Editor of She is Fierce magazine, Hannah Taylor, is a woman on an admirable crusade: to inspire young girls to celebrate their individuality and showcase their creative talents within a supportive and nurturing community.
Here, Hannah chats about how her little girl, Blue, helped her rekindle her creative spark, the inspiration behind the brilliant She is Fierce magazine, and why a healthy dose of self-belief (and Sia) are crucial to achieving your creative goals.
Hola! I’m Hannah. My career path so far resembles that of a crepe: pretty flat but satisfying, versatile and simple (apologies for the terrible analogy).
Tell us a bit about your creative inspirations.
I love Grace Coddington; what a demon and total badass. I’ve been overwhelmed to the point of tears at some of her styling.
I love Dame Vivienne Westwood too – her story should be made into a fairytale. When we lived in London, my Mum and Dad used to drive me and my brother along the King’s Road to see the punks. I think I was probably born in the wrong era because I definitely could have hung out with them.
I tend to get a bit obsessed with people, and do a lot of research into their background (in a super non-creepy way, I promise!). Dame Viv is a great gal doing great things. She really is the perfect role model for young creatives.
Diane Arbus is another woman who is always at the forefront of my mind. She was an astounding photographer whose images of American subcultures from the 1960s and 70s will fascinate me for the rest of my life.
I was lucky enough to catch her work when it visited Edinburgh in 2010. It was really overwhelming – there were tears. I actually have a print of hers up in the flat – Diane Arbus. Young man and his pregnant wife in Washington Square Park, NYC 1965 – which is my favourite.
Did you always want to work in the creative industries?
As a kid, I was forever on the floor with my paper, crayons, glue, empty bog rolls (they make the perfect stiletto heel) and sellotape. So yeah, I guess I’ve always been creatively curious.
I kind of lost my mojo at high school. My art teacher was a really uninspiring, grumpy woman who just gave me a hard time for not sticking to briefs.
I ended up leaving school at 15 – much to the dismay of my Mama – and went to college to pursue my dream career in photocopying. In reality, my best pal went to college, and being a lost little soul, I followed her. It was fun, but not my calling.
Tell us about the inspiration behind She is Fierce. What are your aims with the magazine and what can readers expect?
The above is partly my reasoning behind She is Fierce. The other part, the positive part, is that I have my own wee babe now, Blue. She’s 10, and the coolest little human I’ve ever come across. She kicked me into shape really.
Up until becoming a Mama, I’d toyed with a number of jobs. I’d mostly spent my weekdays in an office and my weekends behind a bar but having a little person of my own really helped me connect with my creativity again.
I went back to college to study photography and have been knitting, clay sculpting, sewing, sketching, customising and generally being a massive fidget ever since.
She Is Fierce is a cool project aimed at allowing teens to showcase their creative spark outwith the constraints of education in the hope that they can be free to express themselves in any way they want to. Hopefully this will help to constantly keep them keen and curious.
We feature girls who are doing it and doing it well, like the Pyrus girls, Emily Millichip and Jenny Sparks. All of them have unique stories, and their paths into their current careers haven’t been straightlaced or simple. They’ve carved out their own niches, and found a spot in the world that makes them unbelievably happy.
They’re contributing the most amazing things to the creative industries and I love it. They are the most perfect role models for our girls. Step aside Geordie Shore drunkards; we are fed up of seeing your arses.
We also aim to inspire with tutorials in an attempt to get the young guns away from the screen. If you’ve been on to Etsy or Instagram lately, you’ll see that there is a whole host of people selling their wares. Being a total private investigator, I like to work out how things are done and give it a go myself. Sometimes it turns out well, sometimes it doesn’t.
Our submissions pages are where any girl aged 14 and upwards can submit work on a themed basis. The first issue of She is Fierce has a ‘Wonderland’ theme. We got beautiful submissions from lyrics and poetry, to paintings and embroidery.
Seeing how one word can trigger so many eclectic ideas in different girls is one of my favourite parts of creating the magazine. Cherish your differences and learn to appreciate others.
Was it a scary prospect launching your own magazine or was that part of the fun?
Yeah, I guess it was a bit scary. As kids, most of us have a desire to be noticed. I know I did. Thanks to high school and my (ogre) art teacher, I definitely lost that confidence in a major way. I really hated putting my work out there and I think that’s why I skipped exams because I had a real fear of my work not being good enough.
I’ve always had ideas, but been way too scared to say them out loud in case people thought I was stupid. I loved my job in publishing, I loved my kid, I loved making stuff, and I was secretly determined not to let anyone patch in on my idea just because I was a shitebag. I mean, I basically invented the compartmentalized lunch box, but now they’re everywhere…
What magazines do you love at the minute?
