Rob Berry, @robberryphoto
Meet 20something co-founders Christina and Mikela. Christina, Editor in Chief, oversees all editorial direction, and manages the team of 100+ editors and writers. Mikela is the VP of Brand Management, cultivating 20something’s brand through marketing, strategic partnerships and social media.
C & M share sound advice for young women, and what’s next for 20something.
How did you guys meet?
Mikela Warman: I can take this one. Christina and I met sophomore year through our sorority at the University of Florida. We hit it off pretty quickly because Christina was weird (and smart) and I liked it.
Christina Mosti: And I immediately clicked with Mikela because she calls me weird as a compliment.
Did you both study online media in college?
MW: Kind of. I majored in Public Relations because I initially wanted to be a talent agent. That dream more or less dissipated as soon as I landed my first internship with Marie Claire in NYC. At that point, I figured sticking with media would be a beneficial path to eventually land me my first job.
CM: Not even a little bit. After changing my major several times, I ended up with a degree in Hospitality, which is not only vague, but also impractical if you don’t really like interacting with human people that much. But by a few strokes of luck, I ended up with an internship at MTV in research insights, which ignited an interest in media and consumer research.
When did you start 20something, or how did it all come together?
MW: In the summer of 2013, I was interning in the digital media department at Giorgio Armani in NYC. One of my fellow interns presented an opportunity to work with an up-and-coming media website for millennials, which his friend had launched out of his dorm room. I needed to be published x amount of times for one of my PR classes, so I figured why not? I had always managed my own blog, so writing came pretty naturally.
I got Christina involved as well since she had a natural way with words. When we went back to school, the site had shut down, thus never hearing from the team again. Fast-forward, after moving to NYC, the founder at the time contacted Christina and me to get involved again, this time building the company out the right way. Since then, that founder has since left, and Christina, myself and Jordan [current president] took the reins.
CM: Yeah, what she said.
Why did you want to get involved?
MW: I’ve always been pretty hungry for an entrepreneurial opportunity that would get me more involved in my industry. It gives me a familiar platform to utilize what I’ve learned from my day job, and apply that to something of my own. Plus, any way I can help to entertain/distribute great content within my networks and my networks’ networks is a bonus.
CM: Like most rational people who are entirely prepared for adult life, I made a snap decision to move to a new state without a job, apartment or any semblance of a plan. I found my way eventually, but at the time I was in a questionable living situation, working at a job that was not allowing me to excel creatively or intellectually (that’s my nice way of saying I hated it). I genuinely considered throwing in the towel on NYC when I was approached about taking the lead on 20something’s editorial strategy, and that became a catalyst to a lot of other exciting milestones (i.e. living in an apartment where there isn’t a 96% chance of your mail being stolen).
What is your day job?
MW: I currently work at Time Inc. as a digital account manager. I manage digital advertising campaigns across the travel and luxury categories across the entire company portfolio, from the pre- to post-sale process, and everything in between.
CM: I’m working as an analyst on Sony Music’s Insights & Strategy team. Put simply, we help the various labels understand who is listening to their artists and how they can better connect with their fans.
What are your hopes and dreams for 20something?
MW: This is a loaded question. I hope that we can produce and manage a digital platform that has never yet existed for young women. I want to make sure each piece of content is owned by the author, and directly champions his or her motive for sharing their knowledge or feelings with the world. But we also want that to expand to something bigger, finding a way to individually connect women who can help each other excel. I ultimately want 20something to be a warm and communal lifestyle brand that encompasses so much more than words on a screen.
CM: 100% agree with Mikela. I want to create a supportive and interactive community serving ambitious, like-minded people. I want us to provide a platform for inspiring 20somethings to share content that can entertain people, offer new insights & perspectives, and give the kind of actionable advice that makes life more interesting, enjoyable or successful from someone who’s been there. I want to see 20something expand offline to connect our community members with the unique opportunities and experiences we all hope to have in our 20s. Our editors and writers are these incredible, passionate experts in their own right, and I want to provide the best possible platform for them to share their knowledge and connect with other bright young women.
