Olivia Ferrucci: Lithium Magazine
My name is Olivia, and I’m an 18-year-old high school senior living in rural New Jersey. I’m also the founding EIC of Lithium Magazine, an online and print publication designed to provide a space for teens and young adults of all races, classes, sexualities, and religions to weigh in on what truly matters to them—be it politics, sex, money, or pop culture. We’ve received more than 800,000 views, grown to a team of 100+ creatives spanning 17 countries and 25 states, hosted numerous events in NYC and LA centered on zine culture and sexuality, and released four print issues. TLDR: I send a lot of emails.
I always like to say that Lithium was born out of both frustration and inspiration. Entering my freshman year of high school, I kept turning the pages of mainstream, female-centric magazines waiting to see girls my age talk about being a teenager in all of its awkward complexity. But instead, all I found were twenty-somethings explaining what it was like to be me. At that time, I was also starting to see some of my online friends create small zines on Instagram. These girls weren’t professional writers or experienced editors, and they weren’t worrying about budgets or long-term logistics; they just wanted to take advantage of technology and create something they could call their own. I, like my friends, was not thinking about filing as an LLC or establishing a five-year plan was or how I could boost our SEO. Instead, on a visceral and instinctive level, I wanted to start a magazine. And so I went through the motions: I designed a website, created an Instagram account, and put out a call for submissions.
It would be wrong to say that Lithium is the same magazine it was in 2015. As my team and I have gotten older, after all, I think Lithium has too. We always enforced a pretty strict policy on nudity and profanity, but we’re now in the process of releasing a massive print issue centered on sex. (I even interviewed a dominatrix last week!)
Lithium and I are both leaning toward college-level maturity, which is as exciting as it is scary. We also have more responsibilities now, especially to our readers. It’s on us to decide what’s morally okay to publish and post, and it’s on us to ensure we’re truly functioning as an activist force—that we’re advocating for the marginalized and those whose voices are not always heard.
With all of this being said, my advice to anyone thinking about starting a publication is two-part. First, find a niche and just occupy it. Take up space! Think about the magazine you wish you’d had in freshman year, and just create it already. The rest will follow.
Second, there will never be a convenient time for you to start a magazine. Whether you’re in school or on break, the work will take up as much of your free time as you allow and it will not be easy. I also don’t think that this part ever stops—even today, if I have a free moment between classes, after school, or at 5 AM on a Saturday morning, I’m editing articles, curating photo sets, and refining our creative direction. Lithium is not convenient. It is not effortless. But every time I publish an article, I know it will resonate with some 16-year-old girl in Iowa who feels just as frustrated as I did. And it can be that simple for you, too.