A conversation with Eva Van Driessche

No girl or woman younger than 35 has never heard about flair magazine (since 1985!). After creating content for different magazines Eva became chief editor of the most popular magazine for young adults. What better way to gain insights about what lives amongst young women during Covid19 and the effect of the lockdown on print media – that was already struggling before Corona hit. And if that doesn’t convince you then read it for the shot of positivism you will get from Eva’s “sometimes nothing runs perfectly, and that is perfectly fine” covid conversation.

First of all, how are you doing in these weird corona times?   

Great! No honestly, there were ups and downs. I enjoy my daily corona walks instead of traffic jams, but I am beginning to dislike zoom meetings more and more.

I know you combine kids and work, how are you holding on /coping? Any tips for kindred spirits?

Be kind. To yourself. To your co-workers. And when you can to your kids as well. ☺ I have a very active and happy toddler Rosie (3) running around who hates it when mummy goes to work. Even when work is just upstairs in the attic office. So nothing runs perfectly and that is perfectly fine. You can only do your best. And we have toddlers and babies popping up in our online meetings all the time.

What do you miss the most? Or, what will be the first thing you do once all the corona measures are lifted?

There is a lot I don’t miss. Shopping, consuming, traffic. What I miss the most is spontaneity. Just deciding to invite friends over when I have bought too much stuff at the market. Organising a mojito night when the herbs in the garden are ready. Meeting up with friends for breakfast and keep talking until the sun goes down.

How do you experience the crisis on a professional level? 

It is an adrenaline rush. People have more time to read and they appreciate classic media again. We quickly saw a positive effect on sales. So we tried to welcome all the new readers with a lot of great content. Now is the time to shine! Yet, we also had to rearrange our weekly planning. We dropped articles about stuff you couldn’t do and replaced them with inspiration for things to do at home. Our marketing team made a complete new calendar as we had to cancel most of our ‘mini-guides’, the discount actions that are typical for Flair. We came up with a whole new plan and organised a ‘shop from home online discount’ and a ‘restaurant at home discount’. We also went full speed ahead on special editions like a tattoo dossier with fake tattoos, a vegan cookbook and a summer novel by Kaat De Kock.

The industry was already suffering. What impact does Covid 19 have on your sector? 

We have more readers and more subscriptions, but at the same time most of the commercial partners have dropped their campaigns. This will be a though one. But our sales devision is working on a comeback plan. As editor in chief my focus remains the same: create the best content that surprises and entertains our readers. 

Did you adjust the content to COVID 19? Any new columns, headings, sections that rose during the lockdown? 

We adjusted our content, but not in the way that everything we wrote was Corona-related. That is not our job, you have news media that cover this adequately. We tried to provide inspiration, me-time, a feeling of escape and relaxation in this difficult time. And of course we took a focus to what mattered to our audience, the young people. How did singles cope? How can we stay social while we are social distancing. We launched a campaign to send warm (and funny) messages to your friends and loved ones to keep ‘touching’ them while in lockdown.

It is suggested that the lockdown has made people reflect. They have had time to reflect about themselves and what makes them happy. Do you think there will be a shift in what your readers expect? Do you notice a change in the interest of your readers?

We write for young people (20-30) so the way they think changes all the time! We feel that it can have a positive effect on how they consume: more sustainable, more local. And it also makes them think about what makes them happy. And that it doesn’t always have to be complicated to be happy. Gardening, improving their homes, reading and binge watching were the most popular themes. But we also put self love to the front. When you are spending so much time with ‘me, myself and I’, it is very important to love who you are. You don’t sweat the small stuff like some extra corona weight or a haircut that is not ‘on point’. We did a little poll on our Instagram and it became clear they were loving their no-make-up-looks and bed hair, but they were worried about their psychological wellbeing.

How do you see the future for Flair? 

It is going to be interesting. As always. I think this crisis showed us that media can still be relevant and helpful. As a source of dependable information, but also as an inspiration to cope with difficult times. It inspired a lot of new creativity. The lockdown made our minds bigger and you will see the effects months from now. When nothing is going as planned, everything is possible!

Any tips or comforting words for our readers? 

Keep calm and keep reading. When you cannot travel, when all parties are cancelled, create your own party in your mind. You can go everywhere you want to go!