Q+A with Georgina Wilson-Powell
Tell me a bit about yourself, your background and where you are from.
I grew up in a small town in Suffolk and spent 1 year in Australia and then 6 years in Birmingham before I moved to London at 26. After living in London running a music and street art magazine, I moved to Dubai and worked as a magazine editor for 5 years before returning back to London.
While living in Dubai certainly wasn’t very green it cemented my interest in exploring alternative ways of living, eating, producing energy and exploring the sustainable technologies that will shape and save our future.
Tell me more about Pebble Magazine and how the idea for it came about.
In essence, Pebble is an ethical living magazine. I have spent the last few years getting frustrated that the kind of stories I want to write and read don’t really appear in mainstream press all that often and having been inspired by many projects in things like permaculture, sustainable design, green architecture, food waste and ethical fashion I decided to set up an online magazine that brings all these things together in a stylish and modern way.
I decided to take the plunge and launch it last year after losing someone close to me and thought that if you want to do something you’ve just got to go ahead and do it and make it work as you go along.
How did you get to where you are today and what was your career path?
I set up a street art/music/culture magazine when I was 21 with two friends. We ran that for several years before losing it when the recession kicked in about 10 years ago. From there I moved to Dubai and launched and edited various magazines including working for BBC Travel, Lonely Planet Traveller and Time Out. I’ve always worked in print journalism and am passionate about journalism in all forms. But with Pebble I decided I wanted to embrace the potential of a digital platform, which has been a challenge.
You’ve created magazines before. What is it that you love so much about it?
Magazines are so powerful, which can be used for good and for bad. They’re a fantastic medium to spread ideas, inspiration, and hope. Our ethos is that positive stories can make a real change in the world, so for me running a magazine built around ethical products and businesses and ideas is doing something positive and helping me to give back.
How does running your own magazine differ from working as an editor for other magazines?
You take responsibility for everything, the good stuff and stuff that goes wrong. To be your own boss and be good at it, you need to be incredibly dedicated to your brand and your idea because it’s a long hard slog to make it successful. Doing it yourself, you don’t switch off, there’s no 9-5 and there’s no walking away when things get tough. But when things go right (and we’ve just won a Global Impact Award so I must be doing something right), you can think “that was all me”.
Pebble magazine is all about being good to the planet and supporting other businesses that do too. Is there anything you would like to see change in the sustainable industry?
Lots! More people thinking about what the money they spend really goes on and who it goes to. For people to have a more positive opinion of sustainable businesses, not just roll their eyes or think it’s for hippies – that’s something we’re keen to help with.
One small change we can all incorporate into our lives that’s good for the planet?
Ditch the single-use plastic. It’s not that hard. Buy a reusable cup and water bottle and stop using straws. Just those small actions will make a world of difference. Straws and bottles can take up to 200 years to break down – and you might use them for a few minutes. It’s crazy when you stop and think about it.
What have you found to be the most effective way to promote your magazine?
Social media of course. Facebook, twitter and Instagram are all effective in very different ways and it’s a huge learning curve to figure out what works best on each platform. I am also consistent in talking about it to everyone online in the same way and we have a weekly newsletter which helps too.
Any advice for those wanting to start an online magazine?
Be prepared to work like never before and quite possibly not earn very much. It’s possible to build a brand and a readership, I’ve done it, but it’s a slow process. Anyone who reckons they can build an instant following is kidding themselves. Know your niche, know your audience and be consistent.
You can find Pebble Magazine here: http://pebblemag.com/
and Pebble Pod Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pebblepod/