The Wonderful Land of Alice

So, a while back I told you guys that I had some exciting things to share with you. One of which is this! Well a few months ago, Natasha Slee, who is a super cool chick studying fashion journalism at the London college of fashion, asked me if I would be a contributor (along with three other bloggers) for this piece about Shakespeare she was doing in her gorgeous mag ALICE. I obviously had to accept, wrote what I had to write and sent it off. A month or so ago I received my copy in the post, and I absolutely adore it. I love how this magazine is exactly the kind of magazine I want to read, not like some magazines for teenagers that talk about one direction and real life stories and what not. This is actually informative, providing us teens with some advice on fashion, inspirational articles and so much more.  I was so impressed and delighted that I could be a part of the first copy of ALICE. I asked Natasha a few questions, about the mag and also how her love for fashion started, lets check it ouuuut!


When did your love for fashion start?

When I was about 9 years old I had a magazine with a page where you could design and colour in clothes for this paper doll model. I stuck the result in a thick scrapbook on the first page, and for months after filled the scrapbook with clothes designs. I’d say that was the point when I started telling people I wanted to work in fashion when I was older. As I grew up I took control over what I wore, wearing ridiculous outfits to non-uniform school days and switching from hippy to emo to rock chick, whatever took my mood. My style has definitely mellowed now and I love Scandinavian minimal design, though I can’t resist colour.

Even before I realised I liked fashion, I loved to draw and paint (and write) and studied art and textiles together through GCSE and A Level, unsure as to which path to take. When I finished Sixth Form, I still didn’t know, having toyed with the idea of being a designer, a pattern cutter, a fashion illustrator and a fashion journalist. I decided to do a Foundation in Art and Design to give myself a bit more time, and it was there I realised that design wasn’t my strength and I didn’t want to leave writing behind. So I went for fashion journalism, pinned all my hopes on the course at the London College of Fashion, and luckily got in!


The inspiration behind ALICE?

I had been thinking about ALICE long before we started the final major project. Growing up with an interest in art and fashion, and never much of an interest in celebrity or pop music, I found normal teenage magazines boring. I would flick through Bliss in one evening, and feel completely unsatisfied. At 13 I started reading Vogue regularly, but felt alienated by the adult content. Teen Vogue and Cosmo Girl were perfect for me, but unfortunately Teen Vogue was American and Cosmo Girl closed down after two years!

So when I found out I would have to make a magazine for my final year, I knew I wanted to do a teen magazine – completely different from the luxury fashion magazines all the other students wanted to do! I wanted it to be exactly the mag I wanted as a teenager, which definitely put a lot of pressure on me and the project. I remember one tutorial where I was feeling particularly stressed and my tutor said to me “You just don’t want to let your teenage self down do you?” I nearly cried!

Lots of people ask me where the name ALICE came from. To be honest, I never really liked the name Alice so it is slightly bizarre that I went for that! I guess it stemmed a little from Alice in Wonderland, but mainly when I think of the name Alice, I think of an English rose type girl: very carefree, quiet, intelligent, and creative. A little bit odd, but someone everyone admires. Calling the magazine after a girl’s name definitely helped keep my enthusiasm and determination – everyone refers to ALICE as if it’s a person, even my tutors!


What did you want to include in the mag?

I wanted ALICE to be a teen lifestyle magazine that covered everything I was interested in as a teenager – and everything girls told me they were interested in when I did focus groups. So art, fashion, music, movies, culture, beauty, and real life. But I didn’t want anything to feel tacky – so no ‘shocking real life stories’ or boy bands! I didn’t want to produce a magazine that was already there on the shelf. I knew there were so many young girls on tumblr, writing blogs and reading fashion magazines way over their age group that would love a magazine written for their age that covered cultural topics in a mature way. It was important to reflect this in the design too, so no flashy fonts or patronising layouts. I knew my audience had the maturity level to read long form articles, so I felt happy to include them. The design is very much influenced by Oh Comely and Scandinavian magazines: minimal and calm, but still pretty.

It wasn’t until I finished ALICE that someone pointed out to me that I hadn’t included anything on boys or sex! I guess I had so much more interesting stuff to write about. I have included quite controversial topics anyway, such as body piercing and drugs, so its not like I am patronising the audience. This is why I think ALICE works: because it covers all the topics a teenager is curious about, in an informative way.


Future plans for ALICE?

I am hoping to launch a second issue of ALICE in September – fingers crossed! I have had so much great response from this first issue that I didn’t feel I could leave ALICE behind. Fortunately my friends feel the same way, and love the concept so much that they want to be involved. One friend has offered to do the business side, while another will help with editorial. And everyone who wrote for the first issue wants to write for it again!

Obviously money is the biggest barrier to launching ALICE. To produce just 60 copies of the first issue cost over £700 – which I was lucky enough to receive a generous grant from uni to help pay for. I am therefore looking into other methods of funding, advertising and sponsorship, as well as pooling my savings. ALICE is very much a labour of love, and a very personal project; I really don’t mind taking my time with it and getting it right.


Future plans for you?

At the moment I am applying for journalism jobs, as well as building on my freelance work. I would love to work for a magazine like Company or Elle, or a magazine in a strong publishing house where there is opportunity to build your career. Obviously I would love ALICE to be a fully launched and printed magazine in the future – we shall see!

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