Meet The Young Women Breathing New Life Into Indie Print Media

 
Isis Nicole and Hannah Black are celebrating art, culture and femme-hood with IN.

Isis Nicole and Hannah Black are celebrating art, culture and femme-hood with IN.

If you’ve ever come across a copy of IN Magazine, you’ll know it’s an independent, fiercely unique and inclusive publication, run for young women, by young women. This week’s “Boss of the Week” is a double whammy.

But what do you know about the gals behind it? Well, Isis Nicole is the founder and editor-in-chief of the glitter-loving rag, and Hannah Black is its creative director.

Shortly before the launch of their sixth issue (with two covers, fronted by Rina Sawayama and 3D-animated Instagram influencer, Miquela) we caught up with them for a lil’ chat.

Rina Sawayama shot by Isaac Kariuki and styled by Yuki Haze.

Rina Sawayama shot by Isaac Kariuki and styled by Yuki Haze.

What was your very first job?

Isis Nicole: Much like Sophia Amoruso, my very first job was at Subway. Back in 2006, I was an irresponsible 16-year-old sandwich artist. On my first day at work, I showed up in a pair of green flip-flops, accidentally. My boss offered me a ride home to change shoes, and I had the proper uniform thereafter. It wasn't my favorite place to be in the world, but it actually came in handy when my family went through a hard time. In short, we were eating Subway sandwiches and cookies about a month for dinner.  

Hannah Black: I grew up in a very small, rural town and started babysitting at 12 or 13. I loved being a part of children’s daily lives, planning meals and activities, playing, watching them grow. I also started volunteering at the local public library at this time and adored it. I got to recommend books and movies to people of all ages, and really be involved in my community in a intimate and positive way. 

What do you “call yourself” now?

Isis Nicole: I call myself ambitious. I'm the founder and editor-in-chief of the IN Mag. IN stands for the initials to my name. Recently, I started claiming that I'm a boss after listening to "Bodak Yellow" by Cardi B on repeat. It's a sonic confidence boost that I appreciate when I think about the challenges I face. I also really like "Internacional" by Brazilian Girls, "Want Some More" by Nicki Minaj, and "Don't Try Me" by Jay Park. Those songs get me so hyped about my goals while I nanny during the day, for a very nice and supportive family.

In a couple years I can picture me calling myself a mother. Right now, I'm really focused on how to continue to grow our magazine and how to connect with our readers and contributors. Even though it seems like major prints are pulling the plug every year, personally, I still love making a tangible magazine. It's a really cool and important experience to be able to build a publication from the ground up. I hope that people who come across what we are doing can discover something that inspires them or find something that they want to be part of. With all of the time that Hannah Black and myself put into IN, we become wiser, capable and constructive each day.

Hannah Black: Right now, I call myself a freelance graphic designer and wardrobe stylist, but I wear a lot of hats day to day in order to make that possible, just as Isis does. I dog walk, web design, personal style for private clients and brands, develop my own editorial content, cast, produce, and place content, as well as creative directing and designing the IN Mag

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Isis Nicole: Growing up, I was told to pursue whatever makes me happy, even if I had to do it for free. I knew at an early age that I wanted to be a journalist, to have a magazine, and to work within entertainment. Years later, I had this really great professor at Columbia College named Jon Resh who encouraged our class to have tenacity. That advice stuck with me. I'm still learning how to stand up for myself as a woman creating her own work. It's a lot more complex than some of the self help go-to's have prepared me for, however, I'm making it through.

It's important to not lose myself in other people's doubts, failures, or negative projections. It's important for me to extend gratitude to those who believe in me and my team. It's important for me to be grounded in my work, to challenge myself and to have faith, confidence, discipline, and support. I am motivated because I am doing what I love. I couldn't be happier with what has been created this far. Oh, and there's also this really great interview I watch by director and activist Christine Choy, who discusses ego, motherhood, and creative career. It gives me a sense of clarity when I get overwhelmed with uncertainties and warnings from some people who say my time is ticking.

