In England, Creating a New Kind of Magazine for Parents

From a story on by Esther Kezia Thorpe headlined “Editor and founder of Paranting magazine Sophia Waterfield on creating a new type of lifestyle magazine”:

In this episode we hear from Sophia Waterfield, editor and founder of Paranting magazine. It’s a magazine for parents, but for parents that don’t have time for some of the aspirational BS that a lot of lifestyle magazines cover. We spoke about the name, funding a start-up with the aim of actually paying freelancers.

Here are some highlights:

How Sophia got started

I’ve been a writer since I was 15. My first published work was in the East Riding Gazette, which is my really like mini, local micro local paper at the time, I don’t even know if it’s still going to be honest. And I basically did book reviews. And I still have the book that I was given as payment for that piece

I’ve been freelancing for about three or four years, I’ve had the privilege to work for Newsweek. I was a freelance reporter for them for 18 months. I’ve been really privileged to write for some really big names, and some small names as well, which is just as important. I’ve got a really varied background, but I think that being a writer, being a storyteller has always been there since I was 15.

On glossy magazines and the origins of Paranting

I just want to set the record straight and say it’s pronounced ‘ Pa-Ranting’ Its purposeful. You know, the name is a mixture of ranting and parenting. It’s basically a conversation that only parents understand.

I’ve always loved magazines. That’s why I got into journalism. I just love them. But one of the things that I really felt that nothing really spoke to me, there was nothing even that looked vaguely functional as a parent. I’m not going to spend 300 quid on an outfit that clearly I’m going to get messed up in like two seconds. You have to have that disposable income that I just didn’t have as a working class, pregnant woman.

On being a working class Northerner

The hurdles that I faced as a Northern person were real. And I don’t just mean, like, excluding me from things or missing out on job opportunities, but how I had the mick taken out of my accent. When I went to uni, that was a real issue and I actually ended up changing my accent a lot, just to fit in. I became very resentful of the fact that I was Northern, because it just became a bit of a joke.

I’m from Hull and the South have a thing about how Hull’s a bit of a joke. And it shouldn’t be. There’s a lot of talent in Hull. It rivals Shoreditch in terms how independent businesses thrive.

When I came back, after, you know, when I was pregnant with my son, I really felt that I had neglected that side of me that I tried to push it away, when in fact, I should have really embraced it. And I do now, it’s very much part of who I am.

Focusing on attainable aspiration

It’s a real balancing act, but I would say it has to be affordable. We don’t look at the Primarks of this world in that we want it to be sustainable. We don’t support fast fashion. We try and be as green as possible, but it isn’t always possible… the working class can’t afford to be green, sometimes.

We are not about news hooks, we are about being beyond the headlines and getting to the real discussion points that are affecting the typical parent basically.

On funding Paranting

Paranting is self funded and reader funded. We tried a Kickstarter campaign and we didn’t meet our first target. We actually got more in that first Kickstarter from backers than we did in our second one, but we didn’t meet the target so we didn’t get the money.

I ended up taking out a start-up loan from the British business bank. Again, that was a learning curve. I took out the money to get started, but when we went back for the second round of funding, we didn’t get it, which was really disappointing.

So we are now in a situation where we are funded by readers. It’s a massive scramble and that’s the only way I could describe it. It’s not juggling, it’s scrambling. I really want to give a shout out to my freelancers. Some of them are the most patient people and understanding people I’ve ever worked with, they really get what parenting is trying to be about.

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