Anyway Magazine with Jen Swetzoff and Keeley McNamara • ep. 097

Jen Swetzoff and Keeley McNamara with Anyway Magazine

A magazine made for Tweens + Teens

I am thrilled to welcome our special guest today. We have Jen Swetzoff and Keeley McNamara from Anyway Magazine. Thank you for joining us!

JEN + KEELEY:  Thank you so much for having us!

 Anyway Magazine is something I stumbled upon and I was so excited to have the editors of this magazine come on. I would like you gals to tell us a little bit about what you do, about anyway, magazine, I would love to just launch right into this!

 JEN: So we created Anyway Magazine about a year ago. We are both moms and we have tweens and teens ourselves, so we were really inspired to start this magazine for our own kids. It was something we wanted to exist in the world for them and their friends. And we just wanted to make something really fun that’s not on a screen. So once you have the magazine, it’s yours to own, nobody’s going to take it away or put a screen time limit on it. Hopefully it can give young people a sense of feeling inspired by other kids’ stories. We sneak in some expert advice, try to answer questions that teens and tweens have as they’re growing up, and just sort of try to make people feel good about themselves and know that everything they’re experiencing during the time of growing up, which can be incredibly hard, is also totally normal and everybody else is going through it, too.

 KEELEY: Jen and I met when we were five, and we have been best friends ever since. I am a certified nurse midwife, so I take care of moms and babies and birthing people. Before that I was a health educator in New York city public schools, so I have a background in adolescent health education before I became a midwife.

JEN:  I am a journalist by profession, so I’ve always sort of worked as a writer and editor, and I always think best through writing. My family and I moved from Brooklyn to Connecticut in 2020, and so that was during the pandemic, and it was also a time when I was meeting a lot of new families and hearing about what their kids were going through. We were all sharing the same experience, that our kids were feeling really lonely and really sad. And we were talking about how are kids getting information? There’s so much information available to kids on a screen through a device. It’s almost too much information to know what you can trust and what you can’t trust sometimes. So we would give our kids books, we would look for books about stories about friendship or stories about puberty. To us, a lot of books would be very one-topic but wouldn’t necessarily cover all of the curious questions that our kids had. So we started to think that a magazine might be a good solution to be able to offer kids all kinds of different information that they were curious about.

KEELEY: So we were really inspired to create a community with Anyway where we could be a trusted source for both parents and teens and tweens. Parents could know they could throw their kids an Anyway magazine and know that it was vetted and safe and good information that was expert reviewed and expert written.

JEN:  Because I went to school for journalism and was trained as a journalist, and because Keeley went to school for healthcare education and now healthcare practice as a midwife, we really spend a lot of time making sure that our sources are credible.

KEELEY: Also kids would want to read it because it looks cool and it feels good and it has all the stuff that they’re interested in, but maybe don’t even know they need to ask yet. We know they’re going to YouTube or TikTok for that information. So we were hoping this could be kind of a gateway to the right information, so that when kids do get maybe some off information, they’re like, “Wait, that’s not what Anyway said. I already know that.”

JEN:  I think some of what we’re trying to do is really talk to kids to remind them that you’re not the only one going through something. I remember when Keely and I were kids, maybe we were 8 or 9 years old, and Keely said something to me like, “Wow, your arms are really hairy.” And she didn’t mean anything by it at the time. I don’t know if you even remember this Keel. But I remember at the time thinking, “Are my arms hairy? Are my arms hairier than other people’s arms?” Everybody has a moment like that where you notice something about yourself that maybe you think is a little bit different or strange or weird. And so what we want to do with the magazine is like, we want it to be super fun and we have stories about style and fashion and skincare. But we also have an article, for example, about body hair–like, why do we have it? And it is totally normal. And it’s so interesting to understand the science between why our bodies have body hair, why we get periods and what makes them cool. So we just want to sort of talk openly about all of those questions in your head when you’re growing up and make kids know that we’re all thinking the same things.

What makes Anyway Magazine different

 I think it is such a great resource for tweens and teens. It’s like to help them ease into this confusing and, and self understanding time that they have.  What would you say makes any way magazine different from other digital or print magazines that are geared toward tweens and teens?

JEN:  I think what makes us different is that we really set out to design something specifically for kids in preadolescence and adolescence. So we try really hard to not be condescending or juvenile. We want this to feel like we’re meeting kids where they are. I think our real differential is that we did come out of the pandemic so we have an eye in all of our content on positivity.  We really want to make kids feel good about themselves–and that’s not to sugarcoat or not talk about hard topics. We do not shy away from talking about depression, anxiety, even grief. We want to talk about hard things, but we want to do it in a way that leaves kids feeling like they have tools and skills to know how to make themselves feel better. We have a real mix of entertainment, fun stuff, and really reliable, credible information that can educate kids.

