Sussex Style Beauty Editorial

I’ve been terribly quiet lately, and I thought it was finally time to explain why. A couple of weeks ago, I was appointed Beauty Editor for a new glossy magazine called Sussex Style. I won’t bombard you with info on it as most of you will have already heard about it, and I don’t want to be a walking, talking ad, so I’ll just say that it’s going to be high end, aesthetically driven, stocked all around the South East, and ultimately something that this county needs!

Anyway, with my deadline looming large like a…large loomy thing, I had to set to work quickly. I’d decided that I wanted to aim high with my beauty pages. Instead of featuring products alone, I chose to create an actual beauty editorial. Now, this was one of those cases where I’d blindly opted to do something without actually knowing whether or not it was feasible, but I’d set my bar and I was determined to reach it.

I soon realised just what I’d let myself in for. First, there were the creative decisions to be made: what kind of looks was I going to go for? I began to compile moodboards, both in real life and on the dreaded Pinterest (I continue to be the only girl in the world who despises the wretched thing). That was the easy bit. Next, I had to assemble a team to help me get my ideas from the ol’ noggin to the page. I have to thank the Twitter community here, because it just wouldn’t have been possible without them. Within a few hours of tweeting I was overwhelmed with talented photographers, makeup artists and hairstylists.

Next, I talked to the people who’d been suggested, and we started to work out teams, and dates. I was extremely lucky to snag a makeup artist called Marie-Isabel Kennedy, aka Maz. Not only a ridiculously talented young lady, but she also pulled a team together as she recommended a wonderful photographer called Parisa Walklett, and also an absolutely fantastic hairstylist called Stephanie Hayes. From there, it was all systems go – I put together a brief, we started to arrange dates, and then it was time to cast a model.

This actually turned out to be the most stressful part of the operation. Up until this point, things had gone alarmingly smoothly – the team had fallen into place, we had Parisa’s studio all sorted out, the looks were signed off on, and jewellery had been sorted (more on that shortly). As we were working on such a tight time scale, it was extremely difficult to sort out a model, so I spent a rather stressful day frantically emailing and phoning all the big agencies, throwing myself on their mercy. Tell you what, it’s no joke when they talk about how young models are; heaps of the girls I requested were at school on the day of the shoot!

On Friday afternoon at 5.25pm, with the shoot on Monday, Select Model Management came up trumps with a gorgeous girl called Hannah Murrell. Hannah had the most perfect face for the shoot, and we were delighted to book her. When the booking was confirmed, I’m not ashamed to say that I leapt out of my chair, punched the air a lot and ran backwards and forwards shouting ‘YES!!! YEEEEES!!!!’ like a fool. Because what good is a crack hair and makeup team, a brilliant photographer and gorgeous jewellery without a model?!

On Monday morning I headed up to London to pick up the jewellery. I was incredibly happy with how lucky we’d been on the jewellery front. I’d put out a twitter call for some high end, quirky pieces, and while I had a good response, nothing quite fitted the bill until I got a tweet from the lovely folks behind Jolita Jewellery. Founded by Algis Abromaitis (the designer) and his sister Jolita (the marketing/press/PR guru), their pieces fit my brief perfectly, and I spent a happy hour browsing their site and pulling options out. Jolita was delightful to deal with and made my job extremely easy, and was hugely accommodating; I’d recommend them strongly to any stylists or anyone putting shoots together.

I picked up my precious cargo from the lovely Jolita, and headed out to Finsbury Park to Paris’ studio, where I met Hannah, Maz, Steph, Paris, and the adorable Henry, a French Bulldog/shih tzu cross. I’ll leave you all to put those two breeds together…We listened to a lot of music, ate a LOT of biscuits, fawned over Henry, drooled over the jewellery, and I got to watch some extremely talented people in action. The whole thing was a dream come true, and I genuinely kept expecting to wake up at any point.

I’d like to take this chance to thank my MD at Sussex Style, Sean, for giving me free rein; my amazing team of Paris, Maz and Steph, the wonderful Jolita Jewellery, the awesome Hannah, and all the tweeters who helped me out on a VERY tight deadline. That photoshoot was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I feel so proud of it. Not to get all soppy, but the whole thing meant so much to me, and I feel like I’m finally doing the things that I dreamed of doing as a teenager. I still can’t quite believe it’s all happened!

Sussex Style magazine will be coming out in November, and in the meantime hop over to the Facebook page or the Twitter account @SussexStyleMag to keep up to date with the latest news!

I Scream, You Scream…

Wow, we’ve well and truly plunged into Winter, haven’t we? On Wednesday, it seemed to be supremely dark most of the day, with icy rain appearing intermittently. Still, it wasn’t going to put me off my purpose for the day: ice cream tasting. It was part of the Lewes Octoberfest, and I wasn’t going to argue with such a fine tradition.

