Have you heard about The Covent Gardener magazine? The luxury lifestyle magazine has being published by Jeannine Saba for five years. In this interview Jeannine tells us more about the beginning of the magazine and her life in the heart of London. Enjoy reading the interview and discovering new parts in Covent Garden!

Dear Jeannine, please introduce yourself briefly to my readers.

Jeannine Saba from The Covent Gardener

I am Jeannine and I incredibly passionate about print, illustration, community and the Covent Garden area in London, and have spent the past 5 years dedicated to combining all these ingredients together to create The Covent Gardener magazine.

By trade I am a magazine designer. I have worked for just under 20 years in the luxury magazine industry with titles such as Harpers Bazaar, Tatler, Instyle and as Creative Director at Diplomat magazine for 7 years before launching The Covent Gardener.

Our readership has grown from a few hundred to 120,000 in 5 years and could not have done this without the amazing team of incredibly talented artists and writers around me.

Have you always lived in London?

Yes I am a Londoner, father is Lebanese and my mother is Irish.

What made you move to Covent Garden?

An opportunity I couldn’t say no to!

Would you ever move somewhere else?

After living here for 11 years, who knows? I would like to say never BUT think it’s always best to stay open.

What makes Covent Garden special to you?

Without doubt the community. The people who work, live and play here are the lifeblood of the area. I have always known that but living through Lockdown and experiencing Covent Garden with just a handful of people here has cemented the fact that the area is a shell if there are no people.

When did you start your magazine “The Covent Gardener” and why?

We are celebrating 5 years in September. For an independent to have not just survived but thrived for this amount of time is pretty fantastic. The magazine would not be here without the support from the independent businesses, hotels, the neighbours and locals.

With all the other publications I have worked for and art directed, there were rules and advertisers to please and people who we had to work with; when it came to The Covent Gardner there were no rules. I had complete freedom to play and learn and indulge my interests and curiosities: learning about the stubborn Coster monger Donkey who the market traders would love and treat as a house hold pet; the Victorian tattoo artist – Alf South – who tattooed over 15,000 women off the Strand; all the ghosts who still roam around Covent Garden and let’s not forget the hedgehogs that were sold in the market building to eat and keep all the pesky cockroaches living off the rubbish at bay… All these stories make my life richer and I hope our readers feel the same.

There is also the freedom of working with who I want to work with…. Some of the most creative, talented and generous characters. We work with students and world-class artists. Some of the names who have created covers for us are Sir Quentin Blake, Royal Academician David Mach, the exquisite Juman Malouf, Graphic Designer Jean Jullien and legendary Milton Glaser (of I ‘Heart’ NY  logo) fame, who  create a cover especially for us which the Royal Opera House screened on their doors for 7 days.

We get to play and thank goodness the advertisers who want to be part of this journey see the benefit in us creating campaigns for them. It’s all about collaboration at every level. In fact, to celebrate the magazine turning 5 this September, we are opening up the cover design to the public! Our Autumn ‘20 issue is going to be incredibly special and we want to celebrate “all that is Covent Garden, past, present and future”. We are inviting artists of every age and discipline to create a cover that will be judged by an esteemed panel. For the full brief email me at jeannine@thecoventgardener.com.

How often do you publish?

4 times a year (for the past year and half we have also been producing a quarterly newspaper for my magnificent neighbours, Strand Palace Hotel).

Why should we all read your magazine?

If you love Covent Garden, history, exquisite illustrations and beautifully written articles – if you’re a little bit naughty and like to be shocked (sometimes disgusted) then The Covent Gardener is for you!

Where can we get your magazine from?

Complimentary copies can be picked up inside the Royal Opera House, English National Opera (ENO), Benjamin Pollock’s Toy shop, London Graphic Centre and Stanfords Books shop along with all the hotels and most coffee shops plus Rules Restaurant always have copies!

If you are wanting it delivered to your door, copies can be purchased from the website. www.thecoventgardener.com

Is the magazine still free?

YES if you come to Covent Garden!

Do you ship to Europe?

We ship anywhere and everywhere.

What’s the creation process behind the posts? How do you generate ideas?

I am nosey so that helps…! and I love my community who are my main inspiration. Plus I’m always out in the Community and post about what comes up that day. The aim is to be as playful, fresh, real and informative as possible. And not to take myself too seriously.

Jeannine about London

What’s a must-see sight in London?

Apart from Covent Garden I would suggest Borough Market (a 40 mins walk from Covent Garden).

3 words to describe London

Alive, Welcoming, Humorous

The best museum in London is…?

London Transport Museum, fantastic for every age and a great gift shop.

The best bar in Covent Garden is…?

The Porterhouse Bar on Maiden Lane, a family run business plus J.M.W Turner (the Greatest British landscape painter) was born on the premises of the Porterhouse in 1775

A restaurant in Covent Garden worth checking out is..?

Rules Restaurant… the oldest in London and utterly delicious. Absolutely a must!

Which is your favourite arty spot in London?

Benjamin Pollocks Toy Shop in The Piazza, full of paper theatres, illustrations, stories and run by the most amazing team. Another must visit!

Where is your favourite spot in Covent Garden?

Maiden Lane as this is my home, and home to so many fabulous characters and stories… Charles Dickens would walk up and down Maiden Lane wishing he could afford to eat in Rules. William Terrace was stabbed to death outside the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre (where his ghost remains!).  And the rather fabulous – and very alive – Father Allen of Corpus Christi church is based on Maiden Lane, who recently blessed all of Covent Garden for Easter Sunday.

A hidden gem in Covent Garden?

Coster Monger Donkey Plaque by Jubilee Market honouring the 100,000 donkeys that worked in Covent Garden.

Fun stuff about Jeannine

Which is your favourite ice-cream flavour?

Raspberry Ripple Booja-Booja (plant-based) Ice-cream

Gin and Tonic or Pimm’s?

Anything and everything from the stunning Winter Garden bar upstairs in Rules.

Favourite hot beverage?

OatMilk Flat white from Espresso Room on New Row

Favourite Tube station?

Covent Garden of course!

The Covent Gardener on Social Media

You can read and order past editions of The Covent Gardener via Jeannine’s website. You can follow the magazine on Facebook (@thecoventgardener) and Instagram (@thecoventgardner) and there is also a newsletter!

Dear Jeannine, thanks for taking your time and for sharing some insights into your life and your magazine. I’m sure some more fans will keep their eyes open for it from now on!

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