From publishing to pioneer: Crystal Mahey-Morgan interview
Crystal Mahey-Morgan is Founder at OWN IT! Entertainment Limited. OWN IT! is a storytelling lifestyle brand, telling stories across books, music, fashion and film. At the heart of everything it does is a desire to share, empower, celebrate and inspire. We wanted to find out more about Crystal and her vision.
1) Your writing has been taken seriously since a young age (16). What helped you to write, and what should budding writers be doing to perfect their craft?
My journalism for me was about sharing my passion about things I loved and expressing an opinion about things I cared about. For The Face Magazine, I wrote about music, fashion and the creativity that was coming from the underground sub-cultures that surrounded me growing up in London. For The Guardian, I wrote articles which included exploring gang culture and the negative effects an irresponsible advertising industry was having on young women growing up. The thing that helped me was everything came from the heart and nothing was forced. I think the best way for budding writers to perfect their craft is not to write what the think will make people like them but to have the confidence to stay true to their ideas, stories, characters etc, as this will probably result in better content.
2) You launched OWN IT! in 2014. What are your main goals with this new venture?
I registered OWN IT! as a company in 2014 but we didn’t start trading until November 2015. OWN IT! describes itself as a storytelling lifestyle brand telling stories across books, music, fashion and film and in the DNA of our approach is the ability to be fluid. We tell stories in diverse ways from 6 word stories on t-shirts, to print books (Prisoner to the Streets and Mama Cant Raise No Man) to multi-media digital books which include song and animation (Don’t Be Alien). We serve audiences normally ignored and we are a platform for storytellers who have bags of talent but may not always be recognised by the mainstream. The main goal is to continue to be fluid, expand and scale up without losing who we are.
3) How did your career in publishing help you to form ideas for OWN IT!?
If you’re going to set up a STORYTELLING lifestyle brand, spending 8 years working in publishing definitely helps! If it wasn’t for this experience/foundation in publishing from contracts to sales to digital, the publishing arm of OWN IT! definitely wouldn’t be as strong as it is. I’ve always loved words, stories, expression and OWN IT! is just a celebration of storytelling in it’s multiple forms. Books is of course a huge part of this but ultimately I think the true unique selling point of OWN IT! is in it’s fluid nature and approach from ideas to execution to artists to audiences. That has come about because I’ve worked in so many different industries/roles.
4) How do you think that mainstream publishing can keep appealing to your readers?
I have a diverse set of readers from the ‘traditional’ reader that mainstream publishing already appeals to, to the often ignored reader that I feel mainstream publishing doesn’t even know/recognise exists.I think generally speaking all publishers need to be pro-actively aware of the fact that when it comes to younger generations especially books now compete with all types of entertainment and we have a responsibility to ensure books are a choice of entertainment. If we lose the next generation of readers, we lose the future of book lovers.
5) What’s your favourite part of your day?
When I wake up and know that the day’s work ahead of me is contributing towards a business that I founded and run and a vision I’m slowly turning into a reality.
OWN IT! published
Mama Can’t Raise No Man By Robyn Travis on the Oct 3rd in Hardback. You can buy it here.
Crystal Mahey-Morgan, OWN IT!, publishing inspiration, Success
Co-founder of @bookmachine - the network for forward-thinking #publishing folks; and BookMachine Works - the fresh new creative agency for publishers