Story by MARY ELLEN THOMPSON
Photo by LEA ALLEN
Julie Hales is the owner and publisher of this magazine. She is our leader. She is the woman who has the final say over our pens and photographs.
Julie laughingly told us once, “Everyone’s idea of a publisher is a big man, sitting behind a desk wearing a hat, chewing on a cigar and drinking a bottle of liquor, because that is what they saw in old movies.” However, that stereotypical image is far from the truth. In the industry today, publishers come from all walks of life. In Julie’s words, “Print media has changed in many ways over the years; anyone with the knowledge, and the desire and passion to tell the stories can sit behind my desk.” That passion is what has driven Julie Hales.
Passion and hard work combined, the person we at the magazine find Julie to be, is a determined woman not afraid to get her hands dirty. She is energetic and extremely hardworking. However, those things having been said, she is also funny and charming and a pleasure to have as our publisher because she truly cares and is eminently fair.
Classically, Julie fell in love with journalism in her junior and senior years when she was on the newspaper staff at Effingham County High School. She served as the Sports Editor her senior year, writing several award winning articles. That experience paved the way for launching herself into the world of publishing.
After graduating from high school, Julie attended Armstrong State College in Savannah. After five semesters, she sought greener pastures. With her ingrained self-assurance and enterprising quest to do what she loved, she left college for a job that promised to quench her appetite for print that she had been missing.
For the next thirteen years, Julie worked for a manufacturing company in Savannah. There, her tasks were many. She began by writing the instruction manuals for the equipment they manufactured. She handled the layout for the books, brochures and marketing pieces. She even ran an offset press since the company did their printing in house. Eventually, sales was added to her list of duties, and later a promotion to office manager was awarded. Little did Julie know at the time, sales would become her next passion.
In 1996, Julie found the perfect opportunity to forge her two passions. She went to work in the newspaper industry for a corporation that owned her hometown paper. She started out as an advertising sales rep and was later promoted to Advertising Manager, and then to Advertising Director.
Julie says, “I was very fortunate to be a success in the newspaper business. In the last six of my ten years with the corporation, I won their National Sales Title. In 2004, I was named Georgia Press Association Salesperson of the Year. In 2005, I was the first inductee into their corporate Advertising Hall of Fame.” She sits back and chuckles as she adds, “And in 2006, I quit!”
When asked about her departure, she gives it very little thought, it was obvious she knew that answer like the back of her hand. “As much as I enjoyed what I did, there was something missing. Working for a local newspaper, I felt as if we were not doing our community justice. I felt we needed to start printing feature articles on the people in our community. I would make my “sales pitch” sound as positive as I possibly could, but I never made the sale.”
In March of 2006, Julie started her own publishing company, Independence Day Publishing, Inc. She has been asked many times, “Why Independence Day Publishing?” Her face lights up and a big grin appears as she answers, “The name of the business just spoke for who I was and what I believed in at the time, my independence from corporate America. And, my desire to be able to publish positive community features.”
Julie Hales had a dream, and she had just taken the first step to set her course. Her vision of beginning a community magazine was about to come to life.
“I knew I had pretty much stepped out of a great job, you know, the kind with the guaranteed paycheck each week. The old adage about a “wing and a prayer” sums up the beginning of this company. With a new business bank account of only $300, it was time to get to work. I knew I needed funding, and the best way I felt to get it was to use the experience I had gained through my years in the industry. So, off I went to secure our first job, which I landed on the very first day of opening the business, a Membership Directory for a local Chamber of Commerce. Selling it was easy, and putting it together was a breeze.” Julie’s drive to pursue her dream did not slow down. Two other specialty publications quickly followed suit. She then took her profits from these three publications and began Pooler Magazine.
Now, 10 years later, Julie has never looked back. She has always known this was her passion. “The fulfillment I get from what I do is amazing. I had a good friend tell me one time that I would never know the lives I have touched in this community. Her statement really grabbed my heart. I don’t think I have ever been given a higher compliment.”
Julie knows these 10 years of Pooler Magazine would not be possible without the support she has received from this community and the commitment from the people who work for her. “Nobody can do this alone. I have a fantastic team! I owe a lot to my staff and their loyalty and dedication. ‘Teamwork Makes The Dream Work.’ That is our slogan at IDP. We are a team, each and every one playing an important role, each and every one is a part of our success.”
Julie goes on, “We are always evolving and doing our best to be responsive to what our readers want in a community magazine.” So keep reading – you never know what you’ll find between the covers of Pooler Magazine.”