Gabrielle Korn is the Editor-in-Chief at NYLON Media, where she oversees all digital content creation across platforms. Gabrielle joined NYLON in 2014 as Senior Editor, and held a slew of different positions before she became Editor-in-Chief in September 2017. She's NYLON's youngest-ever EIC, as well as the first gay woman to hold the position. Under her editorial leadership, NYLON has become a fully digital brand that generates around 100 million impressions per month through original, thought-provoking beauty, fashion, music, and entertainment content. Prior to NYLON, she was the beauty editor at Refinery29, overseeing beauty content during a period of explosive traffic growth and working to expand the brand's concept of what beauty means to the millennial reader. Before that, she worked in queer and feminist media, holding editorial positions at Autostraddle and On The Issues Magazine. She graduated from NYU's Gallatin School Of Individualized Study with a concentration in feminist/queer theory and writing.
How did you get into the industry?
When I was a senior in college I interned at the Feminist Press, an indie book publisher. A woman whose memoir came out while I was there was also the EIC of a small feminist journal. When I graduated she was looking for an editorial assistant and the editor of the FP recommended me (I’d been a very thirsty intern). I was her EA for a year and then left to pursue freelance writing. I worked as a part-time editor for Autostraddle and then took whatever gig I could get, which was sometimes recapping True Blood and sometimes writing press releases. Eventually I had enough clips to land a job at Refinery29 in the beauty department, and was there until I was offered a position at NYLON as a senior editor.
Any emerging industry trends?
We were one of the first media companies to fold the mag but continue to do digital covers, and recently I’ve noticed a lot of others start to do the same. For iconic, heritage brands, it’s so important to honor that legacy while pivoting to digital, and I think digital covers are a good solution: readers and fans love a cover image, even if it’s just on Instagram. What’s nice is that people are hungrier than ever for quality stories, they just want it in new formats—which means magazine-style stories don’t have to die, we just have to figure out how to deliver them.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
Our readers, and especially our younger ones, are constantly changing how they want to get their news. It’s an ongoing challenge as well as a very unique opportunity to change alongside them—if we don’t, we can’t grow. I’m always trying to find new ways to reach our audience based on their behavior. Right now it’s Instagram, and by next week it could be something that doesn’t even exist yet.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
NYLON was originally created as a magazine that provided an alternative viewpoint to the other glossy magazines through an emphasis on indie culture and rising stars. My vision for the business is that we never stray from that goal of being different but we do it in a way that is relevant to the times: for the magazine in the aughts that meant doing things like being the first to put Paris Hilton on a cover. For us in 2018 that means having all of our content be actively anti-racist, queer-encompassing, body positive, and politically aware—still an alternative to the mainstream, just in a new way.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We’re redesigning the entire website! It’s going to be beautiful and fun to use. I’m also hiring like crazy.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
By treating digital content as seriously as print content, we were able to grow digitally long before the magazine was folded. Since then, our audience has continued to grow, and many of them are new readers who have only known us as a digital brand. And, to keep attracting readers, I also encourage my team to stop thinking about our readership in terms of demographics to appeal to, because I think that can be extremely limiting. Why try to narrow it down to one type of person? Instead of trying to imagine the perfect NYLON girl I try to think of it as a lifestyle, a set of interests that a whole range of people are into. This has allowed us to reach a much larger audience while staying true to the brand.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
When I first became EIC it was difficult to balance the external parts of the job with the internal. It’s pretty difficult to be in meetings and editing stories all day and then look fresh and feel friendly for events at night! But eventually I was able to figure out what I could delegate out in order to bring my best self to both worlds.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
I hope that readers come to our site and feel inspired, entertained, and excited about what they see. I hope they want to share it with their friends. Above all else I hope that they feel included in it—that they see themselves represented by our content.
How do you motivate others?
I try to instill a sense of self-motivation in my editors and writers by having full transparency about how their work directly contributes to our overall growth. They all use Google Analytics to watch how their stories are performing, and I meet with every single person once a week to go over what their working on.
Career advice to those in your industry?
There has never been a greater need for content. If you want to be a writer, just start pitching editors! We need great stories and we need them all day, every day. You might not get your first few rounds of pitches accepted, but keep trying. Sometimes a rejection is a blessing because it gives you the opportunity to ask for feedback and then really heed it for next time.