Kool Magazine

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Kool Magazine was a free full colour glossy magazine available in East Anglia UK. ISBN. It was aimed at 16- to 24-year-olds and covered music, fashion, arts, as well as exclusive interviews with celebrities. This was unique in the way it challenged the conventional publications at the time in the region and made way for greater awareness of design and fashion and the provision of youth facilities like practice studios and music clubs.

article written by Lauren Webb including an interview with the founder, Andreas Mavroudis

How Cool is Kool?
In early 1997, Andreas Mavroudis, ex-marketing and media mogul from the cable TV and Telephony industry, was made redundant along with six hundred other colleagues throughout the UK. The merger of the five major cable firms triggered this off Cable & Wireless and as with most companies at the time, the term 'centralisation' and 'downsizing' took effect. “I wasn’t prepared to go back and start applying for jobs again. It took me over a hundred applications before I even got an interview for that one! I felt at one point that my name was a hindrance and that potential employers probably thought, ‘he's got a foreign sounding name, he must speak Pidgin English’. This made me decide that I was going to create a job for myself. I liked clubs, music, fashion, girls and design. Put all of these elements together and hey presto, you’ve got a magazine!”

This was enough persuasion he needed to fulfil one of his lifelong ambitions, to produce a free youth lifestyle magazine. And so, with his redundancy money in hand and a selection of contacts in the graphics and printing industry, he set out to develop ideas for his new magazine. Having already identified the target market and readership as East Anglia the next step was to find a name. “We had a brainstorming session and someone said ‘whatever it is, it's got to be cool’, and I said, ‘that's it, COOL, but with a 'K', KOOL”.

Andreas had already identified several small 'fanzine' type magazines in the region and none of them really covered the youth 'scene' on a 'street' level in the way he wanted. In fact, none of them survived after the launch of KOOL. To make as big an impact on the public, and more importantly, local businesses, the format was to be radical in design and colourful in content. An idea to have some Polaroids in the middle section with hand-written messages was originally laughed at by the graphics team. The next stage was the cover, who and what should go on it? “I felt that local face, people who wanted to be on the cover of a colour, glossy mag should be given the opportunity without being ripped off by modelling agencies”. Eventually, in June 1997, KOOL magazine was launched.

The format of the first KOOL magazine was very different to the KOOL of today. It was an A2 broadsheet flyer, folded twice down to A4. One of the first distribution areas on that first day was Norwich. With the help of several generous friends and volunteers, clothes shops, hair salons, bars, music shops and cafes were covered. Half way through the day, Andreas decided to stop in a local bar/café, Hectors House, for a drink. The team had already dropped that new magazine in here. “I walked in and couldn’t believe my eyes. Everyone in the place was reading a copy of KOOL. I couldn’t see anyone's head, it was amazing. “Several J.D.s later, he realised that his formula worked. He had successfully launched East Anglia's first full colour, glossy, youth lifestyle and free magazine.

No Problem
Initially, Andreas found it difficult to persuade record companies to send their music for reviews. “I had to bullshit a little bit in the early days, usually by telling them that I’d already done interviews with Madonna and Michael Jackson ! It worked, so I must have been convincing”.

KOOL was doing well by now and the awareness of the brand had developed rapidly. The next challenge that faced Andreas was the decision to launch a 'real' magazine. Up until then, the design work for KOOL had been done by a local graphics agency. Andreas was becoming very wary of their increasing rates and decided to terminate the relationship with them. Conveniently his brother, Demetri Mavroudis, who is now at the Cyprus Mail was working as a set designer for BSkyB in London. He was also made redundant and welcomed the chance to change his career. Demetri moved up to Norfolk and within a very short period mastered enough of the art of graphic design to take over as Creative Director.

In February 1998, Andreas heard a song on the radio and told Demetri that he wanted that band on the front cover of the first twenty four-page version of KOOL. The band was The Stereophonics and the song, 'A Thousand Trees'. “ I heard them and thought, ‘wow, these guys are going to be massive. I had to get an interview with the. I wanted to know more. Whenever I get a hunch about a new band I know instantly that I’m right. The reason, I normally hate everything I hear!” He did get an interview: in fact, he also gave the first band to sign to Branson’s Richard Branson V2 Records label, their first front cover. Furthermore, when this issue hit the streets, the Stereophonics went on to win the Brit Awards for Best Newcomers 1998.

Andreas may have launched the first ‘cool magazine in East Anglia, but one pioneering feat that sometimes went unnoticed was the launch of a dedicated website at the same time as issue two. “When I worked in the cable industry, I helped sell an ISDN account to a business client in Norwich. He was setting up an internet provider service and that gave me the idea to set one up for our company. One would’ve thought that a multi billion pound company in that sector would be switched on and have one already. But oh no, it was left to us. Anyway, when I launched KOOL I also had the idea of putting it online and create a virtual magazine to cut out the printing costs. This became our main opportunity for growth. It also gave us the chance to expand into multimedia design.”

Not only has the multimedia side of the business grown, so too has the graphic design consultancy and print broking. Demetri decided that during his involvement with KOOL, he would continue to develop the special design side of his talents parallel to the graphics. The boys had already launched 4-Front Designs long before the launch of KOOL and therefore interior commissions could be handled simultaneously. The KOOL website can now be found on www.koolmag.com [1]

Growing Up?
In 2000, Andreas decided that he had achieved everything he'd set out to do with Kool Magazine and moved on to use his marketing skills in the education sector. He worked in the marketing team of the LJ Group [2] #creators of technology based education and training resources# for 7 years and was instrumental in the company winning 5 Bett Awards BETT show for their products. He is still involved in developing strategies for education and training using ICT and is a member of the governing body at a specialist school in Norfolk. He currently works for a FTSE 100 company developing Business-to-business campaigns in the finance sector.

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