Tracey Ferguson’s the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of one of the few high fashion magazines geared toward African-American women, Jones. I had a chance to have a candid discussion with the budding mogul about everything from how she picks models to her dating life…
Many of us were introduced to Tracey on her CentricTV reality show ‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’ but she’s been a fixture in the Houston social scene for a long time. Now that ‘Jones’ magazine has gone national, Tracey’s back in the spotlight and ready to take her place amongst the fashion elites like Vogue and Elle.
1. What are the 3 basic things every woman should have in her closet? Purse? Bathroom?
In her closet: A Loro Piana cashmere wrap. A timeless, investment piece bag. Oversized sunglasses.
That’s an interesting perspective, but no, I was never insulted by Vogue Italia’s all-Black model issue.
Page after page of some of the most stunning models in the business, then and now was completely refreshing. My wish was that more American designers and publications would follow suit and make more inclusive efforts. I’m a proponent of diversity, so that issue was a keeper.
3. Who are your fashion icons?
Iman, Cate Blanchett, Chloe Sevigny, Wilhemena Slater, Naomi Campbell, Nina Garcia!
4. What makes a woman fashionable/stylist/ chic? Do you feel it’s an important part of being a woman?
The digital space is probably the most challenging thing on my plate.
Online, social media, videos…The whole viral explosion hit and sped off so quickly that it makes it tough to keep up with. That space morphs CONSTANTLY, so I’m forever taking an online class to keep up. I don’t think Jones is alone in that. From the majors to the minors, all the titles scramble to stay on top of the digital.
6. You formerly had the reality show ‘Keepin Up With The Joneses’ on Centric TV, what happened with that? What was that experience like for you and the publication.
It was mostly a great experience.
From the beginning, the idea was to use the show as a platform from which to launch Jones nationally, and it did that beautifully. So, on that front, we couldn’t have asked for more from our friends at Centric. I say “mostly” because, anytime you have camera crews in the privacy of your home on a day to day basis for months at a time, it’s going to get a bit uncomfortable. My daughter, Kendall acclimated fairly quickly, and enjoyed it, but my son, well, he could’ve done without the loss of his teen-aged privacy. And for me, it was a mixed bag. There were parts of our family story shared that were more telling than I was comfortable with sharing, but ultimately I just had to get over it and let it flow.
For work purposes, it was an incredible boost to Jones public profile. We are the first magazine to use a reality show as its launch pad, and I’m proud of that! The season ended celebrating our national launch, but in truth, that’s when the real work began for us in REAL LIFE. I added to my resume: New York City Commuter once we wrapped and it hasn’t slowed down. We’re always asked about taping a second season, but I don’t think people understand how consuming shooting is, and how all-consuming building the business of Jones has become since the merger with Northstar. It’s WILD.
We all actually WORK. I don’t rule out a second season, but truthfully, I wouldn’t know WHEN we’d have that kind of time again. We have a joke in the office when things get tense and challenging, we’re like: “Now THIS is a show! Where are those friggin’ cameras, NOW?!”
Generally, it’s a collaborative process with our Fashion Director. Both of us have an eye for the exotic. Top agencies submit comp cards on an ongoing basis, and we attend casting calls, make requests for specific looks, specific girls, etc. and negotiate with their bookers. It can be an easy process, or a very grueling one, depending on the model.
8. What other difficulties do you face that a fashion magazine like Vogue and Elle do not?
Well, we’re not a part of a huge publishing conglomerate like Time Inc. or Conde Nast. We’re privately owned and operated, so everything both good and challenging comes with that. Being the new cover on the newsstand is tough because advertisers are still getting to know us and that takes time, especially when you’re dealing in big and luxe brands.
10. Having a teenage daughter, do you feel the beauty pressures for her are better or worse than when you were a teenager?
The standards for beauty are so much more intense than they were for me. When I was 15 I was doing good to wash my face with a Neutrogena bar, powder my nose with Cornsilk and spritz on some Love’s BabySoft.
No one expected my hair to be frizz free around the clock when I was her age, the way they do today. Pop culture has such a profound impact on the teen and tween categories of the beauty business. I looked up and all the sudden, young girls are looking camera ready on their way to school. That’s new-ish.
11. How do you respond to criticism of your brand. Some may think the women in your magazine don’t reflect the every day woman?
Yes, I’ve heard that one…Two things: First- Fashion magazines are generally aspirational in nature. Most are often crafted with the intention of inspiring the reader, rather than mirror. That’s not new. That’s the way it goes. I didn’t invent that. Secondly– A plethora of magazines already exist to feed the appetites of the mega masses. Jones wasn’t actually created to churn out the same types of content from the same perspectives as what already existed.
The Jones brand has always been about satiating a desire for more elevated tastes in fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Multi-cultural women today have stepped up their incomes, their educations, and their exposures, so it’s a natural progression that their lifestyles and tastes are following suit. So, here we are!
12. Top 5 celeb icons in Fashion?
Iman, Cate Blanchett, Gweneth Paltrow, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Naomi Campbell
13. Who mentored you along the way?
Plenty of people offered encouraging words along the way and that kind of thing, but I’d be lying if I labeled it “mentoring.” That’s actually one of the things I wish I’d had somewhere along the way.
14. Does Jones plan to extend it’s brand ?
Why of course! A brand without multi-platform extensions is utter lunacy. It’s competitive out here!
15. What is your distribution? Where can people pick up a copy of Jones?
Find Jones on newsstands and book stores across the country. Check out your neighborhood CVS, Duane Reed or Walgreens and don’t be shy about asking the store owner.
16. When people read Jones what do you want them to walk away with?
It’d be great if they get a sense of pride in sophistication and modernity. I hope women will be inspired and encouraged to stretch themselves in fashion, beauty and in their lifestyle interests overall.
17. What were your other career options before starting a publication?
Before Jones I was knee-deep in advertising and marketing positions. I’ve always, always, always had a head for marketing and media. I realllllly enjoyed my days working at ad agencies. It was grueling work, but I can think of no better place to develop the widest range of marketing skills.
18. With a family and a magazine, when do you find time to date?
Actually, I’ve realllllllllly got to make time to date. It’s my New Year’s Resolution to do better about that. My life is so hectic, my dating life has been the first to suffer. I’m rarely in one city for very long, so that makes dating pretty tough on a relationship, on one hand, but it also makes it pretty interesting too!
Check out more information on Jones Magazine here.