Happy Birthday, ANNA!

In celebration of ANNA’s first birthday, I interviewed each of the four founders about the crazy journey that has been (and continues to be) building this beautiful and inspiring magazine.

ANNA is a side project for each of you, right? How do you balance work and making ANNA awesome at the same time?

LAUREN MORIARTY, EDITOR: Balancing work and ANNA is a constant struggle. I've learned that organization is the key to both success and my personal sanity. I have also learned that mistakes happen, sleep is important, and you have to choose your battles. (Do I make dinner from scratch or answer all those emails?) I will forever be in awe of people who make it look easy!

 Kirsten Samanich

Kirsten Samanich

TERAYA SMITH, MARKETING & PUBLICITY DIRECTOR: Yes, ANNA is my passion project. I balance this and my day job by keeping my day job work at the office, that way I have the time to focus on my ANNA to-do list when I get home. Also lots of Google Reminders.

KIRSTEN SAMANICH, CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Balance is overrated. I used to think of my eventual adult self as this majestic, graceful creature gliding in and out of passion projects like they were mere morning chores, but in truth working a full time job while maintaining a magazine (or fill in the blanks with whatever it is that you devote your free time to) is really, really hard most of the time. And exhausting. And sloppy. You don’t balance it at all, you trip and stumble through it, much like you do while you’re still stretching your legs into a new relationship or new area of study or new anything. But challenge is how you know that you’re able to fight for things that you want to fight for. Strain and pressure are how you know that you are strong and you kick some serious ass sometimes.

 Bridget O'Toole

Bridget O'Toole

BRIDGET O’TOOLE, SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETER: Ahh! This question makes me want to cry because sometimes it seems impossible to find balance between my day job and ANNA, which I feel like we all run into moments where we feel this way. None of us want to be a let down. We all want to pull our weight, and at times, it's a struggle. We're all basically working two jobs while also trying to squeeze in a social life, too. But we make it work. We're in constant communication reminding each other of tasks and meetings we have planned, and that's the key to balance—communication. If we don't let each other know where we are at, or if could use some help on something, nothing would ever get done.

What’s your favorite part about working with the magazine?

 Lauren Moriarty

Lauren Moriarty

Lauren: I love hearing from readers. When someone says that they identify with an article on our site, we know we've done our job. Our vision for ANNA was to create a place where women would feel empowered by our relatable content. Knowing that readers see themselves in our articles and feel encouraged makes the long hours well with it.

Kirsten: I used to think it would be bragging rights. But in reality it makes me pretty uncomfortable when I speak to someone about the magazine for the first time and they get all brown-nosey and spout “oo-la-la’s” like I’m doing something almighty (but such is small talk among people you’ve just met—maybe it just makes me uncomfortable regardless). I don’t like the praise; I prefer to dance around it because it makes me want to level with them and act self-deprecating. My favorite part is the look on someone’s face or the thrill in between the lines of their email when I convince them their art or talent is worth manifesting in published form. I love, love, love recruiting and helping someone feel noticed for all the blood sweat and tears they’ve put into carving a genuine skill.

What’s your dream collaboration?

Teraya: If we could do a collaboration with HeyFranHey from The Friend Zone podcast, that would just make my life. Her target focus is on mental health and wellness, which is in line with what we produce at ANNA. She's honest, insightful, and projects this centering, peaceful vibe that I strive to produce on a daily basis. I think a wellness talk with her would be AMAZING and our readers would really get something from it.

 Teraya Smith

Teraya Smith

Bridget: Is it silly to say a collaboration with Amy Schumer? I love her blunt humor, and I think it would be so cool to work with her—especially because she was our cover girl for the class project that ANNA originated from. It would be like coming full circle!

Where do you want ANNA to be in another year?

Kirsten: I want us to keep the fire going and keep challenging the limits of what you can or cannot publicly discuss. I want us to keep meeting influential people and amplifying their stories. I want us to keep connecting all the genuinely awkward, lovable, struggling, simultaneously strong and delicate women and readers into a knot of community and laughter.

If you could offer any advice to your past self building ANNA from the ground up, what would you say?

Bridget: I would keep telling myself to make it f**king happen. We used to send a photo around to each other that said exactly that, which would help remind us to take a minute to relax and laugh and breathe. Actually, I'm thinking we need to start that back up again because we can always use some extra motivation to keep moving forward with smiles on our faces. Which that's really all you can do. You can certainly learn from past failures, but you really just need to keep moving forward with a positive attitude and the realization that all of the moments of frustration are worth it.

Art by Meagan Guild