With the second edition of Rookie Yearbook coming out on Oct. 1, it’s hard not to recognize 17-year-old Tavi Gevinson as a fixture in pop culture. Girl gets invited to New York Fashion Week, goes to Lena Dunham for advice, is a Forbes “30 under 30” and has even been a guest on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
You can envy her, but Gevinson’s success in the blogging world and her eventual twitter fame and opportunity to gallivant with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars didn’t drop into her lap one night. For the better part of three years Gevinson worked on her fashion blog Style Rookie, started when she was a pre-teen. As she grew older and was faced with those issues everyone experiences when beginning high school and maturing as teenagers, she couldn’t find a website that truly catered to the actual, real lives of people her age.
“I felt like there wasn’t a magazine or website for teenagers that spoke to me or had the kind of stuff I’d be interested in reading, and I knew I couldn’t be the only one,” she said.
Topics covered on rookie.com include anything from sex, religion and feminism, to body image and bullying.
“These things were becoming relevant in the lives of the people around me, my friends and other girls,” Gevinson says.
The online zine has grown from 30-40 writers to about 80 currently and for Gevinson, the route to a print publication, Rookie Yearbook, was a natural one.
“There were certain fashion magazines that I collected every issue for years, so I think just a selfish part of me wanted that,” she said. “I also think that we attract the kind of readers who appreciate that — who like being crafty and really give a lot of value to their favorite movies and books.”
But like rookie.com, the Yearbook is very much about the writing.
“There were just so many pieces on the site that I felt ‘these can’t just exist in pixels, and float around cyberspace,’ they needed to be documented in this more tangible way.”
Rookie Yearbook One, which came out last September, was the first in what Gevinson hopes will be a four-part series. Her knowledge from the initial publishing experience has helped her and her team this time around, allowing her to take a more hands-on part of the process. Also differing from the first, the second edition will be a bit more gender-neutral both in design and content.
And, although rookie.com is aimed towards teenage girls, that doesn’t stop some guys from taking a peek at it every once in a while.
“I’ve been very happy to get a number of emails from guys being like, ‘I never understood why girls felt that way or felt offended by that and now I do’,” said Gevinson. “Some guys are like, ‘I like this even though I’m a guy and I relate to it’…because ultimately we’re all people.”
Even if she could use a little more sleep some days, Gevinson’s drive is fueled by her readers.
“Girls will say ‘this helped me when I was feeling suicidally depressed’ or a few girls have said ‘that one article your writer penned has helped me get over an eating disorder or convinced me to get help’…that’s the most you can hope for with something like this. That’s really the most gratifying part,” she says.
When the going gets tough for Gevinson, like it does for all high schoolers, she reflects back on TV star Rashida Jones’ words from one Rookie interview: “it doesn’t get better, but you get better.”
“You never get to a point when things are totally fine and you have to let yourself mess up,” she says.
Rookie Yearbook Two comes out Oct. 1 and can be purchased on Amazon.