We’re moving into the world for textiles for our next publisher interview…welcome Polly Leonard to the stage, the founder and editor of Selvedge! 🧶
Selvedge magazine offers the world’s finest textile photography, unparalleled design and peerless writing. Directed towards an international, discerning audience, the bi-monthly issues of Selvedge cover fine textiles in every context: fine art, interiors, fashion, travel and shopping.
So — on with the interview! Let’s find out what Polly has to say…
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1) What’s your role within Selvedge?
I am the founder and editor of the magazine.
2) What’s the best thing about working at Selvedge?
Two things really. First of all, I am passionate about textiles and I find it inspiring to discover interesting textiles from around the world, throughout history and to make personal connections with talented makers. We are a small team of women, and I admire the creativity and energy of the team and the way we efficiently achieve our goals, without recourse to any sort of bureaucracy.
3) What impact has the pandemic had on your publication, both short-term and long-term?
We have been working remotely since 2018 so we’re ahead of the game to an extent. However, the pandemic has presented challenges on many fronts. So much of the content of a periodical publication is tied to exhibitions and events, we have had to be very flexible when commissioning content for the last six issues, relying on illustration instead of photoshoots etc.
There have been financial challenges too, with advertising revenue drying up and magazines sales taking a huge hit. The biggest disappointment however was the Selvedge World Fair; an event we had been planning for two years could not happen in person. We pivoted and delivered our workshops, talks and the fair online.
In fact, this has been very successful as it has enabled us to extend our reach and include artists from around the work. We have been able to use the technology to bring read time language interpretation to our talks.
4) What was your most unusual lockdown hobby?
I, like many people, enjoyed dressmaking and knitting. Textile crafts can provide great solace.
5) How have you found the experience of remote working over the past year?
I generally enjoy the freedom remote working brings, and am fortunate to have a conducive environment in which to work. I do, however, find it challenging to get my 10,000 steps!. I am grateful for my dog Honey who is far more enthusiastic about long walks than I am.
6) Where are you most looking forward to travelling to, once restrictions allow?
We began running Textile Tours in January 2020 and I had just returned from India when we went into lockdown. The wonderful memories of this special trip have kept me going during the pandemic. We have planned a trip to Japan, which has now been postponed twice, so I am looking forward to going to Japan to look at textiles with a group of Selvedge subscribers.
7) What is your vision for Selvedge in 10 years’ time?
Selvedge has just celebrated its 100 issues, so we have been giving some thought to the past and the future. The magazine is now well-established and growing steadily, We hope to have the first Selvedge World Fairin 2022 and to develop new ways of working with artisans to promote handmade textiles, including developing experience boxes to introduce people to weaving, spinning and stitching, pattern making and knitting. There is lots to do!
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Thank you so much for taking part in our interview series, Polly. We hope you get out to Japan soon, as that sounds like a wonderful trip! ✈️
Keep your eyes peeled for more Publisher 1-On-1s over the coming weeks — if you’d like to participate, please email the Exact Editions team on firstname.lastname@example.org.