KEELEY:  Oh, and recipes. We have amazing recipes in each issue that are geared towards teen and tween’s ability to cook. We have these amazing chefs helping us with all of these awesome ideas to make dinner for your family. It’s really fun. And an activity section, which is maybe the most fun part.  We always have an activity section with coloring pages and crossword puzzles  and different kinds of fun word games. Issue four is going to have stickers. So it’s pretty exciting. 

JEN:  It’s like fun stuff that you can rip out, put on your walls, get a marker or pen or pencil and, and when your parents say, “You’re bored, find something to do,” we want you to reach for Anyway. We recently did a whole bunch of focus groups where we talk to teen and tween readers of the magazine. We’ve been creating the magazine for just a year. So before we did our fourth issue, we really wanted to talk to teens and tweens about what they would like to see in the pages. And so, I think what makes us different is that we’re still really small. We hope to be bigger, but we’re still really small and we really are talking to our readers and talking to potential readers. We want to hear from kids about what they want to see in our pages. We can really adapt and cover the stories or cover your awesome friend who is doing something great that you think should be highlighted. We’re really trying to feature a whole mix of people and stories. 

Why a tangible magazine is important

(holding up magazine) Okay. This is the latest issue of Anyway Magazine. This is issue three, issue four is coming out soon–or it might be out already. I love that on the top it says, teen culture, style, relationships, community, creativity, health, wellbeing. There is such a well-rounded approach to all that you offer in your magazine. It’s not just about pop culture and it’s not going to have a bunch of ads that are selling you a bunch of things. It’s something that, like you said, that parents would be okay just having their kid look at it, having them take the reins and let them lead themselves through it. And it’s not kiddie and juvenile, it’s also not too mature. I really appreciate that it’s filling this niche that honestly hasn’t been filled for so long. I think it is so incredible. Do you think it’s important they engage with tangible media like magazines, something they can actually get their hands on?

KEELEY:  Yeah, I think it’s really special to have something tangible. Listen, we’re not delusional–we don’t expect people not to be on the Internet, not to be on YouTube, and not to be on TikTok. We get it. Like, we also are on our phones, we also are on the Internet. We have kids; we get it. But when you’re looking for something or you’re trying to focus on something digital, the entire Internet is there to distract you. And there’s screen limits, like most kids and teens and tweens have screen limits. We also know that you’re probably not going to spend the limited amount of time you have on the screen being like, “I’m going to look up stuff about acne.” Maybe you are, but I think probably you’re not. But to be able to kind of take something tangible and beautiful that was made for you, and squirrel away with it in your own space in your own time, and be able to go back to it again and again, and know that it’s yours–I think it’s something really special.

JEN: It’s hard for all of us, no matter what age you are, to self limit yourself when you have access to screens, whether that’s at school, whether that’s a television, a phone and iPad. Everybody has different access to screens. But I will say from my own personal experience and what I see with the kids in my house, we don’t always feel great after we’re staring at a screen for a long period of time. So I think something that’s interesting to experiment with when you’re young is how do I feel after I read a book? Or how do I feel after I go outside and take a walk? How do I feel after I flip through a magazine or sit with a pen and pencil and draw? You know, how do different ways of interacting with the world make me feel? For me, reading a magazine or a book feels like a real luxury. It feels like something special and that’s what we wanted to create for kids. We wanted to give them something that felt special and that they can own and when you’re done reading it, you can tear it to pieces and make a collage out of it. Like it’s yours  to do what you want with. So yeah, I think there’s definite value to interacting with people and with the world and media, all of it in different ways, and seeing what works for you.

Articles by kids and experts

 As you have said, this is a beautiful magazine. It is very high quality paper color. And then just like the design inside, it’s very immersive and engaging. It’s so multifaceted that I find so much value in it.

JEN:  And I think one other thing I would just want your listeners to know or to think about is that it’s not just me and Keely who put together this magazine. There are so many people who have helped us with every issue. And so when you are flipping through the magazine, I think it’s really cool to see an illustrator who draws in a certain style, or a photographer who takes photos in a certain style, or a chef who’s contributed a recipe. For us, some of the coolest experiences we’ve had in creating this project has been meeting other artists, writers, and makers. There’s so many interesting people who are sort of showcasing what they can do, and that might inspire kids, too.

