Apparently print is officially dead, but neither Cucumber nor Rebecca Weef Smith have paid any attention. Rebecca, along with her co-founder husband, Weef, have created a perfectly beautiful, properly glossy print magazine, GOLDIE magazine® . It's aimed at the 40+ generation, brought up on The Face and still wanting to thrill and be thrilled by 'fashion, art and culture, to hard-hitting editorial about the challenges that we all face'.
Read on to hear all about the birth of GOLDIE magazine® and what the future holds.
Cucumber Clothing Questions,
Rebecca Weef Smith from Goldie Answers
What is Goldie Magazine?
GOLDIE magazine® is a real print and paper glossy quarterly to encourage flourishing over 40. We cover a wide range of topics – fashion, style, travel, relationships… - actually we are happy to talk about anything as long as it is relevant to being 'old' and does so in a way that is positive.
What made you start Goldie Magazine? Who are you trying to reach with your magazine?
It wasn’t a very thought out decision, more kind of a drunken “why are there no magazines I love anymore?” I’d love to share with you a business-minded fully formed action plan. The reality is I still don’t have one of those!
What I do have is a love of print magazines, fashion and positive psychology; GOLDIE magazine is a way to combine them all.
I also was very aware that many friends and colleagues were facing redundancy, including my husband Weef, and wanted to find a way to encourage them to see redundancy as an opportunity. Initially I only allowed contributors over 40, however I have relaxed those criteria as I realised that this is actually an intergenerational conversation. We do only use models over 40 and the subjects of features must be over 40; all our columnists are of a certain age too.
I thought that our readership would be solely over 40, it’s been a real revelation that a younger audience are finding the message the magazine portrays as interesting and helpful. Time and time again I have heard that we are taking away the fear of getting old; that seeing how many ways there are to age well is inspiring for all age groups.
What we don’t want to do is preach, or lay down rules, or only show one way of being, I suppose that kind of defines who we are trying to reach. Our audience is curious, eclectic and positive. They are probably as mixed a bunch as those of us who contribute to GOLDIE magazine. Of course I would love to reach people who haven’t yet got the message that Ageing is Aspirational, I suspect that at the moment our readership loves us because we reflect their views rather than challenge them to think differently.
How did you first get involved with magazine publishing and how has the industry changed since?
GOLDIE magazine is my first foray into publishing. I think it does confuse people that I haven’t worked in magazines before. My husband and co-founder has worked in the industry forever and his experience and contacts are invaluable. I think my outsider position is a real strength as I have no pre-conceived ideas about what can and can’t be done or what the protocol is. For instance I am adamant that we are not a woman’s mag, we are – to use an old-fashioned term – unisex. I keep being told that has never worked and won’t. I take no notice.
How do you see the magazine market at the moment and what is the niche you are trying to fill with Goldie? How do you see the future of magazines?
Of course we are constantly being told that real magazines are no longer pertinent, that digital is the only way. The model is changing, it’s not easy to convince some people to buy a magazine for £10 when they can get content for free online. My argument is that the visceral connection to paper and print can never be replicated with a digital experience; they offer a totally different way of encountering ideas. That’s not to say we don’t have plans for an online version of GOLDIE magazine but it will be separate to the print version and content won’t be replicated.
I don’t see online and print as mutually exclusive but more complementary. I love Instagram and tend to use it as a mini-mag to share daily content which reflects the GOLDIE magazine brand.
There is a sense with our readership that they are part of something, a growing movement to challenge ageing stereotypes, and we are only one platform where these ideas are being aired. The future of GOLDIE magazine will be just one aspect of a variety of media to spread this vision of positive ageing. We are planning workshops, events, pop-up festivals, all kinds of happenings; the physical print magazine will be just one facet of what GOLDIE media has to offer.
How do you see the future of women with regards to modelling and magazines?
It is still rare to see models over 40 gracing magazine covers or being used to sell products aimed at our age group which reflect the world I see. I don’t want to denigrate those who go on cruises, play golf or wear elastic-waist trousers, but we aren’t all like that.
Let’s face the pure commercial facts here: the ‘grey pound’ is worth about £320bn of annual household spending and the over-50s hold over three-quarters of UK’s financial wealth. An increasingly large and wealthy over-50s demographic represents a big opportunity for consumer businesses and retailers. Why on earth would this be ignored?