I could bore you all day long with the magazines I adore. Honestly, I could.
My most recent favourite is Ladybeard, not only because they are super nice girls, but they have a really nice vibe too. It’s really refreshing to have strong, young female voices talking about relevant and relatable subjects that can be a little uncomfortable and provocative. I once saw them talk at ModMag, and let’s just say, I’m glad I wasn’t sitting next to my Pops!
They are helping to break down stigmas surrounding important subjects like sex, and are exploring the importance of the mind and how we should take care of it as much as we should our bodies. They handle a myriad of complex subjects in such an engaging, funny, way. It’s good. Really good.
This is the kind of no shit magazines females need in their lives. Go buy it.
What have been your highlights of the She is Fierce experience so far and what sets the magazine apart from what’s already out there?
Highlights of She Is Fierce is no doubt working with so many talented beauts. Honestly, people who say that females are bitchy by nature are just sheep agreeing with a stereotype penned by the media. If you take mainstream media out of the equation, girls are the most supportive, creative, funny and kind creatures. Funding our Kickstarter was a pretty awesome feat too.
Obviously a lot was learned throughout the whole process. I was super upset when the minus issue of She is Fierce came back from the printers. The paper had drank the ink like a dehydrated camel swigging on Volvic, and the first page I opened had a typo.
But, I just had to realise that I couldn’t do anything about it and I’ve accepted that it’s not always going to be perfect. You can pour over it for weeks and weeks, and you’ll still be critical over anything you do yourself. You need to go easy and cut yourself some slack.
She Is Fierce is super important because of just that. By allowing our girls to collaborate and contribute, we are not imposing any of our ideals on them. They’re creating their own type of media that is as relevant and as quirky as they are themselves. None of this ‘who wore it better’ garbage.
What have you got planned for the future of She is Fierce and where would you like to see it end up?
We’re in a really exciting place right now. The first issue is seriously gorgeous. We’ve had so much amazing feedback and a new wave of girls who are keen to join us on our lovely wee mission.
I’m working with some crazy inspiring people, and have a few amazing collaborations lined up. The magazine has also been shortlisted for the PPA Best Launch Award too, which is pretty jaw-dropping!
Next year will see us launching our workshops to offer girls an insight into the variable wonderland that is the creative industries. From zine making and screen-printing to writing and dancing, we’re all over it.
It’s really important to me that we bring the magazine to life and allow our collective to hang out. It’s all about girls supporting girls, and encouraging that in the real world will hopefully become a central part of the adventure.
Our evening at Edinburgh Castle as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival was genuinely inspiring. Bringing the girls who are nailing life in the creative industries to the girls who are about to step into adulthood creates magic. I promise. So many people have told me that they wish there had been a She Is Fierce when they were younger. AMEN to that.
Why is it so important to trust your creative instincts and turn your ideas into realities?
Because if you’re too cautious, you’ll never do anything. It took me long enough. I’ve met so many people who are super rich and successful, but when you meet them they are honestly half daft.
I realised that the secret to success is just massive balls and a Ikea bag full of self-confidence. Top tip: You should get at least half an hour’s worth of self-confidence by listening to SIA, Unstoppable, on repeat for an hour or so.
Whose work have you got your eye on at the moment?
Daisy Emerson, because she’s a goddess. I love typography, and she’s the queen of all hand drawn type. I’ve spoken to her before, but she’s super busy. I’m still pinning my hopes on stealing her for an upcoming issue.
I get overwhelmed really easily, and can often be found crying in a gallery – in fact I pretty much break down at anything from horses and Say Yes to the Dress, to my little girl’s little warm hands.
Most recently, Reisha Perlmutter’s Aqua series really caught me. Her paintings are stunning, I can’t get around the amazing beauty that can be created by humans. It’s so cool.
What advice would you give to those looking to turn their creative passions into a career?
Start a dedicated website to showcase your work, get sharing and find your new chums. Social media can be a great source of encouragement with many artist posting progress shots etc. Everyone starts somewhere.
Connect with your local creatives. In Edinburgh we have a great source in Creative Edinburgh. Tap into all the resources you can and connect and spend time with like-minded people.
Get a mentor! Their advice and knowledge is seriously invaluable. Treat them better than you do your Mama. If you’re really serious about starting a business, you should probably embark on a business course of some sorts.
Skills that are necessities: curiousity, kindness, banter, naivety (stops you worrying about how important the people you are talking to are), determination, the ability to keep the chin up even when you’ve got a wee creative block, friends that make good cuppas and good playlists.
Honestly? Go for it!