A couple of months ago, I blogged about the launch of a fantastic new business magazine called The Collective. You can view the original post here. Since March, The Collective team and its Editor in Chief and founder, Lisa Messenger, have been bowled over by the positive reception the publication has received. Against all the odds, she has managed to achieve one of her biggest dreams, indeed proving her status as one of Australia’s most inspired entrepreneurs. Even while in the whirlwind of issue two’s release, Lisa generously offered her time to sit down and share her thoughts, advice and reflections on Australia’s new guilty pleasure, that is – The Collective.
1. You’ve worked in events, publishing, marketing, writing, and are a very successful businesswoman! Have you always had such a strong entrepreneurial drive?
I’ve always said that I am only limited by my vision. I’ve always been one to challenge the status quo and go against what everyone else is thinking. Opportunities surround us always, and you’ve just got to be curious and actually believe that anything is possible. I’m always beaming with ideas and sometimes I have to be reminded that in real time, they’ll be right and viable, but it’s important to be realistic. I think that’s always been an innate entrepreneurial quality.
2. With so many magazine titles having been recently closed, why did you decide to take the risk of launching your magazine?
Often I had heart palpitations knowing I was investing everything I had and my heart into something that may not have been received well, particularly in a time when magazines are steadily closing. But I saw an opportunity in a market to put something out that would be counter-intuitive to much of the media that exists today – something that would rewrite what inspirational and aspirational meant. And when I believe in something, I’d rather fail to try than fail to do anything about it.
3. You call The Collective your baby. What was the process of starting your business magazine like? How did this process differ from your other business and publishing endeavours?
I’m an instant gratification junkie, so it was painful keeping everything under wraps until launch. We all poured our hearts into it not knowing how it would be received. Nothing we have ever done has been to this scale, so it’s been completely different to other previous projects and parts of the business.
4. Describe The Collective in five words.
Raw. Real. Edgy. Ok, that’s not five, but that pretty much sums us up.
5. The Collective has a unique design and aesthetic quality – from the mixture of matte and glossy pages to the handwritten notations and art decals that frame many of the articles. How involved are you in the physical details of The Collective?
My team and I are entrenched in every page from the get go. We bring our unique ideas to the table on a daily basis, leaving no page untouched. Mixing paper stocks – why not? Adding our personal touch with Fleetwood Mac lyrics – why not? More hand drawings – why not? We want to inject as much personality into The Collective as possible and shape it in the way we feel right. But the thing is The Collective is no longer just ours. It’s our readers’ magazine, and we look forward to shaping it collectively.
6. Maria Sharapova and Ewan McGregor are two of the many exciting talents and contributors that have embraced the magazine. How have you managed to get such a diverse range of contributors for The Collective?
From the get-go, I’ve been so humbled by the extraordinary reception the magazine has had – from not only the readers but also the contributors. There’s been so much love I honestly have to pinch myself to check it’s real. It was amazing to see so many contributors agree to be a part of the Collective family and share their stories. We had no product to show them and particularly in the early stages, couldn’t even share who else was involved. I think people have been waiting for this – waiting for the opportunity to not only read but share their incredible journeys that aren’t the same spin, gloss, or syndicated story from every second site. Now having two issues, it’s a lot easier for contributors to see what The Collective is and we’re excited for what’s to come.
7. You candidly admit in issue 2 that as an entrepreneur, you “fail fast” and “fail a lot.” What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
We’re presented with challenges every day in different forms. But I think with every challenge, you are presented with a whole new perspective. Entering the media landscape in itself is challenging – having little idea on how the advertising space works and more so the lengthy process of preparing a new product. Systems are so important, and they don’t form correctly until you’ve learned a lesson. Being a small team, we are slashies in our roles – so a big lesson has been making sure we hire the right people who are adaptable as well as a culture fit as this is truly what makes them right for the role. And for me, it’s been about not spreading myself too thin – being everything to everyone is a big challenge.
8. Your close friend Lorna Jane was The Collective’s first cover girl, and now the outspoken queen of online Mia Freedman graces your second issue. Why did you choose these women and who might we expect to see on the cover of the magazine in the future?
I knew in my heart that Lorna was our cover girl for issue 1. We had been working together and had been great friends for years, and she represents everything the magazine stands for. Ironically Mia and I have also been great friends since childhood, and we’ve always kept a close eye on each other. Mia is a true renegade, and when it came to issuing 2, she came to mind first. I wanted to go against what everyone was thinking, and that’s what you can expect for issue 3. I always have to trust my gut instincts and go with what feels right. As for issue 3, my lips are sealed….
9. What advice can you give to big dreamers like yourself who want to establish their own business?
Jump and learn to fly on the way down. There will be obstacles, doubters, naysayers, tall poppy people, unexpected turns, painful choices … and more importantly, there will be you proving everyone wrong.