|Jenna Moir, Kirra Smith and Aimee Ley of Gold Coast magazine pictured at Melbourne Cup|
"I work out exactly what's going in the magazine, I liaise with the sales team to make sure we're meeting our budgets, make sure these guys are on track and that we have the same united vision for the mag," says Ley, who has a journalism degree from the University of Queensland and started on the magazine as a junior writer. "I also work with the publisher, who pays all our bills, to make sure she's happy, and I make sure the magazine is well represented in the community."
Ley's wingwoman, editorial assistant Kirra Smith, has a Masters of Journalism (Griffith University) and is also a Tamworth migrant (she and Ley went to the same high school but graduated in different years). Smith is responsible for about 50 per cent of the content, including the product pages, 'What's On' pages and advertorials. She also handles the distribution of the magazine with the advertising accounts team, ensuring that all 15,000 CAB audited copies of "Australia's longest running regional magazine" get out to the right people and places (cafes, hotels, hairdressers, shops) each bi-monthly issue.
"My main goal is to make someone want to read the magazine," says art and design head Jenna Moir, who has a Bachelor of Visual Media and worked on The Cove magazine before being retrenched and transitioning to GC. "I firmly believe design should never crowd out the words, because a magazine is about reading things. If your design is too fancy you're not doing your job – it's to make it interesting enough to grab people's attention so they stop and read an article the whole way through."
They're a tight-knit team, not just in proximity, but in their desire to create something genuinely lovely for their readers. "We spent 12 days in a row together once, so if you don't like each other, that's not going to work," says Moir. "It gets you energised and excited for the next issue to hear good feedback from the advertising team. I like the cyclic nature of magazines, it's like a clean slate every time."
The magazine is advertiser funded, meaning content is split 40:60, though Ley says it's best when it's 35:65. "More editorial is good but advertising is our bread and butter, we need it. I think that stability is really reassuring for our clients. We’ve been around for 16 or so years now, so our clients know that we’re here for the long-run. It's been a really good year for the magazine, strong in consistency. We try to make the November/December issue the best of the year."
When I first meet Ley and Smith, they're working the studio at Aleece Young Photography in aid of a blogger's portfolio to which I'm invited along with Ally Carey of Unknown Pleasures, Liss Winnel of Daydream Lily, Mandy Shadforth of Oracle Fox and Rachel Magahy of In Spaces Between (all lovely). Energetic make-up artist Brie Stevenson puts us all through the motions before the mirror (magically creating the best skin and hair I've had in years!) before we each take turns before Bronwen Nichols' camera lens. Ley is sensitive and professional in the interview following the shoot.
How does a girl from Tamworth end up editing a flashy magazine like GC? "I always wanted to be a writer, first writing books but as I became more exposed to pop culture and wanted to become a magazine editor," she says. "I had an aunt and uncle living in Sydney who’d book me into journalism courses that the University of Sydney were running. After uni, I applied for work experience at Gold Coast magazine and was lucky that the publisher at the time was willing to give me a go."
Ley's touch can be seen throughout the magazine – it's not garish, as you might think, but full of lengthy and inspiring reads along with book reviews, interviews with prominent Gold Coasters and nicely put together product showcases. Ley nominates Sarah Wilson as a key journalistic influence. Her November/December issue editor's letter is testimony to her measured, down-to-earth sensibility.
"As the year has rapidly drawn to an end, we, not unlike [cover girl Erika Heynatz], have been indulging in the art of evaluation with our annual reader survey. Critically looking at our every movement throughout the year and identifying where we hit the spot (and other times when we completely missed) is a humbling yet heart-warming process. I loved hearing your feedback, learning about you, your habits, how you use GCM, how you describe it and then pass it on to a friend. Like all good analysis, change evolves and you can expect the unforeseen from your favourite Gold Coast publication in 2012."
You can visit Gold Coast magazine here.
Girl With a Satchel