Annie Lam has never been short on ideas. As a fashion stylist and editor for the past eight years, working in magazines, advertising and commercials, she has always had her eyes on the big picture. Now she commits to her broader visions by helping take the helm of a new lifestyle magazine, YYZ Living, bringing her sensibilities, opinions and network connections to a new project with a broader scope.
As a stylist, Lam always looked at a shoot with a holistic approach and was never afraid to bring her ideas to the table. “Anytime a magazine would come to me with a fashion editorial, it was pretty much their vision, and I would bring it to life,” she said. “I looked at the whole picture. I looked at the hair and makeup, the model, the lighting, the photography. I liked putting together a whole concept for them and then saying, ‘You can tie this into a different type of story; you can look into these different designers.’ It was always one thing into another.”
With YYZ Living, Lam now has the control to lead her ideas and bring them to fruition directly. This comes with a certain set of challenges, and while she has had plenty of experience in the past, some aspects of this control are different for her.
“I have a lot more to manage now. When you are strictly in fashion you don’t have to think about the more detailed aspects. Now I do. Now I have to think about the stories, how they all tie together. It’s a lot more deadlines and behind the scenes with the sourcing. Not everyone gets to you right when you want them to. So even small planning can get into huge detail organization. You have to do a lot of backup; you have to have plans C and D behind your plan B.”
But, she says, “I like the fact that there is more control; you can really put together a good vision for a magazine. You can really say, ‘This is such a great topic, how can we expand on it.’ I can be a lot broader and introduce people to not just one thing but a lot of different things.”
As many journalists will attest, the editorial environment can be a chaotic one, with a lot of thinking and reworking on the fly. Lam embraces these challenges, providing an example from a piece that will appear in their first issue, an artist feature on photographer Jonathan Hobin.
“He is a very controversial photographer, and when we originally interviewed him, no one else had gone to print with his stuff yet,” she said. “During the time we were interviewing, he was having his first gallery showing. He blew up. Clients were picking him up, people from Russia, Switzerland, from all over the world. We hadn’t gone to print yet, but it was still good because we were able to switch up our article from how no one was really focusing on him to how he was completely blowing up, so really we were able to document his transition.”
In terms of launching a brand new publication, Lam spoke to some particular difficulties and joys.
“It’s a pro and con,” she said. “With a new magazine you have the freedom to create something according to how your vision is. We are not stuck to a structure that has already been given to us, and that is definitely an amazing thing. And with that there have been a lot of trial and errors. And part of the difficulty is that you are trying to establish yourself and prove to people that you are a great product, even though you don’t have a product to show them.”
She added, “But because of our background, we have already been established with a lot of people. We have connections with a lot of PR people that represent the showrooms, the designers, the brands, and they were already able to help us just based on what we have done in the past.”
Lam has a clear sense of how she wants to establish YYZ Living – as a product for people in-the-know.
“It’s not a general focused publication, but at the same time it’s not a strict industry focused one; it’s more for people that have that lifestyle, the frontrunners, the early adopters—they are the first to try the trendy restaurants, the trendy clubs; they discover the new brand that everyone else is going to be wearing a few months down the line,” she explained.
YYZ Living has branded itself as a luxury lifestyle publication, but Lam was keen to point out what exactly that means, especially in today’s economy.
“When we say luxury lifestyle, it’s not just about big flashiness and spending tons of money,” she said. “Of course, a few things can cost a little more, but it’s more a leisure thing. We do like to travel, we like to go out to eat, but it’s not every single time when we go out to eat or we buy something that it has to be big and expensive. For example, with a woman, she’s not splashing out on a big purse, but might go for a wallet. Or if someone is taking a vacation, they might do something closer or for fewer days. Everything has been toned down, but still people are not giving up that lifestyle fully. “
Lam has a rich relationship with publicists and welcomes press releases. “I love it because it expands my world. I can find something new, and that’s what we are about, we are open to that so we can pass those things on to our readers.”
“Some of the best PR people I deal with get back to me no matter what,” she continued. “If I need something changed quickly—we have so many deadlines, especially with print—when I tell them ‘I need this information ASAP, can you send it over,’ they send it over. I’ve realized after working in this industry for eight years that there is no such thing as nine to five, Monday through Friday.”
YYZ Living launches at the end of the month.
YYZ Group can be followed on Twitter at @yyzgroup
Find Annie Lam online at www.annielam.ca
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