Recently, as a result of a new cooperation established with Oko! Magazine, we went to talk with its co-founder Claire Dognini, a British expat, to learn more about her and her successful magazine which is available online, as well as in a paper form that is distributed in Prague.
Claire was born and raised in the United Kingdom. In the early 90’s she moved to Amsterdam and built a life over there, she spent a great deal of her life living in the Netherlands. “I love Amsterdam, it is like my second home. You live in some place for so long, you see so many changes that the things are not the same anymore and it’s time to move on,” she explains.
During that time, Claire worked different jobs related to event production, several office jobs and also spent many years behind the bar. That was until she “got a more serious job at Unilever in the HR department.” However, life plays tricks on us, and after the first two months of working there, the company decided to relocate the HR department to Prague, offering her the possibility to come along and support that transition. As a fearless woman, Claire decided to go ahead and accept the opportunity of moving to Prague. Once again, as it had happened before, a six-months journey turned into two years. Meanwhile, she returned to the “city of freedom”, but after realizing that she had no longer identified with the city the same way as before, she decided to relocate to Prague indefinitely. Later Claire started her own events production company called Prague Unlimited, did tour guiding as a part time job, had a couple of office jobs again, among other things, but never found the work she truly enjoyed doing.
Passionate about reading and magazines, it was after meeting her friend Benny thanks to their shared love for dogs, that in mid-2018 after other several projects together, they came up with an idea of creating a magazine.
The Rise of Oko! Magazine
Initially, they thought of creating “something like a neighbourhood magazine, something very simple.” At the same time, “we felt a big division between the information available to expats and Czech people. Why? We are living here, this is our home, why instead not join the information? Claire states.
With that in mind, in November 2018 the first edition of the magazine under the name Oko! came out. That name was not chosen randomly. Once again, thinking of the foreign community and the locals, they found a name that was easy to memorize and to pronounce, and at the same time had a meaning in Czech (an eye and a view).
More than a Magazine
With a team composed of more than 20 people from all over the globe, Oko! is releasing its tenth edition. The magazine’s goal is to unite, inform, and generate awareness of the community to current issues through in-depth articles. Also, all of them are Czech based – as Claire explains: “we want to make sure that Czech nationals want to read it as well”. Both Claire and Benny emphasize that the magazine’s target audience are locals; people living in the Czech Republic – be it expats or Czechs.
Besides, Oko! wants to be much more than a traditional magazine. It is also a platform for artists, photographers, and writers residing in the Czech Republic to share their work with the community, including all its editions exclusive sections with this purpose in mind.
Following the motto of quality over quantity, each edition is released every two months and distributed completely free of charge. It is possible to find it in more than four hundred physical spaces, such as beauty salons or coffee shops around Prague as well as online. People can also pick up a free copy of the OKO! Magazine in the OKO! Bistro at any time.
Concerning the impact of coronavirus, she states: “At the beginning, it was a shock. No one knows what is going to happen, but like everyone else in the business, you need to adapt and change the strategy.” In this way, they hurried their strategy outlined for a year and released its last two editions exclusively in digital format. It was a success with its website reaching around twelve hundred visitors a day. However, “the printed version is our baby, so it will be back as soon as possible ”, explains Claire.
Importance of Cooperation
To Claire, one thing that comes out of this current situation is that “we cannot do everything on our own, we need to help each other, otherwise, we cannot survive.”
That is how she looks at the new cooperation between Oko! and Foreigners, too. She is looking forward to the input that Foreigners can provide to the magazine, through the articles on current subjects of our area of expertises.
Oko! Bistro Open
By the way, Oko! is expanding and the magazine is now part of Oko!Multimedia. They moved to a new location in Prague’s Vinohrady where they have opened a brand new and cosy Oko! Bistro, serving also as a venue for events or study/working space. The building itself is home for the headquarters of the magazine. Besides all these terrific news, Claire and Benny have a few new projects launching later this year. So, stay tuned!
If you intend to read the magazine, you only have to go to its website, where you find the last two editions as well as other information-packed articles.