To kick off the few posts that I’m uploading for Fashion Revolution week, is a #anewageinspiration interview with a magazine I adore and couldn’t wait to write about on my blog. The whole concept of an ethical magazine is so fab and like Fashion Revolution’s own publication, it is great to see something so important on paper, there is a legacy that it leaves. I interviewed Andrew Beattie (whose answers are AB) and the editor of Ethos magazine Lucy (whose answers are LC) to find out a little more about the magazine, how its run on a day to day basis and the importance of social media.
Let’s get back to basics, how and when did Ethos magazine begin?
AB: We launched Ethos as a blog in 2015 with the intention of always launching a magazine later. We’d all done bits of work together in the lead up to this – Fiona and I launched another business title, The City Tribune, in 2014 and had started collaborating on other work, and we knew our other Co-Founder Patrick, who worked for a social enterprise network in Liverpool, through other projects. We were all involved one way or another in the social enterprise movement here in Liverpool and working with grassroots businesses and organisations and so the idea came from that really. There wasn’t a magazine that spoke about world of work we were active and interested in and so we made it.
LC: I joined the team when Ethos was online, and was soon swept up in the excitement of crowdfunding a print magazine telling the stories of value-driven and sustainable businesses. Our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign was a great way to get our ideas out there into the ether, and amass a following from the beginning. it was also important as alternative finance is one of the strands that we explore in the magazine – so, it was great to actually live and experience the types of stories we talk about in Ethos.
What’s the process of developing an ethical publication – from the ideas all the way through to consumer?
AB: Our basic process is to get together just after a title has gone to print and pitch stories to one another as a group. We tend to look at what we think has worked well in previous issues and online and factor that in. But I’d say that we have a reasonably instinctive sense of stories that we think will be inspiring and useful to readers and what themes are catching fire, or about to, because we work, and volunteer, in the sectors we write about outside of the magazine. We’re our own audience really in that respect, as are our clients and friends in work, and so that plays a part. Some stories we’ll work on a bit longer than the time between issues too – I’ve just finished one for Issue 05 that I’ve been working on for a year.
Beyond that we’ll get to work writing and commissioning stories, planning the layout, selling advertising space. The magazine really comes together in the weeks before the deadline and intensifies right up until we send it to print. I love watching it come together. Often times it’s pretty gruelling, but it’s good work and we all pitch in to help Fiona (publisher), Lucy (editor) and Roy (designer) who lead on that.
Then we ship it out excitedly once it lands after we’ve taken our customary ‘it’s arrived!’ photos. The first bits of feedback online as the magazine lands with people is a joy.
What do you think are integral skills and qualities needed in order to work on an ethical magazine?
AB: There’s a lot to it. Understanding how publishing works, how to work with journalists, designers, photographers, commission work, distribution, newsletters, social media, website. On and on it goes. But you really need to believe in the stuff you’re writing about – thats why we do Ethos. We’re constantly inspired by the people we speak to and the stories we write. Sharing them and doing a good job of it is the fuel for the whole process.
LC: Believing in what you talk about is crucial. You need be passionate about the stories you’re telling, otherwise how can you expect to incite others to action through your words? Understanding the basic concepts is also very important – a lot of what we speak about is assumed knowledge, take the idea of a circular economy – a model which is integral to the success of sustainability strategies in lots of companies, and something that is being encouraged the world over – may not necessarily be something that everyone is familiar with, so having a base knowledge on the things that we write about and being able to explain them whilst telling the story, is imperative.
The messages that you highlight on your blog are so important, how crucial do you feel social media is at spreading awareness and the message of sustainability and ethics?
AB: I think social media is crucial for sharing awareness of anything. It’s a useful tool for movements catching fire, but the ideas of sustainability and ethics is so broad. I think if there is a single idea within the larger themes of sustainability or ethics, it’s much easier to get people to support it on social media or have a chance of it catching fire. An example could be creating awareness and demand about a company who doesn’t pay sufficient tax in a country and then people using social media to publicly lobby that company using a specific hashtag, or more positively, I often stumble across videos on Facebook of interesting environmental innovations that have 1m views or shares.
LC: Everybody likes to read something positive – I think especially at the moment, it’s nice to read about a company that’s doing things right, for people and not necessarily just for profit – and social media is a great way of finding the people doing just that. People will share positive stories.
I also think that people are changing the way that they live their lives; people want to live more sustainably, they don’t want to pollute the environment, they want to take part in a beach clean, they want to spend a bit more of their money on something that’s Fairtrade. Social media is a great way to find out about different initiatives that are happening around us; and, as people generally live in a bit of a social media echo chamber, a lot of attention can be drawn to an initiative through sharing with friends on social media.
Do you have any favourite articles in the magazine or one you found particularly inspiring?
AB: I’d struggle to pick to be honest. I’ve loved the ones that I’ve written and there’s something in all the articles that I can take something from or something that resonates with me.
LC: I really enjoy creating the Ethos Meets series of features for the magazines. We’ve spoken to the likes of John Thakara, Mark Stevenson and Claire Wasserman, who have shared really interesting and accessible snippets of advice for our readers. A lot of the interviews introduce a broad range of ideas, and can be quite abstract with regards to the things we talk about, so I think that the Ethos Meets feature is an important way of introducing our readers to a lot of the themes that we discuss in the magazine as a whole.
Are there any other ethical publications that inspire you?
AB: Positive News is a constant source of inspiration. But I find inspiration from loads of magazines – there are a lot that we love here.
What does the future have in store for Ethos magazine?
AB: 100 issues, a few books, and an economy powered by ethical businesses that have positive social and environmental outcomes. Hopefully.
LC: I’ve got something pretty exciting planned with a box of edible insects… stay tuned!
The answers were so interesting to read, I love when I ask questions and I find out something completely new through the answers, Positive News is a publication I have since looked out and it is indeed inspiring and some of the news stories really spark an interest that can be applied to all aspects of life. Also, with regards to the Ethos Meets, I too love interviewing people through these #anewageinspiration posts to introduce you to themes on ethics and fashion and new brands. I’m looking forward to seeing the future of Ethos magazine, with or without the edible insects!
Are you getting involved with Fashion Revolution week this year? If so how and let me know 🙂 Even buying Ethos Magazine could help contribute to a better fashion industry but educating yourself on topics that are so hugely important in today’s climate.
lots of love, eleanor xx