The somewhat crowded universe of local glossy magazines has a new member, and its publisher says it grew out of heavenly inspiration.
Kymberly Soulé has managed to turn what was essentially a death sentence into the area’s newest fashion magazine — one with a twist. Exalté magazine had its second printing this week, and the 10,000-circulation glossy is being delivered across the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Pensacola, but most heavily in the Mobile area.
Soulé says the idea for the magazine is the end result of being diagnosed in 2009 with incurable lymphoma and being given no more than a decade to live. She says she moved to this area 20 years ago after living in Washington, D.C., and started her own marketing firm here. But after the devastating diagnosis, Soulé says she searched her soul and asked God what she should do with her remaining time. The answer was perhaps a bit unconventional.
“I opened a fashion boutique. I didn’t love running the boutique but I realized I really liked the glamour. I was doing fashion shows for the boutique and a friend told me I ought to get a charity involved,” she said.
So for the next three years Soulé says she became a fashion philanthropist, putting together fashion shows in the name of raising money for some of the area’s biggest charitable organizations. But that wasn’t the end of her divine intervention.
“One day I just got the clearest vision from God that I should start a magazine named Inspire,” she said. “I didn’t know what it would be, I just knew it would be its own thing. It took a year to develop and we were digital for three years, then went to print this year.”
Soulé, in a nod to her own French last name, dubbed the magazine Exalté — French for “inspire.”
She knew she wanted Exalté to be different from other glossies in the market, and also to have a bit of a spiritual twist. She likens it more to a “coffee table book” that people keep, as opposed to a monthly magazine with lots of event information. As Exalté is quarterly, that makes sense.
Soulé also doesn’t use professional models for the publication, but tries to find regular people who are either interested in getting into fashion or might just enjoy the experience of being photographed and having their image run in 10,000 magazines.
“We have casting calls. We get anyone from anywhere and any shape. There’s no money involved. It’s a stepping stone for some,” she said.
Soulé says she’s been excited about the initial reception of the publication and is already launching Exalté for kids and teens as well, although both of those will be online only for the time being.
As her efforts to grow the magazine have progressed, Soulé says her personal fortunes have improved. New medications have given her a much longer outlook, and as of now she has been in remission for four years.
Exalté is free and distributed throughout the area, and Soulé says there’s also a $12 annual mail subscription. Readers can also check it out at exaltemagazine.com
“My biggest goal is to make a difference and to do so using glamour,” Soulé said.