Bye Bye Betty
Have you looked to the top left of your screen? Notice anything? The Betty logo has gone and been replaced by my new logo, featuring my very own name. You may wonder where my surname is exactly, but in all honesty we (my logo was done by Behold Studio, who also designed this website on Squarespace) decided it just looked better without it. Or as I keep joking, I’m just going for the whole one name think, like Madonna, Oprah and Prince…
As Betty has been such a big part of my story, I wanted to give her a proper send off, I thought she deserved that at least, so where to begin? At the very start I guess, let’s go back to 2008.
Back at university in my second year, we were asked to make a 20 page zine, which was the first incarnation of Betty. It’s currently sat on a shelf at my mum’s house, and I noticed in the editor’s letter when I was in there last, it had initially been called Martha. Obviously some point before hand in, probably at midnight, I decided to opt for Betty. Where does the name come from? My grandma, she was called Betty (shortened from Elizabeth) and at the time those older names hadn’t really been revived, it had a a bit of cheekiness, just like my grandma - and I loved it.
Fast forward a few months out of university, and I’d kind of forgotten about Betty for a bit, I was working in my first job at Lulu Guinness in their web team. And whilst I was completely overwhelmed, I also started to miss the creative aspect of my uni course. I started blogging again under the Betty name and working on a new issue of the magazine, that I would later release on Issuu. Somehow the lovely Lauren Laverne had started reading the Betty blog, and got me on her 6 music radio show, then mentioned Betty in her Grazia and Observer column. I couldn’t believe it, and the reason I am telling you this, isn’t for bragging purposes, but how I came to meet my business partner of the same name, Charlotte.
Charlotte Melling was, and still is, an interiors stylist and Creative Director, with years of editorial experience in magazines. I was working on that digital edition of Betty when CM got in touch. I was called CJ, and she was now CM, as having two Charlotte’s working on a magazine called Betty was beyond confusing, so shortened names it was. I went to meet CM in her London home, and we did a shoot together, featuring her VW camper van, you want me to do anything, mention a 70s campervan and you have me INTERESTED. Anyway, to cut a very long story short, we decided that we wanted to do more than just do shoots together, as we had tons in common. We decided to get Betty into print, and into shops, having very limited knowledge of how this was all done. A designer was found, who helped us with the logo, and layout, we worked in Charlotte’s attic during very late evenings and weekends, around our jobs and family life to get the first printed edition finished. I remember we put in £300 each for the print run. At the time that was my holiday money and it was a very long time until I went on another one of those again, we contacted a printer in Wales and off we went. Betty as you probably knew it, was born!
The first issue was 66 pages long, and we learnt A LOT. Firstly about our 4 times tables, magazines / newspapers have to be printed in divisions of four. We also learned a lot about what we did and didn’t like, mainly printing dark colours on uncoated recycled paper, such as black. There’s a food shoot within that issue, that we shot on a black table and it just didn’t feel very ‘Betty’. Also our font inside the magazine WAS HUGE, and there was a few printing errors. But sat with it next to me as a I type this, bloody hell it’s quite fabulous and professional. The front cover was shot in a London studio, we got a new face called Hannah May, who now lives in LA as an actress. Somehow Urban Outfitters lent us a Henry Holland blouse, with the cutest ‘Hello’ buttons on them and that made the front cover. We even got an ad in there, from now sadly closed Fifi Wilson. Which was a shop in Covent Garden off Seven Dials, we swapped it for having our launch party there. I remember that night well, it was wet rainy December evening and I think about ten people turned up. But we had a great time, and somehow pulled off printing a magazine, which was now in a few shops in London! If you’re wondering the secret to how we got stockists, we drove around London with Betty in our boot and CM would stop the car when we saw a newsagent, pop in and CM’s talents (amongst others) was her power of persuasion. Charlotte had convinced Charlotte Street News to take us sale or return, and also Wardour Street News too, I have no idea how many of that issue we sold, but it was time for us to focus on our next edition.
We’d decided to print bi-annually, as this is what we felt we could commit to around our other work, so Spring/Summer 2012 was our next edition. This next issue we really began to find our stride and hone the Betty vision. Randomly we were invited into Bauer Media during all this, we went in a few times, and never really got to the bottom of why were there, but we think they were interested in producing something like Betty for their market. Indie publishing wasn’t quite what it is now and were one of the few magazines like it at the time.
