Happy Families!

Allison Thomas, editor of Families Chiltern, tells Inspired Mums how buying the franchise to Families magazine allowed her to continue her passion for publishing whilst giving her the flexibility to fit her hours around her young family. Ten years later Allison now feels the time is right to move on to a new challenge, so with mixed emotions, has decided to sell the franchise to Families Chiltern.


Tell me about your background and how you started your career?

Having a degree in English, I always wanted to work in publishing. I got my first job in magazine publishing in the early 1990s, working in production before moving into sub-editing. After four years, I took a career break and went travelling for two years, before coming back and working in women’s magazines at Prima and then Health Plus! 

What made you decide to become the editor of Families Magazine? 

When my daughter was born, I decided that commuting into London for a long day in the office, five days a week, wasn’t for me and so bought the franchise of Families Chiltern. It had already been running for a year at that stage. It is the perfect family-friendly flexible job as you can fit it around you, and I loved being able to work at home and still be there when the kids needed me. 

How long have you have had the Families Chiltern franchise?

I’ve now been editing the magazine for just over ten years, and have seen the magazine flourish – a bit like my children, it’s grown from being a little baby to really quite mature, established and well-regarded but now ready to grow some more. 

Tell me more about what your role as editor entails?

It’s such a varied job – from planning the content of the magazine and editing copy, to talking to advertisers and local businesses, writing features and news, managing the website and distributing the magazine – no two days are ever the same.

What do you love most about your job?

It’s just been a perfect job when the kids have been young, if they’re ill or it snows and the school is shut, I’ve just been able to work around whatever life throws at me. I’ve loved the varied nature of the work and have made some great friends, too.

Have there been any particular challenges?

Probably the worst aspect of working from home rather than an office is there’s no one to do the little jobs – so if you want to catch the post that day, you have to walk to the postbox, and if BT decide to switch off the broadband in the road while they fiddle around making it fibre optic, there’s no one in IT to wave a magic wand. 

With the benefit of hindsight would you have done anything differently?


Do you feel you achieved a good work-life balance?

Yes – I plan the deadlines so I don’t have to work over half terms or the Christmas holidays, I also have most of the Easter holidays and all of August off, too – it’s ideal. 

How do you feel about handing over Families Chiltern to someone else after ten years?

It’s with mixed emotions that I’m selling the franchise of the magazine, I’ve loved being the editor but after ten years I feel it’s time for something new. I also feel the magazine is ripe for development in the next stage of its growth, and needs a new editor, bursting with energy and enthusiasm, to take it forward. 

What advice would you give anyone interested in becoming editor?

No particular qualifications are needed – there are over 30 Families editors around the country and their background varies from lawyers to teachers. I’d say you mainly need to be incredibly well organised, confident, literate and know your way around a computer. It would also be good to live in or close to our area (the Chilterns, from Beaconsfield to Aylesbury via Berkhamsted!) 

If you are interested in finding out more about the Families Chiltern franchise, please contact Allison by email at editor@familieschiltern.co.uk or call 01494 673427. There is also further information about the business in this online feature, http://bit.ly/1qGjhFa


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