Interview with Anorak

Anorak has a unique format consisting of brand new stories written and illustrated by contemporary illustrators, a ‘good stuff’ guide and some fun activities. Anorak is all about a child’s world from fashion to stories, culture to science and sport to food

We very much admire the work of Anorak and what they have achieved over the years. The founder of it all is the lovely Cathy Olmedillas, formerly of 90s lifestyle bibles The Face and Sleazenation. It is a an absolute pleasure to have a chance to interview Cathy to find out a little bit more about the Anorak empire.


 

What first inspired you to start Anorak Magazine?

I love magazines and was lucky enough to work at great magazines like The Face or Sleazenation ‘back in the day’! When I became a Mum ten years ago, I despaired at the hyper commercial throwaway kids magazines that were around. So I thought I should try to produce something different, something which was similar to the magazines I read but for kids.

Was the magazine an overnight success? How much has it grown since it started?

It definitely wasn’t an overnight success, as many distributors turned it down because they thought an unisex magazine devoid of any recognizable characters or brands would never work. Having said that, we were very fortunate to have the support from Borders and H&M from the start so that turned an idea into a reality. It has grown hugely since its launch in 2006, we now produce  it five times a year, it has a French edition, it’s available in over 200 stockists around the world. In 2009, we launched The Anorak Press, which produces kids books and activity books.

And at the end of August, we will finally launch Anorak TV, which is beyond exciting.

Is this a full time occupation for you? Is it your dream job?

It is a full time job now. It is absolutely my dream job, although if you asked me that question during a book-keeping day, then the answer might be different!! I feel very very lucky most days, if they don’t involve numbers. Of course, it requires tons of juggling because it’s a fair amount of work to be  coming up with ideas, to write, to chase invoices, to find branding partners, to liaise with printers, to commision artists and last but not least fulfil my number one role as a Mum! But the freedom and joy it gives me make me feel very grateful. Let’s be honest, it’s not like I am going down the mine every day!

You have released a lot of side projects since the launch of Anorak Magazine? Which has been your personal favourite?

That’s a tough question, I genuinely love them all. I am proud of the giant scrapbook that we produced with Rob Flowers. It’s really beautiful and I love the idea that it gives kids a chance to record their favourite things. It’s a nice thing to keep and enjoy over the years. PLOC is very close to my heart because it is illustrated by my childhood hero Alain Gree. And Food is Fun gives me pride because it uses recipes I learnt at school and it was really the first big book I wrote.

How do our readers get to contribute to your magazines / books?

The best thing to do is for them to send us a link to their portfolio. I receive about four a day so they must not despair if I don’t get back to them asap. We can’t feature everyone but I do make a point of replying to all. It just sometimes takes time!

What is the future for Anorak magazine?

Anorak TV is coming out as an iPhone/iPad app at the end of August, you can see a trailer here:

I am really excited about that, because it’s our first foray into a new medium. I am very proud of it and hopefully parents will enjoy the fact that it’s not shouty or hyper commercial.

As far as the magazine is concerned, we will be announcing a new international edition of Anorak in September and we have just launched a fifth edition, a summer special. You can buy here.

I am still toying with the idea of turning some early back issues into e-books, as many many parents have asked for it but I am quite protective over the tactile experience a magazine brings, so I am undecided yet. Watch this space!

Thank You Cathy!