Life in Luxury | Maxine Kelly, Commissioning Editor – Watches & Jewellery, Financial Times
Ahead of tonight’s Walpole Summer Party on the roof terrace of the Financial Times new HQ, we spoke with the FT’s Maxine Kelly – the commissioning editor of Watches & Jewellery – on her ‘Life in Luxury’: what makes a good story, the influence of the sector’s biggest brands, and her route into ‘the jewel in the crown’ of the FT’s Special Reports.
Tell us what you do?
As commissioning editor of the FT’s Watches & Jewellery report, I source and edit features and interviews. The report is published six times a year.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
No sooner is one issue published, work on the next one begins. A big part of my job involves researching story ideas from across the watch and jewellery sectors, often tying them into some of the FT’s core themes and trends – e.g. blockchain, the rise of China consumerism, ecommerce and geopolitics. As part of this I liaise closely with our bank of fantastic freelancers as well as the FT’s in-house writers.
Once the copy has been filed, it’s a case of knocking the pieces into shape and cutting to fit, writing headlines and working with our picture editor to arrange photo shoots and source images. After an issue goes to press, stories are promoted both on social media and via some of the FT’s themed newsletters.
What do you like most about your job?
Finding quirky and interesting ways to look at these industries. For example, we recently ran a story on German luxury watchmaker Nomos’ efforts to empower its employees to challenge far-right thinking. Another piece explored the role of hand models in the jewellery sector, while another shone a light on the online businesses emerging in China that aim to help consumers identify counterfeit luxury goods.
Admin – and fielding emails from PRs who claim they have an “amazing” idea for a story!
What attracted you to the luxury / creative sector specifically?
The influence of the sector’s biggest brands is staggering. Not every innovation flies, of course, but these brands often lead the way when it comes to taking consumer trends in new directions – and a big part of this involves redefining ideas about how people relate to products and experiences.
What was your path to the role you have now?
I joined the FT around 12 years ago and for several years worked on specialist titles that cover the asset management sector – a million miles away from luxury but an equally high-value industry. After a spell as a production journalist on the Comment and Analysis desk, I joined the Special Reports team (which produces W&J) just over a year ago.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into the luxury / creative sector?
Keep a beady eye on consumer trends and the underlying factors driving them. These might include canny storytelling (which the luxury world excels at), technology or geopolitics.