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THE RESURGENCE OF PRINT

ALI FOROUGHI – EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, JUNGLE

Founded in 2014 Jungle is the growing international fashion and culture, who despite all the odds, have made the progression from online journal to a magnificent print coffee table magazine. At its heart, Jungle seeks to inspire readers through the breathtaking collections of art, words, and photography which grace its pages.

Ali Faroughi
Founder of Jungle
Words: Joshua Moses
Images: Jungle

From an explosive digital readership of over 800,000 creatives, Jungle magazines now adorn the shelves of independent retailers across 15 countries. At the head of this unique urban brand sits Ali Faroughi who’s passion for photography and strive for perfection has led him and his team to craft one of the most stunning publications you’ll find on the newsstand.

Iranian-born, Ali didn’t start life aiming to work in the fashion industry. “Growing up in Iran everyone strives to be either a doctor or an engineer and what is saddening is that often you are looked down on for trying to find a creative outlet. And so that was where I was pushed, focusing on subjects that would get me into those sorts of careers. Then I moved over to England and didn’t have a word of English so you can imagine how fun the first day of school was… I had to focus on the subjects which were less English focused, so again I found myself wrapped up in Maths and Physics etc. By the time I got to university I had it in my head that I was going to do mechanical engineering and that’s where I would end up, following what my mum and dad had done with their careers.”

“It got to the point at university where I thought this isn’t right I really don’t want to wake up in the morning and have to do something that I really don’t like… Something that I hate. To be honest, I was losing motivation with my degree, but when I decided to start Jungle it was at that point my drive came from somewhere else, and it was all to do with Jungle. I was getting help from Loughborough University’s student/graduate commercialisation hub and to continue with that support I had to graduate, so that was my focus and that was what got me through.”

“Now I wake up and its hard, it’s fricking difficult, but I wake up excited about my day and that’s the difference.”

Bogged down at uni and needing a creative release, is that where the idea for Jungle came from?

“Looking back, I think the creative side of me came from my mum, she’s a painter so I had always had art in my life in some form. I was always doodling in my spare time to avoid getting any real work done and over the years I developed a passion for photography. It was at uni that the idea to turn my passion into a project really started to form. I realised that there weren’t actually many platforms for artists, like myself, to showcase their work in the area and so that’s where I began. Very quickly I noticed that there were so many more artists around than I had first thought and Jungle was a way to empower them. Submissions started to grow and as we entered our second issue we realised that we had built a global audience and that’s when I realised I could monetize this. Really, where we are now is just an extension of what we were, looking to empower everyday people but on at the next level, Loughborough University was just the start.”

Starting out as a one-man band, how did the company grow to where it is today?

“I knew when I started that this was far bigger than myself, and so from the get go I tried to put in place an architectural structure where I could slowly replace myself piece by piece. Because it was an exciting project I managed to get people involved really early on at uni. People were just genuinely curious to find out more about us, and what’s beautiful is that when people are passionate and excited about something they want to be a part of it. We grew in numbers and we could start doing more and more exciting things, things we had never really done before and the team just grew from there. My aim with everyone on the team was personal development, at uni I couldn’t pay, but I could teach them ways to grow as people. It was an organic way to work and luckily I got to work with some amazing people with incredible potential. It’s where I found Vanessa who has been my deputy editor since Loughborough University and she is the one who is running this business.”

You’ve clearly managed to surround yourself with an incredible team who care passionately about what they do, have you had any other help along the way?

“I think that part of being entrepreneurial is realising you can’t do everything yourself so I am always looking for help and I always keep my mind open to mentors and support. It doesn’t pay to be cocky about what you do and don’t know. One of my biggest mentors is a guy called Claud Williams who currently runs Dream Nation, and like a good teacher, he taught me where to look but not where to see. I felt like he was always here to point me in the right direction and leave me to develop from there myself.” 

“I also had a huge amount of help from Loughborough’s commercialisation hub “The Studio”. The whole thing works a bit like Dragon’s Den, you submit an application then pitch your business to a selection panel. Successful candidates then get offered office space, funding and mentoring which is so important. It’s a really nice environment to be in because you enter a community of entrepreneurs and everyone is so hungry to get their business to work. It’s a really supportive environment to get your business off the ground. I’m pretty sure most other universities have a similar scheme and I know the Studio are trying to work with as many as possible to build the community so it’s well worth looking into.”

So, you’ve gone from local artists to Gabrielle Aplin and Leanne Le Havas on the covers of your magazine. What was it like for you breaking a barrier that so many smaller companies face and getting some frankly huge names to work with you?

