Original interview in Spanish and translated into English by Stephanie Carmon for TYT…
About a year and a half ago, I was at a spa waiting for my appointment and as usual I picked up the magazines to distract myself for a while. I was used to seeing the usual gossip magazines, otherwise known as los sociales, that resemble more of a photo album of a bunch of people I don’t know looking quite dapper. But this afternoon my attention was drawn to a magazine called Dolce. Thumbing through the pages, I assumed it was from Mexico City or from abroad due to the high quality, chic style that is common in metropolitan cities. The cover featured Céline Iza Paulet from Petit Délice café, which I soon found out is located in the north of Merida. To my surprise, I saw that this publication is created in Merida. I was pleasantly intrigued. As I was called into my appointment, I quickly stuck the magazine into my purse to revisit later on. When I arrived home later that evening, I took the magazine out again and began reading it. I ended up reading it cover to cover.
Dolce is a lifestyle magazine whose tagline is The Art of Living. It features people and businesses that are doing creative and inspiring work within the world of entrepreneurship, gastronomy, architecture and design, the arts, and hotels and travel. What really drew me in were the in depth interviews and articles with local, national and foreign talents and entrepreneurs many of whom are living and working right here in Merida. I recognized some of the establishments featured, but decided to make it a point to go out and get to know more places I hadn’t visited. It began to serve as a guide to Merida both in and outside of Centro. When my good friend Adele Aguirre from Soho Galleries told me she would be featured on the cover of Dolce, I made sure she introduced me to creators and editors. Now, a year later, I choose to feature this young couple, Jean Philippe Gillot and Carolina Molina, as the first interview in my new series in conjunction with MID Guia and MID Guia Norte of Meet Merida’s Vanguards where I hope to give the English speaking audience a peek into the innovative city I see growing and unravelling before my eyes.
Jean Philippe is originally from Cancun and Carolina Molina is Yucatecan. The idea of Dolce came about in 2008 when Jean Philippe, who at the time was only 21 years old, asked Caro, who had just turned 18, if she wanted to start a magazine with him, to which she answered, “Sure, why not?” That simple, whimsical optimism and drive is what started their long journey towards what today is Dolce. Below are some of the highlights of the interview.
Stephanie: What did you do to get the magazine off the ground?
Jean Philippe: When the idea started, there were some magazines in existence that would showcase social events; however, they would feature one girl celebrating her 15th birthday or weddings. That’s when we decided to showcase groups of girls who were all friends and we thought that would give us more ratings…We didn’t have any money to start, so I did something silly and quite daring (laugh) I took magazines like Vogue, Caras, different magazines and I ripped out pages, stapled them together and put Dolce on the cover page with a sharpie pen and I went out to sell [ad space] with that. I would tell the people, “There will be a fashion section like this, and a social affairs section like this…” It was really funny because there were actually people who dared to trust in me and bought [the ad space].
Caro: Moreover, it wasn’t the same here in 2008. He was an “outsider” in Yucatan. He was from Cancun and no one knew him here in Merida, meaning no one from the business world here in Merida. And the Meridians didn’t trust outsiders at that time, now it is much more common to work with people from other parts of Mexico and the world.
Jean Philippe: Yes, in the beginning it was difficult…But luckily we were able to get the first edition out and it made a slight profit…and the first edition was a success. The people loved it and we have little by little grown since then.
Stephanie: The concept of Dolce has changed considerably since you started. What caused that change?
Caro: When we started Dolce there were only 3 magazines very well positioned in Merida. Shortly after we launched Dolce, several more magazines started to pop-up with the same concept.
Jean Philippe: So we tried to escape what everyone else was doing, but each time our step ahead [of the competition] wasn’t that much ahead…So that is when we decided we needed a complete change, plus, both Caro and I were getting tired of publishing photos of weddings and social affairs because we felt it really didn’t leave much of value. We said, let’s do a shift to something more prestigious: upscale lifestyle; and that’s when we interviewed our first featured cover Carol Kolozs from Rosas y Xocolate.
Caro: That was the year 2012 and it was a very important year as far as investments, growth, new restaurants, boutique hotels…the Centro started to really get developed. There had always been a divide between the north and the Centro. But, although we were young and from the north we were always interested in the Centro…we started to get to know chefs and hoteliers and thought, their stories are fascinating, let’s share them in the magazine.
Stephanie: Your tagline is The Art of Living. How would you define The Art of Living?
Jean Philippe: The Art of Living is a much wider concept than merely whether you have money or if you don’t have money. It’s the value of living well. Meaning, you can make the effort to travel to the best place you want to go and maybe it took a long time to save, but going to that place gives you a….style of life. Also going out to eat or taking care of your health through wellness and spas. It’s all an art. So, we didn’t want to just focus on the stereotype that it’s only the luxurious and expensive things, no. It can be the simplest thing that gives the status of embodying the art of living which adds personal value to your lifestyle.
Caro: It’s living not superficially, but integrally.
Stephanie: The last question about Dolce. What draws you to choose the person featured on the cover of your magazine?
Jean Philippe: It’s really easy. The people that we feature are the people that we know give value to city and the content of the magazine. People that are doing things to change the city: who contribute to the evolution of the city, making it more cosmopolitan, doing different things. That is what we look for. And we don’t have an age. It could be someone who is 30 years old who is super talented and successful or someone who is 70. Age doesn’t matter, it’s what they are doing that’s important. We aren’t closed off to a certain sex or age; that makes no difference.
Caro: And I love that we have been able to meet local people as well as people from New York, like Adele [Aguirre], people from France, Italy, and the United States. People that are really interesting who are contributing something valuable to the city and it’s important that [Meridians] get to know who they are.
Part 2 of this interview will feature Molina and Gillot’s Club Sibarita, a culinary club inspired by the restaurants and chefs featured in Dolce. The Club is open to anyone who enjoys learning about and indulging in the world of gastronomy and what Merida has to offer as far as national and international cuisine, coffees, and mixology.
Original interview in Spanish and translated into English by Stephanie Carmon for TYT.
Stephanie Carmon, “language lover,” is an English and Spanish language professional with over 18 years of experience teaching and providing clients with effective communication skills. She works both online and in person with companies and individual learners from Mexico, Russia, U.S. and Canada as a freelance language consultant, translator, interpreter and teacher. She currently lives in Mérida, Yucatan.