At work with: Danielle Pender, Riposte

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The smartly-titled Riposte magazine was launched by editor Danielle Pender and creative director Shaz Madani in 2013 as an alternative to mainstream women’s magazines. Danielle is also curator at KK Outlet, the London office of the Dutch communication agency KesselsKramer. We join her just after the arrival of the second issue of her magazine.

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Where are you today?

I’m in the KK Outlet studio so today I’m working on a show we’re doing with HORT in September and speaking to Elana Schlenker of Gratuitous Type about a project we’re working on for October. For Riposte I’ll be going over details with art director Shaz for some up coming events, content ideas for issue three and dealing with the never ending logistical issues that come with running your own magazine.

What can you see from the window?
Well I sit in the basement at KK Outlet Monday – Friday so from the skylight above me I can see a very uninspiring white brick wall and from the shop front looking out onto Hoxton Square I can see doggy friends chasing each other on the square and a bloke with a pit bull drinking a can of Kestrel Super Strength lager (it’s 9.55am).

Are you a morning or evening person?
Definitely morning. I get up really early and get more done between 6-8am than I probably do in the whole day. As a result I’m totally shattered by 9pm and have absolutely no banter left!

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What’s your favourite magazine this morning?

I’ve just had a look through the latest issue of The Plant which I really like. Their photography is of a high standard and there’s something really relaxing about it.

I also think Creative Review have been doing really interesting things recently. Their latest issue features some great articles and for them to still be putting out a monthly magazine whilst battling the onslaught of creative industry content online is pretty amazing.

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Why did you launch Riposte – and why in print rather than online?
We launched Riposte because there wasn’t a women’s magazine on the shelves that offered a broad range of topics or that featured interesting women outside of the usual fashion, beauty, acting arenas.

Women are complex and multi-faceted human beings but to look at the average women’s magazine you’d think all we were interested in are beauty, fashion, celebrities, diets and the odd bits of travel or interior design. There are some great women’s magazines out there but it feels like the scope of content is pretty limited.

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We wanted to create a print publication because I think long form articles and interviews work better in printed matter. The reader respects the form a lot more than digital, it’s less throw away and something to spend time with and properly digest. We looked into making an app but after speaking to people at established titles who have put a lot of money into developing their app it seemed like the investment didn’t justify the results.

Also I think the tactile nature of a printed product give the reader an experience which is impossible to recreate in the digital format. A magazine with high production qualities, printed on beautiful stock is something incomparable to reading an article on an app or a website.

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The Icon piece at the back of Riposte represents the outlook of the magazine well. Who would your icon be?
This is actually a really hard question! My well-known icon would be PJ Harvey. I absolutely love this woman. When I was teenager and she first came out with her loud, confrontational, unapologetic stance it blew me away. As she’s developed as an artist her output is consistently amazing, intelligent and challenges expectations of what a female solo artist can record and produce. She doesn’t give a fuck and does everything her own way, answering only to herself.

There have been a few independent women’s magazines launched over the last year or so. Is this a trend the major publishers should be paying attention to?
Yes major publishers should definitely be paying attention to what women are actually interested in and what they want to read about. However I think it would be a brave move because a lot of people in mainstream publishing only believe that photographs of young, beautiful, white girls sell magazines and it’s going to take a seismic shift to persuade them otherwise.

What does the future hold for Riposte?
We’re working on a plan to develop our distribution networks, our online platform, a programme of events as well as commercial partnerships and collaborations. I’d love to see Riposte in WH Smiths alongside other women’s magazines.

What are you most looking forward to this week?
I’m going to Slovenia for a few weeks on Thursday so that’s definitely the highlight.

What are you least looking forward to this week?
I’m moving house when I get back from holiday so I need to clean my flat before I go away. I’m REALLY not looking forward to this.

What will you be doing after this chat?
Putting an obscene amount of marmite on toast and chatting to the guy I sit opposite about his love life – highbrow!

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The second issue of Riposte is available from the magCulture shop.

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