Date: August 11 2012
A Melbourne-run independent women's magazine, launched in 2004 by a couple of 25-year-olds, is now out-selling big-name glossy rivals including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Grazia and InStyle.
The latest circulation figures show Frankie - edited by Jo Walker, who works between her one-bedroom flat in Brunswick and a small Port Melbourne studio - is bucking the trend of plummeting women's magazine sales, with circulation growing 4 per cent to 58,631 in the past year.
The bi-monthly magazine, which has boasted its point of difference is the absence of ''diets, beauty and orgasms'' was one of just three women's magazines to record sales growth in the past year.
Market leaders - Cosmopolitan (-16 per cent), Cleo (-17.3 per cent), and Marie Claire (-4.7 per cent) - all recorded sales declines.
Since its launch, Frankie magazine has progressively developed a cult-following among the growing hipster crowd, for its emphasis on design, art and craft, vintage wares and a nod to nostalgia, as well as quirky human interest stories and first-person ''Seinfeld-style'' rants.
In the current issue, for example, you will find a feature on a Brisbane-based amputee who has curated an art exhibition of decorated prosthetic limbs and a series where ordinary Australians share the stories behind their family hand-me-downs - including a Holocaust connection to a collection of ceramic penguins.
But not even its long-time editor dreamed the quirky magazine would one day out-sell Vogue and Harper's Bazaar - especially given its operating costs are just a fraction of its prestigious rivals. Frankie has just eight full-time staff - including two in Melbourne, and a further six at the Frankie Press head office on the Gold Coast, including the magazine's founders, Louise Bannister and Lara Burke.
Frankie Press is an imprint of small, independent publisher Morrison Media. In 2010, Ms Walker told Fairfax the magazine's budget was so tight contributors were ''sometimes paid in hugs and six-packs [of beer].''
''The shoestring is ever so slightly longer,'' she said. ''But I would suggest that compared to most magazines it is still a shoestring.''
Erica Bartle, former Girlfriend magazine deputy editor and founder of Girl With a Satchel blog, believes Frankie's quick adoption of the online and social media has also been key to its success.
The magazine claims to have the highest social media following of any Australian lifestyle magazine.
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