It’s been six months since Ensemble launched, and we couldn’t be prouder of the audience and community we’ve grown.
For those who are new, or newish, to Ensemble, we wanted to explain who we are, what we do, and how you can support that. And for those who have been with us since the beginning (thank you!), this is a reminder of what we stand for.
We believe there’s an audience for a different way to consume ‘lifestyle’ and ‘women’s interest’ media - for those who want a safe space to read stories that inspire, excite, delight and enrich. A space that embraces the concept of escapism that fashion brings, but also recognises that ‘aspiration’ can and should be inclusive, rather than exclusive.
A place where everyone feels seen and valued.
This place is Ensemble.
But we need the support of those who believe in our vision to enable it to continue.
Ensemble is an independent, Aotearoa-based digital-only lifestyle magazine.
We believe that most lifestyle media to date has done a huge disservice to women and non-binary people, and operates from a place of elitism to enforce outdated notions of privilege.
It’s undeniably tough in the media landscape right now. Many lifestyle titles vanished last year, or they re-emerged with little to no reflection of changing times and values.
Social media has allowed more voices to be heard, but it has also fractured attention spans, blurred the lines between editorial and paid content - and created a normalisation of uncredited, aka stolen, content. (It’s also at the mercy of a pretty problematic algorithm.)
We believe people are tired of being spoken down to by lifestyle media and having fear and insecurity marketed to them as integrated editorial. We believe readers are much smarter than most give them credit for.
We also know there’s an essential need for proper journalism in the lifestyle space that’s not dictated or influenced by PR or advertising. We’ve committed to offering this insight on Ensemble from the beginning.
WHAT WE’VE DONE SO FAR
We’ve written about the challenges of working within traditional media. There’s undoubtedly resistance towards people who push back against the status quo. If you believe the status quo needs to go, donating to Ensemble directly enables this change (click here to do just that!).
Rumours that the values of Lonely Lingerie were at odds with internal treatment of staff have been examined by other mainstream media outlets over the years. Our fearless reporting allowed this story to finally be told.
Similarly when rumours circulated about predatory photographers within the local fashion industry, Ensemble was the platform that gave these victims a voice.
We have also published other equally important stories unlikely to be valued by other lifestyle platforms: an in-depth conversation with anti-conversion therapy campaigner Shaneel Lal; a ‘get out the vote’ fashion shoot with models sharing their own electioneering slogans; essays about body image, grief and the trap of natural beauty.
We will continue to agitate and work within our privileged place inside the industry to advocate change.
Every dollar donated to Ensemble funds this.
We are not perfect. But we don’t believe in perfection - and we certainly don’t believe in the aspirational perfection lie still being sold by some “women’s interest” and fashion magazines. Instead we invite conversation around difficult subjects; we question, we learn, we aren’t afraid.
WHO WE ARE
‘We’ are Zoe Walker Ahwa and Rebecca Wadey. We self-funded this platform through our meagre savings and redundancies; we don’t pay ourselves a wage (yet!) and have no fancy offices.
We are lucky, thanks to some visionary brand partners and advertisers and our Ensemble Members, to have created paid opportunities for various writers, photographers, graphic designers etc (some long-time friends also donated their services for which we are eternally grateful).
But we - Zoe and Rebecca - are the only staff managing the website, administration, social media, marketing, comms and more. We are a small team but a mighty one. Between us we have over 50 years experience in fashion and lifestyle media.
Since we launched in August 2020, we have worked with an ensemble cast of over 70 creatives and writers aged between 11 and 75, from a genuinely diverse range of backgrounds.
We've also commissioned around 20 shoots where we've featured established New Zealand brands, rising stars, artisan-tiny-don’t-even-have-a-label-yet brands, luxury brands and imports, all living alongside a diverse range of models and our country’s leading talent.
HOW WE’RE FUNDED
We need the support of those who believe in our vision to enable it to continue.
To do the work we do we need financial support - whether it's from clients willing to take a risk and work with a new platform, or readers who become an Ensemble Member (click here to sign up and read all the details).
We are grateful to the advertising partners we’ve worked for so far, who see the opportunity within our vision, and proud-as-punch of the meaningful content we've created with them.
(A note on advertising and sponsored content on Ensemble platforms: this will always be labelled. We will always follow the Advertising Standards Authority guidelines. We include the tag ‘sponsored’ on all paid content, as well as labelling it as ‘Content created in partnership with…’)
Our Ensemble membership program is another crucial way content gets funded. It functions as an off-line community, with value-laden access to events, designer discounts, special gifts and more, and empowers those who are in a position to help to do so. Click here to read more about this. We love this community we've built and invite you to join it.
We understand that membership is not necessarily possible for everyone, but encourage donations from as little as a dollar. Every dollar we receive counts. (Similarly, feel free to donate as much as you like.)
OTHER WAYS TO SUPPORT US
Encourage a friend to do the same. Then 10 more friends! (Click here to sign up if you haven’t already)
We don’t want to rely on Mark Zuckerberg’s social platforms and the whims of his algorithm to build an audience. We understand that social media is how many ‘consume content’ now - but building our own database where we can talk directly to our audience is essential to us, please, sign up here if you aren’t already.
The world of journalism and content is increasingly cluttered and the challenge of building an audience can be daunting - especially for an independent start-up. So we are forever grateful to those who share the love and share our articles, to their friends, family, colleagues or their own social followers and communities.
If you’ve made it to the bottom of this page, thank you! The time spent on the page is useful in and of itself. We are so pleased to ‘meet’ you here and excited for what we can create together.
Please get in touch at email@example.com if you have any questions or suggestions.
Ngā mihi nui ki a koe.