Livia Lange and Olivia DeMirjian may just be two 13-year-old girls from Southern California, but they’re already self-publishing a monthly online magazine and building their empire. The best friends saw a need for a magazine made “by teen girls, for teen girls”, and given today’s technology, decided to create their own all-digital publication. They launched Liv Magazine in July of last year with the help of Glossi, an online platform that helps bring mags to life. The debut issue hit the web in October, and now the girls are gearing up for a Valentine’s Day-inspired issue for February. They took some time out before going to school to chat with us about their magazine, their stances on airbrushing, and the importance of social media.
So tell us how you started Liv Magazine?
Livia: When I was seven, I had a magazine called Giggles, and I used to lay it out in my hallway and staple it together every month. When Olivia and I started getting to be really close friends from school, we wanted to put a magazine together because we both liked a lot of the same stuff. We have similar names so the name of the magazine was really easy for us to pick.
Olivia: We wanted to do something that all of our friends could be really excited for. Our motto is “By teen girls, for teen girls”. And it’s not like adults trying to figure out what we like and how we are, because we know.
And what do teens want right now?
Olivia: They want to know about life, love, and fashion.
Livia: We like to keep it balanced, not too much fashion and not too much love, and just keep it real.
How did you two decide on an all-digital magazine?
Olivia: We like digital because we can easily share visuals, like pictures, with our friends. Kids our age really like seeing pictures, like on Instagram. Social media is really important. I always wanted to have a print magazine, but it’s become really hard to do. We really like Glossi because it’s easy for both of us to work on it at the same time, and with a print magazine, we’d have to share documents and everything.
Tell us more about your process for creating Liv Magazine.
Livia: We do a lot of collages. We go through magazines, and before every issue, we make a posterboard of stuff that we think will be fun to have in that issue. [We do the photoshoots] with the help of Terry [Wood, her mother]. For Christmas, I got a background that you can make black or white, and we used black for most of our photoshoots. But for some, we do it outside. We work after school, and we usually give up most of our lunches to go to study hall rooms to work on the computers. We’re getting pretty good [at balancing school and work] — we have special time slots.
Olivia: Every Tuesday night, we have video chat sessions to talk about each issue that we’re working on at the time. If we didn’t have the technology that we have now, we probably couldn’t do the magazine. Technology has made this possible.
How has social media helped you girls grow the magazine?
Livia: It actually plays a bigger part than you’d think because that’s how we get a lot of our content, seeing what people like on our Instagram and Twitter. Pinterest is also good because that’s how we get a lot of our inspiration. On Instagram, we have a hashtag, #livmagnails. We post a picture at the beginning of every month saying we need pictures of nails, and then we choose three from different people [every month]. For February, we’re looking for pink, pink, pink!
You don’t airbrush or Photoshop anything in your magazine, why not? Do you think there is too much of that going on in magazines?
Olivia: We don’t really do any special things, like airbrush our photos. We think it’s better to be natural and not-so-perfect, I guess, unlike the models in other magazines.
Livia: We do have fun with makeup and stuff though, we do makeup tutorials. We wanted it to be a relatable magazine, so there’s not too much pressure to look great because the people in our magazine are everyday kids. I think for kid and teen magazines, yes, there’s too much. But adult magazines are a little different because they’re reaching an older audience. Definitely for Teen Vogue and Seventeen, they should stop airbrushing because it puts too much pressure [on kids].
Tavi Gevinson started her blog when she was about your age, and now has turned it into a big magazine for teen girls. Did you guys look to her while making your magazine?
Olivia: Well, we kind of do our own thing most of the time.
What are your goals for Liv Magazine?
Livia: I had one of those life-sized playhouses when I was in fifth grade. It’s like a mini-house, and now we’re in the process of cleaning it out, painting it, and turning it into our very own office because we want to keep expanding and making new goals. We hope to get more readers. We want to take a lot of chances when it comes to what we put in the magazine.