Camilla Ackley

splint: Camilla, thank you so much for coming to meet us today. Can you tell us a little about yourself and ‘Into The Fold’ magazine?

Camilla: I have been blogging for coming up to 9 years now, so since I was 13. I did that for a while to kind of build an audience, it started mainly around fashion and then it was just a space for me to write about stuff I was interested in. When I got to university I wanted to step away from being the face of something, so I thought okay I have this online platform with like 5,000 subscribers or something; this is a base of women, what can I do with this instead of throwing it away just because I don’t want to blog anymore? I had been reading a lot of articles online, and it was all ‘how to be better at dating’ etc, and it made me think that this is not the kind of content I want to be reading and yet I struggle to find other stuff. It all felt really monotonous. So, I got together with a few of my girlfriends who are all really clever, creative great writers and we planned to see where we could take this community.  ‘Into The Fold’ was the name of my blog so we decided not to re-brand it or anything, it’s a solid name so we didn’t change it. We basically re launched the blog, we had it completely redesigned and we put the word out to say that we were starting a universal online diary for young women because we talk about such a broad variety of stuff. It’s really just a place to celebrate the female experience, and the ways in which women are amazing. Since then, we have had this really steady audience of supporters. We’ve had people from America, Europe, Australia etc writing columns for us, we have illustrators from all around the world… a lot in Italy actually. So yeah, it’s meant to be a space that just kind of showcases how amazing women are and this is all the stuff that they do, instead of telling them what they should do..

splint: that’s incredible. So, how did you like start blogging, what did you want to talk about originally?

Camilla: I don’t know really, it kind of naturally evolved. I have always been super interested in fashion so I guess I started out there. I started posting my outfits, hopefully no one goes that far back into my blog because some of those outfits are questionable. I then started to be interested in the more think pieces around style, how it can make us feel and what we do. I started writing a fair amount about trends, Pandora Sykes reached out to me, she was the fashion editor for The Debrief at the time and she asked me to do some freelance writing for her, which was cool. I then started university and my interest in fashion subsided, but I was still interested in writing and I wanted to keep the fire going, I just needed a little break.. which led me into working as writer and editor for chief for ‘Into The Fold.’ We talk about everything, ranging from mental health, to style, wellbeing, fashion etc. We just launched a new column by Titi Finlay, a young fashion journalist. She’s great, she has a really good sense of style and she’s a wonderful writer. It’s all been really organic and natural and I think having blogged from such a young age, I don’t really feel like I need to keep up with any trends, it’s just my thing.

splint: do you do that as a part of ‘Into The Fold’ still, or is it more of a personal account?

Camilla: yeah, so you can get to my blog through ‘Into The Fold’ but I don’t really tend to post it on the magazine, it’s on a seperate blog.

splint: how come you post it separately?

Camila: I think i wanted to keep them seperate so I can be more personal on my blog and use it as an unpolished space. I don’t really want it to be a career, I kind of just wanted to be enjoying it as my space. It’s kind of like a diary entry to myself, like what blogs were when I started 9 years ago. I do what I feel comfortable with.

splint: lush. So what did you study at university?

Camilla: I did philosophy at Bristol.

splint: why philosophy?

Camilla: I was going to do art,, I mean I love to paint in my spare time but I’m not Da Vinci or anything, it’s a lot of pressure. So then I thought about biology; super interesting and it’ll train me to focus and I just completely adore science, I am such a nerd, but I didn’t really want to ruin it for myself and be examined, I prefer to read and absorb the information. I then thought okay, well I am running out of options now… I guess I’ll study English. I read a lot in my spare time so it felt like the natural choice. I went to tell my philosophy teacher as I applied for Oxbridge and he said don’t do English, do philosophy. So, yeah I kind of just did it. I really love that kind of analytic argument approach to things, so yeah I applied to that because my philosophy teacher told me I’d be good at it and I realised it had actually been my favourite class at A-levels. I love to argue. I absolutely loved it at university.

splint: what sort of things did you study in detail?

