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Dynamic Duo

The Team Behind West Chester + Liberty Lifestyle Reflects on the First 100 Issues

Michelle Moody launched West Chester + Liberty Lifestyle in November of 2015, with Tera Michelson by her side as editor. The two friends, who first met at church, have worked together on all 100 issues. They sat down over a glass of champagne to interview each other, reflect on their journey together, share behind-the-scenes stories and toast to their 100th issue.

How did this journey begin?

Michelle—In 2015 I decided to leave my 17-year career as a VP for a national marketing company and I wanted my next job to be something where I could give back to our community and make a positive difference. I found the opportunity to start my own magazine, and I loved the idea that I could share the good stories in our rapidly growing community. So, I took the plunge into publishing!

Tera—My family and I had just moved from Kansas to West Chester when I met Michelle. Not long after, she proposed this wild idea for us to work together on a hyperlocal publication that tells inspiring community stories. As a freelance writer that was new to the area, I was excited to learn about my neighbors in this fun and creative partnership. We popped a cork and jumped in together!

What was a favorite story that you wrote?

M—I loved getting to write the story on our five-year anniversary for the November 2020 issue. It was a really fabulous trip down memory lane as I worked to capture the biggest moments from our first five years. That story took weeks to write, but it was worth it because the story serves as a time capsule from our first five years. 

T—Chloe the painting dog and her owner Ashley Kallay made quite an impression on me for the February 2018 issue. It was hard to remember that dogs are colorblind as Chloe carefully selected the paints, took the brush into her mouth and created each masterpiece.

Tell about a favorite experience working on a story.

M—I typically write the travel stories because I love to travel. The best one was about Discovery Cove in Orlando. I’ve been to Orlando over 20 times and had no idea that place existed, and it was AMAZING. It was the best single day of vacation my family has ever had. We loved it so much, we’re going back this summer.

T—My favorite stories are the personal profiles, where I get to sit down with the movers and shakers in our area. Our local neighborhoods are filled with interesting people doing extraordinary things in the world! I especially enjoy highlighting the accomplishments of local teens. From the arts to sports, academics to activism, West Chester and Liberty Township are springboards for impressive young people.

What was your favorite photoshoot?

M—I loved the photo shoot with the Porter family that was our January 2022 cover story. The couple had been to a combined five Olympics and just moved to West Chester. They were incredibly nice and humble, and they brought their adorable, 3-year-old daughter with them. Being professional athletes, every picture we took was so effortless. It’s hard to tell, but in the cover photo Tiffany is about three feet in the air and Len Kaltman got that photo on the first take! 

T—For the October 2021 issue, the West Chester Fire Department welcomed us into the Station 71 kitchen for a memorable photo shoot and delicious lunch of BBQ Chicken Pizza. The recipe is still in heavy rotation at the Michelson household. Len was behind the lens to capture this story, as he often is for food shoots! Our firefighters are an excellent example of teamwork, right down to how they work together in the kitchen.

Share something most of our readers don’t know.

M—I was the model for our September 2020 cover story. We always shoot the fashion issue in July, and I was traveling a lot that summer, so I ran out of time to find a model, do the clothing fittings and schedule professional hair and make-up. So, I stepped in to be our model. I didn’t want anyone to know it was me, so we focused on jeans trends and my face isn’t in any of the photos. I had never done anything like that before, and I definitely have a new appreciation for what our models go through. That cover shot where I’m jumping in the air in 4-inch heels took over a dozen tries to get just right—my feet were killing me! 

T—My best work for Lifestyle happens at local coffee shops—interviews, edits and articles are best accomplished under the influence of chai tea and baked goods.

How does it feel to reach your 100th issue?

M—I honestly can’t believe we’ve reached this milestone! There were some points along the journey, like the pandemic, where I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to keep going. I literally owe EVERYTHING to our advertising patterns, they stuck with us and continued to make this magazine possible even when their own businesses were going through tough times. And it’s been simply amazing to get to do this with such an amazing person like Tera by my side. I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity to share the good news of our community each month and wake up each day to a job I absolutely love. I’m looking forward to our 200th issue!

T—100 issues is an incredible benchmark. It happened so fast! It is such a gift to work alongside a dear friend that shares my passions for storytelling and our community. I raise my glass to Michelle and the next 100 issues of West Chester + Liberty Lifestyle!

It is such a gift to work alongside a dear friend that shares my passions for storytelling and our community.

OR

I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity to share the good news of our community each month and wake up each day to a job I absolutely love.

OR

I’m looking forward to our 200th issue!

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