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Meet Gemma Lacey of Puss Puss Magazine in Echo Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gemma Lacey.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Gemma. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started my career at Elle girl magazine in 2003 in London, I worked there for three years and then I became a freelance stylist and editor and wrote and styled for Nylon, Clash, Men’s Health, and many other magazines. I also worked with artists like The Editors and Bat for Lashes. In 2009 I was asked to go and set up a new magazine for teen girls in Dubai so I moved there for about a year which was a weird and fun experience. When I returned to the UK the recession was in full swing but I randomly got a job styling a short film in LA with Jamie Dornan (Of 50 Shades fame). I took the job, stayed for three weeks, and fell in love with the city.

When I returned to the UK, I freelanced as a writer and stylist before landing a job at Red Bull. com as Editor in Chief where I worked to cover everything from BMX contests, Stratos- the jump from space and Revolutions in Sound where we turned the London Eye into a giant celebration of club culture and hosted the most consecutive live streams at the time to win a Guinness World Record. I also grew their web traffic by 100% every year for three years which was fun and challenging.

After I left Red Bull, I freelanced on projects for Coca Cola and Nike’s Girl Effect non-profit before I got a new full-time gig at adidas as women’s social media strategist. I worked at adidas just over a year but was itching to move to the US. When I was at Red Bull, I’d helped set up Puss Puss Magazine– a culture journal for cat lovers and we started to get a lot of press and interest, and working with amazing artists like Tyler the Creator, Ai Weiwei, Chloe Sevigny to name a few. I began taking meetings in the US and was hired to work on School of Doodle a new web platform for teen girls. We worked with amazing women like Miranda July, Kim Gordon and Erykah Badu to create lessons to inspire young women to find their place in the creative world.

In 2017 I set up my own agency and provide creative strategy, production, SEO, social media and digital marketing for a variety of clients from food and beverage to lingerie brands. My work is really diverse and always challenges me. The red thread in all my work is storytelling. I genuinely believe my foundation as a journalist and producer has been the greatest gift even on large scale projects because I always root my thinking back to what the story is and how it’s told. In 2018 I won an Emmy for my work with Chemical Wedding who make the incredible Artemis and Helios tools and I feel incredibly privileged for all the amazing opportunities I’ve had in LA. The community here is so collaborative and people think in big and beautiful ways.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
OMG, there’s been so many! As a person, I tend to be really hard on myself and if something doesn’t work, I take a lot of responsibility for that, but I’m learning to be kinder to myself and also see the growth that messing up has given me. I’ve had a lot of learnings that sometimes some client relationships are not a good fit and it’s OK to bow out and take care of yourself there too. Some other struggles are specific to being from the UK, I had to learn a lot of new copywriting skills- which after 15 years was a challenge. Now I understand that US language is often more direct than British English and it’s been fun to see what works and when. I’ve also had some struggles as I lost some dear friends in 2018, both were young and it was a really sad time but also helped me see how tough I can be and what an amazing community of people there are in LA. I feel really lucky to be surrounded by so many kind people here.

Tell us more about your work today, What is Puss Puss Magazine and what other work do you do?
There are two strands to my work. Firstly, editorial and creative production which allows me to explore passion projects and ideas freely. The nexus of this is Puss Puss Magazine which is my absolute editorial love! I work with the amazing Maria Joudina-Robinson who has a beautiful eye and vision and it’s enabled me to interview some incredibly inspiring people including Run The Jewels, Cat Power, Gia Coppola, and Quinn Wilson. I have also hosted parties for Puss Puss at The Ace Hotel, cohosted Hervisions- a celebration of female moving image creators and then last year I was acting Creative Director for Saatchi Gallery during Frieze and worked with Artist Philip Colbert and hosted an amazing array of events for them too. Another highlight last year was producing a film for Gucci’s Chime for Change, it’s amazing when I can create meaningful work in a beautiful way with significant brands because it’s helping spread a great message to a broader audience.

In addition to this, I have my more strategic business arm too. I specialize in creative strategy for brands and business owners, this is where I use my storytelling skills in a specific way to raise awareness of them or their project and to help drives sales via smarter SEO, better copy, killer email, or social media tactics. I really get a kick out of seeing people grow and because of this, I work with a lot of early-stage startups, as I have the experience from my work at large brands to help them work towards the future they envision for themselves.

At this stage in my career I have a really diverse client base which means I can turn my hand to a big variety of work. I think my unique perspective from my editorial background is really useful for coming up with creative solutions too. Plus, I’m a genuine champion of people and that kind of cheerleading mentality can be essential for new founders too.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Curiosity! I love research and exploring ideas and concepts. It also drives my interest in people, I value genuine connection and collaboration, and that only happens in an authentic way if you have a deep-rooted desire to understand and share an experience with another person.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Chloe Sevigny by Amber Mahoney, Tyler the Creator by Kenneth Cappello, Tyler, Me and Maria- by Tomas Urbano.

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