As the driving force behind Fusion Media, Michelle Costello has gone above and beyond in making Fusion Magazine and The Limerick Magazine what they are today.
With a background in the media industry spanning sales, public relations, advertising, project management, event co-ordination and marketing, Michelle started out with the intent of filling agap in the market in Limerick, and wanted to create a platform for creative communities.
Before starting Fusion Media, Michelle delved into many other areas in her professional career, “I used to work for newspapers and while doing that I was given the opportunity to work on different supplements like House and Home or Travel Guides. I really enjoyed that.” She then got involved in e-publishing which gave her the first taste of having her own publication, “I loved doing it; the photoshoots, the planning and getting to be creative, building something from scratch. It made me hungry for more.”
The idea of starting Fusion Magazine first came about during the build-up to Limerick City of Culture in 2014. “It was starting to bubble up, it was the right time to do something and start the Fusion Magazine publication. I was surrounded by crazy talented people in all of these different creative areas and with that westarted banging our heads together, and Fusion Magazine was born.”
A year after founding what was once the local magazine, Michelle decided to make Fusion Magazinea national publication.”Fusion Magazine was beginning to generate interest outside of Limerick and across the country and turning into a national publication seemed like a natural progression,” Michelle explains.
“Fusion grew rapidly towards a national market, because we are quite creative and fashion based – not in a commercial high street fashion way but more high fashion editorial, working with amazing Irish designers and different people in the entertainment industry.
We drew a large audience from that; people loved that we were finding upcoming artists and showcasing their work. I think especially as Fusion Magazine goes into the 4 and 5 star hotel bedrooms, it gives tourists a great view into contemporary Ireland and that excited people.”
Not wanting to leave her hometown of Limerick in the dark, Michelle decided to fill the new gap in the market for a local publication caused by Fusion’s inevitable growth. This is what led to the creation of The Limerick Magazine, or TLM as it’s known.
“We were so passionate about Limerick that we didn’t want to have a magazine that was going to just grow in a different direction. That was the reason behind starting The Limerick Magazine. The aim of The Limerick Magazine is to take what is happening locally and give people the opportunity to showcase what they’re doing, be it business or creative, and to utilise it as a platform to connect people to the scene that’s in Limerick.
We want people to get involved and not to look back on something and feel like they’re missing out.”
As one can imagine, being the Editor-in-Chief of two publications and running Fusion Media can be time-consuming, but she doesn’t do it alone. Keeping the balance between the two magazines really comes down to organisation and structure.
That is why the teams that are involved are so important. Michelle says. “You have to be aware that there’s always going to be a difficulty with balance but for me it is in the team that work with me. They are amazing. People come in, get creative and build projects together, they all contribute, it is fantastic. They may love writing, or it could be photography, videography, styling, hair, set design.
They really want to be part of it. That is why we have an open platform, because the people who want it the most will always knock on your door.”
In 18 months since launching Fusion Media, Michelle has been responsible for publishing over 20 issues of two different publications so far, which means 20 cover stars and 20 cover stories. While Michelle has been proud of every issue that has been published, we’re sure she has at least a few favourite cover stories in particular.
“Fusion Magazine always holds a special place for me and I don’t think I could name just one. I loved the Spring/Summer 2016 issue with Johnny Marr. It was a great cover, a brilliantly written article and it was such an interesting read too, plus I’m a fan. I loved the first edition too with Grace Slattery on the cover because that was our first publication; she had an inspirational story so it’s really special in that way that we got to tell her story.It’s so hard to pick because we had Senator David Norris after the marriage equality referendum and it was such an amazing moment to capture”, she says. “I guess they would be my three favourite if I had to pick – Johnny Marr, David Norris and Grace Slattery.”
So what is a day in the life of Michelle Costello like? “There are days where there is editing, there is constructing, building photoshoots; you can be down on your hands and knees scrubbing at 3 o’clock in the morning for a shoot for the next day, and then the day after you are meeting your advertisers and clients! But I’m a hard worker, I get it from my mother, it’s in my blood.
I could be in meetings from production to editorial meetings and then advertising meetings, you have your circulation and distribution, your online presence and lots of paperwork, you have your team to co-ordinate with, and you’re constantly finding ways for everyone to engage with each other and collaborate together. That’s what I do, it’s a role of co-ordination. I’m excited about how we are growing as a young company. It’s ever-changing and that is what I love about it.”
With two publications it’s a wonder that Michelle has any time to herself, but when she does she says that she loves “travel, food and friends, I like to experience different cultures and have new experiences. I try to travel as much as I can. I love meeting new people, hearing people’s stories and learning from others.” No matter what she does, her work is always in the back of her mind somewhere. “There are so many places to discover and draw inspiration from, I always take that into the business as well- you learn, you grow, you evolve. It’s human nature.”
In the two years since its conception, Fusion Media has grown more rapidly than anyone could have anticipated. What are Michelle’s goals for Fusion Media in the future? “The goal for both Fusion Magazine and The Limerick Magazine is that people who are in it are there to inspire others. At the end of the day they are normal people that have grown into roles because they’ve used skills and talents.
When you’re reading it or listening to these people I want our readers to relate, that they realise, understand and think “I can do that too.”
The second goal focuses more on the expansion of Fusion Media as a business, “It is more than magazines. I want to expand more on the publishing side and content creation. There are a whole load of streams coming up in the near future. We have the commercial photography side of things, that looks after great brands and this is a strong growth area for us. We also focus on videography, graphic design and website development so that should keep us busy for a little while.”
What is it that Michelle wants people to know? She says, “We want people to know about what we do, enjoy it, and feel a connection. Our ethos is really important, so we’re making sure that message is getting out there. I want to show to an international audience that not only is Ireland a great diverse place for creativity and producing art in different fields, but I want to show it can be produced in Limerick – which has a reputation of being the underdog. We get to show what we do here and how we do it.”
Article by: Sophie Butler & Laura McNamara
Photography by: Tarmo Tulit
Read more from The Limerick Magazine here.