Catching Up with the Community: An Interview with Unread Magazine.
Unread is a hub for all things creative, and it is masterful in providing amazing content in a variety of fields and areas of interest. I had the honor to interview Lubna, the founder & CEO, to learn more about Unread's origins, goals, & future plans.
Thank you so much for talking to us here at Agora, Lubna! Would you care to share a little about yourself?
A new mama, wife, writer and storyteller with a passion for all things creative - that’s me. When I’m not finding new ways to distract my little human, you can find me editing my novel, planning the relaunch of Unread Magazine (my passion project), or crying my way through This is Us with Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
I’m currently on maternity leave from my full-time gig as a Senior Editorial Writer for a pharmaceutical and healthcare PR communications agency. Before stepping into the medical communications world, I was a Reporter for a pharmaceutical magazine and before that, I graduated in Human Biology and Journalism.
Along with hoarding more notepads than an average human actually needs, I love social media-ing and attempting to get through my book pile, which continues to grow (by no fault of my own, there’s just so many awesome authors publishing amazing books – I need them all).
How would you describe Unread? What do you think Unread brings to the community?
Creativity, diversity and positivity – that is exactly what Unread is about.
At Unread, we piece together colourful content to inspire you to do (or keep doing) what you love. Our digital magazine is the centre of Unread’s platform with the website being an exciting new extension.
We create, design and publish how-to guides on creative hobbies, interviews with inspiring creatives and businesses, and showcase beautiful art in the form of writing or colourful paintwork. We search far and wide for golden nuggets that will help fill your creative well, and provide you with the tools, as well as inspiration, to refine and enjoy your creative passion.
What inspired you to start this magazine?
I was working as a journalist for a pharmaceutical news magazine when it hit me just how creatively and mentally drained I was. Though my job at the time was equipping me with invaluable skills and experiences, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing.
As a creative writer at heart, I realised I needed to refocus some of my time on my true passion: magical storytelling. It took this realisation for me to dig out my half-written young adult fantasy novel, brush the dust off and get back to building a magical world I had once dreamt of. Once I was back at the keyboard, piecing together my novel, I felt the genuine peace and fulfillment I had been looking for.
And that’s when Unread came to me.
I couldn’t help but wonder: how many other creatives working a 9–5 felt creatively lost or unfulfilled? How many other creatives were searching for something, anything, to motivate them to pursue and make time for their creative passion?
It turns out, a lot.
With Unread’s motto (Create to Inspire) in mind, I endeavoured to recruit a team of extremely talented writers and designers. Thanks to the power of social media, within weeks Unread’s first ever team, consisting of almost 50 writers and an exceptionally talented designer, virtually stood across the globe, ready to create and inspire.
How has it grown from its conception?
Seventeen issues later, with over 140 creative collaborations on interviews and features, an event drawing more than 100 creatives and a fresh website (www.unreadmag.co.uk) harbouring brilliant content, Unread has been home to creatives worldwide.
Our team is lucky to have international volunteers dedicated to creating inspiring content. Every member of the Unread family supports the platform because they believe in its cause – they inject their personality, experiences and skills into the very heart of Unread to make it something magical.
Who might Unread appeal to? What would you say to draw people in, from outside the target audience?
Our platform is home to every kind of creative.
Writers, photographers, designers, bullet journalists, interior designers, artists and more – there are indeed many branches to the beautiful creative community, but under Unread’s banner, they are united.
We all have that one thing we enjoy doing. Whether or not we are a pro at it, it is something we look forward to losing ourselves in. For many, it is creative writing, for others, it is abstract painting or digital art and for some, it is travelling and capturing the wonders of the world.
Mental well-being is a big part of why we create and share at Unread. For many people, their creative hobby is an outlet, a form of expression and sometimes, even the beginning of a business venture they’re truly passionate about. In my opinion, a creative hobby is as important as other priorities in life, as it can completely refresh the mind.
So, at Unread we gather content to encourage people to set alight even a mere glimmer of a creative spark they may feel, and dive into that creative passion. Here, you will find the tools you need to refine your creative skill, inspiration to fill your creative well, determination to keep going, motivation to maybe even make it more than a hobby, and the community to do it all with.
What is your favourite aspect of the magazine?
The variety in content and the dynamic community of creatives it has attracted.
I know picking a ‘niche’ is said to be the ‘smart’ move, but that’s just never been Unread’s thing. I love that we are a common hub for every kind of creative from different walks of life – we are a platform promoting collaboration across the creative spectrum. You don’t need to be a professional or a creative veteran, nor do you have to be well-versed in one type of art; whether you hold a pen, a paintbrush or a camera, Unread welcomes and supports you!
I also love that we are a place of understanding and positively – a place people can navigate to, knowing they will a community that understands the struggles of daily life, and encourages the growth of that creative spark.
Is there any upcoming content you're looking forward to?
YES! A relaunch!
Since the pandemic struck, Unread has been on a hiatus. With our team being made up entirely of passionate volunteers, we felt it was only right to pause and take some time to adjust to the new way of the world – juggling life, kids, work, studies all while living under new restrictions!
The time away has given us a moment to rewire and think about how we can take Unread to the next level, in order to make it even better for our community.
After a lot of thought, brainstorming and doughnuts, a relaunch is officially in the works, and we cannot wait to share updates! Our readers love to be inspired and enjoy practical content/advice on creative skills they’re passionate about, therefore we’ll be making sure that our relaunch gives them exactly that and more! With the new website and the endless possibilities it brings, a whole new world will be at our readers’ fingertips.
What challenges have you faced while running Unread? How did you push through them?
As a platform propelled solely by volunteers, there is always going to be the challenge of capacity and cost. But, we try to avoid any major bumps in the road by planning in advance, being honest about capacity and pulling together as a team. Ultimately, we make it work, because we believe in Unread and its potential to grow and inspire.
For me, personally, when things are busy at Unread it can get very hectic attempting to balance the different plates (family, magazine, novel and full-time job), but a to-do list, coupled with realistic internal and external expectations, help me navigate through.
This past year, however, has been a whirlwind with major life changes happening on the personal front (birth of my baby girl, unwell father, his eventual passing and of course, pandemic). This meant I needed to take a break from most things (including Unread and my full-time job) to help get my mental and physical health back on track.
The pandemic definitely threw a spanner in the works for everyone on the team. It made balancing life, work, family and the magazine a challenge for all of us. But, a break proved to be exactly what we needed. It gave us the golden opportunity to pause, refine our direction as a platform and prepare to come back even better!
If someone wished to be involved with Unread, how would they go about it?
With a relaunch on the horizon, we are on a lookout for new voices to join the team and creatives to collaborate with/feature!
So, if you’re someone interested in writing or designing for our platform and magazine, head over to: https://unreadmag.co.uk/be-part-of-the-team/.
If you’re a creative individual or business interested in showcasing your work, sharing services or imparting some knowledge for our community to benefit from, get in touch and let’s make it happen: https://unreadmag.co.uk/get-featured/.