Sarah, the September issue of Girlfriend is all about inspiration – “your life your way” and “make it happen” are written large on the cover. How important is self-belief in this crazy world?
At Girlfriend we’re all about encouraging teens to embrace their individuality and pursue their dreams. For years we’ve been running campaigns that help teens feel great about themselves and help build their self-esteem, giving them the confidence to be themselves – whatever form that takes. We often have readers write to us saying we’re who they turn to for advice and support, because we’re always there to inspire them, cheer them on and believe in them. Self-belief is not something that comes easily – especially as a teen – but it’s so important and if we can make even one teen believe in themselves a little more, then we’re doing our job!
In your editor’s letter, you say a career counsellor told you you’d never get a job in magazines... Um, wrong! What advice can you give to others aspiring to make magazines their career?
Haha I know, right? I think the world is full of people who are quick to tell you what you can’t do and not enough people telling teens what’s possible. I often tell my readers that you shouldn’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your wildest dreams. Yes, it’ll be hard work, and it won’t always be easy, but I also think that makes it even more valuable to you when you do achieve those dreams. I was lucky in that my parents never told me it wasn’t possible, so it never occurred to me that I couldn’t do it! But as far as a mag career goes, the first thing is that you need to be passionate about magazines and the written word. Research your audience – and listen to them. Do work experience at the kinds of places you want to work to see if it’s for you…and most importantly if you want to be a writer you need to constantly be reading and writing! Reading helps you learn how to use language and will help you decipher what you do and don’t like. Writing will not only help hone your skills, but it will also develop your tone so that you can find a voice that’s uniquely you.
What’s the best thing about being editor of Girlfriend – and the toughest thing?
Hands down the best thing is getting to work with the people I do. The Girlfriend team made up of a ridiculously talented bunch of girls who are all incredibly passionate about making a positive impact in teenagers’ lives. But also that I get to work with the most amazing teenagers - our audience. Our readers are so inspiring. They have energy, passion, motivation…they really want to be the change in the world, and they not only love what we do, but they invest in it. Every day they inspire us to do what we do and we in turn want to create the best, most well–informed and entertaining mag out there that helps make their teen years more awesome. Oh and we get to listen to 1D and Taylor Swift with great abandon. THAT is a perk.
I think the toughest thing is also one of the most exciting things – and what I love most about my job. And that is keeping up with the trends. The teen world is so fast moving from what celebrities are hot, to the next social media, and of course language. Something could be "on fleek" one month and "legit not even" the next. It’s a fun challenge though and it’s honestly one of the best, most refreshing parts of my job.
Were you a magazine junkie growing up? What were the mags you most loved as a teenager?
Of course! This is how I fell in love with mags and why in my Year 7 yearbook I said I was going to be a magazine journalist when I grew up (true story). I don’t think you can be as passionate as I am about my job without having magazines running through your blood! I had a subscription to Girlfriend (naturally) and read Chik for a while and B magazine. I was always a huge reader and would fill in the wait before the next issue by reading loads of fiction (The Babysitters Club, then The Tomorrow when the War Began series were faves).
Do you have a current girl crush? Boy crush?
Gosh, so many! This kind of discussion happens daily in the GF office. As far as girls go, Jennifer Lawrence is amazing, because she’s obviously really talented, but can also laugh at herself and just appears so confident, at ease and genuinely herself all the time. Then there’s Emma Watson because of her work with the UN and the fact that she put her studies first, but has still managed to achieve her dreams. Lastly there’s Malala Yousafzai, because she is just incredible and I think that all teen girls should have someone like her to aspire too.
As for boys… well there's about five of us in the GF office who are all about Ashton Irwin from 5 Seconds of Summer. Because a) he’s ~dreamy~ and b) he’s also a delightful human. In fact all of the 5SOS boys are amazing magical humans who have somehow managed to stay really genuine and lovely despite their fame. Girlfriend was the first magazine that ever shot the boys and we’ve been there through their rise to fame. Also Ed Sheeran, because he’s freaking amazingly talented, and he’s the only celebrity I’ve ever met who I hardcore fangirled over. Isn’t it illegal to have that much talent?
We love the mash up of information, advice, culture, fashion, beauty, celebrity and more in Girlfriend. Can you give us a sneak peak of what’s in store for future issues?
Well we have a dedicated fashion issue coming up, which is exciting because we’ve never had one before and we know how much our readers love fashion! We also have some big things happening with YouTubers, plus some must-read features for the exam timing, which will be a fantastic break from all that study stress.
Let’s talk about readers … how valued is feedback from your readers? Do you communicate directly? Does feedback inform the content of the magazine?
Girlfriend always has been 100 per cent audience led. Everything we do is born of reader feedback and it’s so important in creating the magazine they want, with the information they want most. Everything from the stories we write to who we put on the cover we get from listening to our readers. We receive daily feedback from them via social media and email, plus we also have three work experience students every week. We’re so lucky in that our readers love communicating with us and they are passionate about voicing their opinions. They love that we listen to them and they can see their voices being heard. Without our readers we couldn’t do what we do – and we’d have no audience to do it for!
What are the benefits of being a subscriber to Girlfriend? Why subscribe?
Obviously the greatest thing about being a subscriber is that you get the magazine delivered to your door EVERY MONTH, before anyone else has it. So you get all the information, all the trends and the stories before everyone else. Aside from that, we have awesome gifts for our subscribers when they sign up and they get the magazine for half the price of the newsstand price. Plus, subscribers are legit my favourite people because they are our most loyal readers… so you also get my everlasting affection and devotion :)