We enter Lottie’s Tea room in the quaint village of Stokesley, near Middlesbrough, the birthplace of Sunday Girl – an uplifting and real magazine for real people. Greeted by 21-year-old editor, Abigail Dennison, and her exuberant mother both brimming with excitement, we take our seats in front of the panel and rifle through our goodie bags, designed by North East students Adele and Laura, pull out our copies of Sunday Girl and it is evident just how amazing this publication is.
Abigail begins by telling us what the evening is about, and how she has set up the Sunday Girl Club to build an online community for young people starting out in the industry: “It’s a way to get together, meet new people and talk about the future, careers and kicking ass! I needed this when I was choosing my career pathway, as I struggled to be taken seriously when I was studying fashion.”
Graduating from the University of Creative Arts in Epsom with a 2:1 degree in Fashion Journalism, it’s an amazing story to tell, as the rest of the panel is introduced we all sit in awe at the incredibly inspirational people in front of us.
Megan Lillie, a 22-year-old blogger, from Middlesbrough has more than 13,000 Instagram followers, and won a Cosmopolitan Award for best established blog, tells us the tale of how she set up her blog, www.thumbelinalillie.com, on a whim and now she has stores like New Look offering to dress her and send her down the red carpet and GHD featuring her in their new campaign.
Becky Willoughby, 31, from Saltburn is a trend forecaster for trendtablet.com and freelances with a German publication Fizzy magazine: “It’s amazing how much I get to travel and still work from home, I fly over to Hamburg every other week for my job. You can still have your dream job opportunity from the North East.”
Well established fashion photographer Ben Benoliel, also from Saltburn, regales his career of setting up and co-founding the company LN-CC to freelancing as a fashion photographer, and looking after his four-year-old daughter. He tells us of his time studying photography at the London College of Fashion but emphasises it’s what you learn in life and your experiences that matters: “I don’t care about your grades, it’s about what you’re doing and have done.”
After we hear the last of the incredible career stories, Abigail gives us a background into where Sunday Girl Magazine came from and we soon learn that it was a dissertation project brought to life and is now sold in cities across the UK, Japan and China: “I was inspired to create a magazine for girls who loved fashion but also topics that are current and hold depth.”
Her magazine didn’t bode well with tutors and she was told they didn’t see a future for it: “Surrounding myself with amazing people and supportive people kept me going, I wouldn’t have done it without them.
“The message I wanted to portray through Sunday Girl Magazine was that girls are strong, serious, fun, intelligent and ambitious. We can do ANYTHING we want if we work for it.”
It wasn’t until I got home and read Sunday Girl Magazine cover to cover that I realised how influential it is, and Abigail’s personality seeps through every page. The photoshoots aren’t photoshopped, the people are real and the stories matter.
The dream of 21-year-old North East girl has literally been put onto paper, and her Sunday Girl Club event has surely inspired all who attended.
Check out Sunday Girl Magazine here, www.sundaygirlmagazine.com, to order your copy and keep up to date with the Sunday Girl Club events. Volume 2 will be out March 1 2016.
Follow the rest of the panel here: @BENOLIEL, @tales_of_fashion_sabi, @meganjanelillie, @sundaygirlmagazine