Byline: JANE THYNNE
THESE are daunting days for the women's magazine world. With celebrity titles proliferating in a wildly competitive market and others lasting no longer than a supermodel's engagement, neither launches nor closures cause very many flutters.
But when a 31-year-old single mother from Newcastle with no experience of journalism or publishing decides to plough [pounds sterling]250,000 of her own money into the launch of a new lifestyle magazine, even the most hardened cynic might feel a little nervous for her.
Rebekah Renton doesn't look daunted, though. For a start, her magazine, Be Unlimited, which is launched this month, celebrates the power of positive thinking, so she's refusing to allow the worst advertising recession in living memory or the crowded state of the women's market to get to her.
Plus, she has the can-do attitude and Americanised accent that comes from a career spent in international technology companies.
"I am funding it myself, yes. I did have some capital and I thought, if I ever want to get outside funding I'll wait until I've got a product. Of course, anybody setting up their own business feels nervous, I have constant butterflies, but I've spent my life working in technology companies in which everyone from the receptionists up is totally ' goalcentric', so I'm not worried."
Be Unlimited, which goes on sale through WH Smith on 18 September, bills itself as "brain-food" and "wellbeing advice" for women.
With a blend of business content, personal development, travel and lifestyle that it claims is unprecedented, it is aimed at the kind of professional woman who tells surveys she is fed-up with the homogenised content of existing glossies and wants more stimulating material.
The readers Renton hankers for are precisely those "middle youth" women for whom magazines like Marie Claire, Red, Real, Eve and Cosmo have battled it out bitterly over the past few turbulent years.
She is hoping she can divert their attention in an entirely new direction with a hefty dose of mind, body and spirit.
As a sector, mind, body and spirit is no longer exclusively for flakes.
When lifestyle gurus have made it through the door of Number 10, after all, and the Prime Minister's wife accessorises with mud showers and crystals, "personal development" has made it to the mainstream.
"The whole personal development industry has really taken off in the past three or four years," says Renton. "If you look at the sales of books, popular psychology has grown exponentially, faster than any other category.
It is catching up with travel, cookery, sport and entertainment."
If international experience is anything to go by, she could be on to something. Oprah Winfrey's magazine, O, which majors in personal development stories, is one of the world's biggest sellers. France's Psycologie, with a 300,000 circulation, has found that middle-market women are ready for a more cerebral read.
The issues with which Be Unlimited will be tapping into the zeitgeist include the importance of intuition at work - "neuroscience suggests intuitive genius is the outcome of well-developed neural pathways"; a selection of "how to" pieces - how to manage your boss, clarify your life, think positive; and recipes for "mood food" - chillies for intelligence, eggs for memory, spinach for calm. …