Marketing agency Superhuman conducted a study of 500 women and 80 per cent felt society’s suppositions about being middle-aged didn’t represent how they live their lives. Why are brands failing to realise just how life after 40 has changed.
I don’t see this as an issue for only women; male representation of ageing is just as skewed as it is for women.
As a magazine editor I want to have a choice of models to put on covers and have in our fashion editorials. Even with the current interest in older models we are placing limitations. At the moment there is a small pool of older models that tend to be used in all editorial, it isn’t a very nuanced vision. We need more choice, greater variety; a diverse range within this age group, we are not all silver foxes or advanced-stylers.
We have joined forces with MOT Models to find a new face over 40 to join the Classic Board at MOT; it’s just about encouraging an inclusive dialogue so we can have a full range of models available.
What is your favourite childhood memory?
I was an avid reader as a child and magazines were a big part of growing up. I graduated from Twinkle to Bunty to Jackie, Nineteen and The Face.
If I could I would have a cut-out and dress-up doll in the back of GOLDIE magazine. I remember being desperate to finish the Cornflakes so that I could have the packet to paste the Bunty doll into!
Clothes always feature largely in my childhood memories and I have written loads about the silver shoes I had as a little girl. Sartorial Stories would be the narrative of my childhood.
What was your first ambition?
I always wanted to be a fashion designer. I attended art school for a foundation course and applied to St Martins. The rejection was devastating; I didn’t pick up a pencil for years after.
I was too young to understand that the opinion of one small group of people wasn’t necessarily representative of the whole Fashion Industry.
I have had my own labels since then – so did get to design – but I have never referred to myself as a designer.
Who is your dream dinner date and why?
In total fantasy land I would love to spend the evening with Simone de Beauvoir. I read the Second Sex at fifteen and still go back to de Beauvoir’s novels more than any others on my shelves. I recently re-read Les Mandarins, which now strikes me as basically what happens to people (particularly to women) when they realise that they are no longer young.
What are you most proud of?
My daughters. Nothing else in my life has ever matched up to the pride of being their mother.
What do you never leave home without?
A positive attitude. If I can’t find it I stay at home with a book until I have discovered where I left it. The world doesn’t need me to add more negativity.
What is your signature style piece?
I really don’t feel I have a signature style but if I look at my wardrobe there is a lot of Navy Blue, WearingWellbeing (editor's note - Wearingwellbeing is RWS's site on fashion and positive psychology) doesn’t have to be full on razzmatazz colour.
As The GOLDIE magazine brand colours are all shades of yellow, including gold, I do have many more items in those shades than I had this time last year. I used to think I couldn’t wear yellow but I was wrong. There are so many variants in the yellow palate that it’s worth trying to find one that works for you. It is a colour which naturally makes me smile.
Shoes are probably a stronger thread though my identity: Gold boots have become a sort of brand stamp – I always wear them when I am doing talks as they make it easy for others to spot me. “Who’s the Keynote?” “She’s the one in the gold boots.”
What was the last thing you bought and loved?
A secondhand BIBA dress from my local charity shop, I shall wear it when I go dancing with Weef next Saturday at the local 70’s disco night. I love it already- just seeing it hanging on the back of the bedroom door – I am expecting a long lasting love affair.
What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
It’s not showing off, it’s showing up. Without hearing that sentence two years ago I wouldn’t have found the courage to launch Wearingwellbeing which in turn led to GOLDIE magazine.
If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would she think?
Dear Rebecca, you have become the woman mummy wanted you to be – you may have resisted her attempts to get you to work at The Telegraph but you have to admit she had a point? You are in your element as a magazine editor and perhaps if you hadn’t been so adamant to prove her wrong you may have got here years ago. Oh well never mind, I’m looking forward to the ride as you have had a great time the last thirty-odd years.
What and where next?
Going right back to the first question I don’t really have firm plans, I have decided to let this brand take an organic path rather than pushing myself to produce results which need a team – right now it’s just me. Of course I have endless lists and goals for GOLDIE magazine. Getting four issues out in 2019 is my main focus at the moment. Age has made me more realistic as to what I can achieve in any given time. I have years left to make a dent in all those lists, there is plenty of time to get to the destination and I don’t want to miss opportunities on the way by being too engrossed on the end result. My life has always taken obscure routes - I doubt that’s going to change.