Editor / Real Living
Elle Lovelock is what you would describe Australian Magazine Royalty. The Sydney born and based journalist is the editor of design bible Real Living and has one ‘hell-ova’ #careerstory.
Elle sharpened her media teeth at titles such as Belle Magazine, Australian Gourmet Traveller and Australian House and Garden, before joining the Real Living in January 2011 as deputy chief sub-editor/features writer.
With a killer combination of creativity, intelligence, and a knack for storytelling, Elle epitomises that of the classic “cool” insider — on-trend without ever falling into ‘trendy’ territory. All the stuff that has made her so successful in her career.
This interview is juicy, and filled to the brim with so much career advice and tips, that I don’t know where to start. It’s all the stuff that you wished your mum, or older sis told you when you were starting out but didn’t.
What a way to start 2019!
Please meet Elle Lovelock…
Hi Elle, So pumped to have you here. Can you tell us about your childhood and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I was born in Sydney, but we moved around a lot over the years because of my parents’ jobs, but I was fine with that. It was exciting to have a change every few years and I quickly learnt how to make friends – it all starts with a simple “hello”. Also, my sister (we’re three years apart) and I had each other. My dad is Aussie and my mum is Dutch, and both love travelling, so we went back to Europe to see family every couple of years or so. It was amazing to be exposed to different places, cultures and languages from such a young age, and I think this, coupled with having to make new friends all the time, set me up for a career in journalism. I’m interested in people – specifically how they live.
Sounds amazing! Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to three different high schools one in Adelaide and two in Sydney. Because of this, I don’t really have any friendships that date back to when I was a teenager. Most of my closest friends now I met when I started working. I finally found my tribe! At school, I was naturally academic, but I wasn’t great at studying. I’d rather listen and work hard in class than study solo for assignments and exams. I hated homework and often left things to the last minute, which actually helped me with my career in publishing – I work well under pressure and love a tight deadline.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
We had a media studies subject that I loved. We would analyse the meaning of advertising slogans and images. I initially thought I’d like to get into advertising. But I was good at English, too. One of the best pieces of advice my parents gave me was to do what I loved and what I was good at, and that would lead me to the next step in my studies or career, even if I didn’t know what that was. So I focussed on English and art – my other love.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience
I did a week’s work experience at a design firm when I was in Year 10. I got to research, develop and design packaging for a cosmetics brand, which was pretty fun. But I realised that though I loved the visual element, it might not be the right career for me. It didn’t feel right, but I wasn’t sure why – but that was okay. It wasn’t until I was at university that I did another internship with a magazine that I felt like “yes, this is me!”. If you do an internship and you don’t love it, try something else.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I went to Sydney University. For me, the path there went like this: I enjoyed and was good at English and art at high school, so I applied for a Bachelor of Arts to do a double major in English and Art History. When it came time to do an internship in my final year, I thought, how can I combine writing and something visual, and the answer was magazines. So I gave it a go.
Like at school, at Uni I was clever but hated studying. I looked for shortcuts wherever I could. For example, I had to do an essay on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I couldn’t be bothered reading the books, so I watched the movies instead. I got 51% (a pass) on my essay with this comment from my lecturer: “A beautifully written essay. A pity you haven’t read the books.” No fooling them! If it weren’t for my writing skills I would have failed. Now, I’m not saying this is an acceptable thing to do ;) but if you focus on where your natural talents lie, those are the things that will always help you succeed.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
When I was in my final year of Uni, I started an internship, one day a week, at Belle magazine. I’ve always loved interiors and would pinch my mum’s Ikea catalogues when I was little, circling all the things I wanted for my bedroom. I loved rearranging my furniture, painting my walls and decorating, so I wanted to see what it was like on an interiors magazine. I worked hard at my internship, and did everything from cleaning out store rooms to mailing out magazines. The company, ACP (now Bauer Media), had over 50 of the country’s best magazines, so I knew by getting an internship there I could look out for any full-time job vacancies.
