Wednesday, 22 January 2014

TGIF by Nicky Clarke

I tried the whole web thing five years ago and launched a website called Gunpowder. But it was all wrong. Not only did it cover too many things — food, travel, fashion, motoring, you name it! — but I launched it at the wrong time. Luxury content in the middle of a recession – what was I thinking?! What's more, I had just arrived in London and hadn't yet got under the skin of the city. How did I expect to put together a magazine that Londoners connected with, when I felt alien myself?

So I closed the website down and spent the next five years living and breathing London. What defined London? Who was a Londoner? And what did they do here? More importantly, where did I fit into it all and what did I like about it? As it turns out, it was its food scene that I fell in love with. The restaurants here were unlike anywhere else in the world; despite the recession, they were opening up every day, menus were pushing the envelope like you wouldn't believe, and trends were as fantastic as they were fickle.

So I worked as an editor at a travel guide publisher for a couple of years, soaking up all the city had to offer. It was my job, after all. Then I moved across to a restaurant bar PR agency, representing some of the hottest chefs in the capital and being at the forefront of the coolest new openings. Finally, London – and more specifically, its restaurant and bar scene – is something I get.

Ready to impart my insider knowledge, I had the idea of opening up another website; only this time I'd go for a less-is-more approach, with a simple weekly newsletter sent out to readers every Friday. It would tell them where to go for that hot date on the Friday evening, where they should be brunching on Saturday, and ideas for that perfect Sunday roast. A weekly, weekend guide that was a food-and-drink edit in the truest sense of the word. London is a noisy city – there are countless websites and newsletters telling Londoners where they should be eating and drinking – but few that strip everything back and select only the very best.

So Friday's Child was born, and I set about working on the concept. Who would my reader be? Those who, like me, spend their money and time wisely, but aren't necessarily slaves to fads. We like to check out the latest openings, but aren't the kind to queue for hours, and like a classic restaurant as much as a here-today-gone-tomorrow pop-up. A balanced reader, I decided. One who had outgrown clubbing but still liked a good night out propping up a wine bar or cocktail joint. Then I found the right design company to work on the brand; it needed to be cool, but not too cool for school. A classic design that was very London, and most importantly, timeless. I think I've achieved that, and there's no better feeling than seeing sign-ups on a daily basis. It shows that people are already connecting with the look and feel, without even seeing the content. Which I'm taking as a good sign!

The first edition will be sent to subscribers' inboxes for 9am on Friday, 7th February, when Dry January is but a distant memory and bank balances are looking that little bit healthier after Christmas. Hopefully, I'll have hit the nail on the head with this launch, and sometimes it takes an early attempt to get your head around what people want. Fingers crossed Friday's Child is just that.

For more information on Nicky Clarke and Friday's Child, visit Follow Friday's Child on Twitter and on Facebook.