Lizzy Okoro, Founder of Bunch Magazine chats about gaining exposure, and clearing up misconceptions about creatives
We sat down with Lizzy Okoro, the mastermind behind the awesome print magazine Bunch.Bunch is an incredible source for creative entrepreneurs, artists, game changers, and innovators. How could they not be with the tagline "A Guide for the Daring Creative"?
J+J is always a fan of entrepreneurs finding new ways to promote creatives and talking about an entrepreneur lifestyle, and we absolutely love Bunch. Check out our interview with Lizzy below to learn more about her and follow her on Instagram.
J+J: Name and Job Title?
LO: Lizzy Okoro, Publisher + Editor-in-Chief
LO: Los Angeles, CA
J+J: We focus a lot on brand awareness, are there any tips you can share that have helped you get more exposure for your brand?
LO: We had a tough time getting our name out there when we first launched. I was really naïve when we started, I simply thought, “If I build it, they will come”. You learn very quickly as an entrepreneur that it’s one thing to have a business and another to have a brand. After a few issues that struggled to sell, I threw myself into the re-branding process. I studied my competitors, I studied the brands that I aspired to be like and I sought feedback from everyone I could about what they liked and disliked about BUNCH Magazine. My biggest takeaways were that: 1) my brand message wasn’t communicated clearly and 2) the brand wasn’t loud enough. The latter really meant that we weren’t pushing hard enough for exposure and as a result we weren’t visible to the customer. So my best advice would be to always be aware of how an audience receives you and if you’re not happy with that reception, know that you can change the narrative. Don’t be afraid to walk in the footsteps of others if what they’re doing is working but don’t let your unique voice drown out. Lastly, OWN it. Whatever your “it” is –your business, your product, your story- don’t be afraid to push it.
J+J: What is your niche or thing you're particularly known for?
LO: Daring creativity. When I first started BUNCH in 2011, the word “creatives” wasn’t as buzz-y as it is now so even I didn’t know how to effectively communicate our target audience. I knew that I was speaking directly to people who held creative jobs but I knew that we needed to niche down even more. The common theme between all of the people that we profile is that they don’t just sit by quietly, content with being people who craft for fun. These are people who live out loud, who take bold risks, who push past fear to make their dreams come true.
J+J: Can you share with us any tips you have for success?
LO: Always try! We’ve interviewed hundreds of people at this point and I started to wonder, “is there a secret to success?” I can’t say for sure but I know that everyone I think of as successful has reached that point by daring to try (see above answer). I’m often asked how I’m able to secure sponsorships or high profile names in an issue or meetings with hard to reach people and the answer always comes back to me simply asking and trying. Being told “no” doesn’t sting as much as wishing and wondering if someone could say “yes”.
J+J: What's your favorite social media channel right now?
LO: I can’t believe I’m about to say this: Snapchat! I feel like if you’re past the age of 19 you’re too old to be on it but I think the demo is shifting a bit. It is way too much fun. I felt like a grandma asking people to show me how to use it. I still maintain that it is not intuitive at all but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy. It’s really low stakes, you can just be silly and have fun and connect with friends in a way that’s not possible with most of the other major social media networks.
J+J: Where do you see your industry going within the next 10 years?
LO: Print is having a real renaissance moment right now. It’s awesome to see people move toward the medium. Right now it’s a luxury item, people care about paper quality and are willing to pay $10 or $20 per issue. Hell, I’ve seen a $75 hardcover magazine sell out! I feel lucky that I saw this moment coming a few years ago when I decided to go the print route instead of turning BUNCH into an online platform. But things truly go in cycles so in 10 years it’s really hard to say where we’ll be. Print will never truly die, it will evolve. I’m curious to see how video will impact the way we consume media.
J+J: What is your favorite app for helping with productivity?
Asana hands down. It’s a content management system for teams and it works really well for us. We’re a small team with a lot of tasks to complete and things can easily get lost in the shuffle. Asana allows us to keep on top of our team’s tasks and our own individual tasks.
J+J: Bunch has created a very interesting demographic of followers, what first drew you to this creative entrepreneur crowd, and how were you able to pique their interest?
LO: BUNCH began while I was living in New York. I was attending graduate school and I was blogging as a creative outlet. I kept meeting creative entrepreneurs and many of the students at my school had aspirations to become creative entrepreneurs. I was on a totally different path and suddenly everything became obvious to me: a creative outlet can become a career path, it’s just about knowing how to get there. I knew I wanted to celebrate this group of people but what became obvious to me pretty quickly was that there’s also a lack of resources for creatives. People sometimes hear about creatives and think “starving artists” or they think of creative and business as two separate things and they’re not! So I wanted to clear up the misconceptions (for myself and others and I wanted to create a community where people felt safe to express themselves. Even though there is a lot of attention being placed on creative entrepreneurs, I still can’t think of any press outlets that cater to this group exclusively, especially not in print. So once people find out that that’s what we’re about it’s easy to keep them engaged.
J+J: What's your morning routine look like to get you in the right headspace for work?
LO: I’ve got to get a better routine! I’m an early bird and I like to dive right into work as soon as I get up. We just moved into an office space so now I try to get all of my personal tasks out of the way: gym, walk my dog, meditation, prayer, juicing. I don’t get to work until 11 or noon sometimes, which is insane to me. I guess I shouldn’t feel so bad about it. Or I should just wake up earlier than 6am.
J+J: Tell us what your favorite reads are.
LO: Ahhhh, there are so many for different reasons. Business: If You Have To Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone. But Are You Making Any Money by Marley Majcher (A must for creatives!) Fiction: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Memoir: Bossy Pants by Tina Fey.
J+J: Where does your design inspiration come from? When did you first enter the design world and what brought you there?
LO: My design inspiration comes from Pinterest, no lie. I don’t think I’m actually in the design world just yet; I’m more like a design groupie standing outside of the tour bus. I know what I like when I see it but I have a very hard time communicating it, which is why I adore BUNCH’s Creative Director, Asia David. We have a synchronicity that works. I have tons of ideas and she’s able to translate them and put a BUNCH spin on it. Otherwise, I would probably just copy and paste other people’s stuff.
Guest Feature: Lizzy Okoro, Founder of Bunch Magazine
Interview: Ambar Januel
Photos: CJ Johnson