When I finished my degree, a job came up at Australian Gourmet Traveller. It was as the advertising coordinator, but it was full time, so I applied and got the role. After a year, a full time editorial coordinator job came up back at Belle and I was able to jump the fence back to where I really wanted to be. There was a lot of admin in this role, but I stayed back each day to write pieces here and there, with the help of the senior writers and subeditors. It paid off. A year later I got a job as a writer and subeditor at Australian House & Garden where I stayed for four years, before landing a job at Real Living.
I’ve been here for eight years now, and it’s my favourite magazine. I worked up from deputy chief subeditor, to chief subeditor, to deputy editor and now editor. I’m now a specialist in interior design and decorating and feel lucky that I get to see and write about beautiful homes every day. As a journalist, it’s a privilege to be able to peek into people’s lives. Plus, I’m nosey.
Ha! Sounds like the perfect job for nosey people. How did you get into the job that you are in now?
I know these days there’s a lot of pressure to change jobs every few years to build up an impressive CV, but I’ve been at the one company my whole career, and worked my way up. It’s quite valuable to know all areas of a business from the bottom up and this can be applied to most industries. If you’re happy in a company, why move?
What is the hardest part of your current job?
Managing emails! I receive about 2500 emails a week, and staying on top of them can be tricky.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current role at Real Living?
I check most of my emails from home before I get to the office so I can start the day with a clear desk at 9am.
Meetings take up most of my days as I need to keep an eye on every single part of Real Living – it’s more than a magazine: it’s a business. These meetings could be anything from a production catch up with my editorial team to see how the current issue is progressing, to a strategy meeting with my creative director Sandy Dao.
Throughout the day I’ll also meet with the other departments who work alongside us, for example, our finance, marketing, research and digital teams. I work closely with our brand managers, who look after all our advertising, too. Sometimes I’ll go out to visit advertisers – I love collaborating on campaigns and it’s so important to nurture these relationships.
If there is a photoshoot on, I’ll pop in to see how it’s going, otherwise I’ll be back at my desk, researching, planning and creating content. I still love to write, even though I don’t get to do it as much as I’d like. My work day usually finishes up at about 6:30pm, unless I have an event to go to that night.
The days are always busy, and lunch is often on the go, but overall, the hours are pretty reasonable.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
I was always inspired by both my parents. My mum is the creative and my dad is the business person. I think I am a mix of the two. Above all, I appreciated their work ethic. They proved to me that anything is possible if you work hard enough.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
I can’t recommend this career enough! Being part of the media is fun, exciting and challenging. If you want to be a journalist or an editor, you need to be creative, have a mind for business and handle pressure as there are deadlines all the time. I recommend finishing Year 12 and going on to study something with a writing component – it doesn’t have to specifically be journalism – whether it’s at university, TAFE or a private college.
Cadetships or internships are a fantastic way to break into the industry. And as I learnt from my school days, it all starts with a “hello”. Look at the masthead (list of employees at the front of a magazine) on your favourite titles and find a contact number or email address for the office manager or coordinator. Get in touch with them and let them know you’re interested in doing some work experience. They’ll be able to let you know when something is available.
Elle’s Go to Resource List
- Favourite Instagram Account: @reallivingmag of course! Also, my favourite interior designer @roseuniacke (so chic!) astrologist @nadinejane_astrology (love her mantras) and my super creative friends @sansandao and @karlieverkerk
- Favourite Podcast: The High Low – it’s by two English journalists, Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes. Absolutely hilarious! Like having a chat with your funniest, cleverest friends. They cover everything from fashion to pop culture and news.
- Favourite Netflix Series: I’m a Foxtel girl! I love any thrillers created by the BBC and everything on the Lifestyle channel. Oh, and I’m addicted to the Real Housewives franchise. New York is my favourite.
- Favourite all time book/s: For work: The Elements of Style by Strunk and White – essential for anyone who writes. For play: ALL the interior design books. I can’t stop buying them!