Catherine Powell, friend of La Femme Collective, returns to the site after her piece on Women in Media. Founder of NKD Mag, Powell shares her favorite moments from NKD Mag in honor of the 5th year anniversary with the LFCommunity.
Looking back on the last five years, everything feels like a blur. I was an inexperienced, foolish 17-year-old when I started NKD Mag, and most days I still think I am – just a few years older. There was no textbook for this, or anyone to point at and say “This is what I’m trying to do.”. I’ve been making it up as I go along for five years, and some months are more difficult than others. There have been many times where I thought of throwing in the towel and giving up, but the good moments make up for all the bad days. These are my Top 10 most rewarding moments from the last five years.
10. Laura Marano’s Cover Shoot First of all, this day was a mess. To start it off, the clothes for the shoot didn’t show up. But this ended up being a blessing in disguise. I was shooting at my friends’ apartments and we ended up styling the shoot from their closets/my suitcase. The final result made Laura look like a rockstar and her fans went crazy over it. And I got a pretty cool new pal out of it.
9. Troian Bellisario’s Cover Shoot This shoot was a dream; the entire crew was incredible and Troian herself was beyond a pleasure to work with. NKD is for young adults – primarily young women – and no one else made better sense for the cover of such an important issue. I’ve been watching Pretty Little Liars since the pilot and as soon as NKD started featuring actors, I knew I needed one of the core four on the cover. Over the course of five years, I’ve felt myself identifying the most with both Troian and her character, Spencer. When it came time to send out the pitch email to the network, there wasn’t even a question about who it should be. I'm so excited that this feature is finally out – it is truly my best work.
8. The Song Suffragette Showcase This is the most recent moment on this list. Just two weeks ago NKD teamed up with Song Suffragettes in Nashville for a showcase during CMA Week. While it may not be the biggest thing the company has ever been a part of, it is a massive reminder of why NKD started in the first place. NKD was founded on the grounds of giving artists who may not have a huge platform, a place to speak. That’s exactly what Song Suffragettes does for female songwriters in Nashville, and this showcase was exactly what I needed to remind myself why I keep doing this, month after month.
7. The NKD Girl I started The NKD Girl as a way to re-associate myself with the brand, but it has turned into so much more. It is the platform I used to publically discuss my sexual assault for the first time. It was what I used to pen a response to the tragic shooting of Christina Grimmie – a piece that many seemed to identify with. It gave me a place to strip myself down the way I strip artists down in their features for NKD Mag, and I didn’t realize how badly I needed that space until I created it.
6. Debby Ryan’s Cover Shoot My first photo shoot in L.A. brought me my first friend in L.A. This shoot was the real test for me. It was the first time we used a stylist and a hair/make-up girl (shout out to Sarah Joffe, who has stuck with me since). It was the first time I was told I couldn’t shoot someone in public because they were simply too famous to not draw attention. All of this tacked on to my first trip to California, which was a stressful endeavor on its own. But man, this shoot changed everything. It changed our readership, our respect level and our standards. And having Debby in my life has changed me in more ways than I could possibly list.
5. Photographing Justin Bieber Ask anyone who knew me when NKD started – the goal of the project was to someday, somehow, photograph Justin Bieber. So when that day finally came last August, it felt like I had finally done what I set out to do. I still have faith that one day he’ll be on the cover, but I’ll take the victories as they come.
4. Aubrey Peeples’ Cover Shoot I met Aubrey in Los Angeles on a shoot in June of 2014. By October, I had figured out that she was my soulmate. The following September she flew to New York for 21 hours to do an early 2000s inspired photo shoot for the October cover of NKD. This was her first cover ever and I’m so proud we were able to share this milestone. The early 2000s are the foundation of our disgustingly strong friendship, and to be able to incorporate something so important and personal to us into a professional product was the coolest feeling.
3. The First Shoot with Max Schneider I swore that first time I walked up five flights of stairs to Max’s apartment would be the only time, but almost four years later and I’m still getting my exercise in. I don’t think either of us could have ever predicted how important we would become to each other just from that one shoot; we just were always good at keeping in touch. Now I can’t imagine my life without him – for a lot of reasons. We did that shoot the week I moved to New York City, and I’m grateful he’s been a part of my Manhattan story ever since.
2. The First Issue I don’t know how we did it. I’ll still never understand how we built such a strong audience before the first issue even launched that over 1,000 people looked at it within that first hour. But when I look back on this entire journey, I always go back to that moment when I hit “publish” and had this gut feeling that we were on the verge of something great. I’ve spent the last five years trying not to let that original audience down.
1. Jimmy Eat World’s Cover Shoot This was the moment where I knew I was doing everything right. Being able to put the band that started it all for me on the cover of my magazine will go down as the most rewarding moment of my life until I have kids or something. They were nothing but kind, open and respectful to the dumb 19-year-old with her camera, who hid her nerves better than ever that day. This was the moment when I was confident if it all ended tomorrow, I would be okay, but simultaneously knew this was just the beginning.
#5YearsNKD is out now on nkdmag.com.
Photography: Catherine Powell