An inspiration to all, Frances shows us that you can do anything you set your mind to.
When it came to putting a publication together, Frances taught herself everything from scratch — graphic design, formatting, programming, printing, marketing and more. FERN is a beautiful and inspirational magazine, so it is hard to believe Fran doesn’t have years of experience behind her.
Read on to discover her journey to get FERN off the ground and maybe even find yourself a copy so you too can travel with print.
About Frances, the face behind ‘Fern’ —
FPP: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
Hello! I’m Fran and I’m a WA girl currently working in the North West of WA, and waiting for the next opportunity to travel! When I’m not working, I’m working.. whether it’s capturing and editing content, plotting the next Mag, replying to emails or planning future trips, I always find myself super busy (which is how I like it!) I am the founder, editor and producer of the Surf, Travel and Lifestyle Magazine FERN, which has slowly been taking off around Aus as we support and share the stories of local artists, creatives and business owners, while inspiring our readers to get out and explore the places right beneath their noses.
FPP: Take us through a day in your life.
When I’m not away for work, a day in the life at home in the south is pretty simple. I wake up relatively early and will usually head to the beach for a quick dip before heading to my favourite cafe for a morning hit, and to do a couple of hours of work. If there’s a wave around, I’ll head back to the beach and get a couple of hours in the water before heading in for some lunch! I’ll squeeze in a workout and then spend the rest of the day reading, relaxing, eating and catching up with friends. (All of which is in no particular order!)
FPP: What inspired the creation of ‘Fern Magazine’?
I’ve always been an observer, a curious traveller and a striving creative trying just about anything and everything I could dip my fingers in. I spent the first few years out of school doing some traveling to both common and uncommon places around the world, visiting as many new countries as I could, experiencing a range of different cultures and meeting all types of wonderfully creative and open minded people. I was getting a few messages here and there about what I was doing, and I noticed I began to develop a whole new perspective and a heap of information that I was suddenly dying to share.
When I finally got home, It was pretty hard for me to adjust to normal life. I couldn’t believe how caught up everyone was in their own lives – with little to no curiosity for the people around them or what was happening outside of their world. I remember one day I was sitting at this cafe reading this beautifully designed coffee table book (I wish I could remember what it was now!). I was inspired, and I decided then and there to put all my energy into creating something similar that would inspire others to explore new places and appreciate the paths of the people around them.
As the idea grew and progressed, I began noticing all the amazing projects my peers were coming up with. When Covid hit, the direction of the mag kind of changed from just a travel magazine to a lifestyle magazine – where I could share the art and achievements of others around me and celebrate and support the small businesses who I knew were working just as hard as me to bring their dreams to life. Now I have this awesome little community, and the love and support that has come out of it has been incredible.
FPP: Has the project been a long time coming, or did the idea spark recently?
I had always loved to write and would often be sharing my experiences in different ways, but I hadn’t quite put the pin on what I wanted to do. The idea came to me about 2 and a half years ago now. I have to admit it was a super random and spontaneous idea that I just ran with, even though I had absolutely no knowledge or skills on the matter to back me.
I pretty much had to learn everything from scratch; graphic design, formatting, programming, printing, marketing and more.
About the process —
FPP: Who takes the stunning photographs? Are there other contributors and collaborators?
The book is a mix of my own images from my own travels, and the works of local contributors who are sharing their own related travels or stories. Lately, the amount of artists willing to contribute has been quite overwhelming. A magazine is so timeless, there is something so special about seeing your images in print, and it’s so awesome to be able to create a book with so many talented creatives all in one, as well as put my own photographs on display.
FPP: It’s been an uncertain time. Has the past few years had an impact on your project, whether that be positive or negative?
Absolutely! When I first came up with the idea of writing a travel mag, I had a trip to Central and South America planned. I was going indefinitely, with hopes to write the magazine solely on overseas destinations, in order to open peoples eyes to what was going on in the rest of the world. When Covid hit my year away was cancelled with no certainty of heading over any time soon, so I decided to redirect the attention of the mag to somewhere closer to home; WA, a place I was yet to explore myself. I wasn’t so sure how it would turn out at the time, but I’m so stoked with the direction the mag has taken. I’ve been able to get so many people involved and find my feet while gaining an appreciation for Australia that I didn’t quite have before.
About the printing —
FPP: Can you please share some insight into your design decisions for print finishing, paper stock and binding?
I had always loved the classic, raw and earthy look of uncoated magazines with dense pages and simple designs. When I started out, I knew absolutely nothing about the printing process, let alone the specs and fine details of the book itself, so I did a LOT of research. Magazines like Cereal, Suitcase and Waves & Woods heavily inspired me and solidified my certainty on paper stock and perfect binding. I wanted the magazine to look elegant and modern, but with a lively millennial approach. Since my content was bright, adventurous and youthful, I couldn’t quite nail the effortless neutral tones that were so perfectly utilised in my favourite fashion, style and design mags. I had to find an uncluttered in-between, and it took me a few attempts to nail the look I really wanted.
FPP: How did you find the process of printing with us (FPP)?
Fast Proof Press have been so amazing from start to finish. They were always so responsive and happy to help with my millions of questions and indecisive nature! They would always check up on me, even after the process was complete. I hadn’t yet found a printer that I was 100% happy with until now. I would recommend them to anyone thinking of doing any printing and curating of their own.
For others wanting to publish their own book —
FPP: How have you found the process of getting your book out into the world and into the hands of stockists?
It’s been a slow process, but the support of family and friends has helped me immensely, as well as good relationships with local cafe and store owners. I think the key is to be as confident and friendly as you can. I chose the stores I thought would suit the style of Fern and attract the type of readers I was hoping for and then approached them with the hopes they would take me on. Living in a laidback country town in the south, 9/10 times people were more than happy to spread the word and give you a chance if you are confident in the success of what you have created.
FPP: Are there any parts to your marketing strategy that you have found really hits the spot?
With absolutely no marketing experience behind me, I have found that the best way to market and spread the news is to get as many people involved as you can. The power of word of mouth is so underrated, especially when starting out. Instagram is also such a great way to get the name out and reach a bigger audience, majority of our site views and mag orders have ben as a result of Instagram. I think you just need to find out what your target audience is, and create an online presence that will attract them.
FPP: Do you have recommendations/suggestions for other creatives hoping to self-publish?
Take the time to do your research; get on Pinterest, get inspired, find your own and then don’t doubt yourself! I think everyone underestimates how much the people around you will want to support you, especially if you are confident in yourself and your work.
Where to find FERN —
The best place to find FERN is online at fernmagazine.com. Here you can purchase a mag straight up, or be directed to our nearest stocker!