Member Spotlight: Worn Creative Founder Nicole Aguirre Disrupts Publishing and Production
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Nicole Aguirre is the founder and CEO of agency Worn Creative and editor-in-chief of Worn Magazine, a publication for millennials.
Worn Creative is a multicultural creative agency that helps brands reach millennials. We produce campaigns, manage social media accounts for individuals, do public relations, produce events, and produce a lot of content for digital interactive magazines. We also focus in on a couple of different things so we love working with brands that are interested in reaching multicultural millennials and brands that have a creative bend to them. We work a lot with fashion, the food industry, music and those types of companies and startups.
You worked in media prior to founding Worn Creative and the magazine. What did you take from your previous experience ?
I am a professional photographer so I started in photography and that took me to media. I worked on photography at Vanity Fair and at U.S. News. That taught me how a media company functions and allowed me to start my own magazine. I’ve taken that experience and that connection creating content and marketing my own publication to millennials and turned that around, and I am now helping other companies do that. I’ve already curated the kinds of talent that we use to work on the magazine so we know who’s good at what and who to go for projects for other people and to fill out our team.
What’s the magazine component of it?
The magazine is where we originated. I founded Worn Magazine in 2009 with the help of a grant from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. I started it because I didn’t see print media in the city really focusing in on the millennial generation or creatives in the city being represented in a way that was professional and highlighted their work. We put out the first issue in 2009 and it was this tiny 20-page print magazine, and we had a 50-person launch party SweetGreen. We put out the next issue, people loved it, and so we put out another one, and we had a 300-person launch party. And it kept growing from there!
The magazine now comes out twice a year. It’s in print and it’s also in digital. Now we’re working toward creating a digital interactive version of the magazine that includes all kinds of content like video, and music, and slideshows.
I founded the company and met her probably about a year and a half ago and brought her on first as a volunteer and an intern to help out with different aspects of the magazine. She ended up also being a model for us and then she grew to become my assistant. Then she became a producer; that’s what she does now. Anastasia is ones of our producers on the team and works with different clients—a slew of our print clients to help produce marketing campaigns and events.
How many people are on the team that work with you at Worn?
It’s about six of us right now that make up our core team. We’re a female-led organization right now, which we’re really proud of—and we’re super multicultural. We speak like five languages between us, so we’re really proud of that because we really feel in the agency world we can break the mold of the middle-aged, white guy.
Our core team is small but we also have a giant network of collaborators that we work with on a contract basis. That includes photographers, videographers, developers, UX designers, stylists, and makeup artists. Last Monday we did a big shoot at Minibar, which Jose Andres runs. They’re producing a 30-minute video about the whole experience at Minibar, so we styled all the models for that and did a video for it, provided some of the props, so we do really fun things.
Why did you see a need for a company/product like Worn Creative? Who is your audience?
Before we founded the magazine, companies had started coming to us asking us to do the kind of things we were already doing for ourselves. For example, we cast editorials in the magazine all the time, so we constantly needed to find new faces in order to put in our shoots. That gave us an entire list of people that we could cast from.
So when I was looking at my choices for how to move the brand forward that I had created out of this magazine, it was kind of a no brainer. We were already getting this type of work coming in our inbox, and we weren’t really trying to go after it. It was clearly a need coming to us and we decided to expand and to do that full time. It was a way for us to hack the magazine model because we loved what we were doing for the magazine, but we didn’t see ourselves becoming this company that only ran a print magazine. We got to do the same things we were doing for ourselves that we loved doing for everyone else and got to grow in the process, and hire all of the amazing creatives that we know to work on those projects.
What do you hope to achieve with Worn Creative? What is the end goal?
I think that there is certain way that startups view their companies. It’s very focused on this exit strategy, or sale or acquisition. We see ourselves as a completely different model from that. We’re not interested in raising money, or necessarily selling the company. I’m not sure where it will evolve to, but we see it differently than some companies here might see themselves.
We don’t really gauge our success on the number of employees that we have. It’s really about working with the kinds of clients who really fit us—and being really picky about who we work with. Having a team that is full of incredible men and women that we love working with every day and also just working on the kind of projects is fun. I would rather be pickier about our clients and grow slower than take anything and grow as fast as possible.
How did you get involved with 1776? What do you think are the benefits of working in this space?
I applied to work out of 1776 before it opened in the early stages, and I got accepted, which was great. One of the benefits of working here is that, unlike some other spaces, I feel like there’s a true sense of community. We work here alongside friends that I have from Sandbox, and there’s about four other people who founded the D.C. chapter of SandBox, so we get to all work in the same space everyday.
It also enables us to be a resource to other companies we could potentially help with any needs they may have. Not that many companies know we have those resources yet, but we have worked with a few of them already. We get to partner with companies and help each other market each other’s organizations.
For example, we’re partnering with General Assembly and putting on an event tonight called Creative Capitol. It’s the third iteration of it. I came up with the idea for this event because we have one foot in this creative and fashion field and then another foot in the tech-startup scene. How do we bring these two together? How do they talk? Creative Capitol came out of that. It went great the first time, when we partnered with 1776, and then we did a second one and now we’re doing a third one with General Assembly. We’re at 1,000 RSVPs at this point so it’s pretty cool. It’s really fun.