Laura Bartlett is the editor of a fresh and exciting Leeds born fashion magazine, Urban CoCo. I managed to catch up with the lovely Laura and asked her a few nosey questions about the success of the magazine so far and what we can expect moving forward.
1.Have you always wanted to run your own fashion magazine or was it something you saw as a new venture?
I have always wanted to work in fashion and loved national magazines and after watching programmes like The Hills I always hoped I would get a job working for a big magazine like Vogue or Elle but with no relevant qualifications I knew it wasn't really achievable.
When I launched Urban Coco online in June 2010 I always hoped that one day I would be able to move in to print, when I had enough followers and guts! From being young I loved turning the glossy pages of magazines and looked to them for inspiration on fashion, so I always hoped this was something I would be involved with in some way or another.
2.How long did it take you to produce the first edition of Urban CoCo?
Once I had made the decision to move into print I worked on the first issue for two months. I did a lot of market research in Leeds to find out what young professional females wanted to read about.
The first issue was focused on Independent designers, I had to choose something that would still be relevant two months later when the magazine came out. I interviewed designers that I have met along the way or seen at shows, people that I felt deserved recognition and which were amazing designers! All of the designers which were featured saw a huge splurge in sales on the items we featured in the magazine too – always a bonus!
As well as putting the magazine together, doing the cover shoot with my first cover girl (super talented singer – Hatty Keane), generating revenue and doing all the writing I also had to work on the launch event which took place at Harvey Nichols Leeds and an after party at Norman Bar. Once I had set the date for the launch the pressure was on to complete the magazine in time and of course, to a high standard. The magazine arrived back from print just one day before the launch so I was cutting it fine, but luckily I work well to deadlines!
3.What is the biggest hurdle you have had to overcome during the last two years?
I think the hardest thing has been finding people that are trustworthy, can share my passion and are willing to work hard to achieve my goals for the business. I have met a few people along the way that can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk.
Everyday I am learning and different size hurdles come up all the time but I enjoy the stress of it and it gives me the opportunity to learn something new.
4.Which photo shoot have you most enjoyed and why?
The most enjoyable shoot to date has to be the most recent one which took place this weekend for the September issue. Working with a fabulous new team from VOIR for the first time, I was totally blown away by their creativity and it’s very exciting for me to have met a team of people that totally understand the vision and direction of the magazine.
I enjoyed this a lot as we were creating the biggest shoot to date, this is for an 8 page spread on A/W fashion. So we had more designer clothes than ever before and more models than we have worked with to date.
I cant wait for everybody to see the finished result!
5.Could you see Urban CoCo growing and becoming as big as some of the mainstream magazines such as Grazia?
I hope so! I like to dream big and think it’s important to take risks. With Grazia and the other mainstream magazines they are paid for magazines where as Urban Coco is a free publication so it makes it a bit harder to increase distribution across the UK due to the costings etc.
However, I do plan on expanding across the UK, city by city. From September onwards the magazine will be available in Manchester as well as Leeds and plans of taking on other cities are underway.
The magazine is also available online and we get thousands of readers from across the UK along with having a big following in New York already due to our US based reporter that covers events stateside for us...so we are getting there step by step. Watch this space....
6.What is your proudest moment to date, since launching the magazine?
I think it would have to be back in March on the launch night of the first print issue. Seeing hundreds of people coming along to congratulate me and say how much they loved the magazine. That was the first time I saw what impact the 2 years of being online had, so much support.
7.What do you do to relax and switch of during weekends? If at all?
I have just started having full weekends to myself, having down time from your own business can sometimes make you feel guilty! It is very hard to switch off as I produce a whole magazine every single month – not like issue 1 when I had two months to work on it - along with hosting regular events, updating the website on a daily basis with new articles, visiting regular networking events and fashion shows to keep on top of the trends. I do the job of about 15 people!
Although I realise I need time away from the business so I spend my weekends usually catching up with the girls either watching dvds and eating crap or going out for nice meals and having a few drinks. Sad to say but after 2 days off I am happy to get back in to the swing of it on a Monday morning.
8.Who is your biggest inspiration?
Cue cheese factor! It would have to be my parents. They have always supported me in anything I want to do and never put restraints on me in terms of pushing me in to something I don’t want to do. No matter how wild my ideas are they have always supported me in everything and encourage me to be fearless and follow my goals.
9.What advice would you give to young journalists and budding editors who may hold the same dream?
It’s not easy and it doesn't happen over night. I would suggest getting as much experience as possible. It’s not about qualifications, its more who you know not what you know in the fashion industry, which worked in my favour as I am an avid networker across the UK and never went to University.
I wouldn’t suggest anybody try and follow in my footsteps, I did it the hard way. I launched this magazine after quitting my job in radio to follow my dream and my passion with zero pounds in the bank and nothing but an end goal, dedication, commitment and a passion for my brand.
There is an easier way which is doing free work initially as an intern for other magazines, starting your own blog and networking in the right circles. If you’re good at what you do and not afraid to stand up for yourself then you will get the right opportunity knocking at your door.
10.Lastly, what can we look forward to seeing in the next issue of Urban CoCo? Sneak preview please....
The next issue of Urban Coco is our September issue which will mark a massive change in the magazine. With several issues under my belt now I have had a lot of feedback from readers to find out what they like, what they want more of and what makes them favour magazines.
With this feedback on board the magazine is moving much more high fashion. Very much trying to be the Vogue of the north! With high fashion photoshoots, more celebrity features, in depth information on trends and how to create outfits with more of a designer edge.
The September issue will be there to inspire people on how to put together their A/W wardrobe with a mix of high-street and designer. There will be more in our beauty section, showing readers how to achieve looks from the catwalk. Along with trend reports, fabulous photoshoots and some of the old favourites like the Street Chic and Socialite pages.
I dont want to give too much away but I think everybody will LOVE it....
A very big thank-you to Laura for taking the time to answer my questions. Keep your eyes peeled for the September issue: