Good Business: Fiona of Ethos Magazine (5 min Read)

Radical Giving - Uprising - Ethos Magazine

Can you tell us about Ethos magazine and its history?

We started online in 2015. Andrew (the MD) and I had just published a newspaper about more mainstream business. Patrick, our ops director, approached us to look at collaborating on something that was aimed more at the social enterprise sector, which he’s very heavily involved in.

We wanted to aim for a bit more than that though - Andrew and I are both huge advocates for good business, regardless of company structure or sector. Our aim was to create something that spoke to a broad range of people - showing off everything from the local community café to the multinational with an impeccable environmental record.

I’m really passionate about the idea that any business can be ‘good’, responsible and sustainable.

And that we all have a part to play in that in our buying decisions. In 2016 we started planning a crowdfunding campaign to print our first copy, which arrived in February 2017. We’ve since published our first book - Spring - and ten issues of the mag.

Can you take us through your everyday?

Well, Ethos is a side project to our main agency work, which pays the bills. So it’s always a question of fitting it in around the demands of client deadlines and our day-to-day work.

As publisher, my job encompasses everything that goes into the mag - editorial, photography, design…how to keep evolving it; gaps we might have or opportunities to add things. Together with a commercial overview on everything that happens in the business - partnerships, events, increasing our print run. That sort of thing. We publish quarterly, so - once the mag is back from the printers and copies have gone out to shops and subscribers, it’s usually about a fortnight before we start again on the next issue.

I’ll generally write three pieces for each issue - a feature, one of the regular pieces, and I also write a column.

What is the process behind the making of your magazine?

We start with an editorial meeting…everyone pitches their ideas and we try and get a really good mixture of stories both geographically, and in terms of theme and sector.

Our editor, Lucy, and I, will talk through them all and see if we have any gaps, too many similarities or any geographical areas or sectors we want to cover. She’ll then commission content - mostly from our team here; and we also have a new writer’s competition at the moment, to encourage new voices into the world of business journalism. So we’ll put a brief together for that, too, and start to circulate it. That’s the stage at which we brief our designer Roy, so that he can start thinking about design ideas and illustrations.

We have between a month and six weeks to write our features, interviewing people either in person or via Skype/phone. We’ll also try and organise photos while we’re doing it, and then hand them over to our picture editor Em. We have two deadlines for content; one for regular features like Ethos eights, Fresh ideas free thinking, Ethos meets etc…and one for the features, so that we don’t end up with too much of a bottle neck. Then Lucy and I edit everything and it goes to Roy.

We look over a first draft together when all of the text is in; we’ll then feed back - usually about how we can create more visual impact; the second draft is usually pretty close to the final thing and then we’ll proof the third draft, and send it off to print.

That probably makes it sound much more straightforward than it usually proves to be...

What is the mission behind this innovative magazine?

I’m always a bit sad when people think that business is boring.

It’s the stuff that makes the world go round; it makes us tick.

It encompasses so many of our passions and needs; is responsible for so much stuff that we rely on. It doesn’t have to be dry or boring. And knowing just a little more about it helps us make better decisions - and can help us all push for change for the better.

What is your favourite Ethos issue so far?

I do really love issue ten, our latest. It’s got a great mixture of activism, politics and interesting businesses. There’s Palestine, period poverty, co-ops, challenger banks and bats saving tequila.

Issue 08 is my favourite cover, with a beautiful night shot of the Eden Project in Cornwall. And it also has Barack Obama and Mr Bingo inside.

And issue 01 was also jam-packed with amazing stories, as we’d spent so long thinking about it and refining it and creating it – but that’s long-since sold out now.

What was the last thing you bought?

I’ve just bought a lovely series of travel guides from Herb Lester. One about Eating your way around Queens for my friend in New York; one on Bilbao, as we’re off there next month; one on Liverpool, as I always like to see what other people say about it, and a couple of others. They’re gorgeous. Absolutely beautifully illustrated.

What is your life motto?

To have fun, do stuff I enjoy with people I like and not worry about the things I can’t do anything about.

But make sure I do the things I can do something about well…Doing what I say I will is important to me.

What’s next for Ethos magazine?

We’re working on a film collaboration at the moment. In our early days we made quite a few films, but it’s fallen by the wayside a bit as we’ve been so busy with other things, and establishing the magazine. So we’ve picked that up again and are focused on a couple of film series around things like the future world of work, female founders and innovation.

Oh, and issue 11, of course…

What do you think makes a good company?

I think it’s different for different people. I don’t think good businesses are all about money; they can also act collaboratively, be a good neighbour and community member.

You should respect the people you work with, whether that’s through time or money; give people chances and opportunities and the room to grow and try something new.

I also think that good businesses don’t just do things because thats the way they’ve always been done. That doesn’t necessarily have to be revolutionary – but it means thinking about things. That might be talking to customers more and making people feel completely involved; or it might mean doing something radically different.

Good businesses have to be open to new ideas. But, ultimately, good companies have to stack up commercially, or you can’t do any of it.

Can you describe your workplace?

We work in an old warehouse - it’s the former canning shed of a brewery, in the heart of Liverpool’s creative and digital district, the Baltic Triangle. It’s a lovely spot and spacious and light and bright (although always a bit dusty, from its former life). But we’ve got lots of windows, festoon lights, stacks of plants – mostly aloe veras (there used to be three. Now they’ve multiplied into more than 30). And my dog, Missy, comes in on an almost-daily basis, and probably features more on Instagram than our work does!

Our landlord is a CIC which supports and incubates creative and digital businesses here, and it’s growing at pace in the city. Our neighbours are artist collectives and filmmakers, a tattoo studio and a fiction publisher. It’s fun and fast-changing.

Shop Ethos Magazine Here

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