Can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do?
I am the founder of Studio Anorak which publishes Happy Mags for Kids Anorak and DOT. I art direct, write, commission, run our social channels and send (and chase!) invoices. The only things I don’t do is draw and book-keeping!
Why did you decide to start Anorak and how did the idea of launching your own magazine come about? Is it something that you have always wanted to do?
I always dreamed of launching my own magazine, even as a child! I actually launched a zine at school when I was 11 years old, we photocopied every page, stapled them together and sold issues for the equivalent of £1 I think! When I moved to London, I was fortunate to work for magazines like The Face where I learnt the craft of magazine-making. It’s when I became a Mum that the idea of a children’s magazine came to my head. I was struggling to find a good mag to read with my son so I decided to give it a go.
I was struggling to find a good magazine to read with my son so I decided to give it a go.
Imogen and I launched POY earlier this year, and it took us a lot of courage to bite the bullet and go for it. Did you find the process of launching your own magazine scary or intimidating? If so, how did you overcome this feeling?
Congratulations on making the first step! It took me one year from the idea to the first issue being out. When you say it like that, 1 year feels like nothing but the reality is that it is 365 long days of being consumed by this dream! I don’t think I found it scary but I found it slow, because I wanted to get it done now and it takes a while to come up with the right idea, connect with the right people etc… Once I made that first step and the first issue was out, I remember thinking how it was so worth it and if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t overthink it as much! The joy is in the doing, not the planning! For me anyway!
The joy is in the doing, not the planning!
What advice would you give anybody inspired by Anorak Magazine, who wants to start their own platform or movement?
Be patient. It might sound boring but we seem to live in a world that makes us think that everything is accelerated and that success has to rhyme with ‘instant’. But if you look at brands like Nando’s, Apple or Nike, they are all over 40 years old! So it’s taken time for them to establish themselves and be as ubiquitous as they are today. I always remind myself that things take time and actually ideas need some space to unfold and mature. My other advice is never stop!! If it’s something you are passionate about, then keep it going in any ways possible. It will eventually pay off.
I always remind myself that things take time and actually ideas need some space to unfold and mature.
The magazine and studio that you have built are amazing, it is incredibly inspiring! And huge congratulations on the 15 year anniversary! I can imagine you feel a lot of joy towards the platform -- are there any pressures that come along with it also ? And if so, how do you tackle the pressures?
Thank you so much! There are huge pressures and they are mostly financial. We are a small business so if a month doesn’t go well, we feel it sharply. I have learnt ways to soften that blow by freelancing so I have a safety net and can pay the bills! It’s made me realise that there is not one way to keep a business going, there are many ways and whatever works is valid.
It’s made me realise that there is not one way to keep a business going, there are many ways and whatever works is valid.
If you could go back to the beginning and start your career again, what would tell your younger self?
To trust that I was creative. I had no idea when I first launched Anorak that I could write or art direct. It’s something I discovered 4 years into it and then it took me years to put my name to the stories I wrote or even call myself a ‘creative director’. I never felt that I had the legitimacy to fully assume a creative life. Now I think how weird I could even think that!!
How do you see Anorak evolving?
I hope we are able to continue inspiring kids and grown-ups for many years to come! We are launching a book imprint called Paper Turtle, which is mega exciting. We will publish non-fiction books first, all designed to bring joy through the means of creativity. Our Happy Podcast for Kids has been doing really well, so we will keep that going.
How do you juggle family life and the Anorak Studio?
It’s much easier now that my son is a teen and works full time. When he was younger, I used to do Anorak in the evenings and during quiet weekends, but our lives were very blended, ie a trip abroad was often an opportunity to research an issue and my creative radar was always on!
Has being female impacted (positively or negatively) your career so far?
I am sure it has, especially as I found myself to be the only Mum in a very ‘macho’ advertising industry. However, I am totally conscious that I have been privileged in many ways. The sad reality is that we still live in a white patriarchal society. Things are slowly moving in the right direction but it’s going to take a while for those in the positions of decision-making to make space for a much more representative society and workforce.
Are there any books/podcasts or platforms that inspire you?
I am a magpie so I like to read, watch and listen to stuff with a huge range of subjects. I am currently reading 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak who writes in such poetic way. In parallel I am about to finish The Philosophical Child by Jana Mohr Lone which makes the case for education to include philosophy in their curriculum and how it benefits children. I have never missed an episode of BlindBoy podcast, it’s funny, enlightening and anarchic all at once.
Lastly, what is a motto/saying that you live by?
I don’t have one but I try to learn and be in awe of something every day.
Thank you so much to Cathy for being a part of the Point of You community - we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to interview her! If you'd like to keep up with what Cathy and the team at Anorak Studio are up to, you can follow the links below!