Publisher from Overton hopes new magazine will boost girls' self-esteem

Reporter:

Gwyn Griffiths

Fashion, make-up and pop music and then throw in a bit of The X Factor. It should be the usual diet to satisfy the readers of girls’ magazines.

But even in these tech-savvy days, Vivien Jones believes kids are hungering after a good old fashioned read packed with short stories, games, quizzes and colouring sheets.

The mother-of-two from Overton, near Wrexham hopes Kookie, a new magazine for girls aged eight to 12, will find that gap in the market and offer youngsters an alternative to the advertising-obssessed pressures of traditonal media and the online world.

With depression on the rise among pre-teen girls, Vivien says Kookie will not be about “being pretty or perfect, but authentic, brave and resilient”.

She also promises never to take on board any advertising, ever. So to finance the initial four issue-run, which includes an Australian edition, she and co-editor Nicky Shortridge have launched a Kickstarter campaign and have been pledged over a third of their £50,000 target so far.

“It won’t be a traditional model for publishing and there are good reasons – we want to produce a magazine that doesn’t sell anything to girls,” she declares. “It is aimed at pre-teen girls and as a group they still like printed magazines.

“A lot of magazines for girls are about make-up and shopping and girls grow up being worried and self-conscious. Young girls and increasingly young boys are getting their messages from social media and we hope to be part of the conversation that gives them a better sense of their value as what they are and not how they look.”

Vivien is ready to reel off a depressing list of statistics afflicting her potential readership – one in four teenage girls suffer from depresssion by the time they reach 14, while an annual Girl Guiding survey reported on how girls struggle with the pressures of social media, body image and school.

She believes Kookie can go on a mission to change perceptions and encourage girls to read about women who are inspiring role models, such as pioneering aviator Amy Johnson, sports and traditional pastimes so they can develop a more rounded outlook and is convinced there is a market in the UK for a feminist magazine for pre-teen girls.

“Girls’ confidence has dropped off the cliff face – social media is a big factor as they are measuring themselves against the Kim Kardashian image. That is one of the reasons behind starting the magazine. The message traditional media is presenting to my two daughters does not show them how to be the best they can be.”

Among the first edition’s 56 pages are exclusive interviews with former ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell and one-time child prodigy Anne-Marie Imafidon. Much of the content has been produced by its target readership and the lively range of subjects includes articles on ‘How to hold an awesome sleepover’ and ‘Should mobile phones be allowed in school?’.

There is also history and art, comic strips, quizzes, puzzles and competitions.

“Darcy Bussell answered a question and answer session with three of our readers and we’ve also got an interview with BMX junior world champion Beth Shriever.

“We’re also commissioning a short story and we’ve got features on girls who are in a band and a girl in Chester who busks with her father.

“There are magazines out there like Go Girl and Girl Talk but we have more in common with publications like Kazoo in the States and Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls which inspire girls to do great things.

“It will be a magazine that celebrates all a girl can be. By featuring female role models, encouraging readers to try new things, learn new skills and connect with girls in other cultures, we want to show girls their value lies in who they are and what they can do,” explains Vivien, who has a background in publishing, including the children’s book industry.

She hopes to grow Kookie’s subscription base online through Kickstarter and has a printer lined up in Buxton with the aim of getting the first issue out before Christmas.

“We’ve decided not to use a traditional publishing model. We don’t want to be peddling stuff to children; it is more about their interests and encouraging them to try new sports and learn about different cultures,” she adds.

“Younger children still prefer to flick through a magazine – pulling out posters, colouring pictures and filling in quizzes – than read on a digital device. There is also gender-neutral content for boys.

l Kookie’s Kickstarter campaign is at https://goo.gl/9jX9wR or see vivien@kookiemagazine.com

Email:

gwyn.griffiths@nwn.co.uk

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