VIVIEN JONES – Founder of KOOKIE Magazine
Could you tell us about KOOKIE magazine and what it has aimed to do?
KOOKIE is a new print magazine for girls aged 7 to 12+. With no advertising, fashion or beauty, KOOKIE is a quite radical departure from traditional girls’ magazines and addresses the needs of an under-served audience — pre-teen girls who want (and deserve) a magazine that is empowering, engaging and encouraging of their talents and ambitions. So KOOKIE is a magazine with a mission — to celebrate ALL a girl can be, whether she’s interested in science or sports, art or astronomy, history or hip hop. We also have a sister publication in Australia which is tailored to the local market.
How did you come up with the idea for KOOKIE?
As well as being an editor, I am the parent of two (now teenage) girls. When they were younger, I was disappointed by the kinds of magazine that were available to them. I began to think how a magazine for pre-teen girls that champions female role models, encourages them to learn new skills, and amplifies their voice would build their confidence and resilience. Girls aren’t born worrying how shiny their hair is — these are insecurities that they are taught. My business partner, Nicky Shortridge — who I’ve been friends with since I was 13 — and I decided to create a magazine that would give girls a bigger, brighter view of the world.
What was the best part of creating and producing your first KOOKIE issue?
Although it was incredibly hard work, launching KOOKIE was a fantastic experience. Reconnecting with one of my oldest friends to create something that we felt proud of was at the heart of it. Putting it out in the world and finding a community of like-minded people who got behind the enterprise through our crowdfunding campaign and being able to support so many talented women by commissioning their creative work. The real icing on the cake was being named Launch of the Year at the British Society of Magazine Editors Awards in London.
Your target audience are girls aged 7-12, how do you communicate and give them what they want?
It’s a combination of my experience as an editor and as a parent to girls. I spend quite a lot of time talking to girls in this age range through schools and friends (and friends of friends!) We have some very enthusiastic readers and I often ask for their feedback on a feature idea. We are always mindful of the diversity of our readership and the importance of representing all kinds of girls and many different interests. There’s nothing inherently gender-specific about it. (And after all, girls have been reading boy-led content forever!).