Emma Batchelor has a lovely new platform for you: Leiden Magazine

Fashion and beauty are so intrinsically linked to how we perceive others and they perceive us. Even if you don’t put any effort into how you dress or do your hair, this says something about you too. Throughout some parts of history, the way a woman dressed and presented herself was one of the only things she could control about her life. So I think you cannot escape the role the clothes we put on our back, how we paint our face or style our hair play a role in our identity.” – Emma Batchelor.

Smart. Inspirational. Empowering. These are the three words Emma Batchelor gave me when she described Leiden magazine, an online magazine she has created to showcase local businesses and talent, and to make excellent use of the fashion knowledge that her and her friends hold.

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I met Emma through her brother, talented emerging artist James Batchelor, when we both performed in his work Ersatz. Emma struck me as an interesting and mysterious individual who was notorious for being immaculately well dressed. She had an eye for detail and design and would not rest until things looked perfect. She is one of the few people that loves cats more than myself. When she announced that she would be creating a fashion magazine I was incredibly excited and proud to know someone with so much drive to make their passion their career. I am also honoured and thrilled to be creating some content for her. I hope to learn more both about fashion and writing about it!

I am certainly no expert on starting a business.” Emma explains, “My original life plan was to study medicine and be a medical examiner. I had pre-entry to Med School and was all set. Things rarely turn out how you plan and nor should they, really. I instead took a million gap years to travel and dance in between studying a Bachelor of Medical Science and then Honours in Immunology. During my Honours year I realised that a life of science wasn’t right for me and I started working in Marketing.

During this very winding life path and now at the age of 27, I am finally doing what I secretly always dreamed of doing, working in Fashion. I still have a day job (up until recently I had 3) but my ultimate dream would be to run Leiden as my sole form of income and I would love to be able to support others as well.”

Those “million gap years” have really paid off for Emma. This time has enabled her to gather inspiration from a range of places and people, including British designers Alexa Chung, Poppy Delevingne, Emma Watson, Sienna Miller, Emily Blunt and Kate Moss. But who better to be inspired by then one’s family. Emma told me, “I draw inspiration from so many different things and different people. Like for many people my mum is top of the list. I am always amazed at how selfless she is and her limitless capacity to work hard. My brother and I definitely inherited our strong work ethic from our mother. I am always inspired by my brother’s creativity, intelligence and dedication in pursuing his creative practiceI am inspired by people with personality and confidence in their style. I aspire to be like Iris Apfel when I am older.

Halouminous500x800Emma’s interest in fashion grew from a young age: “Although it was very much in the background, fashion was a part of my childhood. Both my grandparents were tailors and after my brother and I were born my mum worked in fashion. We had so many dress ups growing up and with my brother and I both dancing from a young age we had a lot of costumes around as well. I found that wearing the right piece of clothing helped me inhabit whatever character I was making believe to be.”

“I went to a public school with no uniform and one of my favourite things was choosing what I would wear to school everyday. I loved mixing and matching items together to create coordinated outfits. As a naturally shy person I think the clothes I choose to wear play a big part in displaying my personality.  I like them to do the talking when I am not confident enough to talk to people myself. I am not afraid of colour, shape or bold silhouettes. I love quirky individual accessories.”

Emma is the proud owner of seven pairs of “cat shoes” and on many different occasions I have seen a cat or two on her jumper or top or earrings. I have also witnessed the great excitement when a vintage designer label item arrives in her wardrobe. I have realised that fashion is much more than just what you wear. For Emma, her clothing choices are a means of making a statement, communicating something important, or even speaking on her behalf. Her interest in clothing has blossomed into an interest in the fashion industry as a whole and how it influences the world.

“As I got older my interest in fashion has evolved beyond just the clothes themselves and extended to exploring the history of fashion, how clothes are made, from what materials and by who. Since I have got older I have been accumulating a lot of designer and vintage pieces into my wardrobe. I am drawn to fashion houses with a strong history and heritage and I love the way a special piece makes me feel when I wear it…..I am inspired by art, literature, music, architecture, travel, nature, my friends, random people on the street, my Leiden colleagues. I try to be open as you never know how the tiniest thing might spark a big idea.”

