For the first of our Urban Outfitters event series, we hosted an evening at Space 15 Twenty in Los Angeles. I spoke with Lizzy Okoro, founder and editor of BUNCH Magazine. Highlights from the night and the best bits of advice from Lizzy below.
“It’s so hard to start, but each step becomes easier after the first.”
“I’ve been doing BUNCH for about four years now, but didn’t start calling myself a publisher until a few months ago. I felt really insecure about that title. I didn’t want anyone to pull my card and say, ‘Did you to to school for that?’ But no one has ever questioned me. Now I just own it. Whether I’m truly qualified to be in the position that I’m in doesn’t matter, because I’m in it. Most of the time, you’re the only one standing in the way of what you want.”
“The biggest mistake I made was not telling anyone I was starting the magazine. I didn’t want to rally the support of my friends and family for a project that might fail. After eight months of working on it, I posted something on Instagram and sent out an email blast. Everyone’s response was, ‘Why didn’t you tell me? I know this person who could have done graphic design, or this person who could have helped with photography.’ Once I started putting myself out there, people were able to connect with me and what I was doing.
One of the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to try. I’m going to ask people for things, and if they say no, then someone else will say yes. No is never final.”
“There’s this really great quote by Ira Glass. It’s based on the idea that as creatives, we make work because we have good taste. We’re motivated by the fact that we know when something looks good. But in the beginning we have no idea what we’re doing. So there’s a huge gap between our taste and what we produce, and it takes a lot of work for those two things to match up. A lot of people give up before they get to the good taste level. That quote has always resonated with me. I saw magazines that were beautiful and decided, I want to do that. Although I’m still proud of our first issue, it wasn’t up to par. I thought I was going to put out some dope shit, and people were like ‘What is this?’ The whole point of that Ira Glass quote is to get feedback, keep going and figure it out. It took a few years, but that’s what I did.”
“What hurt was the magazine not selling. Somebody telling me why it didn’t sell didn’t hurt. You have to be able to step back from your situation and understand that someone is giving you feedback so you can make things better.”
“I’m literally living my dream. It’s hard to say: ‘I’m going to walk away from this because I’ve had a hard week.’ I owe it to myself to keep going.”
“To go from good to great as an entrepreneur, you have to be a dreamer and a doer. You have to be a little bit of both. I might sound like a total hippie, but I love vision boards. There’s something special about putting your goals in front of you that makes you think, what do I need to do to make this happen?”
“You hear that quote about how every overnight success is ten years in the making. I was like, fuck that! I don’t have ten years! But I’m lucky enough to be privy to other successful creatives, and what I’ve learned is that almost every person struggles. It can be hard to keep up that faith and enthusiasm, but whenever things are tough, I think: I haven’t come this far to give up now. I truly believe that there’s more to this story.
I haven’t worked this hard or gotten this recognition only to crumble.”
Photography by Anne Yano