“It was amazing but first let me start by saying, a lot of people don’t see the beginning stages of a magazine and I’m going to be honest here, people don’t reply to our emails because there is just so much competition out there. We would have to regularly shoot at least 200 emails just to get one reply. But we built and built and built and just before we went to print on issue 7 we managed to get Gabrielle Aplin’s PR team on board and arrange for her to shoot with us for the cover. It wasn’t an overnight success we really had to work to get to that point. It took us a full seven issues before we were taken seriously and had managed to build connections with the brands we are working with now. And it doesn’t get any easier, I still get doors shut in my face all the time, but at least they are better doors. I am very grateful that we are now starting to see the rewards, we are getting exclusive access to some of these people and we aren’t the only ones at that level but it’s nice to see us moving in the right direction. I would say that the only thing that helps is just pushing, pushing and pushing and being the best version of yourself at any given time. That’s the only way you’re going to get those working at a higher level to work with you. I will say this though, it’s really dreamy when one of those big names wants to work with you and even though we aren’t anywhere near our potential it’s the start of seeing rewards for the hard work we have put in.”

‘I’m a global citizen’: Found on the Jungle Online Journal

Photographer: Marcus Paarmann
Model: Magalie @ Girls Club Management
Hair and Makeup: Berenice Ammann
Stylist: Yara Skye

“Really, where we are now is just an extension of what we were, looking to empower everyday people but on at the next level, Loughborough University was just the start.”

Banks Interview: Found in Edition 02 of Jungle Magazine

Video by Savage Reel
Music ‘Gemini Feed’ – Banks
Photographer: Luc Coiffait

Photographer Assistant: Sebastian de Cabo Portugal
Stylist: Ozzy Shah
Stylist Assistant: Harry Clements
Hair Stylist: Sharmaine Cox
MUA: Scarlett Burton
Music Editor: Phil Goodfellow
Fashion Editor: Daniela Suarez

“I could write a book about all of the barriers that faced us starting this magazine. For me, the hardest was the stigma you face when you decide to go against the flow and start your own business.”

Entering the magazine industry is no small task, let alone in fashion. What are some of the problems you have faced since launching Jungle?

“To be honest, if I had the time, I could write a book about all of the barriers that faced us starting this magazine. For me, the hardest was the stigma you face when you decide to go against the flow and start your own business. If we are talking this industry, it’s getting people to buy into your brand. The industry is so fickle, especially fashion, and when you have no experience building and selling a brand you have to educate yourself. The best way to do that is to read, even then that wasn’t easy for me as I’m dyslexic so I never used to read. I knew I had to overcome that so I started listening to audio books, anything which was relevant and honestly, over the past two years it has transformed the way I think and do things.”

 

We have a copy of Edition 01 here which is your first print edition. After the success you’ve had online, why did you feel the need to go into print?

“I believe in the importance of the sense of touch as one of the key human senses and as an artist/photographer myself I have always preferred print over digital. Not only that but when you ask a print magazine reader, there are two things they talk about one is the feel and the other is the smell, so it’s an experience you don’t get digitally and for me, the goal was always to be a print publication. Obviously, I am not going to disregard our millennial audience who live in a digital world.  But for us being digital provided a great starting platform, we could build a brand for relatively no cost and we intend to not only keep that but also build on that platform.”

“Going to print was taking the brand to the next level and a different audience. Those who buy print do so because they love it, they are a specific clientele who perhaps care even more about the content of the magazine. We wanted to tap into that audience not only for ourselves but for our advertisers who are interested in connecting with them. I think what makes us different, is that whilst we call ourselves a magazine we are more of a coffee table book. The whole idea is for our readers to sit and immerse themselves in the content, turn off from the outside world and just enjoy the art within the pages.” 

 

Looking at your list of UK stockists you are in Foyles, Selfridges, Harrods… To name a few, as well as in 15 countries across the globe. How did you go about securing distribution across such a wide audience?

“I think the key for us, to do this effectively (and the way most magazines operate), was to work with a distributing company. We managed to get Conde Naste on board and use their network because we were so niche in our target audience you will see that we are in more select stockists like your Selfridges and Harrods. Between us, the whole distribution side probably aged me about 10 years but it has been so worth it in the long run. Especially in terms of working with advertisers. To see that you are distributed through major London stores as well as having a global readership offers both credibility and respectability to your brand, so it was definitely well worth the time!”

So you have your distribution readership and a beautiful product, where next for Jungle?

“First of all, we want to make the business end fully sustainable, to a degree where we don’t have to be worried too much about the financial end of the business. I know it’s a crazy goal and unrealistic in today’s world but it gives us something to work towards. But the main thing is growing our audience, and by that I don’t mean to diversify but to grow within our target. We are lucky enough to have a real niche audience and I want to grow those in number rather than wider. We learnt a lot from our marketing strategy in Edition 01 which will change the way we market 02…So watch this space.”

“In terms of a longer-term strategy, when I registered Jungle in 2014 it was as Jungle Inc. The reason being that I saw the potential for a cross-platform brand which could stretch into all sorts of different subcategories. For us, that could mean exhibitions, agencies, fashion shows etc. We have plans in the pipeline for each of these and more but from what I’ve learnt from Jungle is that I want to be closer to the end product before we launch and make sure we get them right.”

Check out more about Jungle:

www.jungle-magazine.co.uk | Facebook – Jungle Magazine  | Instagram – Jungle Magazine | Twitter – Jungle_Magazine

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