Industry Interviews

Jess Blanch Editor-in-Chief of Russh

March 23, 2018

As the editor-in-chief of Russh magazine, Jess Blanch is privy to a lot of the fashion industry’s inner workings. From viewing the latest international runway collections to working with the countries finest creative talents, a big part of her job is staying ahead of the curve. Here, she shares with us how she landed the top job, the mentors who helped get her there and her approach to personal style.

Describe a day in the life.

Each day is so different. There are pinch-me moments like watching fashion shows in far-flung locations or meeting artists whose work I only ever dreamed I’d see in museums, but also a fair share of time is spent with my head in spread sheets and on the more mundane tasks of running a business.

What was your formal background prior to taking the helm at Russh?

My first job was in public relations, a role I began part-time while I was still at the University of Sydney. This was where I was exposed to media and its machine. My initial chance at journalism was writing for the business pages at The Australian newspaper and at Switzer Media – which led to Russh – which began with proof-reading and sub-editing; and then onto practically all aspects of publishing magazines, books and eventually websites. I am from a publishing background, I am not fashion-trained.

Was this always your chosen career path?

No, there was no clear plan although I had always loved magazines, newspapers and books. Looking back, I wanted to be a writer. I still dream of being a writer. Although I still write, running a media brand is another thing altogether.

What advice would you give to young people looking to pursue a similar career path?

Read beyond Instagram. Don’t work in fashion for superficial reasons. Get the App that blocks the Kardashians. And something that feels very relevant to the current world we live in are the words of Anais Nin, “Good things happen to those who hustle.”

How has the international and/or Australia industry changed since you first started?

When I took on Russh the digital revolution was only beginning. We now have a multi-media experiential platform plus a combined social media network of half a million. It has been a very exciting decade where global retailing and the influencer marketing space has seen traditional media challenged and forced to innovate, and the fashion media industry has never been more democratic. I feel (and hope) – with celebrity culture at its limit and the current click-bait economy making media very homogenised – that we will see another big shift towards content that is more meaningful, tangible and which encourages more action.

Who have been your most interesting interview subjects?

Patti Smith and Courtney Love certainly come to mind. Interestingly it is not always the big names that make the best interviews. Image-makers, musicians and artists are often wonderful conversationalists as they have a natural curiosity for the world and people. Some of the most inspirational interviews have been with creative directors, witnessing the world they have built around them and their brands. Lately, I most enjoy talking to young female creatives as this strong fourth wave of feminism is super interesting.

What is your Russh favourite cover to date?

Every cover has its own story. I completely loved the cover we did last year with Indigenous Australian model Charlee Fraser.

If you had to begin your career again, what would you do differently?

No regrets as I’ve been very lucky to do what I do. It is privilege to lead such a creative business in a highly commercial environment.

Describe the Russh woman:

She’s impossible to define but when you meet her, you’ll know.

Do you have a mentor or muse?

My Mum and Dad are my life mentors; they taught me love. In business, my mother-in-law taught me everything about publishing. She is also a solicitor, so she is quite a paragon. She also introduced me to my first boss who taught me a lot of things but mostly, to always have vodka in the fridge. My muse is whoever we are working with at the time; which sometimes it feels a little like falling in love every week. And my husband – he’s a perpetual muse.

What have been the biggest challenges in your career?

Running an independent magazine in a changing media landscape keeps me engaged, as does keeping up with our growth. The constant challenge in a career, as in life, is simply just keeping it real.

The most rewarding moments in your professional career?

The biggest reward is our creative family at Russh. Our entire Russh team and our writers, image-makers, contributors and collaborators make my role so fulfilling. They are the colour of everyday and they constantly inspire me.

As an editor, at what stage or process of creating the magazine, do you feel most fulfilled or inspired?

It’s always when I see our team working together in total harmony to create something truly our own. They are all clever and committed, and watching how they bring the vision of Russh to life – so often with ease and humour – can be quite magical. I’m also inspired when I can provide opportunities for emerging talent to create something in a pure way.

What is your approach to style?

I am quite possibly too low-key these days. I think because I am able to express myself creatively through my work every day I don’t feel I need to do it through my wardrobe.

The next goalpost is…

Launching #RUSSHCreates, a new platform fostering creative thinking. It’s a formalisation of all the things that have long driven the Russh vision and something I hope will leave a legacy for the brand and make a meaningful contribution to the arts community and the creative people of our nation, and beyond.

You can find Jess on Instagram at @thisisjessblanch

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