Interviewing one of the people you admire most can be nerve-inducing. When said person’s previous occupation was to interview the likes of Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Michael Fassbender and One Direction, your anxiety is only amplified. However, Jo Ellison is one of the kindest, warmest and most hilarious people who I’ve had the fortune to speak with.
Currently the Fashion Editor at the Financial Times, Jo is but the second individual to inhabit the role. The inaugural editor was Vanessa Friedman, who took over from Cathy Horyn and is now the Fashion Editor at the New York Times. Since taking to the FT but a year ago, Jo has surprised audiences with her historical and cultural viewpoint on fashion and has cultivated a trusted relationship with designers, buyers and those who care very little for fashion.
In two days, Jo Ellison is participating in a sold-out talk series at the Galway International Arts Festival and I’m incredibly honoured that she took time out of her holiday to speak with and inspire me.
How would you describe yourself both personally and professionally?
As a person, I guess I’m quite loud and opinionated. I would like to think that I am quite a good laugh to be around and professionally, it would be pretty much the same but I’m quite controlling too. Let’s just say that I’m a control freak [laughs].
You began your career with the Irish Examiner and you’re returning to the west coast for the Galway International Arts Festival but what appeals to you about the Irish people and landscape?
I moved over to Cork to be with my boyfriend at the time, now my husband. I had just graduated and didn’t have a huge amount of career prospects in London. I found myself living in Cork in 1999 and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I ended up going into the Irish Examiner for a subbing test, to see if I could do night shifts and from that, I got a job there. I think of Ireland as where I began my career and have always felt a genuine connection to the land because it was my first experience of working in a newspaper. Cork was such a friendly place and I know it sounds like a terrible cliché but I genuinely feel that Irish people are incredibly supportive and generous. There is none of the pettiness that I find amongst British people and particularly, in London. I find that there’s no bullshit in Ireland. I mean, there’s a lot of bullshit, you all bullshit a lot of the time [laughs] but you always find that there’s a certain straight-forwardness about people. I really love that!