Congratulations on winning a Young Stationers’ Sector Award. For those not at the Young Stationers’ Dinner can you explain what you won the award for?
I won the Young Stationers’ award for Publishing, Digital, and Design, which was for magazine, Londnr, that I launched online in 2015, bringing out our first print issue (my pride and joy!) this year.
What attracted you to journalism as a career?
Actually, I never planned to be a journalist, like every slightly introverted and bookish teenager I wanted to be a novelist! But when I was trying to work out how to get started in writing, journalism seemed like a logical first step – and then I fell in love with it.
Tell us more about Londnr…
I started Londnr with selfish intentions: I very much wanted a chance to write about the topics I was interested in (not just what I was commissioned!) and to publish writers I believed in, but who were struggling to get seen, as I was.
So Londnr was born, and it focuses on arts, culture, history and lifestyle in our capital, though that’s just the bare bones. We pride ourselves on really engaging storytelling and meticulously researched pieces. All our content is ‘timeless’, meaning it isn’t pegged to any current events. At first this was a practical decision (we would have been too small to compete with other media outlets) but now we find it also gives us a lot of freedom to write what we want, not cover what we have too.
As a result Londnr is as eclectic as its namesake city, we try and explore it from every angle and include the breadth of characters who’ve passed through and left their mark. Our aim is to get right under the skin of this amazing place, unearthing all the forgotten histories of London. Amongst the topics we’ve covered was a history of pineapples (Cromwell banned them thinking they were too frivolous, King Charles II loved them so much he had a portrait painted with one); the origin of barristers’ wigs and even the scandalous love affair between two British Vogue editors in the 1920s!
So, you are taking a publication from the internet to print – isn’t that going against the grain?
Quite a lot of people were surprised, yes. But the truth is in the magazine industry it’s difficult to be taken seriously without a physical product, it’s a show of commitment and I guess of success in a way. Anyone can start a website, but curating a whole magazine then selling it is a huge statement. That’s not to say it’s necessarily a prudent one, but actually independent magazines are performing very well at the moment, since each has its niche audience. It’s the heavyweight magazines that are suffering; there isn’t a mass market for print anymore.
What are the challenges and how is Londnr best placed to meet them?
Time. Time is the biggest luxury of our age. Most media platforms don’t have the time to do the quality checks, proof-reading, fact-checking, grammar checking that we do. The news and media cycles are so fast now that content has to be pushed out as quickly as possible, and inevitably the product suffers. We take our time because I won’t compromise on quality – and since Londnr is my baby, I don’t mind staying up late or working long hours to make sure it’s as good as it can be!
How do you see your role developing in the future?
I think as with any start up, as it grows you have to grow with it and be flexible. I’m the founder and editor, but I’m also in charge of production, budgeting, writing contracts, marketing, partnerships and handling the whole events arm – I launched Londnr Events in 2016, it’s our cultural programme of talks, aimed to provide writers with advice – so for those I put together the speakers, organise the venues, promote the event, sell the tickets… everything! I guess in the future, I hope I can do a bit less!
Do you see other cities in the UK or possibly overseas getting the Londnr treatment?
I would love to do another ‘Londnr’ project in a new city! That would be an absolute dream, but one that is a little too far out of reach for now!
If Stationers want to get their hands on a hard copy of the magazine where can they find it?
The easiest way to get a copy is definitely to get it online at LondnrMagazine.com, the publication retails for £10.00 but we’re offering a special Stationers’ discount, selling it at £8.00 (Members should log in to the Members Only area of the website and click here for details of how to get this discount) so don’t miss your chance to get a copy! I promise it is bursting at the seams with brilliant stories!
You’ve been a Stationer now for two years – can you recommend membership as a good move for someone at your stage in your career.
I would absolutely recommend it. The first time I came I knew nothing about it and had no idea to expect, and I met some of the most welcoming, warmest and entertaining people I have come across in London! The key thing about joining the Stationers’ when you’re a bit younger is that you have access to industry leaders through the membership, and can meet people whose career advice can be invaluable. The best part is a Stationer will always go to the greatest lengths to help you out professionally too. It’s a true community.