WildTomato Media LTD – Creating an iconic, community-minded literary feast

The core WildTomato team from left – Hester Janssen, Lisa-Jane Kerr, Carrie Frew, Lisa Friis, Lynda Papesch and Patrick Connor

BY Jacquie Walters | PHOTOGRAPHY TIM CUFF

READ MAGAZINE

One of the most frequently asked questions is: ‘How did WildTomato come by its name?’

The answer to that lies in a distant past with a group of young men having a few drinks at a Nelson pub and tossing around business ideas. One such idea was to create a local magazine. Budding entrepreneur Murray Farquhar liked the idea so much he took it and ran with it. A few drinks later and the fledgling publication was named WildTomato, for no other reason than the group liked that name best out of all the possibilities raised on the night.

Fast-forward more than 14 years and 168 issues later and WildTomato has evolved into a much-loved, iconic publication that has weathered the tests of time and Covid-19 to cement its place as the Top of the South’s only lifestyle magazine.

Behind the magazine and its new sister publication – a monthly e-Magazine – is a tight-knit team, and a wide network of contributors, advertising clients and avid readers, all with strong and wide-reaching community links.

“We are a community publication and our community is the entire Top of the South,” says editor Lynda Papesch. “For us it is about quality, originality and going that extra mile to ensure a great read every time.”

She and all of WildTomato’s full-time staff are passionate about the magazine and about ensuring that it continues to be a unique, high-quality read, reflecting the demographic that makes up Nelson Tasman and Marlborough. They are all passionate too about animals (cats, dogs, horses, chickens and turtles), community causes, family and a variety of sports and recreational hobbies that have them involved in various sectors of the local community.

Meet the team

CEO Lisa Friis is an avid skier and equestrienne, a dog lover and proud to still be a competitive netballer, not to mention being the proud mother of 15-year-old Charlotte. Lisa joined the team in late January this year, after living much of her working life overseas. Now she’s using her considerable banking, technology and business skills to continue the success of WildTomato and its marketing and social media arm WildMedia.

Born in Auckland to Danish parents, Karen Elisabeth Friis – aka Lisa – is a first- generation Kiwi, unashamedly proud of her birth country, and also Nelson Tasman which she chooses to call home. Indeed, wanting her daughter Charlotte to have a ‘Kiwi kid’ upbringing is what brought her home to New Zealand and specifically to Nelson Tasman where her parents and two siblings also live.

Lisa sees some irony in her being dyslexic and working in the print/media industry, but subscribes to the ‘get on with it’ business ethos and has quickly become familiar with the magazine and its social media/marketing off-shoot WildMedia. “Luckily, I’m part of an excellent team with an experienced editor, designer and a proofreader.”

Like the rest of the team, she is immensely proud of the effort that goes into WildTomato and the end result. “WildTomato is such a quality product and there is nothing else to match it in the Top of the South. I love its quality, the feel of the magazine and its uniqueness.”

WildTomato print magazine stack

Evolution

Lynda joined WildTomato in April 2016, taking over as editor from owner Jack Martin when he re-located home to the UK. “My brief was evolution, not revolution, for the magazine,” she recalls.

A former newspaper deputy editor, sub-editor and advertising features coordinator, she found the jump to a lifestyle magazine exhilarating. “No more doom-and-gloom stories! Instead a much-loved platform from which to tell people stories, great business stories, success stories and focus on the positives in life.

“Align that with fabulous photography and great design and it is easy to understand why WildTomato has become such an iconic publication.”

Deciding the editorial content is not always easy because there are so many amazing stories in the community, but again that’s where having a team dedicated to the magazine is a huge bonus.

“We all mix in different circles; in different parts of the community and play a variety of sports so between us we have access to a wide variety of ideas, events and people.”

Designer and art director Hester Janssen is Nelson born and bred, and enjoys living in her home town. A trained graphic designer, she too worked in the newspaper industry initially, and with local wine companies, before joining WildTomato two years ago as its first full-time designer.

An animal lover and keen outdoor explorer, Hester loves designing the pages of the magazine which celebrate our region and its offerings.

“Being part of the creative and dynamic team at WildTomato is  so satisfying, as no two days are ever the same and the drive towards deadlines and the end result is always rewarding,” she says.

Advertising manager Carrie Frew proudly joined earlier this year after several years working with other South Island publications. Originally from Rangiora and latterly Kaikoura, she moved her teenage children north to settle in Nelson Tasman following the 2016 earthquake. A lover of the ocean, outdoors and hockey she firmly believes in the importance of advertising and in WildTomato’s ability to get businesses’ messages across to the right people.

The newest team member is Lisa-Jane Kerr or LJ as she is known. Another Kiwi returning home to live after years working abroad, LJ joined the team as a sales executive just after the team of five million emerged from lockdown. A keen skier, her background is in sales and marketing in the UK, France and elsewhere in Europe.

An integral part of the team and the longest working for the magazine is lead ad designer Patrick Connor, who signed up more than six years ago. Originally from Canada, Pat is now firmly entrenched in Nelson Tasman life with his partner and young son.

As well as designing advertisements for clients, he runs his own design company and handles WildMedia assignments whether it is organising advertisements, videography, website design and content or personal company branding.

Looking ahead

The magazine’s readers are continuing to increase and with the new monthly WildTomato e-Magazine created during Covid-19 lockdown, it now has an added platform to offer its advertising and business clients.

“This augurs well for the future of the magazine,” says Lynda. “The last four years have seen the magazine’s size increase to regularly top 100 pages, in an age where other forms of print media such as newspapers have decreased and reduced in size and frequency.”

Lisa agrees, adding with the Covid-19 crisis it may not be the optimal time to be in print media.

“But this crisis is affecting us all and it is wonderful to be involved in something that is directly connected to the public and provides such a positive benefit; from bringing the community together, providing escapism with a great read and assisting businesses to reach their clients. I just love what we do.”