Bleu Magazine Founder on Building a Black Men’s Media Startup

Tyrus Townsend
October 25, 2018
Dishing on everything from working at Def Jam Records to launching a media startup for black men, DéVon Christopher Johnson recently spoke with Black Enterprise about building his media startup BleuLife Media, which includes Bleu Magazine and the female-focused digital brand Bombshell by Bleu; the importance of black faces in publishing; and why it is necessary to stay on brand.
Black Enterprise: Describe your work as a media startup in today’s environment. 
DéVon Christopher Johnson: The world is digital. We would be foolish not to embrace technology and harness its power to double down on our initiatives and core brand values. There was no “digital” media format when we started so our foundation has always been a tangible product. With that said, we began to diversify our digital offerings. Bleu Magazine still leads with print. However, we have grown from a single-printed publication to a suite of products that includes BeauxBox (a men’s grooming subscription box), the breakout platform Bombshell by Bleu (our multicultural female-focused digital brand), our annual Maverick Awards and Gala (celebrating men of color in business) and Connect-Us (an event and panel series connecting Gen X and millennials). Any successful entrepreneur continues to learn. I went back to school and received my graduate degree at Harvard University. I sat in classes with students much younger than I am and I found that motivational. The way media and journalism are taught has evolved tremendously and I wanted to learn those skills in real time.
Why is Bleu Magazine‘s presence necessary in this present-day digital age?
Print is not dead. That’s a false narrative perpetuated by digital marketers looking to cash in on lucrative marketing budgets from brands. Is it the same? As the digital space gets more and more crowded by the millisecond, we are novel and unique. We are constantly approached by our readers who are grateful to touch and feel a tangible product that reflects who they are and the communities they live in. People collect printed media. They don’t collect website tabs. While we embrace technology to grow and enhance the brand, we are not giving up on print.

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