by Emily Erickson
- The Capitol Hill Times -
Laura Pepper Wu, a 29-year-old British transplant, steps into Roy Street Coffee, finds a chair in the corner across from me, and takes it. The last 24 hours have been a little chaotic, she explains – the next issue of The Write Life Magazine, an app that she and her husband created, comes out tomorrow. For this month’s issue, the theme is love. She pulls out her iPad, touches the app and brings up a bright blue image with two heart-shaped balloons floating into the clouds.
Pepper Wu and her husband Brandon moved to Capitol Hill in November of 2011. Before then, she had downloaded an e-book about Seattle, and, after reading it, was sold on the city; it had four seasons, a strong literary community, and good coffee within walking distance. Done. The couple set off for Seattle, hoping to find a good home for their recent business venture, “30 Day Books,” an independent press that they started while living in L.A. for two years. The press was a good way to get started in the publishing industry, but Laura was ready to get back into writing and creating.
Once in Seattle, Pepper Wu started brainstorming ideas for her next project. Together, the couple conceived the idea of a magazine app. With her tech-savvy husband, she had someone to help her with production. All Pepper Wu had to do was come up with a theme for the magazine. Easy, right? Well, not exactly. For ideas, she went to a bookstore and scanned writer’s magazines, but didn’t find any that spoke to her. Musing on it later, Pepper Wu decided to create a lifestyle app, filled with inspiring stories that would help writers fuel their creative energy.
“I wanted to create something that was really uplifting and inspiring,” Pepper Wu said. “So much of the writing community is negative, it can be quite off-putting. Our tagline is ‘You’re a writer, always will be.’ So many people won’t admit that to themselves. I think self-doubt is the biggest block to creativity, and if people can get over that, that’s the biggest hurdle.”
Self-doubt is the same hurdle that comes with starting your own business. You don’t know when – or if – the money will actually come. Though you may have confidence in your idea, you don’t know if it will resonate with your audience. One thing that made Pepper Wu’s startup easier is the community in Seattle. According to the Office of Economic Development, in 2012, Seattle reported 7,800 new business licenses, and the city’s startup community continues to thrive today.
Pepper Wu attributes her success as an entrepreneur to the strong sense of community in Seattle. “It’s such an encouraging environment. No one ever asks why or tells you to go and get a real job. Everyone is a pioneer of something here.”
The Write Life Magazine started in May of 2012 and, following its conception, was number one on the App Store under the Women’s Interest category (it’s now at sixteen). Being picked up by the App Store was a huge success for the business. The app has been downloaded in 52 countries, some of which Pepper Wu has never heard of. China is their fourth largest market.
True to Pepper Wu’s vision, The Write Life Magazine app is filled with bright pictures and images that are visually appealing. This month’s issue features endearing stories, such as a father of three girls who proudly wears a tiara in order to appease his daughters.
It has been almost two years since the couple started The Write Life Magazine. The press, “30 Day Books” is still active, along with a website that Pepper Wu started in 2011 called Ladies Who Critique, a website that helps writers find critique partners. Their plan is to grow, creating more apps and tools for writers.
For more information, visit the magazine at http://www.thewritelifemagazine.com/.