Emma’s thirst for fashion could not be quenched in the day job(s) she had and nor could that of her friends. Leiden magazine was born out of this need to fulfill a passion for fashion and Canberian businesses. “The idea for creating this publication came to me after chatting to two of my friends about an upcoming shoot we were planning for a Canberra publication I was writing for, This is Canberra. Both of my friends (Makeup artist Lilah Deguitre and hair stylist Sheree Yap) were talking about the limited opportunities there are to work creatively in their fields in Canberra. I had also been toying with expanding what I was doing with my fashion writing as I had so many ideas I wanted to explore….. I went away from our conversation thinking, why don’t I just create a whole website that allowed all of us to do what we wanted? So I did.”

“The most important part of starting Leiden for me is to create a platform for emerging talent to explore, whether that be through creative shoots, writing, illustration or the business side of things. I already have a large team of over twenty people on board which I am incredibly honoured and excited by.”

One of the goals that Emma has for Leiden is to further establish Australia on the map of fashion, particularly for her generation. I asked her about where she considers Australia in the scheme of fashion internationally:

“Australian fashion is often perceived as laid back, beachy and athletic but I think this is changing with the increase of Australian designers and influencers on the International stage right now. Women like Nicole Warne and Margaret Zhang are hugely influential to international brands and audiences and are great ambassadors for a more polished Australian style. The fact that two quite different designers such as Kym Ellery and Dion Lee are both gaining momentum overseas demonstrates the appeal of a broader Australian aesthetic.”

Already, Emma has a range of different contributors making/writing content for Leiden from around Australia. Many of these people, with Emma at the helm, are keeping their finger on the pulse of fashion around the globe.

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“I would like to strike a balance between Australian and International based content as I believe it is important to celebrate what we do well here in Australia as well as be inspired by what others are doing all around the world. It is important to me that we showcase talented people from Canberra. The fashion scene, while small, is growing here and there is a lot of incredibly talented people working in the industry here who deserve broader exposure. I hope that Leiden can introduce our readers from other parts of Australia to Canberra designers and businesses……While we will showcase Canberra talent alongside Australian and International talent, Leiden won’t be a Canberra-centric publication. I would love to grow an International audience too.”

Leiden is a magazine for everyone. Emma finds great joy in clothing and beauty and this joy is contagious. This is naturally a large part of the Leiden experience. Emma explains, “The way you look and feel can affect your mood and self confidence dramatically. The right outfit or the perfect shade of lipstick can give you confidence. If you are having the shittest day ever, if you feel you look good, that can be a silver lining. Looking amazing the first time you run into your ex after you broke up can make you feel a whole load better about an awkward situation. If you embrace, fashion and beauty, it can make you feel amazing.”

MacGraw500x800Emma also explains how this joy and sense of confidence is not excluded to any one group of people or one amount of wealth. “I am particularly interested in creating fashion content that is more accessible for a wider audience. I have found that fashion can sometimes be alienating and confronting for some people and I want to try and break that stigma down  to create content that is more inclusive. I am interested in exploring a wide range of beauty. Very few women have the money to be constantly buying new things all the time. For most of us, new clothes, makeup, or products are a treat. A lot of fashion magazines are aspirational and their editorial content is all new, new, new. This is part of what makes a magazine so inspiring but it is also part of what sometimes makes fashion unattainable. I am interested in exploring editorial content that mixes the old with the new, that inspires readers to restyle pieces they already own alongside that designer jacket they have been lusting over for months.  I would love to create something that is still inspirational but more indicative of most women’s approach to dressing.”

“For me personally I channel a lot of my personality into the way I present myself. I love to dream up the perfect outfit for a situation and I love experimenting with my clothes and makeup. The way I dress and look definitely affects my mood for the day; if I don’t feel like I look my best I find I am much more shy and introverted.”

From shy and introverted to fantastic entrepreneur, I asked Emma what her secret was and she told me “I think a crucial thing for succeeding in any start up enterprise is hard work and perseverance. I think it is important to dream big but it is even more important to be realistic. Especially when it comes to your knowledge gaps and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, at the end of the day it will only make your enterprise stronger. Think about what you can achieve yourself or if there is something you can’t do, approach someone else to help you. And definitely trust your gut. Listen to everyone else’s opinions, weigh them and consider them but always go with your own.

Leiden is a special place full of hard work and lots of love. If the journey of Leiden magazine is anything like the journey of it’s creator it will be beautiful, intelligent, resilient, creative and smart, and inspirational, and empowering.

Like myself, Emma is excited about the journey ahead: “I am really passionate about this project and I am working hard to make Leiden as successful as possible. I am truly honoured that so many people have believed in me and my ability to lead this project and I hope I won’t let anyone down!”

 

Written by: Bicky Lee

Illustrations from the Leiden website by Johanna Dziadkiewicz

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