Focus with Huw Gwyther, editorial director and publisher of Rollacoaster

This week FeaturesExec catches up with Huw Gwyther, former successful Dragon’s Den contestant and editorial director and publisher of Wonderland and Man about Town magazine. Huw talks to us today about his new fashion and culture magazine Rollacoaster which is due to launch on 20 September.

About the publication:

Tell us more about the launch of Rollacoaster:
It’s basically going to be the first ‘cool’ free magazine, I hope, for want of a better adjective! Covering fashion, film, music, TV – pop culture in essence – for both men and women aged anything from 18-45 – it’s for anyone that likes it! It’s going to be distributed from 20 September until all the copies have been given out. It’s the same over-sized format as the FT’s How To Spend It, but on nicer paper with a glossy cover. It’s looking pretty good so far, that’s all I can say really! Oh and our cover exclusive is Pharrell Williams who I think is a great cover star for a launch issue of a new magazine!

What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?
Fashion, music, film, TV, style, beauty, grooming…

What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector?
It’s FREE!

How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
Group discussions.

Do you produce a features list?
No, don’t feel the need right now.

Do you use freelance contributions, and if so, are they for any particular section/type of work?
Yes, for most text and all imagery.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs (e.g. for supplements, round tables, events) or do you keep them at arm’s length?
Very closely.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
More gifts!

How should a PR approach you about their client?

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
Anything that might lead to advertising!

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for

The right time is all the time.

About you:

Describe a typical day at work: What are you editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
I oversee everything, am a workaholic and love what I do!

How did you set up on your own?
I wrote a business plan (based on my knowledge from the magazine I worked on in NYC) and got a printer to print a simple dummy of the magazine for free (this was in the heady days pre-recession when people could afford to do favours for one another!) and I got initial funding through contacts I made at college, then I did Dragon’s Den (the first ever series) and secured £175,000 investment from Peter Jones who is a 40% shareholder in the business – he’s been amazing to work with and ultimately I was extremely lucky and in the right place at the right time! Also, its been bloody hard work, especially in 2009, but as long as you are enjoying it anything is possible.

What interests you most about your job?
Creating something from nothing.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current

Paris and New York for a photographer and a niche publisher. I decided I didn’t want to work for anyone else anymore!

Do you Twitter?
Yes…very occasionally:

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Work harder!

What media do you seek out 1st thing in the morning?

If you could time travel what time would you go to?
The future…only a year or two from now…

If we were to give you £1000 how would you spend it?
On a weekend to Ibiza! I need some sun!

[img|jpg|Huw Gwyther]

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