Sydney based, Founder and Editor of bi-weekly online publication & PLATE, Edana Isobel Jamora,talks about building an online community, battling against the internal struggle of finding enough belief to keep going, and finding the right balance between creativity and business.
Edana what was your dream job as a child?
I’ve always known that I wanted to convey ideas, messages and inspiration through writing and other expressions whether it is for film or print, doing what I do now for &PLATE or playing a character on-screen. As a child, I knew already that a regular 9-5 job just wasn’t for me.
What is the strongest memory of your childhood?
I had a very privileged upbringing, filled with generosity, love and warmth. I was a nineties kid, so I remember doing things just prior to the transition into the digital age, experiencing life prior and within has made me very thankful but also very nostalgic. It’s a nice blend of appreciation, growth and knowledge.
I grew up in New Zealand, it was a simple and family oriented time. We had a family farm in Bombay Hills where we would gather everyone from my mother’s side, my father’s and anyone even distantly related plus friends and we would have picnics and bonfires on the weekend. We are a family of green thumbs so we would always be gardening whether it was planting flowers or produce like pumpkins, tomatoes and all sorts of veggies. I also remember loving going down to the creek where there was a big weeping willow tree that stood by the foot bridge my grand-aunt and grand-uncle made and I would go down in my little gumboots and harvest my favourite greens, watercress.
It was a very disconnected which in a sense sounds rather uneasy to us now, because it’s hard to think of a world without devices present but there was a real sense of communion and it always brings back fond memories.
What was your first job?
My first real job was working at a Teahouse and that was when I just finished high school so I was sixteen or seventeen years old going to university. It was a lot of fun, I was very passionate about working because I loved tea and the culture around it and I made lots of great lifelong friends. I worked with the company for six years and being around that kind of energy was really important for me especially during those impressionable years. I realised that work can be enjoyable and something that you can also love.
How did you get into online publishing and what attracted you to it?
I had a dinner party at my apartment one night with a few friends and we were all having great conversation and it struck me that night that most of my great ideas and inspired notions came from sharing a meal and great conversation together with good company, it was just the perfect elixir. I had all these thoughts of things that I wanted to explore, discover and say and that was really the birth of &PLATE.
For the longest time I’ve wanted to start a print magazine which &PLATE was initially supposed to be, but being self-funded and way beyond my depth I hadn’t the slightest idea about the business side of running something like that. So, I thought to start at something more manageable like an online publication where I had the ability to control the operations of all things. At the same time, I really wanted to create a space not just for my creations and me but also a space for creatives globally to have a space to share their works. Having &PLATE in print form is definitely a goal for the future, fingers crossed soon!
How and why did you launch &Plate? What is the idea behind it?
There was a lot of internal planning and &PLATE was finally launched in August 2014. I got in contact with different start-up brands needing exposure as well as bloggers and creatives that had beautiful work and asked if they wanted to share it on this creative space. I really wanted to build a community with people who shared the same interest and vision and everything else on top of that was just bonus points.
What is &Plate revenue model?
We do specifically catered collaborations with brands who share our ethos. We integrate their provisions into creative pieces and try to tell their story and how it relates to us in a creative form so it’s not just about endorsements or marketing strategies. We come together with the same vision to inspire a piece of work alongside readers and consumers. There’s a lot of strong ground because it’s a very supportive and mutually passionate partnership.
What was your strategy to go from zero to build an online community of international followers and readers?
It was really all about sending emails out to create awareness to countless influential bloggers and creatives alongside of course family, friends, networks and friends of friends and so on and so forth. The good thing about the internet now is that you can share everything.
Is &PLATE a profitable venture now?
No, not entirely – slowly but surely it is, it started off as just a passion project but I never really thought about monetizing from it, after a while I realised that it is quite naïve to think that it would be sustainable without revenue coming through. Everyone works incredibly hard and you always want to give back. We are still working on getting the business side of things rolling and looking into sponsors and brand partners that speak closely to our ethos.
What was one challenge that you faced as an entrepreneur and how did you get over it?
Monetary challenges has been quite an issue, finding funding and sponsors that think that what you have going is worth the investment but that is something that can be achieved and overcome, it really just takes time. However, But it’s a constant wavering feeling particularly in this time now more than ever, it’s extremely challenging trying to break through creative industries, anyone can take photos, start a blog and be an overnight success with no method to it at all. How do you differentiate yourself from the rest? What is your pull and draw? There are so many considerations; I think there has to be a little bit of magic and luck in the mix also in addition to quality work of course.
What is one accomplishment you are most proud of?
For &PLATE I think the community that we’ve formed from places from all over the globe from several countries throughout Europe and Asia, United States, Canada, Australia and more – it’s incredible to see people who are that passionate and who share the same vision as you, it’s inspiring.
What was the best life & business advice someone has ever given to you and why does it resonates with you?
At a young age my mother would tell me that I should pursue what I wanted to and not something that I thought that I should do because it what’s expected. That’s been my career philosophy since forever, and I constantly dabble in other creative projects and ventures outside of &PLATE with that same forethought.
