At work with: Sofia, Sarah and Haydeé, The Skirt Chronicles

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This week we’re in Paris with the founders of The Skirt Chronicles, Sarah de Mavaleix, Sofia Nebiolo and Haydée Touitou. This friendship feeds into the craftmanship of their magazine, which aims to showcase collaborative workings across several cultures and generations. After the success of volumes I and II, these three friends are embarking on the production of their third instalment as we caught up with them.

Left to right in photo above: Sofia, Sarah and Haydée

Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work.
We all have different routines as we work separately.
Sarah: I usually make my latte at home or hop down the street to grab one on the go, it’s an accompaniment to my to-do list writing for the day which helps me feel less scattered.
Sofia: It’s a hot water and lemon juice for me. Recently, I’ve started meditating in the morning before checking me inbox as this helps me to concentrate on the day ahead.
Haydée: I make a black coffee, at home, with my V60 and continue to read my novel from the night before.

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office.
The three of us currently work from our own homes as we are searching for the perfect office space to house The Skirt Chronicles.

Sarah: My desk space is symbolic of the day ahead, more often than not, it is simply my computer. Occasionally, a stack of magazines will be strewn across the surface while I compile lists of what I like from each and everyone one of them.

Sofia: My desk varies, some days it’s at the kitchen table, on others it’s the sofa or a coffee shop. Two large windows occupy a corner of my living room, looking down from three floors onto my neighbourhood in the 11th arrondissement of Paris.

Haydée: Mine is precisely in front of a window, from here I can see a neighbour who is a classical music conductor working on his partitions.

But, during Skirt meetings, we work around a rather thin blue table with computers, note books and teacups intertwined across the desk space. Because the meetings usually linger on into the hours of darkness, we often end up on the floor, which has proved to be our favourite desk. It’s ideal for editing pictures and thinking outside the box.

Which magazine do you first remember?
Sarah: I binged on magazines growing up; I know their issuing dates and hound the WHSmith in Paris to make sure I get them as soon as they hit the shelves. I buy and archive them all religiously. My first memory of a magazine is the French Elle my mother was reading. Then, came Vogue Paris which I bought herself; and finally, Purple Fashion, the discovery of another world. In the first issue I bought, Stella Tennant was photographed by Juergen Teller on the cover.
Sofia: My most vivid memory of a magazine was ordering a subscription of WWD.
Haydée: It maybe teenager’s magazines of the 1960s and 1970s that my aunt and mother had left behind in a country house; photo-novels often consumed the final pages.

Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
Sarah: I’m obsessed, in general, it’s whatever magazine that’s just been released that I haven’t had time to read yet. I often extend that my searches to Ebay, to reclaim missed issues of my favourite magazines. But, I have a lot of time for The Happy Reader, The Gentlewoman, Holiday and Apartamento.

Haydée: The new French magazine Le Nouveau Magazine Littéraire is really intriguing me currently.

Sofia: I love digging through vintage titles, but I really cherish my Six and Werk magazine collection.

How do you organise your weekly routine?
We all freelance in our own fields so we work on The Skirt Chronicles remotely, but we divide day-to-day tasks easily between the three of us.

Since we do everything ourselves, we learn so much from our readers and stockists which we find fascinating. We also dedicate, or try to, at least one day a week to meet, often in one of our apartments or a favourite cafe where we can focus on Skirt content. One important conversation, and quite possibly our favourite, is the debate on which colour we will be using for the upcoming issue. We constantly communicate through WhatsApp, a conversation we all cherish, whether it’s strictly Skirt business or simply texting as friends.

The stories in your magazine run in the order they are received from their writers. How strict are you with this rule?
We think of the rule as a principle. It isn’t extremely strict, because our pieces don’t often have a precise completion date. But, whenever we feel that the piece is finished (after the edits and the back and forth ­we feel so lucky to be able to have with our contributors) it goes into the production phase to be laid out. If, and when, we bend this principle, it is simply because a piece doesn’t read well in its original place and we do so only to value the work of the contributor.

Who else makes up The Skirt Chronicles team?
We are the founders of The Skirt Chronicles but also work with a design director, Sophie Hanoun. And more generally, we consider our contributors as permanent members of the team. We love working with them volume after volume and are so lucky to work with wonderful people who have trusted us from the beginning.

We divide the work between the three of us based on our role in the magazine. In terms of content, we are each responsible to produce our ideas and those of our contributors even though the other founders are always very present.

For everything else, we have a rather unusual division, since we conduct every task (distribution, contacting contributors and well virtually anything). Each of us oversees a territory so when a new task arises, it is usually very clear who takes care of it. We haven’t decided on the status of Canada yet.

Can you tell us anything at all about your next issue?
Volume III is an anniversary issue and by now we have developed a structure and a precise way of organising ourselves. We are celebrating with subjects and ideas that in a roundabout way brought us together. But, we can say it has something to do with the Atlantic Ocean.

What are you worrying about at work this week?
Sofia: I’m worrying about meeting deadlines.
Sarah: Not being in Paris enough, that’s my biggest worry this week.
Haydée: The production phase is always worry, but it’s simultaneously exciting and nerve-racking.

What’s going to be the highlight of the week for you?
Being reunited after a long time apart which will inevitably mean talking for hours and leaving each other feeling incredibly inspired.

What will you be doing after this chat?
We are going dancing!

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