The Cool Kids is a series documenting creative humans shaping present day society with their work and outlook.
LIZZY OKORO | BUNCH MAGAZINE | PUBLISHER, EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lizzy Okoro realized her lifelong dream of publishing a magazine after making a deal with herself that she would leave her career in law and international affairs on the day of June 26, 2014. She marked the date on her wall, told all her friends, and set her intention. When that fated day arrived she rethought her strategy and thought that maybe she would stay in her job "just a few more months." Low and behold the universe has a way of supporting your internal decisions and on June 26, 2014 the company's HR person came into Lizzy's office and informed her the company was eliminating her position. Destiny? Maybe.
This series of events led Lizzy to make her childhood dream a reality. Inspired by the creatives surrounding her, she created BUNCH Magazine, a print magazine that serves as a guide for the daring creative, or rather an entrepreneur magazine for creatives. Her platform provides tips and inspiration for creative professionals while offering an opportunity to share resources, provide guidance, and dispel antiquated notions of artistry. I caught up with Lizzy in Los Angeles during the launch of her latest issue to talk more about the community she has created.
Tell me about Bunch Magazine.
BUNCH was born out of the desire to tell the stories of the burgeoning creative class. Growing up, I always associated creativity with being an artist, and I always associated artists with being emotional, erratic, and financial unstable. When I realized that most creatives are the antithesis of this stereotype, I knew that there was a story to tell.
Who are you giving a voice to?
We are giving a voice to those who are pursuing the creative journey, which is often misunderstood and therefore very lonely. It is difficult to stay motivated when people try to usher you towards a "safe" career. Knowing all of this, we divide the book into three sections: tools and advice for creatives, inspirational stories from creative professionals, and lastly a section with editorials and creative writing to showcase the work of our community.
Where were you when you had the idea to start this?
I'm a Los Angeles native and I was living in New York attending graduate school for International Affairs when the idea came to me. I had a lot of free time while in school and started blogging as a creative outlet. Through the blog and by virtue of living in NYC I started to interact with a wide variety of creatives. Many had careers I had never heard of and they were happy and successful. I had a very narrow scope of what it meant to be successful and these people were deconstructing every prejudice I had.
Were there certain people that inspired you to create this platform?
The big push came when I met an art restorer through a family friend. We went to visit her studio in Chelsea. She had millions of dollars worth of art from Andy Warhol, Keith Herring and others. She explained to me what the heck an art restorer is: she takes artwork that has been damaged and literally paints them, restoring them to their original state. She had a whole team of employees and made a comfortable 7 figure salary doing something she genuinely loved. Here's this woman who is an actual artist and a straight up business woman. My mind was blown. It was shortly after that meeting that I decided to launch BUNCH.
What is the best part about what you are doing?
Inspiring others is an amazing feeling. I'm not curing cancer, I don't flatter myself in that way. However, there is some social good being met. We want to be the people that tell you, "Yes, you can" when everyone else is telling you no. If you've ever had a dream, you've also had the fear of failure. So even if you don't identify with the creative world, you can at least identify with that statement. I have doctors and lawyers who read the magazine and their take-way is that they too can push through the obstacles to create their best lives. So long as we continue to have that type of feedback, I'll continue on this path.
What is one thing you have learned that continues to remain present in your career path?
Never underestimate the power of a supportive community. If you don't have mentors, role models, and people who understand you, it's hard to persevere. If you're lucky to have a strong network, express gratitude because there are many people who are not as fortunate.
What do you discover about yourselves through your work?
I've discovered that I am a risk taker. I would never have ascribed that adjective to myself before. For example - I was working a full time job and attending school when BUNCH started. I was telling the stories of these daring creatives and yet I looked at my own life and realized that I wasn't walking the walk myself. I made the decision to leave my job about 7 months before I made the leap and I've never looked back. It was the best decision I ever made, albeit one of the most difficult times of my life. Interacting with this network of people has opened my mind to life's possibilities and I am forever grateful.
Tell me something you see behind the scenes others do not get to experience.
I see how hard people work to make their dreams come true. I heard the phrase,
"Stop comparing your behind the scenes with everyone else's highlight reels" and I almost applauded. I see successful people all the time and they make it look easy but we have no idea what it takes to get there. We see their highlight reel only, images that come through on social media and I have to remind myself often to not compare my journey to theirs. I get to have access to these people and engage with them on a deeper level. That's when I am reminded that they are real people with lots of obstacles. They just know how to push beyond the challenges.
What do you hope to achieve with your work?
I want to know that I've empowered people to execute their dreams and overcome obstacles.
As a creative human yourself, what do you hope to contribute to society?
The ironic thing is that at times I don't feel like a creative human. I feel like a curator of creativity, haha. I'm just a big time dreamer who wants to inspire people to imagine more for themselves.
What is your personal mantra?
My personal mantra is, "Doubt kills dreams more than failure ever will". I see how people never bring their goals to fruition because they're so full of doubt and terrified of failure. In my opinion, you only ever fail if you don't try. So above all else, try.
You can pick up the latest issue of Bunch Magazine here.
Photos used courtesy of Bunch Magazine
Portrait Photography by Monica Lek