Launched in June, Unite Virginia's aim is to "inform, connect and engage" LGBT readers in Virginia. (Photo by Sarah Lockwood)
Don’t tell this local business booster that print media is dying. If it’s beautiful and glossy, Justin Ayars says, the right audience will pick it up.
Ayars’ new print and digital magazine, Unite Virginia, launched in June with an aim to “inform, connect and engage” LGBTQ readers across the commonwealth. While Ayars is quick to acknowledge GayRVA as a go-to resource locally, he saw opportunity in going statewide.
“Unite Virginia is providing a more comprehensive way to connect existing entities and communities in a way to bring people together,” Ayars says.
The bi-monthly publication features stories ranging from politics to “art, movies, craft beer and interior design,” Ayars says. The June issue includes congratulations from Gov. Terry McAuliffe, an article on how craft beer has replaced the martini for client lunches and a feature on a shuttered health clinic in Charlottesville.
While the magazine is part of what he calls a “loose affiliation” of regional publications around the country using the Unite name, Ayars and his business partner, creative director and former New York police officer Jesse LaVancher, own and operate the Virginia outlet independently. The frequent collaborators owned 2113 Bistro in Shockoe Bottom until last year.
“With our diverse background and skill sets, we’re able to tackle challenges we find interesting and feel there is a need for,” says Ayars, a former attorney and former Richmond Business Alliance president.
Ayars, 33, insists that print is an essential part of what he dubs the new “not just for profit” venture, but Unite Virginia’s online presence will serve as a key part of the platform: “We want to make sure we make use of that and people aren’t going to wait around for two months for the next story.”
The first issue is available as a PDF at issuu.com/unitevirginia. Richmonders seeking a hard copy can check Diversity Richmond, Mongrel in Carytown or L’Opossum in Oregon Hill