Meet Greta, Founder and Editor of Together Journal, a modern wedding and lifestyle magazine for anyone with a romantic bone in their body, or just a love of beautiful things. While the pages are filled with a selection of must haves, the love stories of couples alongside beautiful photography of their real weddings make for the best, real life Pinterest board to gather inspiration. For those who love to stalk an acquaintance's wedding album online, or via Instagram *guilty* Together Journal gives you the inside scoop on each couple.
We recently collaborated with Greta to create the Gigi bag, a bag not just for your wedding day, but one that could be cherished and used for many years to come.
Not everyone is courageous enough to start a media brand and print magazine, which is exactly why we wanted to profile Greta in our Women in Business series. We hope you enjoy reading about how the magazine came about, and the women who have inspired her along the way.
Greta, tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and what led you to become the woman you are today.
I grew up mainly in the Bay of Plenty, travelled a lot in my twenties, lived in London and Dublin for several years, and now live in central Auckland with my husband Charlie and my three children Sol, Marlo and Zelda. I studied graphic design, photography, and marketing and then spent most of my career in marketing positions in the fashion industry. Then as a free-lance photographer, when I had my children, so I could be more flexible and spend more time with them while they were tiny. I am now the founding editor at Together Journal, a modern niche wedding magazine distributed nationwide in New Zealand and Australia.
It sounds like all of your experiences have come into creating Together. Ok, Sidetracking quickly here, you have a new puppy; how has that been? We’ve been loving the puppy spam!
So happy to divert and talk about Scout, our new puppy! I have always been a dog lover and have had German Shorthaired Pointers by my side pretty much my whole life (apart from when I lived overseas in my twenties). Scout is our first Hungarian Vizsla; they are very similar to GSP’s in look and temperament, active working dogs who love to be stimulated. Lockdown has been the perfect opportunity to spend time training him; he will be with me at work every day. I look forward to introducing him to the Saben team once we are out of lockdown. I got a shot of him in the Saben tote; I couldn’t resist.
Scout! We love him already. Ok, back on track now…before you became the wedding publishing wunderkind you are today, what were you doing?
Before launching Together Journal, I worked as a free-lance photographer shooting a mix of wedding, editorial and commercial photography. I used to shoot mainly cookbooks, food and lifestyle spreads, a little fashion, and weddings!
Before that, I had a career in fashion, holding buying and marketing manager positions. I left the fashion industry when I had my two boys as the overseas travel was quite excessive in the fashion industry at the time. I was buying and managing a design, plus doing five round the world trips each year. Although I absolutely loved it, it was too much travel with young babies in tow. My boys are only 16 months apart, and I needed to be home more for them.
Where did your love of weddings and all things matrimonial first come about?
I kind of fell into the wedding industry. When I was on maternity leave from working in the fashion industry, I started shooting again; at first, it was mainly lifestyle shoots for businesses and a little bit of fashion. Then, friends started asking me to shoot their weddings. I enjoyed it and it kind of snowballed from there. Before I knew it, I was shooting weddings all over New Zealand and travelling to Australia, Indonesia, and the Pacific Islands. Most of the couples I was working with were very cool, creative and non-traditional.
I noticed a change starting to happen in the industry, a desire for more non-traditional, unique weddings, and with this, I saw a gap opening up for a media platform to support it.
I spoke to other brands and friends in the wedding industry about it, and they agreed. So I decided to take the plunge and launch Together Journal (with some strong words from my husband, who told me to hurry up and go for it before someone else filled the gap, he has always been my biggest supporter).
The name Together is so beautiful and resonates so much with people; what inspired the name?
I spent a long time thinking about the perfect name for Together Journal. Together appealed from the outset for many reasons. Firstly it's a lovely word that spans so much of what we do; it represents the couples and the industry and contributors coming together to create. I knew I didn't want the word wedding or bride or groom in the title, those options felt overused and dated to me, and I wanted people who were not engaged or married to feel comfortable picking up, buying, and reading the magazine.
Anyone planning a celebration, a party, or going to a wedding as a guest should be able to find something in Together Journal that they love. That’s always been our goal.
What’s changed since the first issue you published in late 2015?