I was also in the mood to celebrate, having been officially named as Beauty Editor on upcoming glossy magazine Sussex Style, so ice cream was definitely on the cards. I was also planning on stocking up on some interesting magazines to butcher to make moodboards, so a day trip to Lewes seemed perfect. It was most definitely time to break out the fur trimmed items in my wardrobe, of which there are quite a few…

Lewes was rather gloomy weather-wise, but picking up some lovely magazines cheered me up hugely. I was pleased to finally get my hands on Wonderland magazine, which was full of the most beautiful editorials and which I’m still waiting to read so I can give it due care and attention. Teen Vogue is something I should really feel embarrassed about buying due to my non-teen status, but I always find it fun and inspiring. Also Company, which is fast becoming one of my favourites. A £1 cover price and packed full of interesting features, AND featuring someone I know from Twitter. Exciting times!

We headed to Limetree Kitchen, tucked away off the main high street on Station Street, a gorgeous little bistro-y type concept. We were warmly welcomed and swept in for some Illy coffee and ice cream tasting. We tried (if I can remember correctly): lemon meringue pie, rose petal, butternut squash and Amaretto, muscovado sugar and vanilla, and gin & tonic. Hands down, my fave was G&T – very refreshing, zesty and light. The chap behind the kitchen, Alex, was very charming, trained in classic French cuisine, and an ice cream maestro.

It was the perfect place to escape to on a miserable afternoon, and felt a bit like sitting in a friend’s kitchen, thanks to the relaxed and friendly nature of the people working there. The ice creams were out of this world delish, as were the truffles we were also treated to afterwards. You can have proper food too – Alex let us look through lots of old menus, and we were hugely impressed. The menu changes week to week, and the dishes are creative, appetising and well conceived. I’m planning on popping in for a proper meal so I can give it a real road-test.

Ta ra for now chaps, and remember, it doesn’t matter how cold it is, ice cream is ALWAYS acceptable.

Dead Wood: The Future of Magazines

On Tuesday night, I whipped myself off back to the metropolis for a talk at the V&A, named, rather ominously, ‘Dead wood: The Future of Magazines’. There were four speakers: Lucy Scott and Tina Smith of ‘Lost in London‘ magazine, Steve Watson of Stack Magazines, and Alan Rutter, journalist, writer and web entrepreneur.

Due to the name of the event, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I care passionately about the fate of magazines, not just because I’m hoping my future career will involve a healthy dose of magazine writing, but also because I adore reading them. I don’t think reading on my iPhone, laptop, or on a tablet could ever replace that feeling of a physical object, an object with a distinct texture and smell…I love to engage fully with my magazines. I fold pages over, draw on them, often rip things out to plaster on my walls, or for inspiration when I’m designing.

Reading a digital publication inspires no joy whatsoever in me. I struggle to read, I get distracted, I click off and back onto Facebook…It just simply doesn’t work for me. Those are my opinions, the opinions of a long term magazine reader, but not someone who has had a great deal of direct contact with the industry. I was intrigued to hear what the various speakers would have to say on the subject, so without further ado, I’ll tell you a little bit about what I learnt:

Lucy Scott and Tina Smith

These two lovely ladies have founded their own quarterly magazine called ‘Lost in London’. The ethos is delightful: a beautifully curated magazine created for those who are looking for a little bit of pastoral charm in our teeming metropolis. I grew up both in Sussex and Surrey (well, Ascot in Berkshire, but…you know) and have always been surrounded by nature, parks, and general loveliness. When I look back on my childhood, I genuinely see fields of long grass at dusk, doing maths homework and playing football on the huge lawns outside my old house, ‘nature expeditions’ during school days, Natural Trust properties, cream teas…Even while I was at uni, I rediscovered a love of exploring nature and climbing trees.

I’d always wondered how to align my love of the countryside with my adoration of London. ‘Lost in London’ features photos and text centred on ‘portraying the city’s hidden charms and rustic character, as London based artists provide a visual response to the city.’ A wonderful idea, and well-executed. So that was the publication, but what did the co-producers have to say about the future of magazines, and their experience in the industry?

Obviously, we’re talking about independent magazines here. The general consensus is that, say, ‘Vogue’ will be around millions of years in the future. But what about the creative, artistic, advertising-free smaller magazines? Tina and Lucy started off working at Property Week, and found that their ideas on what made a good magazine meshed. To cut a medium-sized story short, they launched ‘Lost in London’. They told us that when they launched, they didn’t view it as a business, or anything that would make them money. They decided to stay true to their creative ideals, eschew any advertising, and keep it purely their magazine.

