Why did Grazia choose to develop the Kids Co mentorship?
The results of last year’s mentorship between Grazia, Kids Company and Reiss were amazing: one of our mentees is now working in the fashion industry and two are in higher education studying fashion. So we knew it was a scheme we wanted to get behind again. It’s hard enough for young people to get their first job these days, never mind those who have been marginalized from society and come to Kids Company for support. We wanted to give them a chance to make something of themselves in an exceptionally competitive industry.
What can the mentors and mentees expect to gain from the scheme?
We believe the mentees will gain invaluable real world experience of working at one of the biggest high street retailers, Reiss. We’re hoping that by working in every department – from PR to pattern cutting – they’ll get a first step on a very-difficult-to-climb career ladder. As for the mentors, we hope that they – like us at Grazia – will get to know these young people and learn something from them in return.
What experiences did you have as a young adult which has helped to shape your career path?
I was lucky enough to have people in my formative years who inspired me to forge my own path and enjoy learning along the way. My comprehensive school English teacher Mr Nield had such confidence in me that he made me believe in myself, and taught with such passion that he really spurred me on to succeed. My dad was equally inspiring, while never piling on the pressure, so school for me was a joy rather than a chore. He always told me that education should be about learning how to question/learn, and I still believe that today.
Was there one defining moment that made you realise that this was the career for you?
I’m definitely not the best writer in the world, so when I got my first stab at editing it was a light bulb moment for me. I love the craft of editing – pulling together writing, design and visuals to create a fresh, unique product. While I was working on Wedding and Home mag, I created a dummy for a new magazine I felt was aimed at my generation. The company I was working for at the time let me run with it and print an issue that they then put into research. It never saw the light of day on the newsstand (I was devastated at the time!) but it taught me so much and directly led to my first proper editorship at Livingetc.
Can you give us a snapshot of your typical day?
Wake up to the Today programme on Radio 4, check Daily Mail, Guardian, Times, Twitter online on my ipad. Frantically get my two boys up and take them to school. Arrive at work and head straight into morning news conference to discuss the news agenda and the stories we need to include in the following week’s issue. Rush between meetings (in and out of the office) with my Managing Director, fashion designers and PRs, advertisers and our marketing team, interspersed with checking proofs and layouts, planning features/big issues and designing the cover. Two or three evenings a week I’m usually at a work-related event, whether it’s a fashion/beauty dinner, store opening or awards do (which means I somehow have to fit in a blow-dry if I can!).
What skills do you think are essential to be successful in your role?
Passion, enthusiasm, a clear vision, humour and the ability to direct but know when to listen (those who shout loudest haven’t always got the best ideas).