Telum Talks To... Margaretha Untoro, Editor-in-Chief and Chief Community Officer, Dewi

Telum Talks To... Margaretha Untoro, Editor-in-Chief and Chief Community Officer, Dewi

How does a fashion magazine conduct photoshoots in the midst of COVID-19? With barely any fashion events and launches, what are they writing about?

How is Dewi different to other women’s interests magazines in Indonesia?
Dewi is the pioneer of luxury lifestyle publications in the country. The title has been around for more than 28 years, so it has a very strong foothold. On top of that, Dewi is also a purely Indonesian title, not a licensed or franchised publication. These are two facts that makes us different and unique.

What is your typical day like, as an Editor-in-Chief during COVID-19?
I’m still largely working remotely from home now, so a typical day goes like this - waking up to make coffee, do some yoga if I have the time, shower and get ready to go to my “office”, which is in my kitchen and dining area. Then I check my schedule, do some video calls with the 12 people in our editorial team, the business team, and/or the board of directors.

An Editor-in-Chief is basically a manager, so my responsibilities are to coordinate the editorial team and making sure deadlines are met, as well as checking that everything is in line with the editorial guidelines and themes. I also edit, make final checks on articles and approve photoshoots. If there’s an online launch or a brand event, I would attend them. But there hasn’t been much of these, due to the pandemic.

On the business side of things, I work closely with the team to create new opportunities, help with business plans and budgeting, and maintain good relationships with clients. Aside to my editorial role, I also oversee our offline events.

In the ‘old normal’, it’s more or less the same. The major difference would be that I’d be attending a lot of functions out of the office and spend half the day on the roads, being stuck in traffic.

How has COVID-19 impacted the editorial work at Dewi?
All global fashion calendars have been put on hold since February and with the lockdowns still going on globally, there has been a lot of adjusting and adapting. I’d say, a lot of the changes are not just necessary but also exciting to see.

Naturally, there are a lot of content related to “staying in” activities, from beauty, wellness to cooking. Fashion content will always be around because it’s aspirational.

Normally around this time of the year we would cover new seasons looks, cruise collections, and travel news. We still cover these but with different narratives and perspectives. Thankfully, collections are now launched digitally so there are still news.

What about photoshoots?
Fortunately, we’ve had some shoots taken before the social distancing measures were imposed in Jakarta. But for ongoing projects, like many others, we turn to online photoshoots, working with illustrators, or buying licensed shoots from international agencies or contributors.

Magazines are always planning an issue at least two or three months in advance. When talking about print issues, we need lead time for printing, which means we need to wrap things up two or three weeks before the magazines hit the newsstands.
How has Dewi embraced creating new online content during COVID-19?
A lot of people are spending time locked in. The smartphone is the easiest way to “escape” and see the outside world. This has resulted in the engagement at Dewi to spike. We also have Instagram Live series titled DEWI INSTAGRAM LIVE! But this is not really new as we’ve used it in the past but mostly to stream events like Dewi Fashion Knights. With the ‘new normal’, we will start using it to engage more with our community.
What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had working at Dewi?
When people write to me or come up to me and tell me that the articles or pieces that we cover inspired or touched them personally. And every time we publish an issue or hold a successful event, it’s always a rewarding experience!
Watching movies like The Devil Wears Prada, we have this image that fashion journalists live a glamorous life, they get sent so many clothes, handbags and beauty products. Is this true or just a stereotype?
Hahaha... I get this a lot! All I can say is, it’s not always rainbow and butterflies (or serums and handbags). Is it always glamorous? Behind the scenes, no, not at all. I would say that in a more mature industry like in the US or Europe, yes, it can be very glamorous especially, in the older days. But not so much here, in Indonesia. I don’t even have a personal assistant!

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