We had hired a new designer, who worked with us until the end, shout out to Liam Hine for putting up with CM and me gatecrashing his house at all hours of the night to layout the magazine. There was barely any black ink within the magazine, and chose brown or grey instead, or more obviously pink. We’d started relationships with PR companies to loan clothes to shoot for our fashion shoots, I remember trekking down Cheshire Street near Brick Lane, doing pick ups and drops off at Beyond Retro many many times. This was also the summer of the Olympics, so we had a 1920s sports themed shoot, where we covered up bike and golf club in masking tape to fit the peaches and cream theme of the shoot. I really loved that cover too!
We sold the magazine in a few newsagents, and now started sending it to a few stockists in the UK and abroad and packed up every order sold on our website and wrote the address out by hand (which we also did right up until the last issue).
All the covers of Betty, expect one, were shot by Ellie Smith and our winter 2012 was such a fun shoot. It was heavily 60s inspired, and the make up was SO GOOD! The best part about doing a magazine at a grass roots level, was doing exactly what we wanted. We did feature certain brands we liked, but that was about it. CM was always really mindful of the models she cast, and they couldn’t fall below certain measurements, I imagine if we were still going now we’d street cast and use Instagram to get a wider selection of shapes and sizes. We always struggled a bit with Betty and winter, we felt she was much more of a summer girl, I wonder if anyone out there who has the back issues can tell the difference between a Spring/Summer edition and an Autumn/Winter one?!
Summer 2013, saw our first official launch party, we were quite put off I think after the first one back in 2011. However this time we needn’t have worried, we’d had grown a lovely community on Facebook, Twitter and this new thing called Instagram we’d been using for a couple of years and just invited everyone we had never met off the internet. We had the launch party at The Hoxton Hotel, and managed to blag a drink sponsor, my mum worked the bar, and Jack’s mum provided the cakes. This issue had it’s very own barcode and we had an official distributor who were managing deliveries of the magazine for us. This issue was a sell out, the cover was really the essence of Betty, with floral themed retro sunglasses, and our readers seemed to really respond well to it! Inside we had interviews with George Ezra, Lily Vanilli and Jam Jar Flowers. We also took a two day trip to Whitstable for a fashion shoot and to film this video, it was a lot of fun. Shoots were always the most stressful part, aside from the print deadline but always SO worth it.
Inside the Autumn Winter 2013 version the shoots are giving me so many fun memories, including a 70s themed fashion shoot at a family member of CMs, we hired our first location house, and also hired a community hall on the road between where CM and I lived (we then lived ten minutes away from each and boy was that handy). We interviewed Valerie June, Vivetta, The Meringue Girls, and also got permission to print some photographs from my favourite photographer, Tim Walker. I can still remember exactly how that frangipane tart tastes on page 27, I’m still obsessed with the Orla Kiely suit featured on page 38 and remember the crunch of the dried flowers in the model’s flower crown on page 51.
Summer 2014 saw Laura Jackson on the cover, CM and I fan girled her at an LFW show and did a 1960s (surprising) shoot with her in a studio in North London. You can see behind the scenes of that shoot here. Gretchen Ellen Illustration worked with us dressing animals in our favourite catwalk looks from designers such as Burberry and D&G, and I think to date, that’s my favourite ever project I’ve worked on. We also hired yet another studio to shoot a David Hockney inspired fashion shoot and had an insanely fabulous launch party at Barbour & Parlour in Redchurch Street. This time we had DJs, people doing hair and nails, and yes, Jack’s mum was still doing the cakes.
That winter we skipped our next issue, we were both tired and didn’t know what direction to take Betty in, but in the meantime we were featured in the Telegraph, invited to do a talk at Colours May Vary in Leeds, filmed a video with Oasis and even collaborated on our first product: a guide to London with Telescope cards.
