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Gemma Keil · Fashion Editor, Stellar

Dream Job

Working for one of Australia’s highest-circulation weekend magazines is a dream job for effervescent Stellar Magazine Fashion Editor, Gemma Keil.

The 31-year-old Sydneysider told of relocating for big breaks, broadcasting your CV, and the importance of having friends with outside interests, as we bonded over our mutually random career beginnings: working as airline cabin crew in the Middle East!

 

6th July, 2017

Gemma Keil
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Gemma Keil works her dream job: Fashion Editor at Stellar Magazine. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Gemma Keil
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The 31-year-old Sydney-based fashion editor and freelance stylist. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Clothes
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Clothes prepped for the shoot. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Casey and Zoe
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Gemma with models, Casey and Zoe – refer to last Saturday’s Stellar to see the finished results in print!!! Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Gemma Keil
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For Stellar Magazine‘s Fashion Editor Gemma Keil, there’s nothing quite like holding a new issue of the magazine with her story inside! Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Gemma Keil
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‘Believe in yourself and don’t give up; you’ll get there, so remember to enjoy the journey while you’re at it too!’ tells Gemma. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Moodboards
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Moodboards on set. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Visual Merchandising
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After finishing a Visual Merchandising degree at RMIT in Melbourne, Gemma moved to Dubai. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

stylist
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In the UAE, Gemma worked for Emirates Airlines, as a freelance stylist, and later at Bloomingdales. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

set
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Checking shots on set. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
Thursday 6th July 2017

Seeing your concept come to reality is the best feeling ever.

Since long before The Devil Wears Prada was even a collection of words with coherent meaning, swathes of young, stylish job hopefuls dreamed of working for a fashion mag! One real-life case of landing the highly-idolised gig, is that of Gemma Keil, the current Fashion Editor of Stellar Magazine – the highest circulation glossy on the Eastern seaboard!

This Sydney-based go-getter’s trajectory into the world of fashion is anything but typical, and today she shares her story – from taping heels as a Melbourne Fashion Festival intern, to riding the wave of Dubai’s retail boom, and pursuing her goals with tenacious passion back on home soil.

Here follows a non-Hollywood/Hathaway plot on making it in fashion mags:

The most important verb in the get-your-dream-job lexicon is…

…set your intention. Believe in yourself and don’t give up; you’ll get there, so remember to enjoy the journey while you’re at it too!

I landed this job by…

… persistence.

I’ve had an unusual career trajectory into the magazine world. After finishing a Visual Merchandising degree at RMIT in Melbourne, and having a taste of fashion styling through work experience (the first of which was at Melbourne’s Fashion Festival back in 2005, where I was dressing models and taping lots of shoes!) I moved to Dubai working for a quick stint as cabin crew for Emirates Airlines.

It was in Dubai that I joined an agency and started assisting stylists on my days off. At that time Dubai’s economy was booming and very quickly I was styling my own campaigns, and hung up my crew uniform. (Gladly so, as beige and red are not my colours!) I then took on a role as head stylist for Dubai’s Bloomingdales store, the first to open outside the US. It was here my love and appreciation for fashion really grew, and I learned about trends, forecasting, buying and the luxury fashion world. I moved back to Australia five years later and took on a role as Market Editor at InStyle (Pacific Magazines) which gave me a perfect platform to work with the country’s best creatives, and make amazing pictures.

When I first moved back after living overseas, I decided that Sydney was the best place for me to pursue my styling career. I wrote to every editor under the Australian sun with my portfolio and CV, leaving out that I was based in Melbourne (as most of the titles are in Sydney). Finally after months of knock backs, I got a call for an interview… the very next day. I immediately booked a flight and jumped a plane to Sydney. The interview turned into shooting a freelance story for the magazine, which later turned into my first magazine job – at InStyle!

A typical day for me involves…

An ideal morning for me starts with a jog around Centennial Park, then I try and still my mind by mediating for five minutes or so, followed by breakfast and a strong injection of caffeine, which I shamelessly top up during the day. I get into the office at about 9am and check my schedule, then make a list of priorities.

At a weekly magazine, time is my most valuable resource. I often shoot two stories a week and our talent varies from high-profile celebrities, to models, to television personalities, with each requiring different approaches.

When preparing for a shoot the process will start with moodboarding a concept, then thinking of the right location and team, coming up with set deigns, casting models or getting in touch with the managers of celebrities. Then the mad rush for the clothes begins.

The most rewarding part of my job is…

Holding a new issue of the magazine with your story inside. Seeing your concept come to reality is the best feeling ever.

Another highlight is working with a great team that brings their best on shoot day, to create beautiful work. I also love the travel, which allows me to discover cities all around the world and work with diverse talent and crew.

 

To work well under pressure and meet deadlines with great end products, you need a team with a strong work ethic and never-give-up attitude.

On the other hand, the most challenging aspect is…

Being your own worst critic and having your work open to everyone’s judgment. Stellar reaches so many people, it’s distributed throughout most of the Eastern seaboard, so sometimes I get nervous about that.

The culture of my workplace is…

Everyone in our magazine is working to really short deadlines so there is always a sense of urgency, and sometimes drama when things don’t work out, but everyone has a laugh at the same time – after all we’re hardly saving lives!

I’m always…

Talking to myself in the fashion cupboard when I’m styling. I’ve had assistants warn the interns to expect it and not be alarmed! Haha! Apparently when I’m on set I also change my hairstyle numerous times through out the day – I’m not even aware I’m doing it.. Better than a nervous twitch I guess.

On Job Day at school, I dressed up as…

I don’t remember Job Day, but after coming to terms with the fact it was highly unlikely I would become a fairy, I think I wanted to be an air hostess and travel the world (tick!).

My idea of the perfect workplace has…

Lots of references and inspiration around, be it in the form of nature, books, moodboards, art, etc…

It’s also where everyone has good interpersonal skills and can collaborate well with a wide variety of people. To work well under pressure and meet deadlines with great end products, you need a team with a strong work ethic and never-give-up attitude.

The best piece of advice…

… have a life outside of your job. This job is very consuming and often involves late nights, trips away and working weekends, so it’s really important to try and maintain some balance. It can also be very superficial, so it’s nice hanging out with people who have other interests.

Over the years, our industry has shifted…

The publishing industry has changed immensely in the five years I have been in Sydney. Obviously, with a large move to digital and the rise of the bloggers, advertisers have more avenues of exposure. However, in a way, the pressure has pushed people in magazines to be more creative and I think that really shows.

In the next five years I’d like to…

Still be working in print in some capacity, and also working on other creative projects too!

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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