Vivien is the co-founder and editor of KOOKIE, a new magazine for pre-teen girls aged 8 plus which ‘celebrates all a girl can be’. Vibrant, vital, engaging and fun, I wish KOOKIE had been around when I was a tween!
Viv has spent her career in publishing and is the parent of two daughters. Disappointed by the kind of magazines available to her own girls, she decided to create a magazine that wasn’t about being pretty or perfect (or pink) but instead gave girls a bigger, brighter sense of their place in the world. Understanding that girls have to ‘see it to be it’, KOOKIE champions female role models, celebrates diversity, encourages creativity and curiosity, and challenges girls to question and debate. Viv says, ‘Every issue is packed with stories that build a girl’s confidence, teach her skills and connect her with other cultures’.
KOOKIE is published quarterly in the UK and Australia. The first issue is ou tnow.
You can find out more and subscribe to KOOKIE on the website www.kookiemagazine.com
Describe a typical day for you?
I set my alarm for 6 and wake up to the gentle tones of Radio 3. I need to eased into the day and can’t bear anything too loud or energetic that early in the morning! I feed the pets, drink a large glass of water and do some yoga and meditate for 20 minutes before I wake my daughters (13 and 16) up. This is my aim. Some days I just hit the snooze button until the last possible minute.
After I’ve got the girls off to school, I either go swimming or I head straight to my office. I work from home and so it’s an easy commute! My co-editor, Nicky Shortridge is based in Sydney, Australia, so we have to take advantage of the small window of opportunity when our time zones overlap to have a catch up on the phone. She and I have been friends since we were 13 years old and it’s been a real delight to reconnect with her on both a personal and professional level.
I work all day, drink far too much tea, and sometimes take a bit of a break to walk the dog. They girls get home around 4 and head to their rooms to do their homework. I panic about supper at around 5 and usually manage to rustle something up by 6.30 when we sit down together to eat. It’s a good time of day to catch up with the girls, take some time together and talk about our day.
The girls clear up after supper and I go back and do a bit more work. We usually sit down together for an hour or so of TV – lately, we’ve been enjoying seven seasons of Gilmore Girls. Sometimes I do a bit more work after the girls have gone to bed, but I prefer to wind down with a bath and a few final yoga stretches before I climb into bed with a book. I’m usually asleep by the end of the second page.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Launching KOOKIE is definitely one of my biggest achievements. It’s an idea that I’ve had for a couple years and I have worked really hard to pull it together. The whole ethos of creating a magazine that gives girls a bigger, brighter view of their place in the world is really energising for me. It’s wonderful to work on something that I feel so passionate about, something that feels really worthwhile. Seeing that idea come to fruition, to create a magazine that has been so warmly received has been very rewarding.
And, of course, I am enormously proud of my two daughters. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, it truly is. The responsibility feels enormous, the hours are long and arduous, and the pay is paltry. But it is more than worth it to see my girls grow into amazing young women.
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
My purse, my phone, car keys, a lipstick, a pile of old receipts and a few loose mints rattling around.
What are your ambitions in life?
That’s such a big question! My ambition is really to make a living doing something I love, to do something worthwhile and honest, to be part of the solution rather than the problem, to make my girls proud.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
That those lovely long press lunches won’t last forever! I started my career in Hong Kong and worked on some great fashion and lifestyle titles. Lots of great freebies and fancy dinners came my way — I even met my daughters’ dad on a press junket to Thailand. Seriously though, I try not to hold on to regrets or wish I’d done things differently. You make mistakes, you acknowledge them and come to terms with them, and you move on. I’ve never been a great planner and I certainly never had a career path mapped out. It works for some people but I flew more by the seat of my pants!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
My daughters will both be grown up and have left home in five years! Wow. I imagine the workplace will be even more fluid, so who knows where I will be living and working? I know I’ll still be working hard to make KOOKIE the best magazine it can be for our lovely pre-teen readers. In five years, I imagine KOOKIE will be even established, with a strong base of readers and fantastic contributors. I’d like the magazine to be monthly, to have more pages and content, and reach more girls around the country – and the world!
Perhaps we’ll have branched out and created KOOKIEs in other markets by then. I feel so passionate about creating a magazine that builds girls’ confidence and resilience, that shows them all that they can be. I feel very fortunate to do what I love and love what I do.
What advice would you give a budding magazine founder and editor?
Most importantly, it’s possible. I remember being completely daunted by the prospect of starting a magazine on my own. So much to do – how to even start? But it’s a process and it takes time, but if you stick with it and you work hard on your vision, it really is possible.
What advice do you want to offer new parents?
Relax into it and trust yourself. If you’ve got some common sense (and almost everyone has), you’ll know what to do for your child. And remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint, so if you make a mistake today – and you probably will – you can rectify it tomorrow. Try and say ‘yes’ a lot more than you say ‘no’, and spend your money on experiences instead of things. (Also, buy terry cloth nappies instead of disposables.)
Finally, happiness is…
Sunshine on my face. I grew up in Africa and Hong Kong and I miss the heat more than almost anything.