Georgina Wilson-Powell has been a magazine editor for over 14 years. She has worked with BBC Good Food, Lonely Planet Traveller, BBC Travel and TimeOut in addition to setting up a music and street art magazine, back when street art was called graffiti.
Being good to the planet often means starting small and being good to ourselves. Supporting businesses that have developed fairer ways of trading and making choices that lighten the load of your life on the planet. Pebble Magazine encompasses this in its articles on: permaculture, slow fashion, crafting, eco-villages, organic skincare, vegetable leathers, zero waste cocktails, supporting people who have taken a risk in finding better ways of doing something, enjoying our lives without harming the planet and challenging the status quo!
What inspired you to start your company and how did you set about doing this?
After being a travel journalist and magazine editor for a long time I became more and more concerned on my impact on the world and the impact of the things I was writing about. I wanted to lessen that damage but at the same time I was becoming more interested in things like permaculture, ethical fashion and advances in green design and technology. I decided to use my skills and experience as an editor and put it to use talking about the things I care about, providing a platform for people to read about and be inspired by the developments and amazing stories in sustainability (even though I hate that boring word).
Had you had any business experience before this?
I’ve spent the last 15 years editing and running magazines and working on content strategy for brands but Pebble is my first digital only brand, so the marketing and social media side of things has been a steep learning curve. I wanted pebble to reflect the editorial standards I’m used to but have the look and feel of a coffee table magazine, which hopefully has come through.
How big is your team at the moment?
Not big enough! I’ve partnered with Makermet, a design and tech agency who help me run the backend of pebble and we’re also working on offering sustainability consultancy to brands from next year. I work with a team of freelancers for the content but I work across everything – from social media to speaking at events.
How did your fundraise for the business (if applicable)?
We haven’t. I invested some money personally and we’ve done the rest on with a wing and a prayer.
How do you promote and PR your business?
Mostly through social media and reaching out to brands who share our ethos. We also run a blogger content swap programme and I speak at events and help moderate panels at sustainable fashion and lifestyle events. I also have a Facebook Group, the pebble pod, where we encourage our core readers to network and chat.
What are the challenges with running a magazine like Pebble? Do you think that Digital will fully eclipse print?
Pebble has the same challenges that any start up has – we have huge plans for the next couple of years but there’s never enough time in the day. I think staffing and time are our biggest challenges. Digital is growing and merging with social media content and shopping – I’m sure print will never truly disappear but for us the only option is to be in the digital space. I don’t believe print-only titles can make a decent income unless they’re partnered with a design or content agency, which a lot of independent print titles are.
What are the rewards with running such a company?
It’s amazing to see the feedback we’ve had in our first year. I’ve never worked on a title which has had such positive and frequent contact from readers. It’s also great to be able to help support smaller brands and get them introduced to a larger audience and be able to act or react quickly online to share content and ideas.
Do you have any other entrepreneurs in your family?
Yes my sister runs an online vintage fashion business: Super Queenie Retro.
What future plans do you have for expanding your vision?
So many – we want to diversify into more events as well as working on a huge new platform that’s associated with pebble so watch this space!
Tell us more about some of the aspects you are working on and further developing
We’d love to do more video content and reach out much further on social media to attract a bigger audience.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
No day is the same (which I love). I always start off by Instagramming (and probably end the day on social media too). In between, I might be talking to brands about content or partnerships, writing or editing content, setting up social media posts, arranging competitions, talking to readers online or researching future trends and feature ideas.
How does running your own business compare to your previous career?
I started my career running my own business. I set up my first magazine aged 21 so it’s lovely to come back to being my own boss. Running your own business is incredibly challenging and hard, and can be lonely but having amazingly positive feedback makes it all worthwhile. I never really switch off but there’s so many ideas bubbling away we want to get on and make them a reality.
What’s been your biggest achievement in life thus far?
Still working in journalism and media after 15 years.
And biggest failure?
I lost my first company and magazine because we didn’t adapt to the digital world fast enough.
What’s been the funniest moment of your career?
I’ve been mistaken for the tea girl. I’ve had entire days’ worth of meetings with my dress on back to front. I used to work in music journalism and had a lot of unrepeatable adventures when I was younger.
What do you think the advantages and setbacks are for a female founder in the startup space?
There’s so much more collaboration and support opportunities than there were 15 years ago – when there was basically nothing so there’s a lot out there for female founders nowadays, especially amongst online support groups. Setbacks are that there’s so much out there, it’s hard to know where to start, or who is going to be really helpful.
Who were your role models growing up?
I always thought Richard Branson looked a lot of fun when I was younger – not from an ethical point of view but he made running businesses look fun. I loved what Jefferson Hack created with Dazed & Confused and how authors like Philip Pullman could create worlds that drew people in. Ultimately I believe stories really can change the world.
Did you have a mentor or people you asked for advice?
Nope. Wish I did!
How has what you do, changed you as a person?
I’m much more ethically aware and conscious of my impact on the world and different industries’ impact.
How do you like to take time out for yourself and stay healthy and active?
Yoga and knitting.
What are the top 5 books and blogs on your reading list?
Philip Pullman’s new book.
Alexandra Soveral’s Perfect Skin
I don’t really read blogs – occasionally marketing blogs that catch my eye. I’m more likely to go through Flipboard and look at stuff that way.
If you could do any other job, aside from what you do now, what would it be?
Newsreader or radio DJ.
Do you have any unconventional words of advice?
Consistency is key.
What is your motto?
If money and time were no object, what would be on your to-do and to-see list?
I’d love to see the Northern Lights or spend weeks watching animals, or I’d be living on a beach in Asia running pebble from a wooden hut, with coconut cocktails on tap.
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