Margot Shaw never dreamt as a student of Art History and Interior Design in college and grad school that those proclivities would later nudge her into publishing. But she has always loved words and beauty, and after hiring on as a 46-year-old intern for the floral designer who produced her daughter’s wedding, all the pieces began to fit.
A picture dropped into her mind about a magazine all about flowers, and it would not go away. Margot lived in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the most publishing-centric cities in the country, and as she was casting about for help in 2008 and beyond, titles were sadly closing or down-sizing, and stellar talents were suddenly available to work with her to implement her vision.
“It’s been a real faith journey as I clearly had no experience in publishing. Apparently, the market was ready for a niche magazine that trumpets flowers and people who love them, and we have grown slowly but steadily.” Shaw commented. “A product that fuses print and a robust digital voice has served us and our readers well. And I’m just wrapping up a book with Rizzoli that will augment our efforts and further spread the message of the joys of floral living.”
Take a look at our interview with Margot Shaw below.
Tell us a bit about your day-to-day – and what you love most about what you do.
My days are always different. I can be holed up in my office or home-office writing, meeting with our edit team about future content, brainstorming with our marketing team about the slew of events we sponsor or produce, traveling to speak at different antique and garden shows, women’s groups, garden clubs, etc., or sometimes, even visiting far-flung places that I will write about. I love having the opportunity to inspire people to appreciate the natural world and how it intersects with our lives, and how we are so much the richer for it. But I’d say what I love most is the people.
How has Flower Magazine grown and evolved over the years, and what does the future hold for it?
Flower has grown organically as much as anything. Before social media was the mainstay of the industry that it is today, word spread mainly reader to reader, advertiser to advertiser, and subject to subject. I’ve been amazed at the loyalty of those who catch on to our mission, love the content, and really want to spread the news. We still rely heavily on that phenomena, but social media has played an integral role in our growth. I really see the magazine continuing to grow as we garner more and more exposure. I want for every potential reader to have access to FLOWER, and that is happening. We are even seeing a more floral presence in other titles now, so we know we’re impacting the culture for the good.
For first time home owners who feel overwhelmed by their yard and outdoor space, what advice would you offer them?
I would say it depends on their goals and interests and how they want to live outside. It’s always helpful to have a professional landscape or garden designer consult, even for an hour. They can help with phases as well. Usually, a first phase might just include knowing what to clear out and what to keep.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in nature, of course, and I include animals under that umbrella, but also in art, beautiful interiors, great historic houses and gardens, design books, historical biographies, music, movies, other magazines, and Instagram. I’m also inspired by listening to other creatives describe their work, visions, and process. We all have a voice and something to contribute to enrich the lives of others.
Do you have a specific person that’s inspired you or mentored you, that one specific person that’s really influenced you?
Karen Carroll, without a doubt. When she was Editor in Chief of Southern Accents, she advised me about starting FLOWER. She was always available with invaluable advice and counsel. Soon she began to contribute her flawless writing to our pages, all the while connecting us with subjects that we would never have had access to, like Charlotte Moss. Karen burnished the content and style of the magazine tremendously and taught me more than I can ever articulate. And though she’s now a free agent, she continues to take my calls (and texts) and share her wisdom.
What apps or software can you not live without in your job?
As a non/beyond millennial, I’m not as immersed in the world of technology. Fortunately, there are others at FLOWER who cover that bailiwick. I will confess that Instagram is the one platform I would not want to live without, professionally, or otherwise.
What 3 pieces of advice would you offer to someone looking to pursue a career as an editor?
Want to hear more from Margot Shaw? On September 25 at 1pm, she’ll be at Discover ADAC for the Beauty… A Life In Pursuit session presented by FLOWER magazine (reception to follow at Century Furniture). Discover ADAC runs September 25-27 in Atlanta. You can register here as well as see all the sessions they’ll be hosting for the event!