This week we have had the great pleasure of having a chat with Caroline Rowland, owner of the Patchwork Harmony blog as well as founder and editor of newly relaunched interiors and creative magazine - 91 Magazine. Having recently discovered Caroline's blog and the beautifully curated 91 Magazine we were excited to have the opportunity to find out a little more...
Tell us a little about your career and how you've got to where you are today.
"I’ve always been creative and ‘arty’ – at school the only subject I liked was Art, so I left after my GCSEs to go to art college, before moving from Belfast to London to study photography. I studied at both London College of Fashion and then University of Westminster, where I gained a BA (Hons) in Photographic Arts. I soon realised I was never going to be a photographer, so my path led to picture editing. I worked for Getty Images and then the Financial Times at the start of my career. But outside of work, I always felt the need to fill my spare time with creativity and started blogging. I've been writing my blog www.patchworkharmony.co.uk/blog since 2008, and lots of opportunities have came my way from that. I eventually went freelance in 2013, and I haven't looked back! Publishing my first interiors book The Shopkeepers Home in 2015, and then of course relaunching 91 Magazine in print this year."
Caroline's book The Shopkeepers Home. Photo by Caroline Rowland.
What or who inspires you? Or where do you go for inspiration?
"Mainly other creative people inspire me. I love reading about other creative people's lives and work, so I read lots of blogs and books, and also love Instagram and Pinterest for discovering new people and work."
How does your home reflect you and your style?
"We've always tried to be pretty thrifty when it comes to decorating our home, but I think this reflects my style anyway as I don't think you need to spend a lot to have a beautiful home. You just need a bit of creativity, shopping at flea markets and car boot sales, buying from indie designers and makers and making things yourself. It's so easy to teach yourself how to make things with online tutorials these days, so there's no excuse not to have a go at making your own cushion covers or curtains! :)"
What would be your ultimate interior?
"Lots of white, but with interesting wallpapers, a mix of old and new furniture and decorative objects, great artwork on the walls, and attention to detail when it comes to things like hardware and accessories."
You've got a very successful interiors and crafts blog which we enjoy following, tell us a little about Patchwork Harmony -
"As I mentioned, I started my personal blog back in 2008 as a creative outlet, and it has evolved greatly since then. It's had many different designs, and the style of content has changed over the years as I have learnt what my readers are most interested to see and read. At the moment I must admit it is a tad neglected as I've been so busy, but we are hoping to move house sometime this year, so once we are decorating our new space I should hopefully begin sharing some of that on there!"
91 Magazine at launch event at Anthropologie. Photo by Jemma Watts.
You've recently relaunched your beautiful magazine 91 Magazine which is very exciting, please do tell us all about it -
"The content focuses on interiors and creative lifestyle - so we feature homes, studios and shops of creative people, great products and design, styling tips and ideas, craft projects that are easy and on trend, plus the best events to attend, books to read, shops to visit and social media accounts to follow.
I originally launched it 2011 as a digital magazine. I started off creating the whole thing on my own while I worked full time as a picture editor at the Financial Times. I worked alongside writers, photographers and stylists to create the content, but I was managing all the commissioning, editing, design, marketing etc, myself, which was pretty tough as I was also holding down a full time job. In 2013, I took voluntary redundancy from the FT, as I felt I had built up a professional network that I would be able to utilise to gain freelance work while I ran the magazine. I also got married, got pregnant and got my first book deal in that year, so it was an exciting time! When my daughter was born in 2014 and I was busy working on my book, I decided to take a break from the magazine. This was due to time restraints obviously but also it was a chance to assess how, and if, I was going to continue with it. At the start of this year, I decided that yes, I was, but that I needed help. Soon I had an amazing team on board and we have taken things to the next level by publishing it in print. It is SO different now to how it started life in 2011!"
What inspired you to create 91 Magazine in the beginning?
"I felt there was a gap in the UK market for a beautifully designed interiors/lifestyle focused magazine, which was highly inspirational, yet accessible. I've always loved magazines but had started to feel disappointed with the mainstream offering, particularly in the interiors sector, so I wanted to create my 'perfect magazine'."
What do you think makes 91 Magazine so unique?
"Well I think the magazine is accessible, it's not high end, but it's not super budget either - it offers our readers inspiration for their homes and lives that is doable and more importantly, beautiful. We also have a strong focus on the creative community - particularly the online community, and encourage interaction with our readers through social media. This is such an influential part of our lives these days, and there is a definite cross over between the magazine and our online presence."
Inside the S/S 2016 issue. Photo by Caroline Rowland.
What can we expect to find in your latest issue?
"We have featured four lovely homes, as well as a homeware designer's studio, a great independent London shop, an amazing co-working and event space in Bristol, and one of our favourite London eateries. There is a bit of a botanical theme running through - and we share some top plants shops, as well as a styling feature on how to mix plants and pastels. There's also a gorgeous collaborative feature that we did with Anthropologie, and a Cook and Craft feature which shows you three ways to use beetroot, both for eating and for crafting. Plus lots more!"
Did you face many challenges in relaunching the magazine?
"Our biggest challenge came right at the end when we had some problems with the printers we decided to use. It was a shame that we were not 100% happy with their service, after months of work it was disappointing. But hey, you live and learn, and we are now planning to work with a different company for the next issue."
So who makes up the team at 91 Magazine?
"The team is me, Caroline, editor. Then Laura Pashby who is our deputy editor, Kath Webber is our sub editor, and Lucy Davidson is our designer. Olivia Williams looks after brands and advertising, while Catherine Binnie manages our marketing and distribution. Hannah Bishop rounds off the team as our proofreader. They really are an amazing team of ladies, whose enthusiasm and hard work have totally reignited my passion, and I'm so lucky to have them working with me."
Caroline during a recent editorial meeting, planning the A/W 2016 issue. Photo by Laura Pashby.
We are excited to hear what you are planning for the next issue of 91 Magazine?
"Ooh! Well I can't give too much away, but we had our editorial meeting just last week and we've got more gorgeous homes and creative spaces lined up. We already have one or two of the photoshoots in already and they are absolutely dreamy! I can't wait for Lucy to start designing the pages!"
What are your hopes for the future of the magazine?
"The last six months since we relaunched has been an amazing journey, and has already surpassed my hopes for it. It is now stocked in over 30 UK shops and a handful of European ones too. I'm so pleased I made the decision to take it into print, and I'm really excited to continue growing it organically and increasing our readership as we go. It would be great to perhaps get US and Australian distributors going forward."
As well as Patchwork Harmony and 91 Magazine, what other projects are you involved with?
"I am currently working part time as Content Director for an interiors brand called One World Trading. I look after their blog content, social media, newsletter and collaborations. I also do occasional picture research work for my book publishers Jacqui Small."
Finally what advice would you give to any aspiring bloggers or writers?
"My advice has always been - just get started. Start blogging, start writing, whatever, but just start. So many people procrastinate and then never get anywhere. The more you do it, the better you get, and the more you’ll have to show prospective editors or collaborators. Also, constantly absorb other creative content, see what’s happening out there in the genre you’re into, as you’ll learn so much for others."
Where can we find you?
IG - @91magazine
Twitter - @91magazine
Facebook - www.facebook.com/91magazine
Pinterest - www.pinterest.com/91magazine
Now where can we grab a copy of your magazine?
You can purchase the print issue or a digital version from our website - www.91magazine.co.uk/buy
or you can check out our list of stockists here: http://91magazine.co.uk/stockists/#stockists-1
Finally we'd like to take this opportunity to thank Caroline for all her time in speaking with us this week, and we hope you have enjoyed our little Q&A session, please do send us your comments! Until next time...