This Thing, Anyway?
The Driftless Food Guide is an annual project of Inspire(d) Media, a small, independent company based in Decorah, Iowa.
I – Aryn Henning Nichols (that’s me in the back) – and my husband, Benji Nichols, founded Inspire(d) in September of 2007 – shortly after we got married (!). We print 11,000-16,500 magazines every quarter – spring, summer, fall, and winter. Like the Driftless Food Guide, Inspire(d) is available free on stands throughout the tri-state region.
The inaugural Driftless Food Guide hit stands in Spring 2018. In the six years prior, we collaborated with the Northeast Iowa Food & Farm Coalition, Iowa State Extension, Luther College Sustainability, and Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness on a four-page food guide insert in the Summer Inspire(d). In 2017, they handed the print guide off to us! We gave it a cool, new makeover and expanded it into a stand-alone publication: the Driftless Food Guide! It’s follows the fun Inspire(d) look and feel, but with a fresh, food-inspired spin, and a thick matte cover with glossy pages inside. It really is perfect for promoting local farmers, producers, restaurants, and other food and beverage businesses throughout the peak summer tourism season and beyond. We print 20,000-25,000 of these Guides annually.
Inspire(d) – pronounced in-spy-erd…you know: inspired – stands for both inspire and inspired. The idea is that person one inspires person two. That person is now inspired. Then that person inspires person three (or person one again), who is now inspired. Then the cycle continues! That’s what those arrows around the (d) are about! Inspire. Be Inspired. Our mission is, ultimately, to change the world… starting with our own community!
It’s a two-person show at Inspire(d) Headquarters: Aryn is the editor and graphic designer and Benji heads up the ad sales department, but we’d be nothing without our fabulous contributors who come from different areas across the Driftless Region and occasionally beyond.
More About Us
Aryn Henning Nichols grew up in the woods. Not literally – I had a house and a bed and lots of books – but it was still pretty rural. The nearest town – Frankville, Iowa – had less than 100 people living in it and my high school graduating class – one town over in Postville – had only 52 students. I left Northeast Iowa in 1999 to join the world of anonymity… to be “just a number” at the University of Iowa. 30,000 students felt just right at the time. After graduating with a degree in English and journalism in 2003 and post-design magazine internship in Toronto (Applied Arts Magazine), I sought an even denser population: China. I lived there for just over a year, winging it as an English teacher to nearly 800 middle school students and traveling as much and as often as possible.
I returned to Northeast Iowa late 2005 doing the typical liberal arts degree thing – living with my parents, waitressing, and applying for jobs. My parents had moved from the woods to Decorah so I began to re-explore (and adore) this corner of the world – finding that community and a slower pace of life had new appeal. I worked briefly at the local newspaper where I, in a very convoluted manner, met my now husband, Benji. He lived in California at the time but it was still love at first phone conversation. We met in person June of 2006, got married August of 2007, and started Inspire(d) Media that October, just one month after returning from our honeymoon!
Benji Nichols was born and raised in Decorah, Iowa – home to a ridiculous amount of Norwegian American stuff, and a lot of great people. After graduating high school in 1996 he left for music school in Boston (Berklee), and promptly returned 10 years later – with a six-year hiatus in the San Francisco Bay Area. From playing music to baking bread, touring and traveling through 49 states, and working with some of the best in the concert industry, it was a decade well spent. These days you’ll find him working at or on Inspire(d) HQ, out making something noisy, or beating down the single-track just minutes from home.
Roxie was born in 2012 and is making our lives even more exciting (crazy, wild, tiring) every day! We’ll keep you posted on all things Inspire(d) over at iloveinspired.com. Thanks for joining us!
What's Your Story?
Are you a farmer, producer, or other type of foodie entrepreneur in the Driftless Region? Got a great story? Is your business totally awesome? Tell us about it! You never know: Maybe we’ll feature you in next year’s Driftless Food Guide!