Interview—Hazel & Roberta, editor-founder & creative director of Bedboat magazine

Bedboat is a quarterly print magazine, representing and promoting a range of creative talents. Integral to its ideology is the theme of “living fearlessly”. Hazel and Roberta (the editor-founder and creative director) tell me how this represents an honest look at fears: how human interaction, connecting with strangers, and being welcoming are often the bravest things we do. We talk about the process of developing the first issue of Bedboat, how they’ve gone on to represent a plethora of independent brands and their thoughts on living a sustainable lifestyle below.

Photography by Alex May, styling by Roberta Juxon-Keen.

Photography by Alex May, styling by Roberta Juxon-Keen.

For me, the idea of living fearlessly isn’t about jumping out of planes or touching scorpions—it’s about taking those everyday fears and worries, facing up to them, and embracing whatever happens.
— Hazel Gibbens

What inspired you both to represent the motto “live fearlessly”?

Hazel:  It stemmed from this idea that I see my peers feeling more fearful of the world around them. This idea that we can go into town, buy our shopping, bring it home on public transport, and not have to talk to a single other human makes me sad. That lack of communication means we are starting to know and understand our fellow humans so much less. For me, the idea of living fearlessly isn’t about jumping out of planes or touching scorpions—it’s about taking those everyday fears and worries, facing up to them, and embracing whatever happens.

Roberta: The motto "live fearless" was not my inception, as when I joined Hazel in making Bedboat, both the name and the tag line were already conceived under her founding. However, I am more than happy to advocate it, as I think it is imperative to creativity, growth, and experiencing everything fully, both good and bad. While it can be interpreted as to "do something that scares you every day" or to face your phobias, to me, it means more. I want it to represent a plethora of people, including myself, that are fearless in their attitudes; becoming stronger in the face of any negativity and taking chances to get the most out of your career, love and life's opportunities overall. 


You mentioned to me previously, Hazel, that running a magazine was something you’d always wanted to do. The idea of ‘Bedboat’ began to form when you discovered the likes of independents—‘Cereal’, ‘Kinfolk’ and ‘Oh, Comely’. What was the process for developing the first edition?

Hazel: The first edition took me a year to create. I exhausted every possible contact I had, and did a lot of cold calling. I’m incredibly lucky that people took chances on me, and so many talented creatives gave up their time to help me put it together. In terms of the business side, I took a business course and asked a LOT of questions. Looking back on the first edition is difficult because there’s so much I’d change, but it was just me and a dream, and the fact that it exists at all is simply incredible to me.


The 'Bedboat' website opens with:

“leave me

floating in my bedboat

sailing in this world”

Can you both tell me more about the creative concept behind 'Bedboat'?

Hazel: When I first started thinking about what I wanted Bedboat to be, I found it hard to pin down the idea. I wanted to create something that people felt like they could be themselves with. I didn’t want anyone to think they weren’t fashionable enough, rich enough, edgy enough, or old enough to be part of the Bedboat world. I was also sick of seeing magazines and adverts aimed at me that required me to be moody and grungy and only wear black and smoke 30 cigarettes a day. I love "floating on my bedboat" because to me it means that you don’t have to spend your life pushing against the tide to try and be different, just do what you love and let life take you where it wants naturally.

Roberta: We always lead with the fact that Bedboat is designed to inspire people to live fearlessly and creatively. To me, the concept of Bedboat lies in our eagerness to maintain it as a platform for creatives, people, places and ideas, that may not get the same access to publications, or the applicable experience to get noticed. We strive to work with our contributors on original concepts that add to what we hope is a diverse variety of interesting, inspiring and accessibly honest content. 


What are your influences and draws when considering content for new editions, Roberta?

Roberta: Bedboat is about being comfortable in your own journey, which is one of my main inspirations for drawing up content ideas. I always search for people or businesses doing things in their own way, or with a niche to their story that I know the readers will find encouraging. Sometimes the seasons will conduct the tones of shoots or articles that go in, but I avoid anything too rigidly trend conscious. It's important that the content feels more timeless than fleeting in a society where everything is so throwaway. I try and trust my Instincts on what I feel our readers—who I really try to listen to—will appreciate seeing next and often features will develop very organically off the back of the magazines growth.


