HUFFINGTON POST FEATURE: WOMEN IN BUSINESS
Women in Business: Nikki Fowler, Publisher, Creative Director and Editor-In-Chief of Glitter Magazine, For Girls Who Rock.
Nikki Fowler is the Publisher, Creative Director and Editor-In-Chief of Glitter Magazine, For Girls Who Rock. Her educational background is technology, publishing, fashion, beauty and entertainment. She is a graduate of Rutgers College, Rutgers University, with a degree in English and has spent years in the entertainment and publishing world, working for companies like Maybelline, Conde Nast, Rodale Press, MTV and Universal Records. She’s a seasoned publisher after founding her last luxury fashion and travel magazine and boutique design firm internationally. Advertising clients have included Versace, Dior, Tag Heuer, a slew of beverage brands such as Heineken, Bacardi and the Diageo family of brands. She has globe trotted throughout Europe, The West Indies and South America, becoming an expert in entertainment, beauty, fashion, luxury travel and lifestyle journalism with frequent travels to St. Barths, Paris and Capri.
Seeing a gap in the teen market for relatable content for the coming of age consumer, she created Glitter Magazine, For Girls Who Rock, a teen lifestyle and entertainment magazine. She founded Glitter Magazine in 2006 and went into print in 2009 acquiring global advertisers such as Maybelline, Sally Hansen and OPI to name a few. She’s forged partnerships with companies like Delia’s, Skechers, Forever21, Sephora, Aeropostale, Kohl’s, Bloomingdales and many other national brands. She has interviewed hundreds of celebrities from the Kardashians, Wendy Williams, Elle McPherson, Nigel Barker, Daphne Oz, Kimora Lee Simmons to Cody Simpson. She works with every major publicist across the globe as well as every major fashion, beauty and entertainment outlet including ABC, NBC, Disney, Nickelodeon, BRAVO, INSTYLE and CBS. She skyrocketed Glitter to national status within one issue with contracts with national newsstand distributors, taking the title to national chains like Barnes and Noble, Target, Walmart and over 30 other national retailers. Glitter is a glossy magazine found on over 3000 newsstands in every US state, available digitally for nook as well as overdrive for the South East Asia market.
Currently Fowler is a jane of all trades and a master of many as she oversees operations of the entire publication, which includes creative direction for celebrity photo shoots in NYC and LA, overseeing the Glitter digital website and marketing the company to a reach of 300k on Facebook and 121k on twitter, she lectures for workshops such as Fashion Camp NYC, founded by Coach executives, as well as works with charitable organizations like GIRL UP and She’s the First.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My mother is of Ukrainian heritage and lived in post-war Germany before arriving in America in the 1950’s. My father is African-American, so combined, I enjoyed a very rich and cultured upbringing. I have been artistic from an early age. My mother was an artist and clothing designer within the Ukrainian community and passed that creativity on to me. Ukrainians have a very interesting folk culture from our dress, tapestries, and headdresses to our braided breads – everything is a work of art. My family’s stories and their life challenges instilled perseverance in me. Growing up with mixed heritage taught me tolerance; to think outside the box; and to promote humanity.
I attended Rutgers College, in New Brunswick NJ, graduating with a degree in English. I became this young college graduate wanting to contribute to the world in some big way. When deciding to attend college, I was torn between art school and a traditional college, so once I earned my degree in English, I found a way to utilize my love of writing and my strong programming and design skills by going on to publish a high end fashion and travel magazine abroad.
Immediately after college, I went on to live and work in Manhattan and freelance in the areas of marketing and design for such companies as Maybelline, Condé Nast, InStyle Magazine, Bridal Magazine, Ralph Lauren, Prevention and Universal Records I was a complete sponge, watching not only the department I worked in, but how the companies worked as a whole. I think that is when I realized I would become an entrepreneur.
All of these life and work experiences have shaped my leadership skills in business. Because I have been exposed to so many different cultures and companies throughout my personal and business life, I am truly fearless when it comes to trying new things, networking with new people and being creative. I have mastered the art of possessing multiple skill sets and, in turn, I have the confidence to work in a leadership position in the various roles I play in the company.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Glitter Magazine?
As mentioned, I’ve worked at many top companies while in New York. I moved abroad to the Bahamas after getting married to my (now late) husband, who operated a family steel company from there. I used all the experience I gained in marketing, publishing and design to create an international travel and lifestyle magazine, Globe Magazine. It was a great success and I had clients such as Tag Heuer, Versace, Dior and a slew of beverage brands like Heineken, Bacardi and theDiageo family of brands. My publication was featured on international and domestic airlines and I received numerous international press including a write-up for American Airlines in-flight magazine as a top Caribbean publisher. I wasn’t Caribbean, but I made a name for myself in the Bahamas as one of the first female print and digital publishers. It wasn’t easy fitting into a publishing industry already established in such a small place. Advertising was a boys’ club and it took a lot of effort to break into it. Strategically, I targeted head offices of corporations in Europe and the Americas for advertising. It all came very naturally. I love how magazines come together as one artistic outlet and I love inspiring readers through words and imagery. My goal was to create a magazine that could appeal to all backgrounds and I accomplished that at the time.
