I am absolutely thrilled to bring to you this month, my interview with Founding Editor of Country & Town House, Lucy Cleland. She has been in the glossy magazine business for around 20 years, having previously worked at Conde Nast. She divides her time between the glamour of Acton and the mud and wellies of the New Forest with her husband and two children.
Her magazine is aimed at those living in the city with dreams of owning their very own out of town house.
Originally set up in 2007, the magazine has evolved to be amongst the best lifestyle titles, showcasing C&TH’s considered and thoughtful curation of interiors, culture, property, food, fashion, travel, wellbeing and education.
Lucy is particularly passionate about sustainability and last summer, she pledged that 25% of her magazine’s content would reflect the ways we should learn to live; from the brands we buy, how we consume things and the way we travel. She believes that we can utilise our purchasing power for the greater good of our environment and our community.
1. Please describe Country and Townhouse and what led you to become the Editorial Director?
Country and Town House is the go-to destination for trusted, inspiring and uplifting content that will enhance your lifestyle wherever you live. I co-founded the magazine (and broader media business) with my husband in 2007 with the idea that we would appeal to the person who interweaved both lifestyles through their homes, passions, culture and travel.
2. What is your favourite thing about working at the magazine?
We have a very talented loyal team who have surpassed themselves during lockdown and it’s a pleasure to work with them. I also greatly enjoy the incredible access to incredible people, culture and events that opens when you’re working on a magazine such as ours. I have a passion for sustainability and to be able to bring that into the luxury arena is a pleasure and motivator that helps drive me.
3. Is there one client you dream of working with?
Anyone doing inspiring things in the field of luxury and sustainability. It’s fascinating and awe-inspiring. We’d also like to work more with Burberry as one of the UK’s most globally vibrant brands but with a history and provenance so beautifully British.
4. How do you curate such beautiful content and has that evolved over time?
I love that a magazine is an ever-evolving entity. When you look back at launch issues and can say, ‘What were we thinking?’ It’s a creative process that is collaborative and the more confident one gets in one’s mission, the more risks you can take. But the visual element is one of the most important things, so we are always challenging ourselves to improve it.
5. Who has been the most impressive person you've ever featured?
I loved the fact that we have had people like Bill Browder, the American born British financier who went head to head with Putin and in so doing became an unlikely international human rights leader. I’ve just interviewed a personal hero of mine (for our May issue). James Thornton is an environmental lawyer and the founder of ClientEarth who brings to bear the power of the law against governments, corporations and individuals who neglect their environmental pledges. He has almost single handedly been able to stop the building of any new coal fired power stations being built in Europe and has sued the British government over air pollution and won three times.
6. What are the different types of services you provide?
We create beautiful partnership content to reach our high net worth audience. We have done 360 degree campaigns with the likes of American Express and Switzerland Tourism. We promote and support the British luxury through our monthly Great British Brands newsletter and podcast and the publication of an annual bible of British luxury. We have two other podcasts – Breakout Culture, hosted by Ed Vaizey (former Culture Minister) and Charlotte Metcalf; and House Guest, hosted by Carole Annett who talks to the great and good of the design and interiors world.
7. What services are crucial for luxury businesses in 2021?
Creativity, story-telling, sustainability and first-class communications and service. Sustainability is the key driver for every business as they must – without exception – lower their carbon output. They will get left behind and consumers will shun their goods if they do not start to address this with meaning. Luxury brands should lead the way – they should be well positioned with their smaller supply chains and investment in product.
8. How can a brand build a relationship with you?
They need to know our products – newsletters, podcasts, magazines, supplements, website, social – and show interest and knowledge in aligning with us and reaching our audience. Make things personal, make things special.
9. Where would you recommend going for afternoon tea?
I used to work on the in-house magazine for Claridge’s so that hotel stole my heart at a young age.
10. Can you tell us about the best holiday you've ever had?
A family trip to South Africa driving along the Garden Route with my husband and two children who were then 7 and 4. We started at the big pink marshmallow like hotel in the centre of Cape Town – Belmond Mount Nelson which offered a huge blissful pool and endless green foliage – a rare lung in the city. We then headed to Franschhoek to stay at a private villa called La Cle des Montagnes, a more beautiful place I have not seen – again with a stunning garden and pool. A treat awaited in our next destination – De Hoop Nature Reserve in Swellendam, which is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. We stayed at the magnificent newly built private house called Morukuru Ocean House, which sits literally at the ends of the earth – next stop Antartica. We were taken on guided walks with a lesson on the biodiversity and rock pool exploring where we even got to see an octopus. Our last stop was Long Hope Villa At River Bend Lodge in Addo Elephant Park, near Port Elizabeth. A colonial homestead in our own private game reserve – no kidding.
11. Where do you get your personal stationery from?
I absolutely love Papier. Their choice of the sweetest designs is brilliant.
12. What's your favourite architecture?
I’m as wowed by projects such as Spain’s La Murella Roja, an amazing house development in pink that looks so amazing against a bright blue sky; to our elegant Georgian country manors. As with everything, variety is the spice of life.
13. If you could commission a piece of art what would it be and who would it be from?
I recently stayed at The Mayfair Townhouse and was intrigued by the work of British artist Miss Aniela – who shoots models dressed in full couture as mythological sirens and transposes them to a backdrop of a lavishly wonderful country house like Belvoir Castle or Holkham Hall. They are such fun.
14. What are your must have bath products?
I like to put 2kgs of Epsom salts in a very hot bath, with a capful of Olverum bath oil, the most wonderful scent that lingers on you and in the bathroom for hours afterwards.
15. Who has been your most memorable bartender?
I’m not sure about bartender though once again, at The Mayfair Townhouse, they had a fantastic original collection of cocktails, but my favourite bar is Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood Hotel. We do an interview feature in the magazine named after it and have had the most wonderful interviewees – and Gerard Scarfe let us use his writing in the title. It’s brilliantly cosy, dark and cocooning with a raging fire and sometimes if you’re lucky they put on live jazz.
16. When it comes to Champagne do you prefer Champagne from an "old" house or a "new" one?
I’m a huge fan of British brand Hattingley Valley and their blanc de blancs. Watch out, France, the Brits are coming…
17. What's your favourite restaurant meal?
I’m getting more and more into chefs who make vegetables sing as we all should be eating much less meat. But I can’t wait for Asma Khan to reopen Darjeeling Express – Indian food is an absolute favourite. The spicier the better.
18. If you had an unlimited budget for a shopping spree, where would you go?
I’ve told myself I know I have to be far stricter with what I purchase. I recently had a personal styling session at Sign of The Times, a second hand designer store in Chelsea that’s been there for eons. It was really eye-opening. The quality of the clothes was fantastic and so much more affordable than buying new.
19. If you could get your family, anything what would it be?
A wonderful vegetable patch, a natural swimming pool, a small wildflower meadow and a beautiful conservatory from which to see them all.
20. Where is the best food hall in London?
Harrods – without a doubt.
21. What's your dream credit card and why?
Ones I should really cut up. But if Amex wants to give me a black card, I won’t complain. It’s not very likely though!
22. Where can we find you on Social Media?
My only personal social media is LInkedin. For Country & Town House, please follow @countryandtownhouse on Instagram.
I don’t know about you but I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Lucy. She is such an inspiration! To be considered for a feature, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org