Tina and Lucy were realistic about the implications of this. The magazine industry is more or less run on advertising (yesterday I almost put my back out trying to lift up the March edition of Vogue…embarrassing), so I love the fact that many of these small publications are avoiding the mighty hammer of advertising and carving out their own way. Of course, financially, this makes the difference between a profitable magazine and a piece of art. Tina and Lucy commented that they ‘just about broke even’ on their project.

Not ideal if you’re looking to make your new publication your primary career – Tina and Lucy both work other jobs, ploughing all of their spare time into ‘Lost in London’, but they’ve created something they can truly be proud of. They have not compromised on any part of their project. Everything contained inside is real, true, and beautiful, and I believe they have achieved what they set out to do.

You can buy ‘Lost in London’ from http://lostinlondon.bigcartel.com/, as well as a variety of stockists around the city, including Selfridges. You can also ‘Like’ them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter

Steve Watson

Steve is something of a magazine maverick. He has founded ‘Stack’, a magazine subscription service which implements a ‘lucky dip’ mentality, meaning you get an absolutely corking independent magazine sent to your door every month. In the first few minutes of his talk, I’d scribbled down some fantastic sounding titles, which on further Googling, have very much, erm, tickled my fancy. Steve was strongly of the belief that print is NOT dead.

He lamented the fact that it’s extremely difficult to locate independent magazines – especially since Borders closed down. Incidentally, I actually read this week that Paperchase are due to start stocking indie titles, which is VERY exciting news. Steve also stated that he believed money can be made from magazines. Like the ‘Lost in London’ creators, he also commented on the fact that the idea is the key thing. Settle on a good concept, because ultimately this will keep you going. The idea is what people will latch on to, and will make them subscribe.

Steve explained how print media should be about providing what digital media simply can’t do. He exemplified this through talking about ‘Delayed Gratification’ magazine, where the last three months of news are reviewed, using a combination of interviews with those involved, and the oh so ubiquitous infographics. He also mentioned ‘Address’, which looks set to be my new favourite magazine, featuring a more ‘academic’ look at fashion. Steve liked the idea of someone thinking ‘I can’t possibly be in a world where this thing doesn’t exist’.

Steve recently worked on a project called ‘The Good Times’ for The Church of London, which involved pulling together an utterly optimistic newspaper and distributing it on the day that “experts” (not actual experts) had decreed as “the most depressing day of the year”. Coincidentally, that was my birthday, so I’m glad someone was doing something positive. I strongly recommend you get yourself a subscription to Stack: http://www.stackmagazines.com/, and also watch the video below:

Alan Rutter

Last up was Alan Rutter, journalist, start-up founder and digital consultant. He has recently worked at Condé Nast as iPad projects manager, so was obviously coming at the topic from a different angle. (That being said, all speakers did value the power of digital!) He discussed the important things to consider in terms of making a magazine tablet friendly: a certain degree of interactivity, combinations of image and text, and making it readable offline – after all, many readers will have their tablets fired up on the tube.

Alan described a magazine as ‘a curated collection of stories’, as opposed to being a tangible object. For this reason, he believed that a digital incarnation of a magazine was of equal artistic merit, as long as it was carefully designed. He commented that books and magazines are finite, but the web is not. Interestingly, he also discussed how a magazine is an ‘object’, and yet, when you read a magazine on a tablet, the tablet becomes the object.

Alan also talked about financial matters, and how producing a digital publication might not necessarily mean costs were lower. For example, you might need to pay for good content, and Apple will take 30% if you run it through them. Equally, there are the issues of huge competition, and discoverability. Alan recommended learning HTML5, if you’re a developer, as this will ensure your digital publication can work across any screen.

Ultimately, he commented ‘People do want something finite, that’s been curated for them’, and he believes print and digital should be able to sit side by side. Visit Alan’s site here: http://www.alanrutter.com/

My thoughts

Days on from the talk, and I’m still turning it over in my head. I hadn’t been expecting more of a discussion on integrity and the nature of art – I just thought we were going to be told that magazines were dying – dead, even, and that we should all forget about the dream of working on one. Instead, it was a celebration of the independent magazine ideal. From that one evening, I now have a long list of new magazines to read, and renewed hope for the future.

I learnt so much in those two hours than I’m still processing it. It isn’t just the wonderful revelation that there are still print-junkies out there, but also the idea of a world where adverts don’t form 60-70% of publications (it’s probably more, actually). A world where a group of people created a positive news only newspaper and circulated it on “the most depressing day of the year”. A world where Londoners go around seeking the rustic parts of the city, and taking beautifully judged photos…to say I’m inspired is an understatement. My poor little exhausted and increasingly cynical heart had become very heavy, and that weight is lifting, thanks to the wonderful speakers, and the V&A.

So, in the meantime, let’s all go and read an independent magazine, shall we? How about subscribing to Stack? Put down that mainstream magazine you’re clutching, just for a month, and try something new. Go and sniff a magazine. Get a paper cut. And above all, don’t give up hope.