To be honest, not a huge amount. The real weddings are incredibly important and have always been at the heart of the magazine and what we do. They truly are what make Together Journal so special. They are emotive; they make you feel something; they show a diverse mix of people, cultures, locations, budgets, styles, etc. So much can be said, and so many things can be supported with imagery. We have always tried our hardest to be as diverse and inclusive as possible; we spend an enormous amount of time hunting out the right mix of wedding content. When I look back on early issues, most of our real weddings have stood the test of time; they are just as relevant today as they were five years ago.
We tend to look for unique weddings that make you feel something and reflect each individual couple; that kind of wedding transcends trends and time.
What does a regular day look like for you?
At the moment, it’s a little different in lockdown as I have to juggle the kid’s school needs. I have one child at secondary school in year nine, one at intermediate level in year eight, and one at primary school level in year three. So there is quite a bit to manage. They all start the day with a zoom, so I need to ensure they are all set up and that there are no technical hitches. Most days, I tend to get up earlier than the family to get an hour or so of uninterrupted work done before I need to get the kids all underway for online learning. And they do need me quite a lot during the day to help out with school work (or to keep them on track!), so it can be a very disrupted workday.
Most of my team worked remotely before lockdown. We have a team member in Sydney, one in Queenstown, one in Mount Maunganui and one in Christchurch. Then it's me, my assistant and our designer and free-lance writers here in Auckland, and we have always worked from home and had regular catch-ups. So working remotely is something we were already very good at before lockdown.
My kids have become great photography and styling assistants! We have been lucky to have the resources to carry on remotely, but in saying that, we are looking forward to getting back on set with our wonderful contributors when it's safe so we can produce large scale fashion shoots again.
How did the collaboration with Saben come about?
We have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Saben; I feel like our brands are very aligned, and we have loved having them as part of the magazine. I was chatting to the Saben marketing manager at one of our regular catch-ups, discussing ideas for the future, and she suggested the idea to work on the perfect wedding bag together. I loved the idea from the outset. A special bag to be bought for the wedding day but also to be used, treasured and possibly passed down afterwards.
And you don’t have to be getting married to own and enjoy the Gigi bag. I have the cream one and have been pairing mine with suiting, casual wear and going out attire.
What did you enjoy most about co-designing the GIGI bag with Roanne?
I love learning more about New Zealand businesses and how they work, especially those in the fashion industry, likely due to my background and love of fashion. I am constantly amazed by the amount of local talent New Zealand has; Saben is the perfect example. Roanne's design background and knowledge is very inspiring. I loved chatting with her and the team about key design elements and creating a bag style that would work on a wedding day but also beyond. The whole team at Saben are so friendly and supportive; there is a lovely uplifting energy that you can feel every time you walk through the door at Saben, I knew we would have a lot of fun working together. And last but certainly not least, the coveted style and quality of the Saben bags made it an extremely desirable project.
The last 18 months have thrown us some curveballs, especially those in the wedding and event world – is there anything you’ve learned about yourself and/or the way you did business?
Of course, I wish COVID had never happened, and I feel for so many businesses and people. But one thing that it has emphasised for me is how nimble we are and how well this can serve you in a volatile market.
We have always been the underdog; we are a small independent magazine and have had to fight for our place.
We are very good at adapting, thinking up new ideas and working under pressure. COVID has pushed us to do new things, some we may have never done, like launching digital magazines and wedding websites. Based on this, I think the key learnings for me have been that restriction can breed creativity and that when things don’t go to plan, stay positive and try to look at the change as an opportunity. Ask yourself; What are the new needs now? How can I connect with my audience in a new way? What do they need now that they didn’t need before?
It’s not just the couples tying the knot but the businesses in the wedding industry who are affected by Covid. Have you seen any changes in the industry since Covid reared its ugly head?
Yes, absolutely! And not all of them are negative; COVID has taught many couples to readjust their sights and think about why they are really getting married. We have a good overview of the wedding market on a global scale; we feature weddings from all over the world and deal with contributors in many countries. I have noticed that because couples and vendors have been or are still restricted when they do get the chance to marry, they are doing it in different ways.
Many weddings are obviously smaller, but I am also noticing a change in styling; weddings are becoming more modern, less traditional and more unique. This is exactly what we have been trying to foster since our inception.
What advice do you have for couples who are planning their wedding?
