Passion with a Southern Flair

Author: Allison Salerno

Peruse the pages of Southern Distinction magazine, and you will see the passion publisher Cynthia Hyde has for fashion and design.

This year’s bridal issue - the magazine’s 16th and biggest, features 24 carefully curated style shoots. The locations vary from a working farm in the North Georgia mountains to a historic home close to downtown Athens.

During spring semester 2018, several interns from the FACS fashion merchandising program worked behind the scenes with Hyde and her staff to publish the issue.

Hyde, a 1988 FACS graduate, started her regional lifestyle magazine in 2003 after directing the sales and marketing departments of several other magazines in Georgia. The magazine’s headquarters are in an office park in Athens, a short drive from campus.

“I wanted to put out a product that would give business to advertisers and educate readers through more editorial,” she said.

In a market filled with “nothing but ad books,” Hyde crafted a product that is 65 percent editorial and 35 percent ads.

The magazine publishes six times a year, with each volume carrying a different theme. In addition to bridal, Southern Distinction’s volumes cover food and dining; music, arts and Georgia travel; home and garden; regional travel; and medicine.

As of fall 2018, FACS fashion merchandising students are now required to take a course in professional development.

In addition to teaching interview and resume skills, faculty member Clair McClure said she hopes her students will grow in self-assurance.

“My underlying motivation is that they would leave confident,” McClure said. “When they’re confident in who they are, that’s when I get very good feedback from supervisors.”

For the student interns at Southern Distinction, gaining real-world experience at a magazine has proven invaluable.

Alexandra McCluskey of Columbus will graduate in May 2019 with a degree in fashion merchandising. She not only worked on the bridal issue, she also modeled in one of the shoots. Both were new experiences.

“I’ve learned how important it is to have all the details together, and the importance of not stressing,” she said. “But making sure you see things through to the end.”

Hyde “really tries to teach me,” McCluskey added. “I’ve noticed that she takes time out to teach me lessons about the business.”

Courtney Blackwell of Marietta also will graduate in May 2019 with a fashion merchandising degree.

In addition to assisting with style shoots, she helped lay out pages and researched and called potential advertisers.

“I learned about the editorial side of fashion,” Blackwell said. “For example, how everything is so detailed and you have to look at every small detail.”

She said Hyde is “one of the best bosses I’ve ever had because she makes sure you’re learning on the internship and enjoying it.”

“The fashion industry on the business side is mainly run by men,” Blackwell said. “For me, it’s really inspiring to see women having their own businesses and running them successfully.”

Hyde, born in Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, grew up in Athens. She majored in fashion merchandising and minored in public relations.

“It’s been extremely fun to work with the fashion merchandising department and share my passion for design and clothing,” Hyde said. “It is gratifying to pass on my knowledge to the next generation.”

​Cynthia Hyde

Publisher of Southern Distinction Magazine, a Southern lifestyle magazine based out of Athens, Ga.

Major: Fashion Merchandising, 1988

Cynthia Hyde on a photo shoot for the food issue at a small farm in Winder, Ga., as FACS fashion merchandising students Caroline Helfgott (left) and Farah Kitchens assist with social media posts.