My name is Jen and I’m a magazine addict.
From my teenage years, stashing copies of Minx and More under my bed, to my twenties when I graduated to Grazia and Elle, through to my thirties devouring Red, The Gentlewoman and countless independent passion projects, I’ve never lived in a home that didn’t feature a pile of mags in every corner. Pile them high enough, I’ve found, and they make an excellent replacement for side tables…
Growing up and starting my journalism career in Scotland, the magazine industry seemed a long way away. It was only when, in my late twenties, I found myself in the Middle East, that I made the jump into writing on glossy paper instead of chip wrapping.
Over eight years of living in Dubai, I worked my way up to the dizzy heights (ahem) of editor, cutting my teeth on a popular magazine aimed at the city’s cultural community. With a long leash in a developing economy still writing its own media rulebook, I was able to work with and support a huge number of small, emerging businesses, designers, charities and artists making their mark on the city’s creative and philanthropic scenes. I went on to edit other titles, but that one always stuck with me.
New place, old media
Moving home, I harboured a dream to do something similar in the UK. But as a single-mum to a six-year-old, paying the bills came first and, while I was lucky to be busy as a freelancer, setting out on my own seemed like a distant hope – particularly in a culture that continues to prize its revenue over its readers.
Then, the pandemic hit. As any freelancer will tell you, these are tough times. But they are also indescribably hard for the multitude of small businesses, creatives and charities who are currently struggling to keep their heads above water.
With time on my hands (let’s ignore the home-schooling for now, shall we?), I pored over Instagram to see so many innovative responses to our current situation, an outpouring of goodwill, charitable endeavour and community spirit, and so much conversation about the world we live in and the role we can play in changing it for the better.
At the same time, I saw media budgets being slashed and journalists being laid off. If advertising has always been key to the survival of the media, it is more so now. But those cutbacks mean an increasing number of issues pertinent to the lives of real women are going unexplored in favour of handing over space to advertising that, too often, leaves us feeling lacking or inadequate in some way. Fast fashion and fast metabolisms, anyone?
Meanwhile, those businesses and charities looking to make their voices heard? They don’t have the money to advertise and, often, that means they’re locked out of our media entirely.
The result is that there are thousands of smart, engaged women across the UK seeking to lead lives of purpose, who are not being served by the current offering. These are women who may buy a magazine to savour over a coffee, but often don’t have the time on their hands to get their heads around the stories of the day and, crucially, how they impact upon them and their families.
Enter, The Flock
We want to be a space for those women. On our social, you’ll find the bite-sized headlines of the news we believe you need to know about, those stories that impact women most keenly. On our site, you’ll find a deeper dive into those subjects, as well as in-depth interviews with women working to make their space in the world a little bit better.
From Culture and Style to People and Power, we’ll tackle the real issues affecting women daily, whether those issues are photogenic or not. I hope the copy we are launching with today, covering everything from homelessness to sex on screen, sustainable fashion to current affairs, gives a flavour of what is to come.
We have also, crucially, taken the decision to launch without seeking advertising. There’s a new conversation happening about the value we place on things, from the clothes we wear to the media we consume, and we want to be a part of it. Over the coming months, we’ll provide our coverage for free while remaining free of advertising. The option to support us is available here, and we’d love it if you bought us a coffee, but our key goal is to facilitate a conversation about how we can all contribute to creating a kinder society from the confusing mess that’s left of our current one.
Once our world resettles into some semblance of normality, we will explore ways in which to turn The Flock into a business, and we hope to involve our readers in that conversation. But until then, it’s up to us to prove that we have something new to bring to the table.
It’s a challenge we relish, and a responsibility we take seriously.
For now though, welcome to The Flock. We’re for women who rise.