Magazine Editor / frankie Magazine
Unique, cultural and endlessly progressive, sums up the female millennial bible that is frankie magazine. In the often predictable realm of women’s mags, frankie stands apart from the rest, with its mish-mash of music, fashion, craft, art and not to mention cultural content. It’s a rebel, and you know how we love rebels.
Name a girl that hasn’t grown up with this mag, that hasn’t plastered her walls with the mandatory posters, quotes and musings from esteemed artists such as Anke Knapper – no, we can’t either!
The women at the healm of frankie is the one and only Sophie Kalagas. Sophie’s rise to the top of the venerated publication makes her the second editor in its history. Before landing at frankie, Sophie held positions as an intern, online editor and editor at other tomes such as Marie Claire, Girlfriend and the popular, retired Lifelounge Magazine.
This eclectic soul loved high school, and was lucky to have ever encouraging teachers that supported her as she practised her craft. From writing her first novel at age seven (you’ll never guess what the topic was), to spending time in France as an exchange student, and through numerous work experience placements, today, we go back in time with Sophie as she recites her mammoth #careerstory.
This tale is for any girl dreaming of becoming a legendary magazine editor, but doesn’t know how to get there – yet!
Please meet Sophie Kalagas…
Hi Sophie, to start can you tell us a bit about where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
Though I’m a Sydneysider by birth, I’ve lived in Melbourne for as long as I can remember. Melbourne is a city that’s buzzing with arts and culture – we really value creativity, whether it be through art, writing, dance or theatre. I was always a pretty artistic kid, filling scrapbooks with drawings and poems, and took a lot of inspiration from the teen mags I used to buy. At primary school my teachers really encouraged my writing, too – I remember doing fun research projects and writing my first ‘novel’ at age seven about my Puppy Surprise toys going to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I know it’s kind of dorky to admit it, but I really liked high school. I went to an all girls’ school in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, and spent the six years in a happy little bubble. I’m quite competitive by nature, and set high standards for myself, so I worked pretty hard for the time I was there. My favourite subjects were psychology, forensic science and art, and I was part of the school band, choir, drama program and netball team. A highlight was going on exchange to France in year 10 – it was my first time out of the country, and really opened my eyes to what else was out there!
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
Not really, to be honest. We were steered mostly towards careers like law, finance, marketing – creative jobs didn’t get a lot of airtime.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
We had to complete work experience in about year 10, and I spent two weeks at a small advertising firm – filing, sitting in on recording sessions, watching designers lay out copy and generally shadowing the staff. It was pretty cool as far as work experience placements go, but didn’t really have much of an impact on what I wanted to do career-wise.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I did the Bachelor of Communication (Professional Communication) at RMIT University in Melbourne. The course takes you through different facets of the communications industry, including public relations, media, journalism and marketing. At the time I was convinced I wanted to work in fashion PR, so I made public relations my major. I soon realised that it wasn’t for me, though – I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of spending my days pushing brands and products.
What I did enjoy, though, was collating group projects. Gathering each person’s section, bringing them together, and creating some unity and flow between each part. It made me realise that editing might be more up my alley. I also worked at a newsagency and was super into magazines at the time, so it seemed like it could be a promising path.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
Once I realised that I was interested in mags, I got stuck into organising as many internships as I could. I spent time with Marie Claire, Shop Til You Drop, Girlfriend and ACCLAIM magazine. Some placements were more educational and hands-on than others, but it was all pretty fun.
I also volunteered for a while on a publication for local migrants called Bespoken, and did some writing and editing for the now-defunct Lifelounge Magazine.
At 24, I had a bunch of work experience and travel under my belt, but wasn’t sure how to really crack into the media industry. I applied for any editorial jobs I could find (including one at a specialist caravanning magazine), but there wasn’t too much around, really. Lucky for me, Lifelounge was launching a brand new website, and asked me to come in and interview for the assistant editor role. I got the job, and over the next two years helped guide the formation, tone and editorial content of the site – I also met my current partner, and made some of my closest friends to date. I have the best memories of my time there.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
I was really happy working at Lifelounge, but one day, while chatting with my friend at lunch, the topic of changing jobs came up. I was a regular reader of frankie at the time, and told her matter-of-factly:
“I’d only consider leaving here if a role opened up at the mag.”
Weirdly, about a week later it did.
It seemed like the universe was trying to tell me something, so I applied for the job, putting everything I had into the application. I couldn’t believe it when they called me to tell me I’d been successful – it was a massive ‘pinch yourself’ moment.
I was assistant editor of the magazine – as well as online editor, managing the blog, newsletter and social media – for about three years, and earlier this year I stepped up as editor of the print publication. It’s pretty nuts – I still pinch myself now and then.
What is the hardest part of your current job?
Keeping a consistent flow of interesting, fresh, relevant and exciting content can be pretty tricky. Sometimes I feel like I’m all tapped out, but that usually means it’s time to think a bit laterally, or just delve deeper into the black hole that is the internet.
What does a typical business day look like for you at frankie?
There’s not really a set structure to my days. It’s more of a mishmash of hunting for content, chatting with contributors and subjects, writing, interviewing, sub-editing, proofreading, talking advertising and working closely with our rad little team.
Going through my inbox and responding to emails takes up a fair bit of time, too. In between all that I’m usually putting nostalgic pop music on the office stereo, rustling through my secret snack drawer and drinking copious amounts of tea.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up, and why?
I never really had one specific hero who I wanted to emulate, but I’ve been lucky to have some pretty excellent mentors along the way. Alex Weiland at ACCLAIM taught me a tonne, as did Katie Olsen at Lifelounge Magazine. And of course, Jo Walker, who was the frankie editor for nine years before me, has been invaluable to work with. They’re all super-smart, experienced and generally bad-ass ladies, and I have so much respect and gratitude for each of them.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
Applying for internships was the best thing I did. Getting into an office and learning how a magazine actually works is so valuable – you may discover a job that you had no idea existed. Plus, you’ll meet people who could wind up being great contacts!
Also, write as much as you can. Write for fun. Write for a blog. Write and pitch your work to your favourite publications. Get involved with your university paper. And read! Getting published and immersing yourself in language will help you understand the editing process better. But the most important thing is to give every opportunity a go – it’s all great experience, and you never know where it could lead.
Rightio Sophie, that brings to our fav part of the interview. List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration?
- Favourite Blogs or Websites: Instagram, Pinterest, Messy Nessy Chic, New York Magazine/The Cut, Smith Journal.
- Name an Instagram Account or Snapchat that you can’t go a day without checking: Artist Sabine Timm’s Instagram (@virgin_honey) for all the quirk and colour.
- Books: The good ol’ Macquarie Dictionary.
- People: The team in the frankie office are full of weird and wonderful ideas. I’m also inspired by so many of the contributors, makers and regular folk I’ve met and interviewed along the way.
- Others: Storytelling and interview podcasts like Death, Sex & Money, This American Life, and The New Yorker Radio Hour. Getting up and going for a walk, as well – the best ideas and inspirations come when you’re out experiencing the world.