It is an understatement to say that Nikki Fowler is fiercely intelligent and driven. In her spare time as a kid, she studied computer programming and often left 5th grade for hours at a time to take college SAT practice tests. Later, she became one of the first female publishers in the Bahamas and she isn’t even Caribbean!
Nikki Fowler has gotten where she is today by fighting for her dreams and giving it all she’s got. In 2006, she founded Glitter Magazine and, since then, you can find the publication on over 3,000 newsstands across the nation. She has interviewed hundreds of celebrities including Wendy Williams, Nigel Barker, the Kardashians and Cody Simpson. What’s interesting is that Glitter Magazine features celebrities in a way unlike other publications- real life people!
Today, in addition to being an entrepreneur, publisher, editor, creative director and all-around career role model, Nikki Fowler is also a dedicated mother and wife. Her Agenda was lucky enough to interview this incredible woman that shows no sign of slowing down.
Her Agenda: Did you always see yourself working in the magazine industry?
Nikki Fowler: I have always been artistic from an early age. My mother was an artist and clothing designer within the Ukrainian community [where] we lived and I got that from her. My mom spoke 5 different languages, I watched my grandmother making everything from scratch in our kitchen and it gave me a vibrant and colorful background. Ukrainians have a very interesting folk culture from our dress, tapestries, and headdresses to our braided breads. Everything is a work of art. [In addition to that,] I was a huge fashion magazine nut as a teen. The more international the better and my room was plastered each month with all of the best design layouts, fashion and beauty features. So I immersed myself with typography and design very early.
Her Agenda: What made you start Glitter Magazine?
Nikki Fowler: After returning to New York after many years in the Bahamas and traveling overseas to Europe and South America, I analyzed the newsstands and saw a gap in the current teen publications. Some [of the magazines] featured merchandise that was too expensive for your average teen, models and makeup that were more like fantasy and not relatable to young girls coming of age, as well as content that seemed to only glorify celebrities as these unattainable beings. I felt there was a disconnect with the real girl next door. Glitter was founded in 2006 on the concept of real people, of which is a dedicated section in our publication. I wanted to create a magazine that real teens could relate to. I felt a need to produce content that I would be proud to have my daughter read and to be inspired by.
We started out as a complete real people publication and quickly added celebrity content as a balance to the publication. Our take on celebrities is that they’re real people too. We interview them in such a way that they inspire our readers to possibly follow in their footsteps. We rarely highlight candids of celebrities having coffee or anything that is paparazzi-esque. We are big on inspiring teens through intuitive features along with our edgy fashion, beauty and how-to features.
Her Agenda: Glitter Magazine’s motto is “Be inspired, not influenced.” How has that motto impacted your life?
Nikki Fowler: My life has always been out of the box. I’ve been difficult for people to pigeon hole. I’ve always had a mind of my own and I was raised in such a way that put creativity first. Watching my mother and grandmother can fruit, make grape juice from our small vineyard, sew, crochet, needlepoint, make candles for the Russian Orthodox Church we attended, all made me into the person I am.
My family’s strong work ethic made me into who I am today. They were my inspiration! My goal now is to inspire others in that same way. It’s very easy to influence but it’s more fulfilling to inspire! The magazine from A to Z is based on this concept.
Her Agenda: How did you get Glitter Magazine to take off?
Nikki Fowler: Glitter started with an online presence in 2006 and I grew an audience to test the market of what teens enjoyed. By 2009, we went into print and I sent copies to national distributors and we were picked up by Barnes and Noble right away. After a few months we were offered contracts by 30 retailers including Target, Walmart, and other national chains. We have grown to a presence in over 3000 locations. We were offered a contract by NOOK for tablet, PC and cellphones and most recently signed with Over Drive for South East Asia readers. In this industry you can’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for what you want. Having great design and content made it easy and mixed with perseverance and a high work ethic and we arrive at where we are today. We have featured hundreds of celebrities such as Cody Simpson, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Ross Lynch, Zendaya, Bella Thorne and have been featured by hundreds of celebrities on their social networks and websites, which gives us access to millions of viewers and readers.
Her Agenda: What’s your vision for the magazine’s future?
Nikki Fowler: Our goal is to reach more readers and online viewers with our original fashion, beauty and entertainment content- inspiring one teen at a time! We have worked with such companies like GIRL UP Foundation and Fashion Camp NYC where we hold workshops for teens to learn about the business of fashion, publishing and digital companies. She’s the First [is another organization we work with.] We would love to work with more charitable organizations to continue to get our message out that real people can do big things! We have a lot of great tech launches for 2015 including gaming apps, website enhancements and some other super cool online programs for our readers.
Her Agenda: What is your favorite thing about Glitter Magazine?
Nikki Fowler: I have so many favorite aspects of Glitter. One of my favorite aspects has been working with my daughter Zoe, who is now 14 and being able to collaborate with her. I’m proud to feature real teens and inspire girls in a direction different from mainstream media.
I have to add that I love the creative process. I have been hands on since the very beginning in 2006. I’m a tech geek, a lover of all things digital, so I utilize my computer skills with programming and design for our print and digital presence. I serve as the creative director and its fun to produce photo shoots and watching a story board come to life through photography, styling makeup and hair. Celebrity interviews are great too, especially producing cover shoots. The best feeling is when we get our advance copies and see the work as a whole. To be able to make a career out of what I enjoy is very fulfilling.
Her Agenda: What’s one of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur, and how do you get past it?
Nikki Fowler: The hardest part of being an entrepreneur is having patience. You must be very patient to do big things. You can never give up because you never know when your time comes! Glitter started in 2006 as a name on a blank computer screen and now it is in every state across the nation as well as in international cities. It’s amazing what happens when you follow your dream. I always say, keep the ship slow and steady and you will achieve any goal you set for yourself. You aren’t on anyone else’s time but your own!
[Editor's note: This post was published on September 22, 2014.]