 KEELEY: And I would also say a pretty decent amount of the articles are written or compiled from kids. We love our kid contributors and teen contributors, and I think there are just so many cool tweens and teens out there doing so many cool things. And to get their voices and for them to see their words in print is something really rare and special. 

Preview of Issue 4

 So issue four is coming out around the end of May, beginning of summer (at least in the US). Do you want to give us a little preview of what the tweens and teens can find in that issue?

JEN:  Sure! We’re really excited to have an interview with a teen actress who’s starring in a new movie. We got to go visit her at home where she lives in Mississippi and sort of see what her life is like as a teen as well as as a working actress. We also followed some teens who went thrift shopping in New York City, and so we have a really fun piece on what it’s like, why it’s fun to thrift, and also some tips from an expert on how you know when you found a real treasure as you’re hunting. We have a story from a couple of doctors who specialize in behavioral and mental health, and they’ve helped us identify ways you can shake a bad mood, and what’s normal and what’s not when you’re feeling down, and how to get out of a slump.

KEELEY:  One of our readers in Poland reached out to us asking to be in the magazine and we have found a way to include her. So we follow her for what a normal day is like for her as a teen in Poland. She kind of walks us through her schedule through her day. We’re excited for that and we’re excited that she gets to be included because she’s such a great reader and supporter of Anyway.

JEN: We have a lot of kids in the next issue, like athletes and ambassadors at a library with some book picks for your summer reading list. I think there’s really a great mix. 

 That is so fantastic. I’m thrilled about that because this information is not US centered, even though you are US based and you print here, it’s definitely not just for kids who live in the United States. This is applicable and engageable for kids all over the world. So girls I wanted you to know that so you don’t think that you have to miss out.

KEELEY: We’re just really excited and we’re happy to be making this for you guys. Having you contribute and be a part of it is really special for us.

JEN:  If you email us at, it’s us who are reading those emails–me and Keely. We’d love to hear from readers or potential readers with any questions or ideas for the magazine. We really do want this to be for you.

It’s totally normal

Hey, you gals heard them. They want your ideas. They would love to hear from you.  What is the  most important thing that you want girls listening to know? And it could be any topic.

KEELEY:  I think the most important thing that we’re trying to get across to girls, boys, whoever, is just that what you’re going through is totally normal, right? It feels really abnormal. It feels really like, you can’t believe this is happening and it must not be happening to anyone else–but it is happening to everyone. Our goal is to just normalize what feels weird and awkward and abnormal, so that everyone kind of knows we’re all doing this together. It’s fine.

JEN:  Absolutely. And I’d also add, I think it’s really important to know that you can always ask questions. There’s no stupid question. So if you aren’t sure how something is supposed to be, or if something is changing and you don’t know if it’s normal or not, ask another grown up in your life who you trust.You can email us if you have questions and we’ll do our best to find you an answer. Grown ups don’t always have the perfect answer, but they’re pretty practiced in knowing how to find it or how to help you find it. So I think that’s important to remember.

How to connect with Anyway Magazine

 Oh, that was so perfectly said. I’m so glad we asked the question.  Before we wrap up, I would love to have you share how parents, tweens and teens, how they can find your magazine, how they can subscribe, where they can find you online. How can they connect with you?

KEELEY: You can find us on our website at or on Instagram @anywaymag. Feel free to email us also at Our goal for a subscription is four issues a year. Since we’re early on and it’s just me and Jen, our first year we were able to get three issues out, but the subscribers will get the next fourth issue as well, which is coming up soon. You can go onto our website and also buy all of our back issues, so issues one, two, and three you can buy if you want to catch up as well.

JEN: We’d also love to offer all of your listeners a discount code. If you do want to order a single issue or a subscription, you can just go on the website and there’s a spot for a promo code or a discount code. You can use ANYWAY-15 and that will give you 15% off whatever you order on our website.

FYI International listeners

 Oh, fantastic! Thank you for offering that to our listeners. That’s great! A large portion of the podcast audience does live in the US. There are also a ton of them that don’t live in the United States. I wondered, is Anyway Magazine available internationally?

JEN:  It is available internationally. We have a distributor in the UK called Newsstand. The cheapest shipping is to order through Newsstand if you live in Europe. But you can also go to our website or email us at, and we’ll help you navigate how to get copies to wherever in the world you live.

 Jen and Keeley, it has been an absolute pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much for taking your incredible idea and making it into an amazing magazine. I’m so excited for the next issue and the future issues. And thank you so much for being on the podcast!

JEN + KEELEY:  Thank you for having us!

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