A personal note from Ensemble co-founders Zoe Walker Ahwa and Rebecca Wadey:
We are giddy with excitement to announce that we have secured a future for Ensemble, allowing us to continue the unique fusion of intelligence and whimsy for which we’ve become known.
Stuff has acquired Ensemble in a deal that will see it become the home of premium fashion, beauty and women-led content for Stuff while allowing us to continue to run it as before, with the support of the organisation’s infrastructure and resources.
We will also work with Stuff to assert our style, fashion and beauty authority across all of their life & style platforms.
Ensemble launched almost exactly a year ago on August 13 2020, at the beginning of Tāmaki Makaurau’s second lockdown.
With our meagre savings and redundancies, and the generous support of some talented friends to whom we will always be grateful, we fulfilled a long-held vision to create a platform that would be truly embracive, inclusive and uplifting, while not being afraid to ask the hard questions.
‘For intelligence and whimsy’ became our byline. We knew that there was a market for a new way of speaking to people, especially in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle space.
Our voice and credibility was established immediately. We offered a refreshing perspective that was missing in the local market. We had opinions, and reported important stories, like that of problematic photographers and poor working conditions for models, the toxic workplace at Lonely lingerie, and the underbelly of seal statues pervasive around Aotearoa.
We showcased beautiful fashion imagery alongside honest conversations around body image, politics, activism, menopause, ageing, beauty, conspirituality, sustainability, feminism, grief and the state of 'women's interest' media. We interviewed fascinating people and photographed them wearing NZ fashion. We took things seriously, and we had fun.
It has been incredibly rewarding - and tough. We worked hard to create opportunities for fresh voices, but lack of resources often got in the way of our big ideas. We were also trying to maintain the website and grow while managing social media, resizing images, trying to figure out accounting, juggling numerous freelance projects, and other essential but time-consuming admin.
But a year on, we can proudly say ‘we were right’, despite those challenges. There is a market for intelligent, thoughtful and whimsical storytelling; Stuff recognises this. We are excited to have the support we need to ensure Ensemble is around for a long time, not just a good time.
The media landscape is far more cluttered than a year ago, especially in the lifestyle market. That’s a positive thing! But we remain the only digital first platform with a women-led team and focus on fantastic writing, opinion pieces, reporting, and honest reviews alongside the dreamy imagery you’d see in a glossy magazine. We look forward to working with the support of another change-driven, locally-owned company such as Stuff.
We believe what Sinead Boucher and Stuff have led and brought to the media landscape in Aotearoa over this past year is extraordinary, from Stuff’s unrelenting and impactful focus on #MeToo through to the re-examining of their past coverage and subsequent apology for racism and colonialism.
(She is also a genuine, long-time supporter - and shopper - of NZ fashion.)
We are thrilled to call Sinead our boss and to be able to work alongside other Stuff journalists we admire, including Ali Mau, Kirsty Johnston, Anna Fifield, Carmen Parahi, Henry Cooke, Dana Johannsen, Carol Hirschfeld, Michelle Duff, Paula Penfold and many more
This new partnership will see Ensemble become a financially viable business, ensuring we can build a sustainable community and ensemble of contributors around us
We can promise you that all funds from Ensemble memberships, donations and advertising to date have gone directly back into the business (rather than our own pockets). We have not made money from this deal.
Our pledge to you is that outwardly, nothing will change. We will continue to challenge, celebrate, advocate and work with the same independent spirit.
We will always have a direct line at email@example.com, and will continue to learn and grow from your feedback. If you have questions about this news, please get in touch and we’ll answer honestly
Who owns and runs Ensemble?
Ensemble is now owned by Stuff. It continues to be run by co-founders Zoe Walker Ahwa and Rebecca Wadey.
What does this mean for me, the reader?
Editorially, nothing has or will change. Behind-the-scenes, we will have the extensive resource of Stuff to help us with some of the day-to-day running of a business, which means you will see more of our trademark great content and reporting, more regular EDMs, more innovation, and, in the future, more exciting events IRL
What does this mean for Ensemble?
Personally, we will be taking a salary for the first time in over a year.
We will also be working with Stuff to assert our fashion and beauty authority across all their lifestyle platforms, with Zoe working as the Style Editor across the company (alongside Ensemble).
Are you millionaires now?
Yes, we have exploited the extremely lucrative media landscape in Aotearoa and by the end of year plan to visit space in a giant vulva-shaped rocket. Jokes! We are not millionaires. But we will receive an income that will keep us in cat food, thankfully.
And now, when we do stories on ‘things we actually spent our own money on’, we will be able to include things other than a secondhand book and bottle of hot sauce...
Is your membership program still running?
Yes! In fact, now we have more support, it's going to grow and be better than ever.
We can promise you that any revenue from Ensemble memberships, donations and advertising to date have gone directly back into the business (rather than our own pockets).
Lots of exciting things. On Friday, it is Ensemble's first birthday - we plan to celebrate properly in due course. We’re also working towards NZ Fashion Week at the end of August and covering it in our own unique way (if there’s something you’d like to see, get in touch and let us know).
I have thoughts on this…
We’d love to hear them! As always we welcome a direct and transparent line to our audience - get in touch with any thoughts or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org