TAKING CHARGE WITH MARIE CLAIRE SOUTH AFRICA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF JACKIE MAY
It’s an early start. Working in the 21st Century involves checking emails in bed as you wake up, reading your twitter timeline while you’re making the tea. I try, I really do, not to be pre-occupied while my three children get ready for school. Once at work, anytime between 8 and 9 am, I lose track of life outside Marie Claire. Each day is different, and depending on where we are in the production cycle I could be at my desk signing off pages, at client meetings and functions, attending shoots, meeting writers or brainstorming ideas with my team. I also keep a beady eye on our social media platforms and the website. My role as an editor doesn’t only involve coming up with great ideas and making a good magazine, I oversee the brand and its growth. In addition to the editorial, I meet with the sales team and advertising partners. In the evenings I often attend events. If I am out, I like to be home before the children are asleep. I keep my to-do list next to my bed so that I can reach out and scribble random thoughts that enter my sleepy head during the night. I do like my list: my days need structure.
Do you find there to be a lot of pressure being the Editor-in-Chief?
Being an editor of the Marie Claire brand is a privilege. It comes with responsibility, which could be overwhelming, but in my case I have a great team and management who support me. The team at the Marie Claire International head office in Paris is a huge support too and a source of great knowledge and experience.
What would you consider to be the best part of the job?
Seeing an idea being executed, however big or small. Guiding a team and watching how the idea comes to life is very exciting and rewarding.
How often do you find time to sit back and relax after all the hustle and bustle?
The weekdays are very busy. But I do exercise a couple of times a week, which I really love. My walks or swims clear my head and prepare me for work. I try not to work over weekends – I like to spend time with my family – and cook!
What are some of the challenges you and your team face when putting together an issue?
Meeting deadlines and producing content within our budgets are always challenges. But we know we’re not alone: these are challenges faced by everyone working in media today. Over the last few months though, we have streamlined our systems and processes have definitely improved.
Have you always been interested in working in the fashion and lifestyle industry?
Yes and no. My first job was on a women’s magazine, but then I left to join a weekly newspaper and worked on daily title for almost 10 years. I produced the features pages amongst others when I worked on the paper. For a while I directed a soap opera - so you could say that I have had an interest in how to enhance life. And that’s what fashion and lifestyle journalism does.
From a young age, did you ever envision yourself becoming Editor-in-Chief of one of the world’s leading fashion magazines? When I was in primary school in a farming town in the Western Cape I published the school’s first magazine. I must have harbored precocious ambitions from then.
How do you balance your personal life and your career?
With difficulty but I do try to clear the weekends of any work commitments. But being a journalist at heart everything I do, all conversations I have, are potential stories…
What sort of interests does the South African woman have and how as a magazine do you meet her needs?
South African women are incredibly tapped into what’s happening politically and socially in our new democracy. We pay attention to what’s happening. We are very sociable: we love our weekend festivities, family get-togethers, and outdoor life. Besides loving what South Africa has to offer us, we are globally connected. We follow fashion and beauty trends, locally and internationally. We’re proudly South African! Marie Claire is the perfect brand for South African women. We are fashion-forward, we tell stories about real women, we produce provocative journalism and stories about women from other parts of the world. We do all of this with grace and authenticity.
If you could recall your best or most exciting moment while working for Marie Claire, what would it be?
Hmmm. This is a tough question. I’d have to answer that it would be producing the September issue. I am very proud of it.
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