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07 February 2010

If a 14-year-old can do it...

Just thought I'd share something that's inspiring, and also let's everyone know that young folks ARE ready to stand up and take over, if given a fair chance and proper guidance.
Savannah Britt was a published poet by the age of eight. By nine, she was hired as a paid reviewer of children’s books for The Kitchen Table News – a New Jersey newspaper with a readership of 70,000. But when that newspaper went under, Savannah was left unemployed at the tender age of 11.
Like any great entrepreneur, Savannah pulled herself up by her bootstraps. She started her own publication – a magazine called Girlpez – making her the youngest magazine publisher in the world. The magazine features coverage of events, like concerts and fashion shows, along with interviews from the likes of Shwayze, Kevin Rudolf, and Dawn from Dannity Kane.
Now 15, Savannah has guided her magazine as it has transitioned to an online-only format at Girlpez.com. She hopes to use her influence to strengthen girls and their communities.

Q: For most teenagers, getting a summer job counts as being ambitious. What do you think drove you above and beyond, towards entrepreneurship?

A: I like a challenge. I think what drove me to start my magazine was the fact that I was so young and I was doing something that nobody around me was doing. That pushed me, honestly, to start my magazine. I can be a competitive person.
My mom and dad definitely pushed me as well. My dad has published three books and he’s a very determined person. If he says something, he’s going to do it. He’s also optimistic and he does not procrastinate at all. I think he inspired me.

Q: How did you balance other priorities (in particular: school, friends, and family) with your business?

A: It’s really hard. I’m in all honors courses, so I have to balance the studies with the magazine. I go to school six hours a day and I have basketball practice afterwards. Then I go straight home and [conduct an] interview if I can. Even some Saturday mornings I’ll do interviews, because it’s the only time I can squeeze them in. On top of that, I’m currently working on a music project that I’m trying to get attention for from labels.
Somehow I do it all. I don’t know how, but it gets done. I’ve got a calendar in front of me. It’s hard, but I make it work. When I was about 14, in eighth grade, I thought that [Girlpez] was putting a strain on me and that I wouldn’t be able to focus on grades. But I was able to bounce back. I have always been a very independent person, but I finally sought help from my parents.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: I would like to raise money for Haiti [following the earthquake of January, 2010]. It’s a sad experience that’s going on there, but it’s definitely something that I want to address. It’s a wake-up call for the world that there a lot of people who are stricken by poverty.
Also, I’m working with another young entrepreneur who runs a blog, Jayswag.com. We want to put together a conference that will feature people in the industry who are well-versed in hip-hop. We want to have a panel of them and have teens be able to come ask questions and have a discussion.
There are some things in the hip-hop industry that go under the rug and they need to be addressed – like the way they portray women in the music videos, the people they put in the ads, and whether or not their skin color matters. It’s something that needs to be discussed.
This is an abridged version from Savannah’s interview in our latest project, 50 Interviews: Young Entrepreneurs. Savannah left me speechless a few times in this interview. It’s remarkable to talk to a young girl who has so much direction and determination in her life. You will be seeing more of her down the road.
Being in the magazine business is hard work... Really hard. When 4 buddies and I got together this time last year to start RAN magazine, we really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into; we just wanted our area to know all the stuff we hear on the streets everyday. Now after 3 issues, we've ironed out most of the potholes in our workflow, and gotten a good head of steam going as far as motivation is concerned. But sometimes we get bogged down into the depths of our own languidness. We all have full-time jobs here as English teachers, and we all also have separate side jobs as well. So it's easy to become burned-out.
Then you read stories like this about a girl who started a magazine when she was in 4th grade of elementary school... Outta the mouths of babes, right?
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