Inspiration and Editors / Interviews

INTERVIEW: Nicole Burnett, editor of Pretty Nostalgic Magazine

For the girls out there who love a bit of creativity, and all things vintage, Pretty Nostalgic will be up there with one of your favourite magazines. Seen as the magazine for ‘sustainable and creative living’ the magazine is full of the work from individuals who are passionate about creativity and each issue’s theme. The difference with this magazine, is that it is made out of a huge passion for the subject matter, design, feel and love of being creative in Britain.
As they say on their website:
Pretty Nostalgic is a bi-monthly vintage lifestyle magazine that celebrates everything brilliantly British. The home and lifestyle magazine celebrates vintage, traditional and sustainable ways of living. Each issue offers 112 pages of original, well-researched content, illustrated with specially commissioned artwork, illustrations and photographs and well as genuine vintage images from our own archive.

Nicole Burnett, editor, talks to us about the basis of the magazine, and how it differs from many others out there…


How did you end up with a career in magazine publishing?

Ok – well I am not a journalist and I have no training in journalism or publishing… and yet I run my own magazine and write. I was a professionally-qualified museum curator, with a background in design and art history – so I am trained to write exhibition texts and I very much see Pretty Nostalgic as a 2D curated exhibition rather than a magazine. I wouldn’t consider myself a journalist and I just felt that most other home and lifestyle magazines were rubbish and lacked any moral fibre, so decided to start my own. As I didn’t (and still don’t) know the rules of journalism or publishing, I have done what I could to produce the magazine I want and have never worried about not following conventions.

What did you study at university?

I have a BA (Hons) in History of Design with Art History from Manchester Metropolitan University, and a MA in Museum Studies from Leicester University… but no journalism qualifications.

What was your first role in the magazine industry?

My first major role was as editor in chief of Pretty Nostalgic – which I launched myself. I did hire experienced magazine professionals however, to help with the magazine launch, but the magazine was very much what I wanted it to be. I am now the only editor and in total control and I love it – I am not constrained by any rules and just aim to make Pretty Nostalgic the magazine that I want to read.
RHS Hamption Court

What do you look for on a CV/covering letter if someone was looking to get involved with Pretty Nostalgic?

I tend not to hire those who are seeking to be professional journalists I am afraid – for me the most important thing is a total and absolute passion for the magazine and what we stand for. Most of our writers are total amateurs who have never written anything professionally, but they are passionate about what they write about and that for me is irreplaceable. We do of course need professional help with subbing and copy editing, but I like the magazine to be very natural and unprofessional in nature and I never ever accept off the peg, pre-written features. If anything I track down people I admire and ask them if they would like to work with us. I set the theme for each magazine and then find the people I would most like to be in it.

What is your opinion on unpaid internships, and how can people excel on these?

We have run a regional editor scheme with interns working on a voluntary basis, but very flexible hours and part time.  As we all work from home though and we don’t have an office, it is quite hard to manage. I am happy to work with those who are passionate about what we do if I can though – but we really are not set up like other magazines.

Have you got any advice for those wanting to break into the industry, but struggling to stand out?

Write about what excites you the most and find the people who will appreciate it the most . Also you will have to work for free at some point, we don’t pay our contributors, but we publish their work with care and respect and make it the best it can be. We help to promote them and further their career in other ways.

Now about Pretty Nostalgic – when was it founded, and what was the reason?

I founded Pretty Nostalgic is 2012 – I was fed up with the poor quality of writing and original content of newsstand magazines and also felt passionately that there was a need for an ethical magazine which promoted only British Made and genuine vintage. I was totally fed up with magazines flooded with cheap imported products and conflicting editorial/advertorial content and regurgitated features. So I set up my own publishing company, wrote a book to help promote subscriptions and then launched the magazine in May 2012.  We are bi-monthly and are just working on issue 12.

Who is your main readership and how do you see it expanding?

Our readership is hard to fit into a particular demographic and it is down to attitude really – our readers are more mindful, most of them have given up on other magazines and are looking for something different. They want interesting content and not the wikipedia-style journalism which is rife in the magazine industry. Pretty Nostalgic has no advertising and so we are beholden to nobody, we can write and do what we like. I have just pulled the magazine out of WHSmith, where we were selling very well and I have now committed to only being stocked by independent stockists and subscriptions. We have a lot to do, but I am very proud of the magazine and what it has achieved so far and I will make sure it succeeds, even though we are not following the rules. We are not catering for the hipsters who crave the left wing aesthetic – we attract normal people who want to read a good magazine, those that love British things, love history and vintage and want to spend wisely, waste less and appreciate more.

Thank you!


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