Creative Lives — Countering the stale state of football culture: SEASON zine founder Felicia Pennant
Subconsciously, Felicia Pennant was influenced by her parents. They launched Grapevine – a published directory of African and Caribbean groups in the UK – and also had a video store on Streatham high street in the 90s. Fast forward to the present day and their daughter is creating issue seven of her self-professed baby, SEASON zine, flanked by a formidable team that count sport giants Nike, Adidas, and Puma as collaborators. After studying fashion history and theory at Central Saint Martins in 2013, Felicia attended a talk that Jeremy Leslie of magCulture fame gave and took down notes on how to start a magazine. MagCulture ended up being one of SEASON zine’s first stockists, and the rest was history. Here, Felicia delves into her favourite SEASON projects, shares her advice for starting your own zine and concludes that social media is key when creating printed matter.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief, SEASON zine
Commissioning Editor (maternity cover), Dazed Beauty
Vogue.co.uk, BBC, London College of Fashion
For SEASON: Nike, Adidas, Puma
Deputy Feature Editor, ASOS Magazine (2018–2019)
UK Editor, Shopcade (2017–2018)
Fashion Features Writer, Avenue 32 (July 2013–2017)
BA Fashion History and Theory, Central Saint Martins (2010–2013)
NCTJ Level 3 Diploma in Journalism (2014)
Felicia; Photography by Ilenia Arosio for Rivista Undici magazine
How would you describe what you do?
I would say ‘editor’ encapsulates my day job and part of what I do for SEASON – writing, commissioning, editing and signing off copy. But on SEASON I also manage the team, do all the admin, as well as physically pack and send out orders. SEASON zine spans biannual print issues and stickers, a podcast, social media, events and more which the team work on collaboratively with external creatives.
Can you tell us a little about SEASON zine?
I launched SEASON zine in London in 2016 to counter the male, pale and sometimes stale state of modern football culture and to explore the evolving interplay between fashion, football and personal style. It’s a cross between a football fanzine and a fashion magazine.
We’re a community and a creative platform. We tell football and fashion stories (always one, sometimes both) that showcase, celebrate and empower female fans whether they play or not. All the while unpacking important issues, dispelling stereotypes, emphasising inclusivity and collaborating with exciting creative talent.
As I work full-time, SEASON zine happens outside of those hours on evenings and weekends predominately. My time management always evolves depending on what the immediate priorities are. I’ve become a lot better at setting boundaries and carving out time for myself. People don’t always realise that our team works to a different schedule than everyone else.
Issue 05; Jeanette Kwakye and Eni Aluko photographed by Jane Stockdale
Issue 06; Leah Williamson photographed by Luke & Nik
Issue 01; Naoki Scintu photographed by Emily Rachel Rose
How collaborative is your role?
Very collaborative. I have an incredible SEASON core team: associate editor Sian Rowe, editors-at-large Naomi Accardi and Lucy McCalmont, football associate Florence Lloyd-Hughes, fashion editor Rickardo Mattocks-Maxwell, picture editor Matilda Hill-Jenkins and design lead Caitlin Clancy. Between us, we’ve written for Vice, NME and Rivista Undici; styled models and players like Ada Hegerberg, shot for Refinery 29 and Ladybeard and art directed at The New York Times. We’re always thinking: What stories need to be told? What’s new in football and fashion culture? What are female fans experiencing now? Who’s worth talking to? And above all: how can we put a unique SEASON spin on this? How can we step up from what we’ve done before?
What has been the most exciting project of the last twelve months?
There have been so many! We launched issue six of SEASON with an incredible event at Protein Studios – we had a panel talk with some of the great women in our community, such as Rocky Hehakaija, Viv Jeffers, Natasha Chahal, Aimee Capstick and Cassie Looker. [London-based DJ collective] Born N Bread were on the decks, and we had a Sage Flowers workshop to make jam jar flower arrangements based on the rose, poppy and primrose pattern of the Lionesses away kit. Such a great vibe!
We also put on a series of events at 1948 LDN to celebrate the 2019 Women’s World Cup with great music, food, a pop-up beauty bar, sticker workshop and pop-up magazine store. We’ve been talking about doing the SEASON Podcast for a few years and finally got the opportunity to do it and extend our approach to storytelling with audio. All of the guests are making important moves in the creative London football scene, so it was fantastic to hear their stories in their own words.
Spread from SEASON Issue 05; photography by Jane Stockdale, styling by Rickardo Mattocks-Maxwell, hair and makeup by Emily Dhanjal, creative producer Manda Wilks
Is there a resource that has particularly helped you? And which you would recommend to someone else?
