Letter From the Publisher: WINTER 2023/24

by Karen Floyd
Karen Floyd, Publisher

“ELYSIAN Strives to excite the imagination … to be aspirational and experiential. May ELYSIAN be the voice and not the echo.”
– Karen Floyd

as ELYSIAN’s eighth year draws to the end, this Winter issue celebrates those women that dare, dream, risk, and imagine what many others deem impossible. We believe that every woman has her own story, value and ability to make a difference. Who would have thought years ago that the ELYSIAN story, our successes and hardships, would represent the idea that together we can create, connect and change the world?

ELYSIAN did not happen overnight; it took years in the making. As a twenty-four-year-old prosecutor of crimes against women and children, I recognized early in my career what would be a lifelong passion; to give a voice to the silent and to share stories that inspire. As my fortieth birthday approached, the second half of my life would be dedicated to fulfilling that vision. Anecdotal stories that encourage others to do and be more, was the “starting line “of this quiet journey.

Nine years ago, we formally launched the print version of ELYSIAN, a folio size, luxury publication . . . culminating in February 2015 on a drizzly evening in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Our community came together celebrating the milestone by closing Main Street and allowing us to literally unroll a twenty foot banner of the first issue of ELYSIAN’s cover, scrolling downward from the top of our historic building’s facade.

Suffice to say, only a few . . . with incredible imaginations I might add . . . would ever have dreamed we could create the ELYSIAN ecosystem. Today the print/publication serves as our memory, our gold standard, beacon of light and example of the excellence we seek. As the years passed and the publication grew, it was a complete surprise when we were acknowledged as Ozzie and Eddies winners for both best design and editorial content.

If we could create a magazine from literally nothing but an idea, what opportunities might await? One word, one thought, one idea at a time, the ELYSIAN ecosystem was built . . . It was not easy. We innovated, failed, struggled and eventually eked out concepts that we grew over time. When COVID arrived and print distribution was limited, we pivoted, expanded our outreach and created a weekly newsletter that now boasts 6 million sends monthly. Simultaneously we focused on retooling our ELYSIAN Connect App that is currently piloting AI through our concept, “Ask E”.

From the very first publication, philanthropy was central to our ethos. Led by Kimberli Scott the Director of ELYSIAN Impact, today over 14M has been raised to benefit children, women, pets, environment and service. This year, ELYSIAN’s signature philanthropic event CatWalk FurBaby was launched. The project was activated two years earlier from an interview I had with Cathy Bissell, the CEO of Bissell Family Pet Foundation. As she spoke about the challenges animal rescues face, I took the liberty of mentioning an idea that had been percolating in my mind for years called CatWalk FurBaby. Cathy is a visionary capable of seeing what others might not. It was her ability to grasp the concept and agree to partner that ignited our creative engine. For readers that are not aware, CatWalk FurBaby kicks off New York Fashion Week by raising money and awareness for rescues worldwide. The idea is simple, our inspiring women choose a rescue, model and designer. The model and dog then walk the runway at iconic Sony Hall, with prize money going back to the winning recues. And every participating rescue wins by receiving much needed grant money.

But imagine if you will . . . it was an idea . . . we had no inspiring women/sponsors, no pet rescues, no designers, no models, or animals . . . When Consuela Vanderbilt joined the movement, she opened the portfolio of designers through SOHO Muse. The final piece of the puzzle and perhaps the most critical was Dr. Christina Rahm. Much like Cathy, Christina is instinctual, self-actualized and understood immediately the challenges, risks and opportunities. Through both her companies, DRC Ventures and the Root Brand, the equation was complete. She simultaneously launched an environmental line, Merci Dupre Clothier, carrying the second half of the production and accomplishing an ELYSIAN philanthropic dream, benefiting animals worldwide.

It was a privilege to narrate our unique journey from the footage both the ELYSIAN team and the production partner Runway 7 captured. The story is a true David and Goliath tale. Originating from Main Street in a small southern town to kicking off New York City Fashion Week on Broadway, this small and mighty group of women made a difference in animal rescue welfare. We were humbled beyond words and so very appreciative to have this accomplishment recognized by winning the Best Film Documentary at the New York City International Fashion Film Festival. While the documentary is granular, the production sets the stage and expectations for the second annual CatWak FurBaby scheduled for September 2024, again kicking off New York Fashion Week.

Whether through our award-winning magazine, robust newsletter, App integrating AI, or recent film accolades, ELYSIAN’s intention is quite simple—to inspire. In this complex and messy world ELYSIAN shows the “what if” to the seeker.

In this season of gratitude, we thank you . . . and believe that by sharing our very own story of overcoming, persevering and conquering, you too might feel empowered, encouraged and hopeful. I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday. May every dream you can imagine become a reality.

Thank you for taking the journey.

With much love,

Karen Floyd

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