Sophia Ireland is the founder, editor-in-chief and graphic designer of Orenda. Orenda is a young and independent, Australian-based magazine embracing collaboration to produce vibrant and original creative content.
When did you first have the idea for Orenda?
I’ve always loved magazines and have had subscriptions to so many different ones over the years. I used to do a bit of scrapbooking as a kid and would create my own ‘magazines’. Fast forward to Year 12 Design & Technology, and we had to choose a major project to spend the year creating. I decided to make a magazine, and that’s when Orenda was born.
How did you get the magazine started?
To start the magazine, I bought a LOT of magazines and researched the parts of them I liked, disliked and wanted to adapt. I perused Pinterest and taught myself InDesign and Illustrator. To get the articles, I asked a few people I knew who I knew were doing interesting things and also contacted some blogs and magazines to see if I could use theirs, as well as writing my own. I printed it using a local printer and got their advice on things I then had no idea about, such as bleed.
Where does your inspiration for the content come from and how do you choose what to include in each edition?
My inspiration always comes from the people around me. If I meet someone doing interesting things, I ask them to contribute. In the past, I’ve trawled through my Facebook friends to see who is doing/studying/passionate about interesting things, and asked them to write something for the magazine based on their passion. Not everyone who contributes are primarily writers, but I think people's subject and passion is so much more important to the magazine than whether they use Oxford Commas or not. That passion and enthusiasm is so important to me and generally gives me a gut instinct as to what to include. We purposefully don’t do themes, as I find them too limiting to both writers and readers. I generally just ask people to write for us, let them choose their topic, and the magazine organically forms themes and connections between articles which I really love to see. Repeat contributing writers generally write about similar things from issue-to-issue, so I know generally what themes to expect from them. Orenda is eclectic enough that if the content aligns with our values, it fits in, but each issue I’m amazed at what everyone contributes.
Orenda's latest issue dives into archeology, emojis, poetry, chronic illness, China, pop culture and dessert.
What is the greatest challenge that you have had to overcome along your business journey?
The greatest challenge to the business is motivation, with both myself and contributors. I stress to my contributors that uni, mental health, work, etc. always comes before Orenda, which I try to extend to myself — whilst Orenda is so important to me and I want to grow it as a business, but at this early stage it’s also not a ride-or-die situation, and I try to stress that to the contributors. With this, however, it means that my depression can make me super unmotivated, and I can go for long stretches not touching Orenda.
What would be three pieces of advice that you could offer anyone wanting to run their own magazine?
1. Organisation and systemisation is key: As the magazine grows, it gets harder and harder to keep track of everyone and everything. We’re increasingly systematising the business to keep it efficient and not let anything fall through the cracks, which has been a problem in the past. We use Trello to organise all of the contributors and articles. For example, in previous issues I’ve accepted articles via my personal Facebook page, but this time we’re only accepting via email to keep everything in the one place.
2. Remember your business values: these will guide everything you do, from saying ‘yes’ to things to determining and reaching your target audience.
3. Say yes: attend events, continue to learn and always meet new people. My favourite part of this magazine is definitely getting to meet and know so many interesting and amazing people, that I wouldn’t have otherwise had a reason to other than through the business.
Sophia Ireland is a graduate of the RMIT Bachelor of Design (Communication Design), 2018
"Say yes: attend events, continue to learn and always meet new people." - Sophia Ireland