At the moment, with COVID, be ready and willing to adapt. Have a plan B and a Plan C. There is a strong likelihood that if you are planning to wed in the next 6 to 18 months, your plans may need to change. It could be a small insignificant change, or it could be large and disruptive. Changing wedding plans is stressful but remember to focus on why you are getting married and the reason for the disruptions; they have been put in place to save lives.
Try and look at the change as an opportunity to do something different and unique. We have featured so many COVID affected weddings. They have all been incredibly beautiful, and the couples have all said that their day was so special, they would not want to go back and change anything.
Also, if you can't have your ideal celebration now, why not have a smaller safe wedding now and then plan for a large celebration party/reception party down the track. That's what I would do.
Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes than our wins – what’s one of your most significant learning curves running a magazine?
There are no rules. I was nervous about launching TJ having zero magazine experience. The publishing industry can be quite traditional and set in its ways. Once I gained confidence and started seeing people latch onto Together Journal, I trusted my gut more and started doing things very differently to the status quo. I don’t always get it right, but right and wrong aren’t black and white; there is a lot of grey in between that presents opportunity and chances to learn.
Also, recognising what you are truly about and sticking to that is important. Together Journal is unique; we are not for all wedding couples; we have a niche market and audience. The thing about a niche is that although we perceive them as being small, on an international level, they can actually be rather large. It's not always best to be the biggest and everything to everyone. I’m quite content to stay smaller and niche and find my followers and community in different locations.
Are there any women in the industry who you look up to?
So many! My clients, many of whom have become good friends. And I have a tight circle of girlfriends who are successful business women running companies that span fashion, jewellery, eco nappies, IT and media. All have built authentic and successful brands, and many are operating on a global scale. To name a few; Zöe Williams from Zoe & Morgan, Karen Walker, Katie Yueng from Hera Couture, Juliette Hogan, Beck Wadworth from An Organised Life...I could go on and on, and I am constantly getting to know more women I look up to and admire.
What about in your life? Are there any women who have inspired you most throughout your life and career?
I grew up with a very inspiring grandmother, Kath Kenyon. She passed away two years ago in her mid-nineties; we were fortunate to have her for as long as we did. She was a very strong and resourceful woman who raised four sons on a farm. They retired early, and I spent a lot of time with her and Grandad (Clive Kenyon, who is 97 and still living happily in Katikati) growing up. They had a big impact on me; they had a wonderful relationship that I aspire to have with my husband. They loved to travel, visiting more countries than I can count. I remember them dossing on the floor of my London flat for two weeks when I was living there in my 20’s! Gran was very creative; she was a weaver and an amateur painter. I loved being at their home right on the beach in her weaving studio, looking at all the wool she used to hand dye, spin and then weave. It was magical. She also spent a lot of time with me painting; I think she is the reason I am creative.
She sounds like an amazing woman! Saben was named after Roanne's Grandmother, so we love an inspiring matriarch! What are your goals and ambitions for 2022 and beyond? Both personally and professionally
So many exciting things to do with the business! We have a wedding planner app due out in 2022, version two of the physical wedding planner that we have created with An Organised Life is coming soon, and we are developing new international territories for distribution.
Personally, I want to travel and make more memories with my family. This may, of course, be limited to domestic adventuring for a while, which is fine; we have so many local places we want to go as well as international.
STYLE FILES: What do you love most about wearing Saben
I love wearing clothes, shoes and accessories made by brands I love and people I know. It just feels that extra bit special when you know first-hand the love and time that has gone into the product. Then when someone compliments me or asks me about something I am wearing, I can tell them all about the item and the people behind the brand. I feel so proud of the business people I know and work with; it's an honour to own and wear their things and support them as they have supported me.
And The Saben bags really do suit my style. I love the neutral colour palette they have as a base in all of the collections; it's modern but also timeless, and it gets updated from season to season, so it's always evolving too. And if I am feeling adventurous and want a standout pop of colour, there are always new seasonal options to pick from. I love outfits and accessories that can take me from the school gate and onto a dressy event. Saben bags can be dressed up or down, look fabulous with sneakers or heels, and stand up to rough everyday wear. I need to lug magazines and often a laptop, so I need strong bags that won't let me down but also look super stylish.
Find out more here: Togetherjournal.comFollow along @greta.kenyon /@togetherjournal