Jessica Parry influences millions of women’s shopping habits every year. Seriously. As an editor at BauerWorks, Jessica edits MYER’s Emporium magazine and oversees the website, which, combined, are read by more than one million people annually – as well as Westfield’s W Style magazines, which reach hundreds of thousands of readers.
That’s a lot of cashed-up shoppers and beauty fans to inspire, entertain, inform, influence and guide through their retail therapy and beyond. Oh, and then there’s the powerhouse fashion brands Jessica works alongside, with Westfield home to world-leading brands Givenchy and Zara, to name a few, which Jess and her team represent via the glossy magazine pages with trend reports, style how-tos and fashion round-ups. Likewise, MYER sells hundreds of brands from mass to local and international designers including Oscar de la Renta, Kenzo and McQ Alexander McQueen. And it’s Jessica’s job to present those brands and drive sales via the magazine and website in a way that is engaging and enticing for the reader. Sounds like fun, yes? So how did Jess, who is also the mother of two young children, land this uber glossy job? And how does she balance the air kisses and runway shows with the huge responsibility of driving millions of dollars in sales, managing an editorial team and being there for her family? Here’s how…
Career Path: Follow The Yellow Brick Road…
Born and raised in coastal Queensland, Jessica grew up far away from the glamourous catwalk shows and designer brands she now works with. “My career path was a little unconventional,” explains Jess. “I took a cadetship, which probably don’t exist anymore, straight out of high school. I was 17 and worked as a trainee news journalist at my local newspaper, the Bundaberg News-Mail. Looking back, I was very, very young – I still had braces on my teeth! But at the time I felt so grown up. I was lucky to start at the same time as a cadet photographer called Jodie and we were great mates, attending stories together, including one memorable meeting with a sugar mill executive (this was sugar cane country!). He shook his head and repeated, ‘You two are so young,’ as I sat with pen poised alongside Jodie, who had her camera ready to take his shot!”
“I’d decided to pursue newspaper journalism after one week’s work experience in Year 12 – I had these grand ideas of becoming a war correspondent, following in the footsteps of famous Australian journalist Geraldine Brooks. Instead, I ended up in women’s magazines – quite a departure!”
The Detour: From News Desk To Glossy Magazines
“After two years on the news desk I realised feature writing was where my heart was. So at 19, I moved to Sydney with the idea of ‘getting into magazines’. After two years working on a Sydney suburban newspaper, and through a connection I met there, I landed an interview – and the job! – writing real life stories for Take 5 magazine. That got me into the famed magazine headquarters of ‘ACP Park Street Sydney’ (now Bauer), one of Australia’s largest magazine publishers, where I spied a sign on an internal noticeboard advertising for a features editor at DOLLY magazine.
“From DOLLY I moved to Marie Claire magazine in 2006, then Cosmopolitan in various roles, and now I’m the editor in custom publishing – creating magazine-style content for clients such as MYER.
“I edit the quarterly Emporium magazine for 250,000 MYER shoppers, and the style magazines for Westfield shopping centres. I have four full-time staff and an army of freelancers!”
Talking Tough: Interviewing Steve Irwin, L.A Divas & Inspiring Women
“I’ve interviewed hundreds of people,” says Jessica. “One of the more memorable interviews was with Steve Irwin – we featured him and his daughter, Bindi in Marie Clarie magazine for a Father’s Day Special, right before he passed away. In the aftermath of his death, we auctioned off the image from the photo shoot, raising thousands of dollars for his charity.
“Another memorable incident was with a celebrity in L.A who was very difficult and, after we our crew flew there to interview and photograph her, she faked an illness and refused to go ahead with the photo shoot – until we threatened to make her pay for the entire shoot.
“Through Cosmopolitan magazine I met and interviewed some truly incredible women like Turia Pitt and Lauren Huxley. I’ve always preferred the ‘real life’ interviews, over celebrity.”
Gloss Appeal: The Pros & Cons…
“The biggest challenges along the way have been trying to convince people you have a serious job and it’s not just about trying on clothes and make-up!” says Jess. “In the interest of full disclosure though, there have been a lot of perks offered to us outside the normal job description and benefits. Public Relations companies will often gift products, or we’ll often be sent free movie tickets, and at one magazine we had the famous ‘free table’, which was full of products sent to the magazine – everything from chocolates to beauty products, plus some very weird gadgets! And yes, we do get invited to lots of events. But there comes a point when you mostly RSVP ‘no’ unless it’s absolutely essential to the business. The best perk is the occasional travel junket, where you travel free via a company but write a story on the experience. My most memorable was a five star trip to China!”
Shelf Life: The Print Magazine V’s Digital Challenge
“The biggest challenge in my career has been the transition from print to digital and figuring out your place in a vastly different media world that values ‘click bait’. On the flip side it’s exciting to be part of this huge shift in media consumption because the challenge is creating content that cuts through the noise. With so much content around, you have to be more creative, and that’s a huge but welcome challenge.”
The Juggle: Work & Family
“Now, of course, I have to juggle working full-time with looking after two young kids, aged four and one, although I am not alone – I have a very capable and hands-on husband! My job is not a 9-5 role though, as I’m often interstate for work and also attend after-hours events, but I manage this with my husband and a very generous mother-in-law, who helps with childcare – a lot!
“It’s probably because of this that I promote a flexible work culture. If staff get their job done within certain child-friendly hours, then great! I’m flexible with that. That being said, we have deadlines to meet, so I expect all hands on deck during those peak times – that’s just the nature of our work.”
Wise Words: Advice For Women Starting Out In Media
“It’s actually difficult for me to give advice because it’s such a different media world to when I started! Obviously, digital skills are essential, as are the key attributes that apply to any industry: work hard, speak up, offer new, creative ideas, be humble and be kind – whenever possible!” Jessica Parry Editor Of MYER Emporium & Westfield W Style