Growing up in a large matriarchal family in Delaware County, Aubrey Fink was never wanting for blunt advice on dicey topics like sex and marriage. “I really love having a big family,” she says. “I realize how lucky I am to have women willing to talk about their lives really honestly and in a funny way.”
That desire to share stories and advice from the women in her life finds its way into The Bridge, a new magazine-like manual Fink conceived out of little more than sheer will. Like Fink herself, The Bridge exudes self-assurance and poise as it closes generational gaps and touches on topics glossy women’s magazines avoid.
A graphics design student at the University of the Arts, Fink was inspired, in part, by Amy Schumer’s memoir, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. “I want to give you the power to look at the women in your life with curiosity and appreciate them for their depth, intelligence and wisdom,” she notes in the first edition of The Bridge. “And even more than that, I want to give you the power to look within yourself for stories that other women might benefit from hearing.”
To help get the idea off the ground, Fink earned a micro-grant from UArts’ Corzo Center, where a panel of students and professionals review applicants. Corzo Center director Neil Kleinman says Fink’s project was selected because of her skills as a graphic designer and her willingness to explore skills—writing and editing—outside of her expertise. “What was interesting was her real passion to connect back to an older generation,” says Kleinman. “Most people, when they start a publication, think about it from the point of view of speaking to their own audience and themselves.”
The $2,500 grant allowed Fink to hire other designers and print the finished product. In addition to financial assistance, the Corzo Center provided a sounding board for Fink. In the year or so it took for the first issue of The Bridge to come together, Fink’s ideas evolved significantly, thanks to feedback from classmates, the panel, Kleinman and her family. “Originally I was thinking it was going to look more like a traditional magazine,” she says. “But then, when I started thinking about the mission, I wanted it to read more like a manual—a kind of guide.”
“She went through an awful lot of work, a lot of transformation,” adds Kleinman. “This current version is almost 180 degrees different in terms of tone, style, look and feel than the original one. She was constantly going back to the drawing board, rethinking it and putting it together differently.”
The result is a sturdy, compact 9-by-6-inch folio. While the final design is seamless, it wasn’t without its kinks. Fink admits she struggled at points. But with support from her family—who also helped as an early advisory board—she found her stride, striking an enticing balance between the whimsical and the serious in her efforts to appeal to a varied audience. “I wanted it to be something that anybody could pick up and feel somewhat comfortable with,” Fink says.
The all-ages list of contributors includes her 63-year-old mother and 8-year-old niece. Another was Gloria Shepard, a Media-based mindfulness and meditation coach. “It’s gorgeous,” says Shepard of The Bridge’s design. “And I was struck by how each voice in it is authentic and honest and real. It made me cry. It made me crack up. I could recognize myself in all of it.”
Fink has sold out of her first issue, with orders coming from as far as Florida and California. “It’s been amazing to see it reach past my network,” she says, adding that the next one is planned for September.
Fink is contributing 25 percent of the proceeds from sales of The Bridge to the Philadelphia chapter of nonprofit Girls Inc. “Their topics were in line with what I personally believe in—leadership skills, women’s empowerment, sexual health, financial literacy,” she says. “The work that they do is just amazing”
In the end, Fink hopes The Bridge represents women at all stages of life—flaws and all. “I was interested in trying my best to paint a bigger picture of women as what they are,” Fink says. “I think there’s no shame in that.”