When Jeannie Ralston and Lori Seekatz started NextTribe online magazine two years ago, it came from a place of looking at magazines and thinking "there was nothing for us," Ralston told us.
Ralston, who was known as the Lavender Queen after years of owning the first commercial lavender farm in Texas, was a freelance journalist writing for magazines. Seekatz had developed a career watching fledgling businesses from Austin grow into international companies. They were 56 and 53. Ralston's kids were grown. Seekatz still had one at home.
They saw a magazine industry geared toward teens, people in their 20s and young parents, but nothing for women who had empty nests and the wisdom that came with emptying that nest.
They started NextTribe, an online magazine, to make a place for the voices of women just like themselves.
Now they have 122,000 unique visitors to the magazine's website a month, and Ralston was just named to Folio's 2019 Top Women in Media. Perhaps most importantly, NextTribe has created a community.
It launched community groups, including one in Austin that has about 1,000 women and one that just started in San Antonio with 600 women. These groups bring women 45 and older together for activities, classes, book launches and movie parties. Women can find the groups on Facebook.
It's also launched NextTribe trips. These trips are about meeting other creative, like-minded women — both fellow travelers and locals. In Charleston, S.C., in March, they took a walking tour led by a local woman who was an attorney-turned-tour guide and had lunch with author Cassandra King.
They've traveled to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico to celebrate Day of the Dead and learn about yoga and photography, and they've gone to New York to learn about fashion from a fashion editor.
NextTribe is also hosting events called NextTribe Out Loud in Austin, New York and Los Angeles that have sold out quickly.
"What it's showed me is that women in this age group are really hungry to see themselves in a position of power and influence," Ralston says.
Ralston thinks of NextTribe Out Loud as part pop-up magazine, part TED Talk. "It's women that I love who are creative, activists or artists speaking about what they are doing," she says. "We are celebrating the power and creativity of women over 40."
This year's NextTribe Out Loud event in Austin is April 25 and features musicians Courtney Santana and Sara Hickman, artist Judy Jensen, communicator Olga Campos Benz, and authors Annabelle Gurwitch and Spike Gillespie.
The Los Angeles event May 19 has a subtitle — "Screw Invisibility: Watch Grown (expletive) Women Run the Show" — and will feature women in the entertainment industry who are executives and are changing the perception and dialogue about getting older, Ralston says. It's about women seeing women like themselves in film, she says.
A New York event is planned for Oct. 2 and will feature a trip with it so people can attend the event and stay longer.
The message for all of it: "We are here and we are doing things," Ralston says. "No, we are not invisible."
That's a message that is beginning to reach advertisers and businesses who want to sponsor the events.
"What I hear from everyone is they love the tone of NextTribe and that's why they're interested," Ralston says. "Traditionally it's been hard for advertisers to pay attention to women our age, but there's been some change to that. This age group bracket of women is making decisions about spending their money.
"The tone is something they're attracted to. It doesn't feel old-old. They don't want to be seen as unhip."