Careers

This is what it’s really like to run a shoppable digital magazine

Posted by
Hannah Keegan
Published

Work/Life is Stylist’s regular column about the professional routines of successful women. Meet Michelle Lu, co-founder of Semaine digital magazine.

Michelle Lu, 32, is the co-founder of shoppable digital magazine Semaine. She lives between Paris and London

MY ALARM GOES OFF…

At 7am and I snooze until 7.30am. Then, I meditate, do yoga and listen to [American non-profit radio station] NPR. If I’m in Paris,I’ll go to Rose Bakery to grab coffee and breakfast – usually some fruit or a croissant – and run through my Feedly app to get the news. Most days I wear vintage jeans and a blouse.

I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR…

Running the online platform Semaine. We take readers inside a different tastemaker’s world every week to explore their passions and style – we’ve worked with the model Naomi Shimada, the polymath Miranda July and the chef Ruth Rogers to name a few. Everything you see is shoppable. I look after the content side, which involves everything from commissioning features to overseeing video scripts.

I GOT THE JOB…

By collaborating with a colleague. I travelled around the world with photographer Mario Testino as his creative producer, and my business partner, Georgina, worked in his studio too. I left after three years and we launched Semaine in 2015. Raising the capital was tough – most investors we met told us to forget about it. But we made a test film and convinced six of them to take a chance on us. We didn’t accept advertising for a year because we wanted to establish our voice first.

MY TYPICAL DAY…

Starts by going through emails at my in-home studio in Paris. My business partner and our social media manager work at our studio in London. We leave our computer cameras on, so it’s like we’re all in the same room. In the morning, we might brainstorm people we would like to feature. This could be an actor, an activist or an artist – we look for people who are experts in their field. Then, it’s a lot of forward-planning– commissioning writers,reviewing scripts and organising shoots. I can be working on six to eight different projects at once.I stop working to make lunch at 1pm, usually some noodles. In the afternoon, I often meet directors we want to work with. They’ll present us with their visions for a video. I travel every few weeks to places like Los Angeles or New York to shoot content or meet collaborators. I try to switch off my computer by 7.30pm.

MY MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT…

Was when we shot our political satire video, The Emperor, for the one-year anniversary of Trump’s presidency. We had five women in Trump masks recite Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator in the Californian desert. The video raised money for Planned Parenthood. It was 40°C but no one cared because the message was so important.

THE WORST PART OF MY DAY IS…

All the planning ahead. It’s hard to be in the now.

THE BEST PART OF MY DAY IS…

The freedom. I get to realise what I have in my mind.

AFTER WORK…

I might go for dinner with someone we’re working with. In Paris, I eat at Hôtel Amour a lot. Afterwards,I’ll read or watch something – I’m enjoying Netflix’s GLOW right now.I’m asleep by midnight.