Into my later years since starting &PLATE there definitely has been weariness and self-doubt, and my friend told me that it was a really brave thing to do to take the alternative route because it’s not an easy one, its very hard and uncertain.
My sister also used to say to me, that if there isn’t a door that you can enter you have to build one for yourself. There weren’t a lot of jobs within the editorial industry after university let alone places that I felt passionate about spending the majority of my time working toward or places that share the same ethos as me personally, I really struggled with that.
What are the three things you learned while running your own company?
- Being a creative person and starting a creative company doesn’t just mean creativity and fun and games there is also a very rigorous and structured business side to it that needs to be nurtured.
- When I first started &PLATE I never thought of its possible growth trajectory. It’s like gardening, it needs to be consistently looked after, cultivated and refined. I sit back and think now, there’s really never a point where I can just leave it be. There’s too many people invested into it whether they be readers or contributors.
- Advocating a balanced life is one thing and achieving it is another. It’s really about priorities, sitting back and telling yourself, the weekend is a weekend for a reason. It’s a time where you can restore and rejuvenate from the week and be more effective, efficient and energized which is best for productivity and inspiration. Time is so precious so it’s very important to give yourself a nudge and not wake up 3 months down the way and think, what did I do with all that time?
What are three favorite books on your bookshelf?
This is so hard! From the top of my head some favourites are:
Jonathan Safran Foer’s, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, F Scott Fitzgerald’s compilation, On Booze especially the short The Crack Up and Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
What apps/websites or software do you use daily for gettings things done and collaborate with your team?
Definitely Instagram, for photos I use editing apps like VSCO, Afterlight and Priime. We also use software of course, the whole Adobe Creative Suite particularly Photoshop and Lightroom. I’m also a compulsive list maker so I use Stickies a lot on my Mac, my desktop background is actually just a whole coverage of different coloured stickies and also different lists to keep me on track and organised. Most importantly Outlook for emailing.
What is your daily routine & what are your productivity tricks?
Morning routine : I open my blinds and windows to let the sun and fresh air in, have a quick shower, make breakfast and off to work.
My ideal breakfast has 3 elements, something sweet, something savoury and something fresh. So usually it’s a smorgasbord of food but it’s the only way for a hearty start. Lets say eggs with toast, roast tomatoes, mushrooms and basil and definitely has to have hot sauce and pepper on the side. For sweet- buttermilk pancakes with the choice of maple syrup and cinnamon sugar or Nutella and on the side a fresh fruit platter with two beverages, one fresh juice, preferable pulpy orange juice and one hot, either hot tea or coffee. Very specific, I think of this a lot!
Work schedule : emails, emails, editing content, more emails, creating creative briefs and concepts and then more emails.
I like to keep lunch very different to dinner meals. I love banh mi’s or just sandwiches generally, toasties, sushi or ramen noodles.
Favorite workout : I like dancing because it’s fun and it doesn’t feel like you’re actually working out. Other than that probably doing the stairs in my apartment building and boxing.
Evening routine before going to bed : I burn oils and drink a hot beverage in bed, sometimes if I feel indulgent I’ll have some biscuits too on the side. I pull out my breakfast table and my laptop sits there, I create a short list of things I want achieve for the following day and I stop work completely afterward. I usually watch some TV shows in bed or do some reading and say a goodnight prayer and switch off the lamp.
What you like doing when you are not in front of your computer?
I like getting out and seeing a bit of green. Whether it is the local park, having a walk or just sitting on the lawn. I really like to spend time with my family, we’re big on family my cousins are some of my best friends so we always have a blast getting up to adventures. Other than that, I enjoy having dinners with friends and having conversation and catch-ups over a good meal and a nice glass of wine.
Five fun facts about you:
- I like to eat my blueberries frozen with sea salt.
- I rode in Mary Wilson from The Supremes’ car because I needed a lift to The Grove when I was staying in LA.
- I like to rap along to Drake lyrics.
- I’m a pescatarian – a fancy pants vegetarian that eats fish.
- I get irrationally upset when my fillings fall out of my sandwich.
If you could have dinner with three people who would it be and what would you talk about?
Mindy Kaling, I think she is wickedly hilarious and inspiring. I’d love to talk to her about her journey from being an aspiring writer to working on The Office and then starting basically her own empire whilst embracing individuality and being a minority and overcoming that. Most of the conversation I presume would be led by wit, banter and double entendre.
Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation, we would probably talk a lot about woodworks and not much else because he doesn’t really like sharing information about himself, but it would be tirelessly entertaining as I ask a lot of questions.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, I would love to talk to him about his friendship with Ernest Hemingway, The Jazz Age in New York City and just basic questions like what were his favourites. He’s such a visionary and an incredibly compelling historical figure. I can just imagine he would speak romantically about everything, colourfully yet simple.
Discover &PLATE here.
Portrait courtesy of Edana