We loved doing it, and people loved Betty, but finance wise, it was paying for itself through sales and a few adverts but there wasn’t much money for anything else. Which meant I had two other jobs, and we were still working on it evenings and weekends. We decided that maybe it was time to focus on more online content and only produce the magazine once a year, so we returned with an Annual edition in the summer of 2015. The cover shoot was shot in Margate, we had a feature on Wes Anderson, at 160 pages long - it was a beast of a magazine. We had started working with the lovely Valerie Jordan, who worked on editorial and everything in between, and was the perfect energy that we needed to carry on. The annual was fantastic, the launch party was the most wonderful thing, it was packed full of wonderful women, we had floral arranging, a hairdressing bar, and whole lot of fun. But what a lot of work the whole thing was, it was back to the drawing board ideas wise.
Betty launch parties started to get a bit of a reputation of being unique, and good times! CM and I dipped our toe into the events world and launched a separate arm of the business called ‘The Girls Club’. We did four events in the space of four months, and looking back they were SO GOOD, I remember at the end of that year being a bit broken energy and stress wise. We had events called ‘Make It Happen’ where we interviewed small business owners, another one dedicated to floral themed crafts called ‘Pass Me The Scissors’. The other two were entitled ‘Beauty School Drop Out’ which was an evening of pampering fun and the last event was a festive event at Christmas, all inside the Hoxton Hotel Apartment in Shoreditch.
After having a bit of think, we decided maybe our bi-annual format was best, so summer 2016 saw us come back with a smaller 96 page edition. The ENTIRE issue was floral themed, and this time Jay McLaughlin shot our final cover, which is my personal favourite, featuring the gorgeous soul Pippa in Vivetta. We shot Bri from DesignLoveFest in Columbia Road’s flower market, as it was our 5th birthday we commissioned five our favourite bakers to make floral themed cakes and had colouring pages from Orla Kiely. In hindsight this was the perfect last issue, it had every Betty signature we’d come to know and love over the years, done perfectly. The launch party for that, is honestly my proudest work. We worked with JJ Locations, and had an all-white painted room and had a floral wall installation, floral themed donuts and daisy biscuits, there were even edible flowers in the pink drinks. Although it wasn’t knowingly our last ever issue and launch party, we went out with a bang.
And that as they say, is that. After five years we decided, whilst we loved Betty, we couldn’t carry on printing the magazine, everything was going much more digital, especially in terms of advertising and we really felt like it had run its course. I don’t think either of us were quite ready to draw an official line in the sand, so we just left it for a bit to see how we both felt.
I moved to Margate a couple of weeks before that last launch party, and fast forward two months and I then discovered I was pregnant with June. Nothing like a pregnancy to make a person jump into action. A few months after I’d given birth Charlotte and I decided to go our separate ways creatively and I took over what was left of Betty, although I had no idea what I was going to do with it. It’s taken 14 months of me running this space, and Instagram to just about figure it out, with the help of Ray Dodd I think I finally know what it’s all about.
These images below don’t really belong with any story, but they are some I wanted to include! The top left is when our talented food editor Alana made a Betty homage to The Grand Budapest Hotel, on the right is from a shoot with Cambridge Satchel, the bottom left is behind the scenes snap from a time we collaborated with Vicky’s Donuts on some desktop backgrounds, and Britney Spears tweeted it. Lastly the bottom left is from the time we woke up at 4am so we could fly to Milan and back in a day, just to see the Vivetta catwalk show, being young and full of energy was certainly fun!
I didn’t quite mean to write 2,500 words about Betty, but I think she deserves it. I would like to thank every last person that worked with us both on it, funny how you don’t quite realise what a special chapter of your life you’re in until it’s all over. I’m almost in tears as I finish this last paragraph, to all the readers, THANK YOU. Every single one of those internet orders was packed and addresses hand written by us, before we went to stand in the post office queue (we had NO idea you could pay the Royal Mail to pick them up for you). The biggest thank you to Charlotte Melling, she opened her home and family up to a peroxide blonde 25 year old, I made a friend for life who taught me so many wonderful life lessons. And lastly thank you to the internet, non of this would have happened without broadband internet (remember dial up), I was in the right place at the right time, like when The Strokes released their first album when I was 16 and my life was changed for the next four years.
Not sure exactly where I am going from here, but I know it’s going to be good! Hope you’ll come along for the ride. Did you work on Betty, come to one of our launch parties or buy the magazine? Let me know your memories below in the comments.
P.S. I still need to change over the URL to charlottejacklin.co.uk, but I didn’t fancy doing that on a Monday!