I'm learning to tune that out and just continue to run my race. I must advice myself to give my present everything that I've got. In time I'll be able to create and maintain mental, emotional and financial space for my desires. When all goes to plan, it'll be so beautiful.

Hannah Black: I was watching America’s Next Top Model reruns yesterday, and one of the winners (Yoanna House) was telling the contestants not to focus on how well the other girls in the competition are doing, and that they could only control the work they put in. That resonated with me.

This hyper-competitive social media driven landscape can really feel like a reality TV competition. We’re all visibly vying for similar roles in the industry. I truly feel like there’s room for everyone to succeed, but it’s good to zoom in on yourself and not get too caught up in the big picture. Stay focused on your goals and tune out other noise when possible. 

Fulani shot by Hannah Siegfried and styled by Hannah Black.

Fulani shot by Hannah Siegfried and styled by Hannah Black.

What does “success” mean to you? 

Isis Nicole: I would say that success is meeting a desired outcome. For me, I was able to build an idea which I can measure by its growth. It's coming out with our sixth issue, preparing to celebrate our growing magazine on the Ace Hotel rooftop in Downtown Los Angles, earning the support of our contributors, and inspiring our readers. 

Hannah Black: The magazine has made me question this because so many of my dream projects have already been realized through IN. We’ve been able to collaborate with so many of my favorite artists, and tell so many stories I’m so proud of, and do it all on our own terms. Yet I still struggle with feelings of being an imposter. I don’t know what specifically it will take to overcome that. Maybe once IN has a physical office/studio space and Rihanna signs me to Fenty Corp, I’ll feel valid.

How do you manage stress?

Isis Nicole: I'll go for walks, talk it out, or rest. If I can't do any of those three, I'll watch the Dead Mall Series or Rian Phin while wearing a face mask. I'll clean while listening to my boyfriend's podcast, Bad Asiansbecause of the comforting sound of his voice, and for the jokes. Or I'll turn to music. A nice warm shower with music helps me get back on my game in no time!  

Hannah Black: I try to be aware of how much time I spend on social media, but dedicating myself to one internet-free, "airplane mode day" is so relaxing, and really allows me to reset after a long week. Also dancing! I grew up performing to disco hits for my stuffed animals, so dancing in the living room is just as freeing as it was then. I also like to track how often I read, stretch, and meditate. Writing down habits I want to incorporate into my schedule helps me follow through and stay mindful.

What do you wish someone told you when you were 21?

Isis Nicole: To protect myself by asking tough questions. That alone has helped me for the better. 21 was a crucial time for me. Ultimately, I got the advice that I needed because, honestly, if it wasn't for those experiences at that time in my life, I wouldn't know that I could push myself in all of the ways that I have since. 

Hannah Black: I just turned 25 last week, but feel like I was 21 yesterday. Time goes by so quickly. I wish someone had told me that the only thing holding back or limiting me was the fear of failing. Try as much as you can while you have the energy to do so. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve, in business and in your personal life. The worst response that can happen if you ask for what you want is hearing “no.”

Attn: Los Angeles.

Attn: Los Angeles.

What inspires you and gets you out of bed in the morning?

Isis Nicole: The opportunity to have the life that I dream of. I love starting my days with the magazine on my mind and crossing off my to-do list. By next year I should be in a city that my boyfriend and I decide on, to build our lives together. Hannah Black and I talk about our dream office and clients. I picture big things alongside the magazine for us: A studio, movies, scholarships. Just all sorts of major opportunities to bring something endearing into the world. 

Hannah Black: Fashion, pop culture, and learning! I love to research and study editorials from the past and break down what makes the image successful. Is it the styling, the creative direction, the set, the casting, the graphic design? I take notes and try to implement those unique elements into the magazine and my freelance work.

Words: Jerico Mandybur
Photo: Hannah Siegfried/Composite/Courtesy