Walking into the office of the Renegade Collective is like a breath of fresh air amidst a sea of disingenuous people that are skilled at spinning a compelling tale.
Far from that, Lisa Messenger, entrepreneur and businesswoman extraordinaire is a real and down to earth woman. The Renegade Collective office, is less an office and more like an immaculately styled share house packed to the brim with talented and successful women. If only such places existed in day to day life.
Pictures of Claire, the Marketing Director from her wedding are shown pride of place on the coffee table and Lisa’s gorgeous puppy runs between your feet and bounds around- instantly lifting your mood.
Lisa leads us onto the sun filled balcony, and a little bunny head peeps over the garden wall.This is the epitome of what Lisa Messenger is all about, bringing light and love into your every day- which is really the most inspiring message of all.
We settle in for a chat in the sun and while sipping on tea, I begin to delve into the fascinating mind of Lisa. She is frank, yet human and is a prime example of forging ahead and doing what you love regardless of experience. If you do something that you love, and you work hard, you will succeed.
BWA: What was your journey up till this point?
LM: I’ll try and keep this brief! So I started as a horse riding instructor in the UK, and I really thought that was what I was going to be. And then I had about eight years in conference and event management. From there I moved into sponsorship so I organized the sponsorship for Cirque Du Soleil and Barry Humphries.
It was kind-of there that I learn’t how to broker deals and put them together. After that I started my own business, eleven and a half years ago…so in October 2001 as a sponsorship agency. We morphed into an integrated marketing agency, a reflection of the tough economic times.
I then got married,and then divorced about nine years ago, and I was really unhappy so I decided to write a book, “Happiness Is” because I was searching for what would make me happy, and I knew nothing about publishing at all, but I knew how to raise money from corporate so I decided to self-publish.
I pre sold it to Mercedes and Macquarie Bank, and the media went nuts over it as a whole “new publishing model”. I mean it is interesting, at school I did the lowest of the low in English! So its kindof weird and crazy that you can become an author and own a publishing company! All these people started asking me to publish their books, so now I have done over four hundred books, and authored and co-authored seventeen books.
BWA: And are you still doing that?
LM: Yes! So my next book will be out in December this year and we also keep doing books for clients.
There is going to be a big one released next October which is going to be the story behind the magazine. Since October last year since I have been documenting the process in a diary every day, from every deal to every rogue staff member!The one in December this year will be a watered down version of that.
BWA: How did the Renegade Collective Magazine come about?
LM: Last year, I just thought, for a zillion different reasons…well why not do a magazine! In the worst time possible, when every other magazine is closing. I love a hard market and being counter-intuitive to what every one else is doing, in fact I think its the best time to open a business.I guess because I have been an entrepreneur for so many years and I have met so many entrepreneurs and interesting people from all over the world I thought…well the magazine gives the opportunity to bring all those people and those partnerships together.
So many people wanted to work with us, but not necessarily in books, so we thought ok every issue we can interview ninety people which gives us the opportunity to connect with a whole lot of people, but also it gives us the opportunity to collaborate with so many more people that we want to, whereas books can be quite one dimensional. And I also just got sick of all the salacious gossip and vacuous stuff that is out there in the media right now. And so the magazine was born!
BWA: In terms of the Magazine, how does an issue come together…where is the starting point?
LM: Well, in terms of the starting point, it was really yesterday for the next issue! Really we just sit down and flat plan it, its 176 pages and we literally start from Page 1. all the way to Page 176. It’s a really fun process, I would get sent over 50 emails a day with story ideas, so its all about going through those and then choosing what works…I don’t want to do celebrity for celebrity’s sake.
It’s all about working out a good balance between fashion and lifestyle, inspiration, charity work and global- because we do have a global reach. My end goal is to have 80% global and 20% Australian content.
BWA: Do you have a theme for each issue or just kindof roll with it?
LM: We really just kindof roll with it, although we have done some loose attempts at themes, so this issue is a bit of a boho theme- the cover is very boho. Last issue was rock chick, lots of black- it’s really whatever mood I am in at the time.
BWA: What do you look for when going through the many submissions you get?
LM: Yes definitely. It always has to inspire the reader, its like- if someone was doing a piece on a cafe for instance, they might usually say how nice the tiles are or how good the five course degustation meal. That’s interesting, but only about 10% of what we want to cover, I want to know…why did they start this cafe? Where did they come from? How did they fund it?
We try to dig alot deeper to get the real back story and inspire our readers and show the path to how things are possible.
BWA: Who or what inspires you day to day?
LM: Well…everyone is the answer. Because, I can easily say Richard Branson or Oprah…but I don’t actually know them so is it their PR spin that is inspiring me or actually them? So I look for inspiration closer to home, our readers inspire me amazingly with their emails every day with their entrepreneurial stories. My team, and really from everyone I meet.
BWA: If you could have breakfast with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
LM: Nelson Mandela, I think he has so much wisdom to give.