Ora is a new independent publication dedicated to the health and wellbeing of young New Zealanders. Yes, it was the magazine’s beautifully-considered art direction and atmospheric photography that first caught my attention… but when I learned that Ora’s young founder, Vic Smith, is actually an Intensive Care Nurse, I wanted to know more. What drives an emergency nurse to start a magazine?
Tell us a little more about yourself, Vic
I am 27 years old and based in beautiful Mount Maunganui. My partner and I have lived here for just over a year… we’re so happy to finally call the Mount home. Prior to this, I’ve travelled for work a lot, mostly between Australia and New Zealand, but also spent a year travelling Europe.
I work as a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Tauranga Hospital… I’ve been nursing for over 6 years (while also completing Post-Grad study in Advanced Nursing) and I specialise in cardiology, emergency, and intensive care level nursing.
I switched to nursing part-time in January this year as the workload with the magazine increased, so now I balance both the magazine and my nursing work… I am incredibly passionate about both!
What is the driving passion behind Ora, and what is your vision for where you’d like Ora to go?
During my career, I have cared for numerous patients admitted with self-harm, attempted suicide, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and anxiety related conditions. About two years ago, I was working in an emergency department in Australia. I actually struggled mentally with the intensity and volume of the cases being admitted – it was one of the most eye-opening, hardest jobs of my life.
The magnitude of the gap we have in healthcare was obvious to me… we have such a strong focus on disease, illness and caring for people once they hit ‘rock bottom’. I felt a sense of helplessness, but I knew there must be something more we could be doing to prevent these conditions and illnesses from occurring in the first place.
I became increasingly passionate about researching and promoting positive and preventative health, and met and talked with so many inspiring New Zealanders working in various areas of wellbeing. But I struggled to find a publication or resource that brought all these voices together, particularly one not governed by advertising or paid endorsements.
My vision for Ora extends much further than purely a publication. My goal is to shift our current culture and feelings towards health – where it is not something you access when you feel ill or pain, but it’s something you strive for and build stronger every day.
I hope by producing a publication that focuses on positive wellbeing, with inspiring stories of various New Zealanders, this can inspire all of us to make positive changes within our own lives and promote our health and happiness for years to come.
Why a print magazine, as opposed to another business model?
A good print publication really allows us to pause, be in the moment, and to take in what we are seeing. Our goal is to invite our readers to take that moment for themselves, to leave each page feeling enriched and inspired.
For me Ora is more than just the valuable information inside… I want to create a feeling for the reader. We have given incredible consideration to every detail; from sourcing an environmentally-sustainable printing company, to deciding the grade and feel of the paper, the colour and tones on each page, the intentional use of white space within our articles, and the use of double-spread landscape images.
Tell us more about the journey to starting Ora. What sparked the idea, and how did you practically go about finding and creating the creative and editorial team, and getting the first issue off the ground?
For just over a year, a good friend and I had been running a blog called The Holistic Health Hub, and while we had amazing positive feedback, I felt primarily being online wasn’t addressing the core issues I had been face-to-face with in my work. I wanted to create something that could really make a positive difference to the lives of others.
The idea sparked while sitting with my partner one day, as I realised a beautiful, honest and well-written publication could be the thing that begins to bridge the gap in our healthcare system.
With no experience in magazines it has been a steep learning curve! But I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many supportive friends and family, and I am always asking others for advice and feedback.
Our lead designer Cam Attwood (Afternoon Studio) has been incredible to work with. He grasped my vision for Ora perfectly and has been able to translate that into every design aspect of the Ora brand and magazine.
Initially I was conducting all the interviews and editing all the articles. This workload was huge and I was fortunate to have Laura Tuck of Tide Studio (now our Editorial Director) and Jordan Reid of J Photo & Co (our Chief Photographer) approach me in December 2018 to offer to help share the load. We also had Monique Hemmingson from Wilder join our team as Assistant Editor, and her knowledge and passion has been an incredible asset.
We launched our first issue in early March. Having only had the idea for Ora just over 6 months earlier, it felt incredible to see it come to life, and we’ve received tremendous amounts of positive feedback from the get-go.
What practises do you have for your own personal wellbeing?
With my nursing work I juggle frequent night shifts and 12-hour shifts. So I always have to be flexible, as no day or week is the same. I have learned I am terrible with sticking to a daily practices or routines!
I am however very aware of reflecting on how I am feeling within my body and mind. It is literally as easy as asking myself, ‘How does this make me feel?’, in any given situation. If it doesn’t fuel my positive wellbeing, I make choices and changes to ensure I am able to feel my best.
I have also practiced yoga since I was 18, and am forever developing and improving my practice. Personally I prefer to go to a class rather than practice in my own home, as I find I am able to access a deeper meditation and relaxation – Yin Yoga is perfect for this. I also love alternating my yoga practice with long walks, and intense cardio sessions. I think a balance of different types of exercise is incredibly important for both the body and the mind – some weeks I might practice yoga, some weeks I love pushing my body with more high intensity training, it all depends on how my mind and body are feeling.
Above all else, I make sure I surround myself with positive relationships and friendships. I’m becoming more and more mindful about how and who I spend my time with.
You’re currently working another job whilst building Ora – how do you give yourself work/life balance?
It has taken a few months, but I feel like I have finally created more balance. The nature of starting a new venture is that requires a lot of time and energy, but I’m thankful I now have an exceptional team beside me to manage the load.
I also feel fortunate to have the most loving and supportive partner who keeps me balanced. We regularly lock in date nights, where we will either make a simple meal together at home or go out and try a new dinner spot. Setting time aside has been crucial as we are both busy running our businesses, it can be easy for work time to creep into personal time.
Learning to switch off in the evening has been hugely important too. I’ve learnt to turn off email and social media notifications as it’s easy to be distracted and feel the need to reply to everyone immediately.
I also love to plan dates and weekend trips with friends and family in advance. Making sure I book time in for this has been crucial for my balance, and means I have something to look forward to after a busy day or week.
What is your personal favourite part of Issue 02, Resilience?
Issue 02 features some of the most incredible New Zealanders; from developing natural skincare in Whangarei Heads and saving bees in Auckland CBD to shaking up the beauty industry in Christchurch – its impossible to not feel moved or in awe of these amazing people and their stories!
I also loved hearing from Tom Hill on how he has used the craft of pottery to help him in his fight with his own health challenges, and I’m forever falling in love with Jordan’s breathtaking photographs – particularly her shoot at Cathedral Cove which accompany the tips and ideas for bouncing back with young NZ life coach Hayat Berkaoui.