Lifestyle, She's A Boss

She’s A Boss: Chicago-Based Storyteller & Social Marketer, Arionne Nettles

Meet 29-year-old Arionne Nettles, a Chicago-based journalist, business writer and content marketer. Somehow or another I connected with Arionne a few years ago through social media and I’ve been watching her moves since then. She is a two time graduate of Florida A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration.

Not only does she run her own magazine and media company, Arionne is a mother to a 7-year-old son, Jackson. We had an opportunity to speak with her about her career, what inspires her and how she balances it all. Check out our interview below.

JESSICASIMIEN.COM: I’m so glad to finally get an opportunity to speak with you about your career! I’ve followed you for years now and I admire you so much, you’ve definitely been an inspiration to me. For those who aren’t familiar with your work, can you tell them exactly what you do from day to day?
Arionne Nettles: Thank you so much! I’m a professional storyteller—journalist, business writer, and content marketer—specializing in helping people and businesses share their stories on a number of platforms and to a variety of different audiences. Under my company, Fourth Concept Media Group, I apply “4th estate” knowledge of media and journalism to help these brands create content that can leave a mark with their target markets. Additionally, I teach Chicago-area teens the power of words through Write Chicago‘s “sicker than your average” writing workshops.

JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What inspired you to create your own magazine? What is its frequency?
AN: When I first started writing, I was 24 and was sort of going through a quarter-life crisis. I started blogging about that and I got a great response: people started telling me how much they loved my writing style. I decided to try to submit articles to online magazines, but everyone turned me down. Then finally, after a really bad breakup, I needed somewhere to put my energy and so, I decided to start my own magazine (Urban Shake Magazine). I hate being told “no” and I felt that this was something that I could just figure out on my own. In 2015, we’ll be focusing solely on editorial writing (interviews and articles) our frequency will be 1-3 times per week.

JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Many people think that owning a magazine is glamorous but I know there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes. What are some of your responsibilities or behind the scenes work that people don’t see with the finished product?
AN: One very difficult thing is actually being an editor. Because I write much of the content myself, it’s difficult to edit my own work. It’s also much more than what people think. If you have a blog, you usually are posting a ton of video and just short descriptions, but with a magazine, it takes much more time for each post. For me, the process is about four hours of work for a well-written, well-edited article—that’s the average time added up from setting up an interview to actually pushing the publish button. People generally think that it’s much easier than that.

Arionne and Spike Lee

Arionne and Spike Lee

JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Who has been your favorite person that you’re ever interviewed or written a story on?
AN: For Urban Shake, Jagged Edge is my new favorite. I love interviews that are conversational and it truly felt that we were just all old friends catching up. I hope that feeling transferred to the written piece.

JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Your non-profit organization…Write Chicago. How did that come about? Who do you work with and what are some of the things you all do for the community?
AN: It actually started as a community project. I was talking to a friend about influencing the youth in Chicago and how I felt like the teenagers may be too far gone out of our reach. She said, “It’s not too late to save them, too, Ari.” Something struck a cord with me and I knew that I had to do my part to help teens express themselves in a positive but creative way. After I did the first workshop, the kids asked me about the next one. I live by the idea that if kids need you, you come, so that’s what I started doing.

JESSICASIMIEN.COM: You’re also a mom to a handsome little boy. Can you share with our readers how you balance your duties as a mom and an entrepreneur?
AN: Awe, thanks! It’s tough because there are a lot of things that I can’t do or events that I can’t go to because they don’t fit with our schedule. My son is severely cognitively delayed so I have to be careful about choosing babysitters and because of that, timing can be hard. But generally, what helped me get it together was creating a schedule that allowed me to be a mom and still have a life. Now, I work a lot while he’s in school, while he’s asleep, or on the weekends while he’s with family, and I also schedule in days to do things for me to keep me relaxed. It’s the most important thing I could ever do and so many of us moms miss out on it!

JESSICASIMIEN.COM: As bosses, we face lots of challenges and it’s really part of the game. Can you share with our readers some of the challenges you’ve faced or are currently facing as an entrepreneur?
AN: Not to sound cliche, but being a woman in business is extremely difficult and what complicates it even more is that I’m in the business of entertainment and media. It’s male-dominated and in so many places, I’m one of the only women in the room. On top of that, although have degrees and years of experience, some guys still treat me as if I’m not smart enough to play with the guys. I’ve also had a lot of men pretend to be interested in working with me just to try to date me. It’s frustrating but I’ve learned to just smile, be cordial, and keep it moving. The people that truly value what you do will be the people that you should collaborate with anyway.

JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Are there any other female bosses that you admire? 
AN: There are SO many! Angela Yee tops my list though. I interviewed her a few years ago for Pure DOPE Magazine and since she was one of my first cover stories, I was super nervous. Everything she said to me inspired me though and now, I feel like I have media career gems to last a lifetime.

Arionne interviewing August Alsina

Arionne interviewing August Alsina

JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What is the one piece of advice that you would offer to someone who wishes to follow in your footsteps?
AN: I would say that as and when you have an idea to just move. Planning is great, but just get to implementing! In this business, it’s all in the execution.

JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Before we go, are there any upcoming projects of yours that we can be on the lookout for?
AN: 2015 will really be a year of exploration for me. I’m doing a lot of things for the first time and expanding my horizons into film so there’ll be a few projects in that area—both in front of and behind the cameras.

To learn more about Arionne and to connect with her, visit her personal website You can also follow her on Twitter @Arialyssa.

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