In our series celebrating some of the fabulous ‘Wonder Women’ we know, we catch up with Caroline Constable, Editor of equestrian style bible, Style Reins to find out more about her life behind her successful brand…
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
I’m the founder and editor of Style Reins Magazine, ‘The Magazine Focused on Equestrian Style’. I also run the #247equestrian and #247dressage Twitter networking channels.
HOW/WHY DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?
I would love to say that I had a brilliant idea for a new, equestrian focused magazine then drew up an amazing strategy to launch but it didn’t quite pan out like that!
The reality is that the magazine is the result of a kind of ‘happy accident’. We had a website based equestrian style blog in effect and in December 2015 published a digital Christmas gift guide. We didn’t want it to be ‘just’ rammed with gifts and commercial stuff so we added some editorial. It was really well-received and I was so pleased with it that I printed out a few copies. When I opened the box, I was literally blown away with pride at how good it looked (though we have improved vastly since then!) and I realised that I had ‘accidentally’ created a magazine, something that was not on my radar as I didn’t think I had the skills to do it. Although I love everything digital, there is something special about a printed publication, I am honestly not sure if I would have launched a magazine had I not held that printed gift guide in my hand.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS/EXPERIENCE DO YOU NEED TO BE GOOD AT THIS JOB?
This is tricky as I don’t/didn’t hold many of the skills I thought you needed to run a magazine. I am not a writer for one, I have no journalist background and I have no formal design training. What I do have is 15 years of, mostly self-taught, digital marketing, SEO, social media and website design experience. I have also set up and run a previous content based website plus have managed many blogs for consulting clients so I have experience in content acquisition across multiple, competitive niches.
I have a lot of experience in pulling together teams, particularly remote workers, in order to complete digital projects. I am a bit of a perfectionist and take pride in only producing work that’s going to add value. Maybe not a typical background for a magazine founder (?) but somehow it works!
The biggest skill, which is really more of a character attribute, I would say you need is to be passionate. Passionate about your subject matter, passionate about producing a quality product and passionate about your business. Everything else you can learn or pay other people to do.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FOUND BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS?
Having no experience of publishing magazines! Despite the experience listed above, there is so much to learn. Although I have a great team of freelancers now who write and design, I am pretty much a one-woman band and in the early days I was even laying out the magazine myself. I’ve had to make decisions from the size of font, shape and scale of magazine to the editorial focus, who our target market is, where and how we distribute etc. We are now 18 months in so obviously I’m a lot more knowledgeable than I was but every day brings questions that I don’t necessarily know the answer to. I have some lovely people from whom I can get honest opinions, but they are not publishers.
In some ways I see the lack of publishing experience as an advantage as I am not bound by what is traditional in the industry. I rarely look at other magazines, I focus on learning what our readers and advertisers want and try to give it to them. I have vast digital experience which is why we’re knocking other more established publications out of the park with our social media reach, on Twitter alone it was 20 million in July. The print distribution is more of a challenge but I’m now working with Gold Key Media (part of Conde Nast) to assist with lifestyle distribution to luxury airline lounges and hotels and I work directly with high-end equestrian retailers and venues. Actually, I am proud to be able to announce that we are increasing our print distribution from 2,000 to 10,000 from our Winter issue onwards.
NAME TWO THINGS YOU COULDN’T’ LIVE WITHOUT IN YOUR JOB? (PHONE & COMPUTER ASIDE)
My dogs! Totally random but I work really long hours and exercising my two dogs gives me head space. You have to take some time for yourself or you will burn out. I put on my audiobooks and make the most of a stolen hour spent in the fresh air. Despite owning an equestrian related publication, I don’t actually ride anymore which may come as a surprise to some people. I do still own two mini ponies though who get treated like royalty on a beautiful retirement livery yard. My days are so full of virtual horses that I don’t feel like I’m missing out and to be honest, I wouldn’t have the time to ride anyway.
WHAT IS YOUR SPECIAL WONDER WOMAN SKILL?
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU WOULD HAVE GIVEN YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Ask me in 10 years!
You can read the previous interview in our #wonderwomen series with ’60 Seconds With Caroline Denyer, Owner & Creator Of Growlees’.