Which are both of your favourite features to date?

Photorgraphy and styling by Natalie Lynn.

Photorgraphy and styling by Natalie Lynn.

Hazel: What a tricky question! There are so many aspects to each feature. The photography, the writing, and the subject add up to create something wonderful. I’d say my favourite feature is probably the piece I did on my Aunt Armorel—meeting up with her gave me the opportunity to reflect on the importance of family, and reminded how super badass she is as a woman. 72 years old and still writing and recording music: what an inspiration.

Roberta: I have quite a lot of favourites, so that's a very tough question! In terms of a photo set, the cover story for issue two shot by Dom Moore will always be very dear to me. It was one of the most sentimental to date and featured my hometown and one of my best friends, Joe. I also really enjoyed the results of our Time Well Spent with graphic designer and all round interior and DIY inspiration, Becca Allen, in issue three. Alex May captured her beautiful home so brilliantly.


We chatted before, Hazel, about how you wanted to create “something beautiful that people would want to keep forever” and 'Bedboat' is only offered in print. You offer something tactile and permanent in an often a hectic publishing world. Can you tell me more about this choice?

Hazel: I’ve always hated online magazines. I don’t understand them. Some things naturally progress to the digital age, and that’s fine. But for magazines, the beauty was always in the layouts, in the flow of the features, in the crispness of the photos and how you can truly connect with them. I could talk about this forever but I’ll just touch on a couple of things. Firstly, when you have a website, you can chuck as much as you want on each page, you could put hundreds of images from the same shoot up, and upload as many paragraphs as your heart desires with an endless scroll. But with print, there are beautiful limitations. These limitations force us to look at things longer, and spend more time carefully choosing the final images and words, because there’s only space for the best. This means that the reader is looking at the most loved, and the most representative works, which is really special. The other side of it is the sense of ownership. When you own a magazine, particularly one created with high quality paper and printing, then you are forever a part of that publication, and each one of those images and words belong to you.

...the content feels more timeless than fleeting in a society where everything is so throwaway.
— Roberta Juxon-Keen
Photography and styling by Roberta Juxon-Keen.

Photography and styling by Roberta Juxon-Keen.


What advice would you both give to someone who wants to live more “fearlessly and creatively”?

Hazel: Honestly, being fearless is terrifying. There are so many unknowns, and our world is changing so quickly. I’ve certainly had my share of panicky mornings and self-doubt, so I don’t want to be the voice of Bravery. I think the main thing that I try and remember is that you’re honestly not alone. I know how cliché and cheesy that sounds, but if you have anxiety, there’s people struggling with that too, or if you’re scared for the future, you’re probably in the same boat as most other people. So I say take a deep breath, feel the solidarity and use that to face the world head-on. God, that really was cheesy.

Roberta: Ultimately, be open to new opportunities and don't be scared to get involved. Collaborating and meeting other creatives and makers is a really great way to challenge yourself and grow your own skill set. Even if you don't have a life plan yet, are trying something new, or aren't entirely confident with your ideas, something rewarding will come from having a go, even if it doesn't work out the first time. 


Finally, can you both tell me a little about what living sustainably means to you?

Hazel: Living sustainably is the ultimate dream. I’ve been looking into it a lot recently (check out Trash is for Tossers if you haven’t already), and it’s definitely something we cover in Bedboat as frequently as possible (check out Veja shoes or Victory Gardens Vancouver). Living sustainably is something I don’t feel I am achieving yet, but I feel endlessly inspired by those who are doing better than me and paving the way for my generation.

Roberta: Personally, I find that living sustainably is to be conscious of where something has come from and how your own consumption and practice can affect the world. I think shopping locally or seeing the value in buying a hand crafted version of something where possible is really important in making small steps to a more sustainable future, and helps develop a really encouraging sense of community.

A selection of images from the  Bedboat   instagram  feed.

A selection of images from the Bedboat instagram feed.