Sandbox shuts down after two years

Award-winning magazine celebrated Winnipeg culture

Jeffrey Vallis, co-founder of Sandbox, says running the magazine became too much work. Kaitlyn Emslie Farrell

After a short, yet widely acclaimed run of two years, Winnipeg’s own Sandbox Magazine has published its eighth and final issue.

The magazine, which acted as a showcase for local photographers, designers and writers, managed to garner significant attention over the course of its relatively short lifespan.

The announcement came as a surprise to many of the magazine’s readers when it was announced this past January.

“Was it profitable? No. Did we lose money? No. We broke even,” said Jeffrey Vallis, Sandbox’s former editor-in-chief.

“We never launched Sandbox to be a business - it was never intended to be a money-making venture. We did it completely out of our love for fashion and for Winnipeg.”

Vallis recalled first envisioning the quarterly magazine’s concept alongside co-creator Braden Alexander during their final months as students in Red River College’s Creative Communications program.

“We wanted to celebrate Winnipeg culture, lifestyle and fashion in a really beautiful way,” he said.

So, ultimately, what brought about the project’s end?

“I guess in a way we bit off more than we could chew,” said Vallis, referring to an overloaded schedule involving regular work hours and, at various times, school.

“Running the magazine was a full-time job, in and of itself. That’s the sole reason why we’re shutting down. It became too much to handle, too big of a beast, and we just can’t manage it on the side anymore.

“We didn’t want to get to the point where we couldn’t give it our all,” he added. “Two years was the perfect time to wrap it up in a neat package.”

Last summer, Sandbox won the Western Magazine Award for Best New Magazine.

“(Winning the award) was a huge achievement for us. It was really exciting,” said Vallis.

Vallis was quick to stress the importance of the magazine’s various contributors in terms of its success.

“Everyone who worked for the magazine volunteered their time,” he said, “If it wasn’t for the contributors lending their time and talents, we would have never even made it to issue one.”

Sandbox amassed nearly 300 volunteer contributors in its time, giving young writers a platform to take part in Winnipeg’s fashion and media scene.

“It’s sort of bittersweet because it’s been a really great opportunity for writers like myself, as well as others,” said former volunteer Kristy Rydz. “It gave us an opportunity to push our own creative boundaries.”

Though the magazine itself has come to a definite end, Vallis confirmed he and other members of the Sandbox team will be collaborating with Downtown Winnipeg Magazine, a free, biannual publication that explores culture, lifestyle and business within the city’s downtown area beginning this spring.

Each issue will feature a five- to 10-page section focusing on fashion and the usual Sandbox fare developed by some of its former contributors.

Jason Syvixay, PR coordinator for Downtown BIZ, said the partnership will be a good fit for both parties.

“We’re really excited,” he said. “It will be a really great way to connect with young people in Winnipeg.”

And if one thing is for certain, Winnipeg can expect to see a lot more from the creators of the trendsetting phenomenon in the near future.

“We all have ideas,” said Vallis. “We’re definitely looking for ways to build on that spirit of what Sandbox has done over the past two years.”

Published in Volume 66, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 8, 2012)

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