Hopefuls Interview with the Co-founder of Cradlebeam Magazine
By Kayley Stanbridge
This issue, we speak with Petra, a co-founder of the magazine Cradlebeam, which focuses on championing the voices of emerging creatives – writers, visual artists, photographers and musicians. Petra explains that an important part of Cradlebeam is breaking down the barriers between creators and editors. The team who run the magazine “explicitly encourage” contributors to share their thoughts about people they “would like to nominate for future features, regardless of the scope of their creative projects.” Cradlebeam currently provides features, Q&As and reviews on either a specific piece of work, or a portfolio that has caught their attention, all of which are curated by Petra and her close friend Nic.
In terms of the inspiration behind Cradlebeam magazine, Petra tells us that “as a periodically hopeful/less writer myself, I know firsthand how daunting it may seem to approach industry professionals, especially if one's work still feels sacredly private.” Additionally, as someone who has done her “fair share of querying and cold-pitching”, Petra says “nothing helps quite like having an outlet without stipulations.” Cradlebeam helps to reduce this stress put on creatives and aims to showcase talent no matter how extensive their portfolio.
Cradlebeam was launched in March this year, and since then Petra has been completing her master’s degree, whilst Nic has been looking for a job. In terms of the challenges that Petra and Nic have faced during this period, she explains that “the biggest challenge was time management and balancing different responsibilities. In today's hustle culture, it’s easy to convince yourself that you can stay up for one more hour despite your eyes bleeding from staring at a screen.” Moreover, being new to running a platform by themselves, Petra explains that they learned through trial and error. “There were times when layouts didn’t work or when people had ideas that didn’t fit the message of our platform. In these cases we'd troubleshoot: first, update each other about the state of things, then brainstorm potential solutions and involve contributors if needed. We had to outsource frequently, consult people we knew who had more experience in web design, ask for general advice, etc.”
In terms of the skills that Petra has developed during this process, she tells us that “communication is the biggest one. Until recently, I had only been on the other end of the line, wanting to get my pieces noticed… Suddenly, I was making the executive call over what makes the cut to get published and that required absolute openness.” She explains further that “approaching people and organisations to give us shoutouts or collaborate is another area where one needs to be hands-on and direct… It’s a mixture of skills that sharpen each day if you start your own publication. You’ll be wearing many hats at once, which I believe prepares you greatly for any future endeavours.”
Looking at the goals that Petra has for the magazine, she tells us, “now that our lives have calmed down for a bit, we would like to continue putting effort into developing a supportive community that takes pride in its members' successes. As more people contribute, I would personally like to create a newsletter that would update everybody on new projects. We want to be a place people follow even after having been featured.”
In terms of other publications that inspire Petra, she tells us that, “when it comes to print publications, I've got to say Mslexia – it gives a cosy and close-knit feel to the women's writing community”. In terms of digital publications, Petra says that “Aurelia magazine would be my go-to pick – their column Literal Hotties is marvellous and the girls behind the publication possess perseverance with their specific vision of the magazine that ought to be admired.”
Petra tells us that Cradlebeam’s submissions are open and that they are “happy to receive short fiction, visual portfolios or audio links. Don’t worry about sounding official, just tell us something about yourself: what you do and why you do it, or whether checked trousers are hot or not (to help us settle the debate once and for all). Let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Petra explains that her ideal publishing role would be in either editorial or publicity. In terms of why Petra wants to work in publishing, she explains, “I have always advocated for the importance of fiction in reference to real life. I come from Slovakia, where it can sometimes still be a battle to prove that publishing and the creative industry is a viable career option. Since I moved to the UK, I have seen how much the audience can vary, and how many people still struggle for appropriate representation in the global market. I think getting those voices out there is the first step towards erasing the misconception about certain creative activities being only for certain creative people (read: middle-class, white, heterosexual). Cancelling the elitism from writing, publishing and selling books – that's the dream!”