What do you like to do for fun?
MW: I like to get outside, try new workouts, watch movies, listen to live music, visit museums and galleries around the city, but mostly just look at dogs I want but don’t have the time to take care of on Instagram.
CM: I’d like it on the record that I gave Mikela side-eye when she cited physical activity as her “fun.” But I do also like to be outside, I love to read. I’m a self-proclaimed skill collector, which is probably the most fun thing for me. There’s nothing better than learning a new, useless skill I’ll forget in a few months. I became a certified Pilates instructor, I’m currently taking drum lessons, and next up in the queue is probably tarot card reading or calligraphy, TBD.
Does living in New York City have an impact on the site?
MW: Living in the city has a huge impact on the site. Being in such a fast-paced metropolis like the big apple means we get to hear about exciting events before many other places in the world. All of the museums, gallery openings, concerts, speakeasies, restaurants, etc. are represented here in some way, shape or form. We also appreciate the opportunity to network, finding new contributors and fans around Manhattan.
CM: Agreed, New York has a way of calling to some of the most talented and driven people, and that’s really what allowed us to establish our initial community of such badass 20somethings. We want to continue to leverage the incredible network of people here, and eventually find ways to connect them outside of the city.
And on another note, while a lot of our content is accessible to anyone, the lifestyle of such a… let’s say “charmingly unforgiving” place like NYC opens up a whole new set of problems & questions you don’t really deal with anywhere else. These can range from “What should I do this weekend when I have literally infinite options?” to “Which subway line am I least likely to encounter human feces?” We want to provide the answers (or at the very least, jokes to ease the pain) of these questions.
What advice would you give young (or medium to old!) women looking for a side-hustle?
MW: Find a problem. Whether with society in general, your personal life, or an issue you’ve spotted at work. Identify that problem and take some time to think, “How can I help to fix it?” I felt that there wasn’t an organic and fuzzy place for ordinary people (not professional writers) to come together and share on a singular platform, then connect with each other both online and offline.
CM: That was a good one Mik. I’ll just say what you should do after Mikela’s advice, which is invest in yourself. Invest your time, invest your money, invest your brain power – whatever you do, just go all in. There will be plenty of times when you don’t know WTF you’re doing, but find a way to hold on to that genuine interest and passion that drove you to the side hustle in the first place, and trust that you’ll fake it long enough until it’s real. Also surround yourself with people who have similar entrepreneurial goals and interests. These don’t have to be the only people you interact with, but these will be the ones who help support and reignite your passion day after day.
On that note, what is the advice you wish you knew when starting your career?
MW: There is not enough time in this interview to explain what I wish I knew only three short years ago. #1, listen to your mother. #2, be flexible and open-minded. #3, pretend to be ridiculously positive and happy even when you hate life and want to move to the Caribbean to open your own coconut hut on the beach. #4, make sure to come across like a professional badass to your coworkers – you never know where they may go (and take you) next. #5, invest in quality clothing. Trust.
CM: #1, just say yes and figure out the logistics later. #2, be adaptable. It’s good to have a little bit of a plan, but don’t be too set in stone about where you need to go and how you’re going to get there. Go with the flow and keep learning about your talents, interests and options. #3, don’t underestimate the power of your connections. Even the ones that you don’t really consider connections, because research shows that people love to feel altruistic, and random connections are actually more likely to help you land a job than people you’re close with. #4, there is nothing worse than being stuck in a corporate prison when you’re hungover (this is particularly true when you’re an intern and your task for the day is to blow up 50 balloons #truestory) so just drink water if you go out on a weeknight. #5, set actionable goals with deadlines, it’ll change your life. It keeps you looking forward, and forces you to continually evaluate what’s most important to you.
Do you know a 20something doing something awesome? Nominate a friend or coworker for a #20somespotlight by emailing [email protected] or tagging @hey20something with #20somespotlight on Instagram!