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Birthday Celebrations With

Beast Magazine

East London is very much part of the McQueens story - starting out almost 30 years ago from a shop in Shoreditch, then returning to Bethnal Green in 2015. So when local magazine Beast approached our McQueens Flower School team to feature on their June cover it was a great moment to celebrate our roots. As creative discussions began we soon discovered that both the school and the publication share the same birthday month - culminating in a very celebratory theme for the cover (and setting the tone for the issue). Turning one this month, Beast magazine have fast established a reputation for spotlighting the people, stories and places that matter, offering a credible. and creative voice in this diverse, ever-changing corner of London. We sit down with Nicky Acketts, Founder & Creative Director and Emma Winterschladen, Editor of the magazine, to find out how their first year in publishing has been - and take a peek at the cover stars...
Nicky and Emma of Beast Magazine
Hi Emma and Nicky - tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and life before Beast Magazine?

Nicky (N): I’ve worked in the publishing industry for almost 30 years across numerous brands in London, Toronto and New York. New York remains very much in my heart; there’s a real sense of energy and creativity there, and you’re constantly happening upon new adventures every day. When I came back to London, I found East London morphing into something similar and wanted to be a part of its transformation. Having lived in Hackney, Beauvoir Town and Fournier Street, off Brick Lane - back when the only bar around was the Ten Bells - it was amazing to see the change. I remember Le Trois Garcons opening in Shoreditch, leading the way for many more to follow. In fact, my family originated from East London, where my uncle, Albert Lilley, was a well-loved councillor for Tower Hamlets.

Emma (E): I actually hail from up north! Newcastle to be precise, but I moved to London after university in Edinburgh to work on Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine, where I’ve been Food and Travel Editor the past few years. I had a stint living in Hackney, which left me totally enamored by East London and all it has to offer. I work from home, so I’d spend my time hopping from cafe to cafe, wandering Broadway Market, visiting shows and going to events. I still spend most of my working life here doing the same - but I get to write about it now!
(Left to Right) Christophe, Sophie and Alina, McQueens Flower School the tutor team in all their glory
How did you come together to launch Beast Magazine?

N: What with my time living here as a resident, as well as my familial connection to East London (not to mention a spiritual one too!), I felt a strong urge to create a brand that championed all it has to offer. There seemed so much to say about the area that I wanted to build a platform - both print and online - that really captured the essence of East London in all its ever-changing glory.

E: I was so excited to come on board as Editor of BEAST shortly after Nicky launched it last year. Nicky and I have worked together for over four years now, and we’ve always made a great creative team. It’s been such a journey building the brand together, and the more we do the more we want to do! Meeting along the way all the amazing people and brands that we have, and hearing their stories, just reinforces the need for a magazine that can tell those stories.

Like McQueens Flower School, Beast is celebrating its birthday in June - what was your vision for the magazine?

N: I wanted to create something that looked and felt like East London and captured how it is today. The magazine has a strong visual identity, but no two issues are similar in content because there is always something new and exciting to write about.

E: I knew from the moment Nicky showed me the first issue that I wanted a part of it, and I’m so proud of how it’s grown over the past year. It’s always been important to me that each issue we’re representing just how rich and diverse East London is. I wanted to be able to tell as many stories as we could - be those personal or brand stories - as well as making sure we were ahead of the game in all that’s happening here - from food, drink, music, and fashion to all the inspiring community and charity projects going on.
Behind the scenes of the cover shoot
McQueens are delighted to featured on the cover of your birthday issue - you’ve devised lots of creative covers over the last year, what do you look for in a cover star?

E: I’ll leave Nicky to answer that as our creative director! But for me, it needs to be bold, interesting and make you want to pick up the magazine and read what’s inside. We always want to make sure we’re spotlighting someone with a strong East London connection, doing great things in the area.

N: All of the above! Colourful, energetic, intelligent, creative and exciting are the key things I look for. I want every cover to represent and celebrate East London in all its vibrancy - as well as tie in with the loose theme of the issue. Shooting the cover with McQueens Flower School was just brilliant. I loved watching them at work, creating the flower instalment for it - such talent and skill!

We love the bold and bright front cover you created with the McQueens Flower School team - could you talk us through the creative process and how the idea evolved?

We knew we wanted a joyful celebratory cover this time around because it’s our ‘Birthday’ issue to not only celebrate BEAST magazine’s first year in the world, but McQueens Flower School’s 21st year. So we were after creativity and colour - something bright, beautiful and bold. Lucky for us, Sophie (the school’s Principal) was brimming with ideas and knew exactly the sort of thing to fit the brief. We all worked together on a mood board and then left Sophie and her team to work their magic on the day of the shoot. That included a brilliant flower installation, but also the giant balloons too, which we all felt brought a playful element to the whole affair! The resulting cover is something that reflects the character of McQueen’s Flower School and BEAST - not to mention this vibrant corner of the city we all call home.
Nicky and Emma offers words of advice for budding publishers
What words of advice would you give to someone looking to enter the magazine industry?

N: At the very beginning, I’d say gets lots of experience, whether it’s writing or designing. Offer your services for a short while, absorb as much information and tips you can and offer to make the tea if you’re in an office! You’ll either get offered a job or yo;u’ll have something great to put on your CV to wow the next person.

E: Whilst I don’t believe ‘print is dead’, I think the magazine world is undergoing a big shift. Media is a saturated market and that’s because there really are so many brilliant people coming through, and people already working in it. But that means of course there’s a lot of competition! I think if you’re just starting out it’s important to have a three-pronged approach: first, really hone in on your skills so you have something of real value to offer. There’s lots of self-learning that can be done now (podcasts, books, skillshare, YouTube etc). Secondly, get yourself out there and meeting lots of people - be it at events or panel talks. People will always be more receptive if they can put a face to an email. And thirdly, try and have a professional presence on social media - it doesn’t have to be a huge one, but it often will be the first landing pad people go to when you get in touch. It’s also a great way to start connecting with magazines and editors you admire and may want to work with. One last thing - when you get in touch, even if it’s just to ask advice, always make sure you have something you can show. It could be a really well-written example of your writing, but don’t just email with a ‘can I pick your brains’ type thing. Time is often the most precious things those working on magazines don’t have! In terms of pitching, make it easy for the editor to say yes - so concise and to the point is always best. Which is possibly the exact opposite of this answer, sorry!

What’s next for BEAST magazine?

E: The response and support we have had over the last year has been just incredible and gives us both so much hope and excitement for what’s to come. At the moment we are focussing on our print offering and will be growing the distribution of that, but we have big plans for the future - including bringing together the community we have created at events.

N: We very much hope that East London will continue to embrace and support us on our journey to grow a brand and platform that champions East London and, more importantly, the people who live and work here!

You can follow BEAST on Instagram@beastmag_london and Emma @hungryromantic.

BEAST magazine’s new Birthday issue is available around East London’s cafes, hotels, restaurants, hairdressers, boutique shops, Wework spaces, gyms and yoga studios. You can also read it over on here

To find out more about our talented team of tutors and the programme of floristry workshops and courses, follow McQueens Flower School Instagram and discover more at here.

Beast Magazine

23 May 2019
McQueens Flower School: Venice Biennale
Our talented school team travelled to the world-renowned exhibition to create a floral art piece for the Courtauld.
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09 May 2019
News: McQueens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show
We reveal plans for two installations at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which highlight the importance of bee conservation.
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02 April 2019
News: McQueens Flower School goes on tour
McQueens Flower School Principal, Sophie Powell will be joining Villa des Fleurs in Kuwait to host a programme of workshops.
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