Let’s switch things up a little. I’d like to introduce you all to my good friend, former colleague and fellow creative lady entrepreneur, Nikol Moen. This week Nikol launched Lady ATX, an online magazine for ladies, by ladies in Austin, TX. (Go check it out!) I recently interviewed Nikol about her life, her magazine and her goals.
Without further ado, here’s a chat with Nikol Moen. (It’s a long read, but a great one!)
Hello! Jess, thank you so much for the opportunity to be a guest on your blog. Jess and I used to work together before she made the leap to freelance and she’s a rockstar, both as a friend and as someone to work with. We even shared an office. It was a magical time.
Aw, thanks Nikol. I’m so happy to have you! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Nikol. I have a background in PR and currently do content marketing for an awesome company in town. I just launched Lady ATX, a passion project of mine, this week!
I’ve been married to my husband Robert for almost a year – does that still count as newlywed stats? I say yes. And I have a sweet, sassy pup named Bluebell. Robert and I moved from California to Austin four years ago, so while we don’t qualify as Austinites, we’re no longer newbies either. I’ve loved Star Wars since second grade, am obsessed with beautiful stationery and handwritten letters and am a writer, through and through.
You’re a busy lady. How do you do it? What does a day in your life look like?
Between a full-time job, Lady ATX, a husband, a pup and a family I love and miss in California, I’m definitely busy. But really, who isn’t in the creative community?
I’ve been working a lot on compartmentalizing my days in order to get everything done, and part of that process includes keeping my guilt in check and setting expectations with people around me. I think a lot of people—especially women—feel guilty for working long hours or, conversely, for spending time with family when they could be working. I used to feel really guilty for working long hours at my job and on Lady ATX instead of spending time with Robbie and my pup. And when I spent time with Robbie, I felt guilty for not getting work done! Horrible way to live, right? And totally not productive.
TRUTH. I definitely feel that guilt as well. How did you overcome it?
I decided to screw the guilt and be present in what I’m doing in order to get the most out of what I’m doing. Whether I’m walking the dog or putting in a Saturday afternoon to work on Lady ATX, I’m unapologetically doing what I want and need to do. The key to not feeling guilty, I’ve found, is by setting expectations with the right people. If I want to spend an hour or two after work writing for Lady ATX, I let Robbie know ahead of time so he can make plans without me. And if I need to be home by 5:30 for dinner with Robbie, my co-workers are informed ahead of time that I’m unavailable after 5.
A day in my shoes looks like waking early to get a morning walk in with the puppy girl, checking Lady ATX emails before heading into work. I work from about 8:30 to 5 with a fun bunch of digital marketing people. Then I alternate workouts and Lady ATX to-dos after work. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are Lady ATX days. Tuesdays and Thursdays are workout days. Then it’s home for Netflix—I’m recently obsessed with catching up on Scandal right now—and cuddle time with the husband and pup. Weekends are reserved for friends and more Lady ATX projects!
So: compartmentalize, screw the guilt and be real with people. That’s how I’m working on getting everything I want to get done, done! It’s all a work in progress and some weeks are better than others.
I love it! Great advice. Now let’s get to the juicy stuff. Can you tell us about Lady ATX?
Yes please! Lady ATX is a site that’s dedicated to sharing amazing things local Austin women are doing and serves as a spot where ladies around town can find the latest events, shops, artists, happy hour spots, etc. to check out. In the pipeline we have Studio Sessions, a series of video interviews of local ladies sharing their success stories and advice to women who want to be movers and shakers. The cool thing about Lady ATX is that anyone can contribute. It’s meant to be a place for creative, community journalism. Plus there are other cool features like a searchable network of local ladies. If you want to network with a fellow graphic designer or hire a local photographer, you can search this network and find someone you’d like to connect with.
How did you come up with the idea?
Lady ATX is a site I’ve been thinking about creating since I moved to Austin four years ago, though the idea has evolved quite a bit since then. When I first moved to Austin I was blogging a ton and completely loved the blogging scene (still do!). It’s how I met so many amazing friends who are still in my life today. Connecting with talented, creative women made me realize that there’s a lot of untapped creative potential in the city. Why not band together to create something really spectacular?
The sad truth is that magazines and traditional print journalism media just don’t have quite have the reach they used to. Many print publications are still having a tough time switching to digital for a variety of reasons—advertising costs, velocity of articles that readers expect to be produced in a digital setting, and so on. On the flip side, there are a ton of amazingly talented creators out there producing great content. The challenge that a lot of creators—especially writers and photographers—find is having their work seen in a professional setting by a large audience. The idea behind Lady ATX is to band together local talent and create a credible site that produces a high volume of quality content.
At the start of this year, after listing to the Startup podcast (highly recommend it), I decided I was finally going to create the site. I had started two sites in the last couple of years, but stopped because they felt off for some reason. This time around, especially with the crazy cool momentum we have going with the community of women in Austin—BossBabesATX, SheSaysATX, etc.—it feels right. Part of the entrepreneurial and startup mindset is to fail fast. I decided that it’s time to put something out there and see what components of Lady ATX works well and what components fail. The ones that fail will disappear and the stuff that sticks will live on. We’ll see where the journey takes the site!
Where do you see Lady ATX going from here?
In the immediate future, I just hope to see local ladies contribute to the site. My hunch is that there’s space for this in Austin and I want to see some kind of truth in that hypothesis before doing anything else. Eventually I’d like to add a job section, a shop where local artists can sell their goods (think Etsy, but only for Austin). In the far, far future, if this idea sticks, it would be amazing to turn it into a national movement with a site for every major city. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I like where it’s headed! Can other Austin ladies get involved?
Absolutely! Just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and share whether you want to contribute articles, photos or both to the site. I’ll send over contributor guidelines and set you up with a login and boom! You’re can start writing for Lady ATX. Also, if you know someone who’s doing something amazing or if you’re doing something amazing yourself, please send us tips! I’m always looking for a good story to write.
I’m curious—did you ever expect to be an entrepreneur? Was this a long-time goal of yours?
I came across an interesting pattern—one that I now see myself and many other professional ladies falling into—during the Lady ATX Studio Sessions when I interviewed eight super creative ladies in Austin. I asked each of them about their “aha” moments, when they knew they had made it as a stylist or a business owner or whatever their gig was. Most of them just laughed at first and then explained that they’re still IN IT. They’re still in the grind of making it and feeling like a legitimate graphic designer or business owner or podcaster. I suppose I feel the same way. I don’t necessarily feel like an entrepreneur, but I think my actions show otherwise. I have always been an idea person. Turning those ideas into action, however, is another story.
You’re definitely “in it.” I’ve always admired your passion and drive. What inspires you, and how do you keep the momentum going?
First of all, that is incredibly kind of you to say. I would say momentum ebbs and flows and I’ve learned to be ok with that. That being said, there’s a piece of advice I got at the 99U conference two years ago that has really stuck with me. The Guardian writer Oliver Burkeman shared the idea that creating something great doesn’t mean waiting until inspiration strikes. You don’t have to feel like it in order to do something, which is a really hard concept to grasp as a creative person. What sets good creators apart from great creators is the capacity to DO something.
When I am feeling uninspired, though, the only thing that can truly get me out of a rut is reading. And when I say reading, I really mean listening to books through Audible. Finding patterns and symbolism and themes within a book gets my mind turning and working again. It helps me see patterns and symbols and themes in my own world and gets those rusty cogs turning again.
Big thanks to Nikol for her insight and wisdom, and congratulations on the launch! Check out Lady ATX and contact Nikol if you’d like to contribute.