Anne-Marie Tomchak is a journalist, broadcaster and founder of ShareJoy. Her former roles include editor-in-chief at Mashable and digital director at British Vogue. Hailing from Drumlish in Longford, Anne-Marie is an amazing person who has proven to be extremely successful. She is not only an inspiration for any young journalist starting out, but is very genuine and down to earth. As the Zoom call began and Anne-Marie’s video popped up, her bright smile instantly put me at ease. The warm and captivating conversation flowed as we jumped from topic to topic, a mile a minute.
We chatted about the journalism industry, how to ensure your time is well spent on social media and ShareJoy’s collaboration with LGBT Ireland this month.
Anne-Marie started out studying a masters in journalism in DCU, where she completed a three-month work placement in the RTÉ newsroom. From there, she went on to work for the BBC where she launched BBC Trending and hosted her own radio show.
Following on from that, Anne-Marie worked as the UK editor-in-chief at Mashable, a website highlighting the very best of technology and digital culture. In 2019, she joined the Condé Nast team at British Vogue as the digital director. She controlled the editorial content across its many online platforms and reported to the editor-in-chief Edward Enninful.
In January 2021 she launched ShareJoy, a social enterprise that sells pre-loved and sustainable fashion to raise funds for youth mental health.
ShareJoy’s concept is all about giving and sharing joy: “Why don’t you give something away that carries so much memory but you’re ready for it to have a new home.”
ShareJoy sell via Depop – a social marketplace where 10 million people come to buy, sell and discover unique items.
With both Mashable and Vogue, Anne-Marie worked at the very top of fashion and technology in digital media. During this time, she observed many things about the industries that she “loved”, but also noticed many things that were “problematic and concerning”.
She explained: “It was definitely to do with the environmental and social impact of fashion. This scourge of fast fashion and what it was doing to the environment. Also what it was doing to people in terms of exploiting them, how extractive it was, the fast paced production and this growth model around it that just isn’t sustainable.”
Another reason behind the foundation of ShareJoy was mental well-being: “I have so much empathy for young people going through all of the social restrictions that come with lockdown and the challenges that presents for their social lives and their personal development.”
ShareJoy was co-founded with Maeve McMahon and Marie Sullivan, following the tragic death of Marie’s daughter Arwen in 2020.
“Arwen loved fashion and she would go to vintage stores and would sell clothes on Depop. I sat down one day on my laptop and I opened up a Google Document and I bashed out the idea for ShareJoy,” said Anne-Marie.
Since June is Pride Month, ShareJoy are collaborating with LGBT Ireland and all proceeds donated will go to the charity. They will be hosting a series of Live Instagram events each week discussing different topics.
“It has been documented that the mental health of LGBTQ people has suffered even more than the average population. It has been disproportionally affected because they are already a vulnerable group. Then when you are in isolation that’s going to compound some of those vulnerabilities,” explained Anne-Marie.
“We wanted to use our platform during Pride Month to do something pro-active,” she continued.
It is clear that Anne-Marie is very passionate about ShareJoy and is excited for the future: “I can say wholeheartedly that ShareJoy is a hugely positive experience. We have an amazing team of volunteers that work with us.”
I then asked Anne-Marie if she had any advice for someone starting out in the journalism industry. Having worked as an editor-in-chief and a digital director, she gave some great insight.
“You have to have hope going into the journalism industry. It’s one of the things that’s going to fuel you to keep going as there are so many obstacles and challenges along the way.”
Rejection can often be disheartening for journalists and some might start to question their worth as a result. Anne-Marie emphasised the importance of knowing who is who in various organisations and pitching to the right place: “You could be sending off amazing pitches but just to the wrong place”.
She also emphasised the importance of building relationships and trust within the industry: “Trust is a really important thing”.
Social media can be seen as a positive place to promote work and to keep in touch with family and friends. However, occasionally one can fall into the trap of spending too much time ‘scrolling’. This can have a negative effect on mental well-being.
“There’s a feeling like if there’s a public facing side to your job, which for many journalists there are, that there’s an obligation to constantly be online and promoting your work. I think that can take its toll,” she said.
She further explained: “I have been trolled over the years and it can be a very stressful experience. When it happens, it’s like a really big pile on. It’s like a tidal wave and you just have to do what you can to protect yourself.”
More often than not, social media is used to highlight the ‘best bits’ of one’s life and ultimately, is not showing real life:
“This term doomscrolling has been used a lot where you’re either scrolling endlessly on the constant negative news cycle or you’re just scrolling without a real sense of purpose and seeing everyone else living their best life.”
Therefore, as Anne-Marie explained to me, it’s important to strike that balance between life online and real life.
“Social media is just a construct. It’s no different to looking at a magazine where you’re getting highlights. It’s just understanding that a lot of it is not the full picture.”
Anne-Marie stated: “One of the things I’ve tried to send a message out about this year with ShareJoy is the idea of time well spent online and I try to live by that myself. 2020 was a good example where many of us were using our phones or devices a lot more than we normally would.”
You can donate to ShareJoy by visiting sharejoy.ie, or check out ShareJoy on Depop and Instagram @sharejoy_ie