Camilla: god, like you learn about everything. I love it because we spend so much of our lives not really looking, we just take everything for granted. There’s this writer called David Foster Wallis who has this story about these two fish, he says two fish are swimming along in the water, and the big fish turns to the little fish and says ‘hows the water today’ and the little fish says ‘whats water?’ as if he was just completely unaware that he is surrounded by it. I just find it so interesting how we are so unaware. We covered everything from political philosophy to metaphysics, which is what I did both of my dissertations in.

splint: BOTH?!!?!?

Camilla: yes. One was titled ‘what is colour’ and the other one was ‘do composite objects exist?’ They were both a little bit shorter than normal dissertations but still a huge task, I was definitely tired at the end of my degree.

splint: did you start Into the Fold when you were at university?

Camilla: yeah, I started it the summer after my first year. I started blogging in school so I was very familiar with balancing work and hobbies. It got harder in my final year but I had an amazing team of editors; four girls who were also studying at Bristol and they really supported me and picked up the slack.

splint: do you pay the editors or the people that make Into the Fold what it is?

Camilla: we are a non-profit organisation and we dont earn any money. I like that because it means we can write about what we want to write about. As soon as you start earning money you have to talk about budgets, who do we pay and distribution – I think there is something quite nice about a group of women who are passionate, who want to get their stories out there and do something for themselves. I don’t know what will happen in the future but I can’t see myself not doing it. I’m actually looking into publishing, editing books and getting myself into that industry in terms of my career….

splint: so how do you choose the pieces that get published onto Into The Folds website?

Camilla: we get a pretty solid amount of interest but if it is a slow day then the editors will pick up the slack and write some pieces. We are very open to ideas and we love to say yes. We get really, really interesting submissions and I think because of the nature of the website we get women speaking from the heart. We work with lots of people who have never written before and we can help them to mould their work and make it the best that it can be… If we feel like there is something there and the story is worth telling we will work as hard as we can to make it publishable.

splint: what’s your favourite piece that you have ever published?

Camilla: ahhh thats so tricky.. There is a girl from Australia called Isabella Wright who did a piece super early on about having anorexia and recovering from it. It really struck a chord with lots of women and we got so much feedback saying how the piece had helped them or how amazing it was to read. Everything we publish about mental health is so important because we do it in a way that is so personal, that you understand what people are actually going through and what it feels like. The stories help people understand and empathise – so much of what we need to do, especially women of privilege, is to sit and listen and educate ourselves.

Another story was written about pain and how the medical industry doesn’t take female pain seriously. She discussed endometriosis which takes seven years to diagnose because people don’t listen and believe women as they should. They usually just send women away with the pill and say its period pains,and  the pill has a whole world of problems itself. I actually came off the pill 6 months ago and I am researching for a piece about how female libido is affected when you’re on the pill. Women go to the doctor and say I haven’t wanted to have sex since i went on the pill and the response usually is ‘That’s just you and… it’s either the pill or you’re gonna have a baby!’ The options shouldn’t be A or B! Those two stories are definitely memorable for me.

splint: so how do you meet the girls who get their stories published?

Camilla: I haven’t met most of them, they are from all over the world so we interact via email. I know all the editors personally and sometimes I meet people at events or through blogging. It’s amazing that even without having that person to person contact people are still receptive to what we are publishing.

splint: where do you see Into the Fold going in it’s future?

Camilla: I think once I get settled into a career then I would love to start doing events. I would love for us to start working with some charities, get involved in some activist causes. I would love to see us move into that field and have more than an online content, making spaces we can meet and getting a community feel. I think you learn so much from other people and it open your eyes to how far we have to go and how much we don’t know.

splint: what does your week look like?

Camilla: No week right now is the same. I usually spend a couple of hours a day doing Into the Fold stuff, wether that’s editing, emails or delegating tasks. I also spend lots of time on instagram and then I work with And Other Stories too, they send me clothes every month and then I blog about them – that’s something I enjoy doing but it’s not really a reliable source of income for me haha. A lot of time is spent applying for jobs, prepping for job interviews, reading and researching the articles I am currently writing.

splint: when did you decide that you wanted to go into publishing?

