As Editorial Director of the Bauer Teen Group, Brittany Galla oversees the vision and editorial content for a portfolio of more than six pre-teen and teen magazines including J-14, the number one celebrity magazine for teens, Girls’ World, Teen Boss, QuizFest and Animal Tales, among others. In her 10 years at Bauer, Galla has introduced a handful of successful brands into the marketplace including Puzzle Fun, J-14 Decorate!, Coloring with Mommy, Dot Dot Dot, and Bake It Up, to name a few. In 2016/2017, Bake It Up was named as one of the 20 hottest magazine launches by Mr. Magazine, following in the footsteps of J-14 Decorate! which was recognized the year prior.
In 2017, Galla was chosen as a member of the 2017 Folio:100 List. She began her career in the Bauer Teen Group in 2008, rising from assistant editor to senior editor at the now digital-only M magazine. Galla then went on to become an online editor at AOL Music and Us Weekly, before returning to Bauer in 2013. Galla has also written for a variety of national woman’s publications, including Cosmopolitan and Fit Pregnancy. A graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, she currently lives in New Jersey with her husband, their newborn daughter and rescue dog.
How did you get into the industry?
Having grown up with three older sisters, I was obsessed with teen magazines (RIP CosmoGirl and YM, as well as many others) from a young age and always dreamed about working at one. In college, that became a reality when I secured internships at Seventeen and Us Weekly during my senior year of. Still, it was 2008 and there weren’t a ton of openings at the time. I had an entry-level job lined up at a small magazine in Connecticut, thanks to one of my professors, but I was dying to work in teen magazines. I got a call back from a job I had applied to at Bauer Publishing for assistant editor at M Magazine, a monthly teen entertainment magazine. I went on a few interviews, poured my heart into the edit test (I still have it in my office!) and was offered the job the day before I was supposed to move to Connecticut. Without looking back, I moved to New Jersey without knowing a soul and dove right in. I moved up to senior editor before leaving for a bit to work on the online side of AOL and then Us Weekly. In 2013, I went back to Bauer Publishing as editor in chief of M, the magazine I started at. Now, I’m editorial director where I oversee 9 titles in our youth division.
For me personally, the teen years were full of insecurity, self-doubt and loneliness. Teen magazines were my escape and ultimately my Bible, and I’ll forever be thankful for the friend they were to me during those tough years. That’s why I consider my job more than just a job. I think of our teen reader every day — how we can help them, how we can improve their life, how we can be their friend. Teen years haven't gotten any easier, in fact, I think teens have it way harder than I ever did with the emergence of social media, so I hope to be there for them the same way magazines were there for me.
Any emerging industry trends?
In terms of teen magazine trends, GenZ is more in the know than any generation of teens we’ve seen. From leading gun safety marches in D.C. to creating their own successful Musical.ly or YouTube channels with zero adult help, they aren’t afraid to speak up and go after what they want. That’s one of the main reasons I launched Teen Boss in 2017. I saw how many readers were selling slime on their Instagram pages or creating an Etsy business to sell their jewelry, and they knew how to market themselves better than some brands I followed at the time. They have so much information at their fingertips and they are using it to their advantage. It’s inspiring!
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
With GenZ teens plugged in more than ever before, we had to think outside of the box to reach them which was a challenge. Besides J-14.com and our successful social media platforms, Bauer put a lot of resources into looking at niche market magazines that we could launch on the newsstand. In many focus groups we hosted, we saw that the newsstand was missing the type of magazine for a kid-preuner who was looking to get their YouTube channel off the ground, or wondering how they could get their product on Shark Tank. I heard from so many girls who were dying to know how to code, had dreams of working at Google and or were serious about running their own business one day, from a baking shop to a dog grooming business. This opened a new opportunity for us to launch Teen Boss, which is all about dreaming big and learning fast — no matter how old you are.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
Teen Boss was born in many conversations I had with young girls during our focus groups. I heard that they had “Shark Tank” hour at school and were overall really interested in what it takes to run a business and be your own boss.
I wanted to make Teen Boss as interactive as possible, so issues have cut-out business cards, quotes and photos to clip out and create their own vision board and workbook-like activities, such as how to write your own check and how to write a pitch letter.
We see Teen Boss as the guidebook for teens who have big dreams and ideas but maybe aren’t sure where to start. We want to be their cheerleader every step of the way!
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We have two exciting partnerships with Teen Boss: One, Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran does a column for us, where she answers three reader questions each month and provides advice and insight to them and two, with DigiTour, a popular social media meet-and-greet convention for teens. We have done a few exciting things with the CEO and co-founder of DigiTour, Meridith Rojas, like magazine signings with social media influencers who appear on tours and Q&As with her, where she shares her advice for building your online brand. She has a book coming out later this year, so you can expect more great advice in the future!
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
I wanted to make a splash when launching Teen Boss, which is why I linked up with Barbara and DigiTour early on. Barbara used her social media platforms to post about Teen Boss, and the magazine signings we hosted with DigiTours at a few Barnes & Noble locations helped to spread the word about the magazine and get teens excited to read it.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
While Teen Boss has received a lot of positive press and overall applause, there has been some negative pushback about it that has missed the mark on our mission. I’ve heard everything from, “Are you pushing kids to work, and parents to be their stage parents?” to being told that the general existence of our magazine is “unnerving.” It was difficult for me to have to defend the magazine, which I feel is such a positive and uplifting publication for teens today. But I learned to keep our head high and focus on delivering to our teen reader — not the adult critic.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Nothing makes me happier than when I get an email or Instagram DM from a reader who picked up Teen Boss and devoured every page, thanking me for the advice. I hope that teens read our magazine and feel inspired, like they have the tools, support and encouragement to go after their dreams, big and small.
How do you motivate others?
By giving them the creative freedom to think outside the box and have fun! As a person who thrives on new ideas, I love when the team comes to me excited about a new partnership opportunity or a unique feature idea. Doing the same old content can get boring, so I believe that by being as encouraging and supportive to new ideas is a great way to keep the team motivated.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Network, network, network…and find a solid mentor! The magazine industry is small and it’s important to get to know as many people as possible. For a few years, I helped run Ed2010’s mentoring program, which linked up hopeful editors to a seasoned editors. I’ve now been in the industry for 10 years, and I can’t tell you how important my network has become.
For someone looking to break into the industry, my best advice would be for them to reach out to someone they admire, whether it be a simple tweet or a cold-call email to them, just asking for a cup of coffee (your treat) or a quick 15 minute informational call where you can pick their brain. I’ve done this countless times in my own career, and I always walk away with tons of advice, guidance, and just a better understanding of the industry as a whole.