Inspiring Insights from a Magazine Editor

Interview with Sinja SchÜtte

Executive Magazine Editor gERMANY

Magazine Logos Sinja Schuette
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Sinja is the Executive Editor of not just one, but five(!) of our favourite German lifestyle, interior & mindfulness magazines. After years of enjoying all the beautiful content of these magazines, we just had to grab the opportunity and ask her for an interview.

Thinking back to our chat with Sinja, the words ‘open’, ‘honest’, and ‘positive’ come to mind. She tells us about what movements she currently sees amongst her readers, and what they are currently gravitating towards. Most of all, we love that she truly encourages creativity, champions DIY and sustainable brands, and shares what brands can do to be featured in a magazine.

Enjoy this interview with Sinja and all of the insights she provides!

Wow Sinja, you have quite a long list of amazing magazines in your title. How do you keep balance and focus on all of them?

Well… I’d love to tell you that I’m such a genius, but I’m not. Truly, it’s all about teamwork. I work with great teams, both in Munster and in Hamburg. For each magazine, there’s the head of the magazine (the editor), with whom I communicate about 2-3 times a week. The editors are the experts, and my role is more being a reflection board, who also safeguards the strategic path and the continuity of the magazine.

The editor communicates with his/her own editorial and graphic team. Within the framework we have, we try to make the environment as comfortable, secure and good-tempered, so that all colleagues can be as creative as they want. We encourage everyone to live their creativity so it can be transferred to our magazines – that’s the best for all of us!

Magazines Covers Banner

Are you a planner & list maker or more of a go-with-the-flow type of person?

This question really got me thinking, what am I? And I think I’m a bit of both.

I like to have lists and plans and have quite a tight schedule in general when it comes to meetings and appointments. So these schedules are my ‘lists of the day’. However, I have learned that life is hard to plan! Whenever I make my lists and plans, I’m very aware that it will never work out exactly as planned.

Luckily, I have learned how to be flexible and live in the moment. Even though I have a big workload, when I’m on vacation, I can really leave work behind me, let go of all my to-do’s and just enjoy! Being flexible is also very important when working with people, especially creative people (I regard myself as a creative person as well), because you want to keep an open mind. It’s important to be able to grab the moment or to grab the idea, and to help one another to be the creative minds we are. As I mentioned before – there is a certain framework we all have to stick to, and magazines have to be turned in at a certain deadline, but besides this, flexibility within your path or plan is so valuable.

Which trends have you noticed for 2021?

I wouldn’t call them trends necessarily, but I do see certain movements and developments emerging in our country/community due to the imposed regulations. People are looking more and more inwards now that a lot of the outside distractions have been removed due to the lockdown restrictions. Our readers are drawn to:

Positivity

Staying positive is so important in this trying time. With a lot of the news being on a constant negative-repeat cycle, we have recommended in FLOW for people not to stay in the loop of negative news. Sure, keep up to date on what you want to know about the current affairs, but then rather spend your time doing activities that makes you happy and keep you positive like mindfulness, gardening, and being creative.

Creativity

With people having a lot more time on their hands, we see them starting new hobbies: cooking, doing sports, and learning to live with less. It’s important for societies around the world to discover intrinsic values and discovering their creativity, instead of expecting the outside world to entertain them.

We have noticed a yearning for the rediscovery of handmade crafts. Recently we organized 4 online creative events – punch needling, bullet journaling, macramé & hand-lettering, and were joined by more than 750 attendees. It was a lot of fun and we were filled with creative energy.

Living at Home

I think the name of this magazine hits another trend spot on! Living at Home Magazine has been a much-loved home & lifestyle Magazine in Germany for the last 20 years, and now it has even more meaning. I have noticed that this lifestyle is more and more trending in Germany. People started taking more care of their homes & gardens, spending more time and energy into cooking delicious meals and we even see that many people are moving to the countryside.

Living at Home Magazine turned 20 last year, congratulations! What is the secret to such a successful magazine?

There actually is a secret! Shall I tell you?

To me, the secret of Living at Home Magazine is the creative director: Andreas Lichtenstein. He is the nicest person in the world, and so kind and creative. I don’t know where he gets his ideas!

Did you know? He’s the one who has produced our Christmas Edition for 20 years now! And although he is now a grandpa, it goes to show: age has nothing to do with creativity or flexibility. He invented Living at home.

Another thing that truly impressed me: he has been doing a flower bouquet of the month article for many years now. He often invites our interns to help him put the bouquet together and encouraging them to change and arrange the flower bouquet how they like it. He is mature enough to leave the stage to younger women and colleagues and appreciate their work.

We also have a wonderful art director, Eva, who works alongside him. The combination of these two working together works wonderfully for this magazine. Not to forget all the creative editors and colleagues from the distribution, ad and you name it department – to turn 20 as a magazine needs a great team in every way.

Kreatieftag Zuhaus 2020

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Sinja Schütte Photographed by Nele Martensen

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Sinja Schütte | Lead Award 2019

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Behind the scenes | Sinja Schütte

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Behind the scenes | Mood

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Behind the scenes | Editorial Team

What is your top tip for brands who are looking to be featured in Magazines?

I don’t think there is a certain way or an exact path you can take to get yourself or your products featured in a magazine: it’s always a bit of a mixture. But I hope these tips will help the brands reading this:

  • We appreciate ideas, we appreciate creativity and the origin of something. And it’s a people’s business. So when you have an interesting person behind a brand, that is a definitely way on how you can stand out.
  • Of course, our magazines keep up with trends. The first pages of magazine edition often follow a certain colour code. The matching / proper / fitting colour of your product might just be what gets you featured.
  • Very important: have great picture material/ photos/images when sending your pitch of message to an editor. Make sure your first impression really appeals to the editors who get the messages.
  • We get lots of messages, so be very straight to the point. We need the most important information about your brand or products, not written essays. No editor has time to read loooong emails.
  • Last but not least: we love to tell a story! It’s about storytelling. So when you have a great story about sustainability, about how you produce a product, where the inventor of the product or the brand comes from, or a special team coming together for this brand – those stories are so very interesting to us and to our readers! To small brands: find your story and tell it!

What unexpected positive change did 2020 bring to the forefront in the way you work?

Corona has been an accelerator of many developments, for us digital developments as well! All our magazines now have digital versions, even FLOW Magazine, which is a magazine for paper lovers, so that’s really interesting.

Working from home and ‘meeting online’ has become more acceptable. I enjoy going to the office every now and then for a change of scenery. However I also enjoy working online because it takes away ‘travel time’ which in turn makes it easier to ‘meet up with new people’, digitally. 

What learning from this past year will you take forward with you?

To focus on the important things in your life. Slow down, respect nature. It’s so important to be aware that we live in a community. We are not alone in this world,  we have to watch other people’s needs as well.

And try to look at the positive aspects of life, grab opportunities and chances with both hands!

Where do you see the future for Magazines?

I’m very optimistic about the future for Magazines. Due to corona the point of sale changed from magazine shops at the train station, to magazines being bought at the grocery shops, but we are actually experiencing a rise in magazine sales now! Even subscriptions are up, we feel very supported by our readers and are very grateful for that. We keep trying to bring positive topics to talk about, and to stay positive about the future.

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Sinja looking for inspiration

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Team HYGGE & Sinja

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Andreas Lichtenstein | Behind the scenes in the Living at Home Studio

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