Date Posted: Friday 11th October 2019
DIARY directory recently caught up with editor and creative director of rakesprogress magazine, Victoria Gaiger.
Rakesprogress magazine offers a contemporary look at our changing relationship with the natural world. Included with the current issue is the launch issue of rakesSENSE, in collaboration with Harvey Nichols, a separate 120-page magazine about the art of flowers and fragrance. Both magazines are produced by the rakesprogress team of fashion photographers, art photographers and documentary photographers.
Victoria previously worked as a freelance menswear stylist across publications including i-D, Interview, Sunday Times and Harrods. She was fashion editor at Harrods Magazine before leaving the publication to create rakesprogress magazine in 2016 with Tom Loxley. Tom is an executive editor at Radio Times, he has previously worked with BBC magazines and IPC magazines. We caught up with Victoria Gaiger to discover how independent publications have evolved in recent years. We also spoke to Victoria about rakesprogress magazine's brand and journalist partnerships.
Photo credit: Sam Gaiger-Marriott. Victoria Gaiger and Tom Loxley, founders and editors of rakesprogress Magazine
How did you come up with the concept of rakesprogress magazine?
We moved out of North London and into the suburbs to a house with a big garden for our three boys to run around in and play football. As they got older they spent more time on their computers; we started spending more time trying to tame our garden. I started looking around for inspiration and found there were no magazines that ‘spoke’ to me. There were magazines for horticulturalists who understood the language of gardens and plants, and of course, there were magazines that showed beautiful gardens, but nothing that spoke about the aesthetics and the art of gardens and flowers.
Also every time I was on a fashion shoot someone would be talking about plants and flowers and I could see there was a large gap in the market for a luxury, beautiful magazine; a magazine that covered all the areas I was interested in and I knew it was only a matter of time before one was published. I wanted to be the first.
We knew we were definitely onto something when about three weeks after the launch, we had a call from the head of the RHS Chelsea Flower show to say, ‘you’re the best thing to have happened for horticulture right now’.
How did your background in fashion editing help you to set up rakesprogress magazine?
My background gave me the confidence to trust my eye. Having experience in different markets from working on a wide range of magazines and commercial projects taught me how to budget, produce and direct shoots at different levels. Working in magazines also provided me with many contacts through building up working relationships, over the years, with many amazing photographers. They trusted my judgment and were happy to take a leap of faith and contribute to the first issues. I had also built up PR contacts in the fashion world and a knowledge of how the industry worked.
How do you decide which brands to feature in the rakesprogress magazine?
The magazine is based on instinct. We work with brands that we feel are passionate about their values, craft, and heritage and have something to say and offer to our readership. Our readers are incredibly loyal, visually articulate and intelligent. When we set up the magazine, Tom and I agreed we would only work with people and brands we like, admire and share our values. With no pressure from advertisers, this allowed us to be true to our word.
What advice would you give to someone who is freelancing or setting up their own publication?
It’s really tough and not for the faint-hearted. Do your research and chose a subject you know and love. It takes discipline and a huge amount of motivation. You need to create your own opportunities and be prepared to put in long days, and nights. Find a good network of brilliant freelancers you can trust. Never say never and try not to turn down work but do say no when you feel a job isn’t right for you. There is always more you can learn and mistakes are not always negative.
How do you maintain and build good relationships with PRs, brands photographers, make-up artists, and stylists, etc?
By being honest, open and enthusiastic. The photographers and stylists who work with us know that they will get a great portfolio piece from us. They are able to be as creative as they like without the constraints of a large commercial publisher. With PRs we hope we are open, friendly and honest. We are able to build up long term relationships with brands that mean something to both us and our readers.
How has the way you source news changed in your career?
The internet opened up a whole new world and social media then expanded it even more. Information is everywhere which is incredible, it’s much easier to create content nowadays. We have, however, learnt the hard way to not always trust what you read when researching. Fact-checking is essential and proper journalistic skills are still needed. The need to question, interview properly, sometimes ask difficult questions and constantly check facts is still essential to journalism.
How would you like to see rakesprogress magazine develop?
I’d love to now start building a bigger team in order to be able to take on all the projects we are offered but to do that needs money and investment and so that’s our next big challenge! Each issue evolves from the last and the community around the magazine continues to grow. We are working on lots of different projects that have grown out of the magazine. From art and photography exhibitions and projects, talks and workshops, fragrance projects, to creating content and collaborating with brands to produce spin-off magazines, for example, our latest fragrance magazine rakesSENSE was in collaboration with Harvey Nichols.
And the future for magazines?
The future looks bright for luxury independent magazines with their niche, highly focused readers; gone are the days of really high circulations, the internet put a stop to that. But carefully curated, specialised magazines with high production values, unique voices and editorial integrity are key to keeping the physical magazine thriving. Slowing down to read in our fast-paced world is the ultimate in luxury.
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