Frieze put on an ‘Introduction to independent magazine publishing’ session on 12 Apr 2016. Ben Eastham of White Review and Jeremy Leslie of magCulture were the speakers and they shared their insights, experiences and step-by-step tips on how to practically start a title – including nurturing an audience, generating revenue and printing. I took so many notes and spoke to Jeremy about my idea afterwards. He thought it sounded good – a football and fashion zine – but the only way to know would be to do it and then bring it to MagCulture. I did, and MagCulture was one of SEASON zine’s first stockists. It’s now come full circle because I’m on the line-up for MagCulture Live London 2019 on 7 November, where I will be talking about SEASON zine.
Spread from SEASON Issue 03 insert; photography by Benjamin Swanson, set design by Imogen Frost, design by Natalie Doto
How I Got Here
How do you think your upbringing influenced your choice of career?
Subconsciously, it influenced me in ways I never realised until recently. My parents launched their own publication, Grapevine, a directory for African and Caribbean groups in the UK (a community information service) and also had their own video store on Streatham High Street in the 90s. So that entrepreneurial spirit of doing things your way and being your own boss (particularly as a Black woman where certain spaces are more difficult to navigate) was something I always thought was possible. It was just having the idea, being prepared to work extremely hard and dedicating the time and funds.
How useful have your studies been in your career? Were there any transferable learnings that you took with you?
I’m a geek at heart. I went to Christ Hospital boarding school (2002–2009) where I learnt how to organise my time and multi-task. Hard work pays off – I got good grades (three A’s at A level), had Saturday lessons and wore Tudor uniform. The importance of dress, self-expression and the messages you can communicate through what you wear and how you present yourself really hammered home.
I loved history, writing and constructing arguments, as well as questioning the status quo which lead to me to study Fashion History and Theory at Central Saint Martins. It was an important overview of how fashion is a system, culture, business and way of life, and how it feeds into other aspects of society. I did my final year thesis on ‘Suits, Shoots and Metrosexuality’ looking at the role suits played in the construction of David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba and Mario Balotelli’s public masculinity through fashion magazines. Being there also opened the doors to internships – I interned at Nylon and Donna Karen in New York on a student visa.
Spread from SEASON Issue 05; photography by Lauren Maccabee, styling by Daisy Deane, makeup by Mary-Jane Gotidoc, hair by Wilson Fok
After graduating, what were your initial steps?
Well, I started an internship the day after my graduation and stayed there for almost four years until the company closed. It was a luxury e-tailer and I went from editorial intern to editorial assistant to fashion features writer. What I loved about it was being able to work on shoots – from the concept to the returns (which I found therapeutic). I was also able to write about fashion, interview designers in their studio and go backstage at London Fashion Week – the interviews that stand out are Serafina Sera of Isa Arfen and Jonathan Saunders in their studios. I did my NCTJ part-time while I was there.
How important would you say social media has been to establishing your career?
Instagram has been very important. It’s allowed everyone to carve personal and creative window storefronts (for want of a better phrase) and you can advertise your skills or projects to the world – past, present and future. I personally use it to see what’s going on, connect to creatives wherever they are, unearth new talent, to share whatever I’m working on and to give glimpses into my non-working life.
“Instagram has allowed everyone to carve personal and creative window storefronts.”
For SEASON, it’s been even more important. It has brought the print zine to life on screen and raised awareness about the creation, messages and people. Being based in London, it’s a portal to the world. We’re working on better ways of representing the great print work we do, because a screen doesn’t always do it justice.
The instant feedback and engagement are also invaluable, as you can quickly quantify success with the stats and insights – although we know they can be skewed by a range of factors. As we’re building a community, social media helps to strengthen that because it makes it easy for people to get involved.
What’s been your biggest challenge along the way?
I would probably say in SEASON’s case, over the first three and a bit years, the biggest challenge has been budgeting, sustaining revenue and having contingencies. For instance, the foil logos on issue 02 look great but were super expensive and some of them came off in transit! It was stressful but we solved it. Given the nature of what we do and how we work, there are different approaches and plans in place to overcome obstacles like that, so we’ll see what the future holds.
Spread from SEASON Issue 05; photography by Lauren Maccabee, styling by Daisy Deane, makeup by Mary-Jane Gotidoc, hair by Wilson Fox
Words of Wisdom
What advice would you give to an emerging creative wanting to get into the same line of work?
Just do it! You’ll never know if it will truly work until you try. Research extensively to figure out what your purpose and USPs are, the ideal format, your tone, if you have an audience and the practical process of bringing your idea to life. Also secure funding – no money, no publication. Tap into a network of likeminded people for their insights and support, and collaborate when you can. Work hard. Adapt quickly. Be humble.
Header image: Leah Williamson in SEASON zine issue 06; photography by Luke & Nik, styling by Rickardo Mattocks-Maxwell, creative producer Manda Wilks, hair by Maki Tanaka, makeup by Emily Dhanjal and design by Miltos Bottis