5 Minutes With

28 May 2021

5 minutes with...

Ali Howard

Interiors Editor and Staff Writer / Freelance Journalist


"With so many emails coming in every day it’s great when subject lines are kept concise and to the point – and even better if a PR knows my regular features and comes to me with “Suggestion for At Home With” in the subject line."

Please provide a brief introduction to yourself & the magazines you work across as an Interiors Editor

I’ve worked for Fabric, a monthly property and lifestyle magazine for Londoners, for over ten years. Here, I’m an interiors editor as well as a staff writer, meaning I look after all the interiors content but get to do some of the fun extracurricular stuff like events, travel and beauty, too. I’ve had various freelance commissions over the years but one that’s really stuck is The Independent, which I’ve been doing for a few years. Again, it’s all interiors and homeware, testing out products in a real life setting – I’m often drowning in samples but I’m not complaining!

Give us the inside scoop, what is your favourite part about working for Fabric and the Independent?

It’s such a cliché but it’s true that every day is different and you never know what’s going to pop into your inbox, whether that’s a beautiful London home to snoop around in, an incredible new brand to champion, an opportunity to review the latest luxury home fragrance, or the holy grail – a press trip invitation.

What is it you look for from brands you're looking to feature? And If you could give a PR advice on what to do to get your attention and secure coverage with you - what would it be?

I’m a sucker for an interesting back-story. So much of my work is product-based, writing about inanimate objects, rather than people, and so to counter that I’d love to know about the designer-makers behind the furniture pieces, how the brand came about, the heart and soul behind the thing, essentially. At IndyBest, I often feel like a super-consumer, telling people what they should be buying, and with that comes a huge responsibility. Whenever I can I like to push products and brands with a strong environmental conscience. Sustainability and ethical practices are really important to me – it also gives me a nice human angle to write about.

In terms of advice for PRs, I’d say always include an image. Everything I do is visual so this is just as important as a well-written press release. With so many emails coming in every day it’s great when subject lines are kept concise and to the point – and even better if a PR knows my regular features and comes to me with “Suggestion for At Home With” in the subject line, for example. Keeping me updated with client lists is also super helpful.

What’s the most memorable approach you’ve had from a PR (good or bad, we're here for the tea)!

The best ones are the crazy offers whereby I have to pinch myself – do I want to cover a bikini launch in Barcelona? Would I like to interview Billy Zane? Yes, obviously. The worst take pushy to another level, despite a polite no thanks. If I’m interested, I will let you know.

What types of products and price points are you personally looking to feature?

Fabric is very specifically high-end, design-led and luxury, whereas at the Indy, I’m looking for the full gamut of price points – high-end to high street, and big brands to start-ups – which is really refreshing for me. Often, I’ll get a pitch for something that’s not quite right for Fabric but it’s exactly what I’m looking for on IndyBest.

As Interiors editor you must have tried out some amazing products before - are there any that really stuck out for you that you’d want for your own home?

I’ve certainly upped my luxury bedding game. It’s pure French linen all the way now.

You’ve worked at some amazing outlets past and present! Did you always know you wanted to get into journalism? How did you get into it?

Writing’s a bit of a second career for me, albeit one that I’d dabbled in for ages. Again it’s a cliché but I really did fall into it. I was working part-time answering the phone at the agency that Fabric was at. I wanted to get my band featured in the magazine and so I asked our editor to put me in touch with the guy that writes the events pages. She said it was a freelancer who they weren’t particularly happy with and did I want to do it instead? That was late 2009 and I’m still writing that section.

Tell us something fun that people don't know about you?

I’m in my element at karaoke and can do a mean Silly Games and Lovin’ You

What are you most looking forward to this year as things open up?

The words, “cabin crew, please prepare for take-off”.