Jan 27, 2018
30 Under 30, Class of ’18: Gabrielle Korn, Editor-In-Chief of NYLON
Most Likely To: Ask to say “Hi” to your dog
Favorite Quote: “I am a superficial woman of depth.” -Melissa Broder
It’s no secret that magazines are struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing patterns of media consumption. Figuring out how to deal with the rocky media landscape is Gabrielle Korn’s job. Previously the beauty editor at Refinery29, she worked to make Refinery’s beauty section more diverse in culture, ethnicity, and sexuality. Now, as the Editor-in-Chief of NYLON, Gabrielle has been directing NYLON‘s transition from a traditionally print magazine to a fully digital presence with grace and poise.
What is your earliest memory associated with what you do now?
I remember being in middle school flipping through the pages of Elle and Vogue at my kitchen island, peering at the impossibly perfect faces of the impossibly thin models and feeling equal parts enchanted and left out. It seemed like fashion wasn’t for me. I loved it, I loved the pictures and the stories, but I didn’t see a single image that felt accessible, that felt like real life. Where were the weird art girls with greasy hair, acne, and opinions? Now, as an EIC, it’s so important to me that when people (especially our younger readers) look at NYLON, they see versions of themselves.
When did your occupation become real to you?
When I was promoted to beauty editor at Refinery29 was the first time I felt like, “Okay, this isn’t just a pipe dream, other people think I can do this.” There was always a part of me that secretly worried I’d have to have a mid-20s career change and go back to school for something more traditional than digital media. As an editor at Refinery, I was very vocal about what I thought we should be doing, even if it was totally contrary to what the plans were—and it often was. Most of what I spoke up about had to do with being more racially diverse and queer-friendly at a time before women’s media really prioritized that. It paid off, which was so incredibly rewarding and validating.
How does Brooklyn/your neighborhood particularly inform your work?
Brooklyn is to Manhattan as NYLON is to our competitors: it’s the cooler, weirder, more exciting option. The culture is so reflective of what we do in NYLON. There are always women creating new and interesting things, pushing the boundaries of music and fashion. So many of the artists we cover come from Brooklyn or have their studios here. I have a very close-knit community in my neighborhood in particular—most of my friends live within walking distance—which definitely informs my work in that I essentially am part of the demographic we’re trying to reach, and I’m always learning about new and cool things from my peers.
It’s also a very diverse community, and that’s equally important. I never want what we do online to feel narrow-minded or one-dimensional, or like we only speak to one kind of woman. I get upwards of two thousand emails a day, so it can be hard to get my attention, and that’s when the local community of people doing cool things really comes in handy.
What do you feel is most challenging about being where you are now?
Working in media feels like living underneath a giant question mark. We’re constantly striving to come up with stories that say something new, and now there’s the added challenge of delivering them in a format that people are actually consuming—sometimes that’s an article; sometimes it’s an Instagram story; or it’s just one image. You always have to pay attention to how readers interact with content in order to keep them coming back.
As the Editor-in-Chief in these post-print times, my greatest personal challenge tends to be balancing the internal work with the external. I’m managing a fairly large team plus representing our brand in the space, which calls for being on just about all the time. It can be exhausting. I do a lot of self-care!
What’s most rewarding?
The fact that our brand still exists while so many around us are shuttering is rewarding in itself. On top of that, though, what I find most rewarding is when I see our readers sharing our content. It’s totally great when people like something, but to go the extra step and share it with their friends means that it left a lasting impression.
It’s also very rewarding that our most-shared content is also our most political. Our readers are demanding stories that are smarter, more feminist, and more queer than ever before—and that’s what I’m passionate about too, so it feels really exciting.
5 spots in Brooklyn people should know about?
- Paulie Gee’s (the best pizza ever) and Ramona, around the corner, to drink a cocktail when the wait is 1-2 hours.
- Moloko – For the best burger and oysters.
- Samurai Papa – For ramen that you’ll want to eat every day forever.
- Z Relax – A hole in the wall massage place that is the best $45/hour you’ll ever spend.
- The Lesbian Herstory Archives – A brownstone in Park Slope that is home to the world’s largest collection of materials by and about lesbians and their communities.
What’s your most significant accomplishment to date?
Becoming an EIC under 30 feels pretty significant. But in a larger sense, having a successful career in media at all feels like an accomplishment. I’m very lucky. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m the only lesbian editor-in-chief at a major fashion-based media company, which also feels like an accomplishment, not just for me but for the visibility of the community in general.
Who/what inspires you?
I’m so inspired by my team of writers and editors. They constantly blow me away with their creativity and passion. I come to the office every day feeling lucky to work with them. It makes everything worth it.
Thinking about the future, where do you see yourself in the next 30 years?
You know, I’ve been in NYC for my entire adult life, and sometimes I think that maybe at some point I should live somewhere else, and then I’m like, “But why?” I hope that in 30 years I’m living in a beautiful brownstone on a quiet street in Brooklyn. I want to start a media company founded on feminist ideals and hire all the women I admire to work with me on it. I trust that my dog will still be alive and I want a little yard for her to run around in. I’d like to be married with a kid or two if I can afford it. I want to leave the industry more inclusive than how I found it.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on relaunching our website and redoing our content strategy to bring NYLON to the next level!
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