I will be handing over on Dec. 31, 2011. SNEWS became our lives, our passion and our dreams. Every subscription that came in was meaningful and, to this day, I tend to remember names of many many subscribers even if I haven’t met them before. That will be the difficult part – disengaging on a “SNEWS level” from all the people with whom I have built bonds, shared trust and groomed real friendships. There are those who cared about our success as much as we did, putting real faith in our plans after listening to us vividly describe how the business was building and how vital their part was in it for their company, the industry and us.

The original name of “GearTrends Network” (remember that?) was not chosen randomly. The goal was indeed to create a network – of news, community, communication and people. I was just helping to facilitate. Since the fitness side was being built from nothing and it was my task to create it, I can speak to that area specifically with a few thank-you’s: Scott Logan and SportsArt Fitness were the very first to step up to the plate to support a GearTrends plan that we then (with the old SNEWS humor) called the “Full Monty.” I remember walking the aisle of a Health & Fitness Business Expo with Scott as he told me how he just felt in his heart that our business was going to succeed and that he believed in us. I thank him and the company for that. It really meant a lot. Also on the fitness side, Fitness Master, Iron Grip and SPRI continue to be always there for us.

But it wasn’t just the big companies that meant something to us over the years: Mike Jespersen at Productive Fitness, actually called us personally after our first magazine to thank us for the quality editorial – I didn’t know him from Adam -- and he religiously got a teeny ad every issue. I also remember the remarks from some professionals over the years that were something like “Oh, I don’t need to pay for news.” Those were the tough converts and, to be honest, some of those have become our most devout subscribers.

In my reporting in the last decade, what spoke to me personally were the small companies. More than anything else I loved finding small start-ups and passionate entrepreneurs with super products, an it’s-about-time idea, or a well-conceived dream, and writing about them or their products – then watching success. Guyot Designs, Octane Fitness, Tae Kim (Alite, etc.), Vicore Fitness and GoMotion are just a few that come to mind.

Heeding the call to ‘repot’

Do not misunderstand my comment, but stepping away will in some ways also be easy: After 11 years as SNEWS Lady and a decade since Michael and I actually acquired the business, it is time to “repot” myself, in the words of business guru Tom Peters. When my departure became part of the plan for the end of 2011, I started using the “repot” analogy I gained from Peters 20-plus years ago when I was doing another repotting job on myself. In a rather yellowed newspaper column from him lingering on my window ledge, I had underlined a few of the 50 bulleted points:

  • Try it. Cut the baloney and get on with something.
  • Ask dumb questions.
  • Don’t back away from passion.
  • Spread confusion in your wake. Keep people off balance; don’t let the ruts get deeper than they already are.

And – drum roll please – No. 30 on the list: “Repot” yourself every 10 years.

It’s been 10 years, and it’s time for me to repot myself. The easy part of my departure is knowing it is truly time to hand over the reins and allow somebody else’s dreams about what SNEWS could, would, should be to shepherd it into its future. It’s a future that the new team will shape to reflect where the world and the industries are going, with the voices of those team members being the ones that will become the voices of SNEWS.

We’re pleased and honored that so many seem to think that myself and Michael have created a legacy with big shoes to fill. But we have a team that has, shall we say, big feet, and I am confidant that they will fill those shoes. They may choose a different color, different polish, different leather, or different style, but they will nonetheless be great-looking shoes.

I am excited about my own future, for sure. I will remain involved in both industries, outdoor and fitness. That’s why I’m not saying good-bye to my many industry friends, new or well-established, since I will be at the shows, harassing, sizing up new products, and still never hesitant in that infamous “Therese way” (!) to say, “you spelled this wrong,” “why did you do this,” “this pocket/zipper/button/etc. is too small/too high/too big/too low/etc.” or “it doesn’t fit small people” (That’s me, the champion of small people).

I will of course look forward to seeing all my outdoor and fitness industry friends at Outdoor Retailer, IHRSA, HFB or other shows. Meanwhile, you can also email me at therese.snews@gmail.com. Thanks one and all for the last decade … the friendship, the laughs, the sighs, the adventures, the support, the trust and the exchange of ideas.

With the New Year, I will be reinventing. I will be reinvigorating. And I will be repotting.

--Therese Iknoian

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