It all started with a pigture…
Once upon a time, in a hamlet in Devon, there was a little guinea pig called Piglet. He was a very handsome piggy indeed and he was very much loved. His owner (or pig slave rather), was Alison Byford (our editor).
Piglet and a chance photo of him (shown here) changed everything. It featured in the last ever Somerfield’s (Supermarket) Magazine in the reader’s pet section. When Alison turned over the page and discovered his little face beaming back at her she was so excited and very proud of her little piggy. Buoyant, she looked for somewhere else to send her photo. How could anyone resist those piggy lips? One would think there would be a pet guinea pig magazine out there somewhere who would love this pigture!
But alas, no such magazine existed. In fact, she struggled to even find a dedicated small animal magazine. “This can’t be right” she thought, surely the world needs a magazine filled with cute, fluffy pets?! With a diploma in proofreading and editing and a small graphic design qualification Alison wondered if maybe she could have a go an starting a guinea pig magazine?
Alison was already employed full-time. She had spent 19 years working in the NHS helping vulnerable people with substance misuse problems but was burnt-out and miserable – she desperately needed a change. So, she studied during the night while working through the day. She consulted forum members, guinea pig keepers, the rescue community, the breed to show community, vets, everyone she could think. She learnt about publishing, printing, and what it takes to run a successful magazine. All the while, still not believing there wasn’t a single pet guinea pig magazine, in the World!
After a small pilot magazine followed by a long and detailed questionnaire, Alison had all the information she needed to start putting theory into practice – Guinea Pig Magazine was born. She wanted it to be vibrant and colourful, and have pictures of pet piggies on every page. She wanted the content to be varied, unbiased, and educational. She wanted a celebrity magazine, where the celebrities were reader’s pigs. Alison just knew that she was onto a winner. If she had been that excited to see her own guinea pig in a magazine, she knew others would too.
The venture wasn’t without its doubters; “There are not enough things to talk about to fill a magazine…” “A magazine just about guinea pigs will never work…” “You’re too niche, surely you have to include rabbits, gerbils and hamsters…”
And sadly, it wasn’t without its detractors; The breeders thought her magazine was a rescue magazine, the rescues thought it was a breeding magazine. And neither community wanted anything to do with it.
And to top it all, Alison was very aware of the statistics that said 99% of magazines fail in the first year and 96% of the surviving 1% will fail in the second year.
But Alison still knew what she wanted. An impartial pet magazine, for the whole guinea pig community, on a mission to promote the health, happiness, enrichment and welfare of guinea pigs. And to that, Guinea Pig Magazine have always stayed true.
Of course, the first magazines looked nothing like the magazine that you see today. It took a few years for it to find its way. And it took a few more to establish the knowledgeable, respected, multi-disciplinary team that we have today (all of whom are guinea pig owners themselves). It is truly a magazine for piggy people, made by piggy people, which is how it beat all the odds. But it still all started with a photo of a cheeky little guinea pig called Piglet. And that is why there has been a picture of Piglet in every issue we have produced (and will continue to be so!)