Camilla: Throuhout university I was set on becoming a writer and I had lots of experience, even working for The Times. I realised that I really love to write but, I love to write when I am really passionate about. I hated the thought of sitting at a desk churning out articles all the time. I decided to write as a freelancer and do something else full time, it needed to be something to do with words and books – I got to publishing!

splint: what’s your favourite book?

Camilla: Written on the Body by Jennette Winterson. She is amazing. It is a book about a love story but you never know the gender of the natator and they have various affairs with men and women, so it is completely ambiguous. You can read the book in so many different ways and it really keeps you on your toes. I read really broadly, currently I am going through lots of the classics. I am reading all of Nancy Midfords books, she was writing during of the Second World War and is just hilarious – it’s a bit like Jane Austen on steroids!

I also just read Everything I Know about Love, by Dolly Alderton. She is the old dating columnist for the Sunday Times and it was really strange to read it because the first section is her graduating from uni and her breaking up with her university boyfriend and I was reading it like… this is my life haha. I resonated with a lot of the things she was talking about.

splint: going back to Into the Fold, why do you choose to highlight womens stories? Why Women?

Camilla: We can’t do everything. I want to focus on something and we want to be good at it. We label ourselves a magazine for women, written by women. We didn’t want to stray too far and step beyond that, I think it is easy to spread yourself too thin and loose focus.

splint: would you call yourself a feminist?

Camilla: Definitely.

splint: have you always been?

Camilla: I haven’t actually. I think I always have been but I didn’t adopt the word until I was in my late teens. I went to a school in West London which was really arty and creative and no one really talked about it – I was kind of the nerd in my year haha. My male philosophy teacher asked ‘Who here calls themselves a feminist?’ and no one in my class put their hand up.. And he said he was really surprised because you do so much writing and talk about empowering women but you don’t identify as a feminist. I said I didn’t really know what it was to be a feminist, so I went away and educated myself. People make it out to be this big scary word but it isn’t! Everyone should be a feminist! It’s about creating a space for equality and escaping gender based stereotypes and that applies to men as well. Like a lot of men feel like they can’t cry or show weakness and that is part of the dichotomy between men and women – people are individuals it doesn’t matter what gender you are. We still have a long way to go, for women of color, for transgender people and women in developing countries.

It is a movement about women for everyone – when women are treated like full human beings everybody benefits.

People have an issue with International Women’s day because they ask ‘Where is International Mens day..?’ – 9th of November and it’s a really important day and we talk about men’s mental health and we celebrate it on that day. Its just the fact that people are afraid of a day that celebrates women. That shows how ingrained it is in society, women have been ignored and written out of history for so long and people think that 100 years (since women got the vote) can change centuries and centuries of oppression.

Even my brothers and people I know sometimes find it hard to see the inequalities and I just say, ‘If you’re in a club at night, do you think about getting home? Do you get worried about getting public transport?’ or ‘How many times do you get someone shouting out a window of a car ‘NICE DICK BABE’?’ Women are sexualised from such a young age and it leads to so many problems and something that women have to deal with on a much more regular basis than men. People need to get out of this mind frame that if it’s not happening to you, it’s not happening!

splint: the interview we did with Tabitha talks about how women should be allowed to feel sexy and own that about themselves…

Camilla: Yes, exactly. It’s about taking control and that being sexy shouldn’t validate any bad behaviour. Most women who are raped are just wearing ‘normal’ clothes, it’s got nothing to do with it. Shaming women into covering up.. When we look at Saudi Arabia, people say they treat women unfairly because women are made to cover up, but in a similar way thats what society does to women in developed nations.

splint: what advice would you give to your 16 year old self?

Camilla: Chill out. I was so stressed out and pushed myself too hard, also to be comfortable with yourself. I went through a stage of being so uncomfortable in my own body, because I am quite busty and guys made comments and I didnt own it. I would cover up and make myself feel small. All I needed was a new group of friends and a new place to be myself.

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