After returning to the United States, I freelanced as an art director at a design studio in Manhattan that catered to educational clients like Scholastic, McGraw Hill, Discovery Kids magazine and MTV. So I gained hands on experience art directing and designing for teens from an educational approach. I said to myself: “Wouldn’t it be great to make an edgy magazine for teens that was inspirational, educational, yet fashionable and fun at the same time?” These experiences fueled the idea behind Glitter Magazine, For Girls Who Rock.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Glitter Magazine?
Some of the highlights have been the early successful relationships with publicity companies across the nation and celebrity collaborations that gave us the credibility as a competitive entertainment publication. Out the gate, we were able to work with all of the top media outlets such as DISNEY, BRAVO, NBC and ABC Family. Other significant highlights include signing our first contract with Barnes & Noble back in 2009, and then having a wave of 30 other retailers picking up our publication. The milestones kept coming and among them was landing our first huge client, Maybelline and growing into relationships with Sally Hansen, OPI and tons of other big name brands. I am especially pleased to note that we are trending worldwide on Twitter, beating out Starbucks and Rihanna in popularity, as well as trending number one in Los Angeles. We have over 300,000 likes on Facebook. Another exceptional highlight is our contract with Nook for our digital version of Glitter and most recently with Overdrive for the South East Asia Market.
Challenges have been daily, but I have taken them on one by one. When starting a company you have to learn to adapt to what is thrown at you at any given moment, and handle that pitch with elegance, tact and a high work ethic. Learning to handle a slowly fading print industry and staying savvy and on top of a rising, digital publishing industry has it challenges. I kind of thrive off the challenges and that has been the secret to my success. It’s been exceptionally challenging to raise my daughter while running a national company. I started my company when she was only six, so being a single mother after experiencing the loss of my husband and her father over a decade ago, was definitely full of them. It became about picking up the pieces after such a great loss and having the will to persevere, to do big things and make my daughter proud of my accomplishments. I had to fill the shoes of two!
What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
My advice is to do something that you love, be fearless and do not take no for an answer. There are many that will tell you no, but there is always someone that will tell you yes.
What is the most important lesson you?ve learned in your career to date?
The most important lesson I have learned is to let go of what doesn’t serve you. Negativity can easily bring you down and it’s something that has no place in one’s life. It isn’t easy to stay positive twenty-four hours a day. You may slip up based on simply what others have to say about you or your work. But it’s all in your recovery time. Keeping that recovery quick is the key to success. When you think of all the positive things you could be doing and focus on that, you can make your goals happen faster. Losing an employee, or having someone turn out not to be who you thought they were, can be disheartening, but you must realize that everything happens for a reason. Learning to pick up the pieces and carry on is imperative.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I’ve been lucky to be able to use my work as an educational tool for my daughter and family. I chose a field that directly relates to her life, is creative and we both have grown closer because of that. I’ve exposed her to the steps required in striving for excellence, building a national brand and all of the teen issues and subject matter that Glitter centers around. Developing the company when she was six has dramatically changed her life now at 15. She is so well versed on teen issues and she has gained valuable business skills as well as experiencing tons of creative opportunities working and learning behind the scenes. Unlike some of her classmates who are joining one or two clubs at school, she has the knowledge of how a company is run from A to Z and has experience helping to brand a company as well as contributing her own creative control over our issues. It has been a growing experience for both of us.
Knowing when to shut down from work is extremely necessary and it’s important to just be mom. I don’t slack or make excuses in the areas of family. Holidays and events are given just as much effort as I do my business. I give my best in everything I do and excuses are just not an option when you are creating a national company. I have had to battle many obstacles. I just feel doing and creating, instead of complaining, works for me and is much more of a magical experience.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Having a voice and having that work compensated appropriately. Women still are making less than men in the same position and while it’s changed drastically, men still tend to make more than women. Women tend to have to prove themselves more than a man in the same position.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I have had great mentors and I love serving as a mentor to others and giving back. Seeing all of the kind, successful and hardworking people that were in my life growing up, definitely inspired me to become a success in business and influenced my personal life. Because of my mom’s great friendships, I traveled a lot as a child and was exposed to many different cultures and backgrounds of people who served as mentors in some way. I was able to formulate and dream about what I wanted for my own life at a young age. I take all that I’ve learned and I try to give back to those needing the inspiration. I have always loved to teach others and serve as a support to them. It is very important to me and it’s the foundation for Glitter Magazine. To educate and inspire teens is our motto.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Arianna Huffington. She has built an empire and while the road was tough she found a balance between work and personal life. If you haven’t read Thrive, you must!
What do you want Glitter Magazine to accomplish in the next year?
We recently partnered with York and Chapel for digital sales and we just signed an agreement with Mash Studios, one of their recently acquired design firms. Mash is responsible for the Marc Jacobs’ Daisy Pop-Up Shop during Mercedes Benz’s Fashion Week last season.
It garnered a CLIO Image Award and generated over one billion tweets for the campaign. This is huge for us because we are now able to creatively collaborate with a digital savvy firm. This will allow Glitter to develop amazing original advertising programs that can make use of our huge social media audience and bring much greater awareness to us; enhance user engagement online; and further build brand impressions with the companies with which we work.