Zahraa Saifullah is no stranger to any of us. She is, however an unsung hero of Pakistan; a ferocious young woman who works behind the scenes to keep things afloat and bring out the best in fashion and celebrity news throughout the year. Saifullah is the CEO of the leading fashion magazine HELLO! Pakistan and editor of Grazia. Not only is she a woman of substance and grandeur but Zahraa is working as a director at Saifullah Foundation to make our country a better place. Let’s get to know her better!
How would you describe yourself in a few words?
Effusive, family-oriented, driven and spontaneous.
What drew you to print journalism?
I went through my mother’s collection of magazines when we used to live in London.
Tell me about your career path.How you started and made a name for yourself in Pakistan?
I started out in media and was running my own show at CNBC as well as a contemporary art company. I decided to go into publishing since I have a degree in Literature.
I launched the international franchise of HELLO! in Pakistan in 2012 and as the CEO of the leading fashion and lifestyle magazine in Pakistan, I am extremely proud to say that we have been a game-changer in fashion, lifestyle, celebrity and society portrayal and promotion in Pakistan. We do the real cultural diplomacy within and outside Pakistan.
Aside from being the CEO of HELLO! Pakistan, you are the editor of Grazia Pakistan. How did that idea come about and has your working experience been up to par?
In April, 2017 I brought Grazia to Pakistan, an international fashion magazine – again with a world class reputation. As Editor of Grazia Pakistan I have closely watched its growth this past year. Both magazines truly represent the evolving reach and impact of international and home-grown fashion, film, music and other aspects of the entertainment and fashion industries.
What is the outreach and readership of HELLO! and Grazia Pakistan?
HELLO! Pakistan primarily began as a high-end lifestyle and society magazine, we penetrated that market beautifully but now we have a much wider readership especially since our coverage of film and television celebrities is much loved by people across the country who watch TV and movies.
Grazia Pakistan reaches out to a younger demographic, especially because of its fashion related content. Our social media accounts are also immensely popular, with a following that is growing daily.
Tell me a bit about Saifullah Foundation and your input as a director?
As a director of SF I am aiming to bring increased global attention to the issues faced by the rural areas of KPK such as acid attacks and child abuse as well as honour killings.
We also aim to help rape victims. Vocational training for underprivileged who do not have access to schools.
Are meeting deadlines to get monthly issues published stressful for you? How do you manage?
Meeting deadlines is our job as editors and we have a great team in place at HELLO! and at Grazia who handle the stress of magazine production. Meanwhile, I am always available for input and advice.
Do you think you have to be on the top of your game 24/7 considering the stellar reputation of HELLO! and Grazia?
Absolutely – quality control gets overlooked by most newspapers and magazines here, but we have always made sure that a professional aesthetic and literary standard is followed since day one.
Is meeting the expectation level of readers a challenging task for you?
Even though our readers are discerning and well-versed in global trends, it has not been difficult to find and generate interesting content for them over the years. This is due to the fact that talented Pakistanis are doing great things here and abroad regularly.
In your opinion, what makes a fashion magazine standout? What features are essential?
A monthly or bi-monthly magazine must have content that is timely and current. That is key. We have prescribed content and formats that we follow for each issue. Both these magazines follow the outlines of our international franchise partners.
As a woman, did you face any hurdles or criticism while pursuing your ambitions and career goals? If so, how do you deal with it?
No actually, my family and my in-laws were both extremely supportive and encouraging throughout, so I have been quite lucky.
How would you define your personal style?
Classic with a twist of contemporary.