Welcome to “Starting The Startup” a blog feature interviewing Black creatives and owners who are currently in the process of starting or recently launched their own platform, business, or brand! Oftentimes, we only hear about dope brands once the business is successful, but what’s really the most interesting and inspiring aspect of the business journey is what happens during the moments before the world gets to know them. We recently chatted with Lena Ocean, the creator of Cachet Junior, an online urban source for Black and Brown pre-teens and teens that publishes interviews, news and cultural chit chat surrounding entertainment, social media personalities, trend setters and celebrities. Read more on how Lena and her teen staff are creating content for the next generation.
Emma: Your work with teens in the digital space caught my attention and I’m glad you’re here to talk about it for NILE! Can you tell the readers a bit about you?
Lena: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed. I love the online landscape and have been captivated by entertainment since I was a small child. My undergraduate degree is in Film and Media Studies from Dartmouth College and I also have a Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law. I have always tried to look at crafting solutions creatively or even looking at the intersection between education and entertainment.
Emma: Ok, I am already blown away by you and your personal accomplishments, #HBCULove. You’ve definitely crafted Cachet Junior! What sets it apart from any other teen magazine?
Lena: Cachet Junior is an online urban source for pre-teens and teens for interviews, news and cultural chit chat surrounding entertainment, social media personalities, trend setters and celebrities. Cachet Junior marries my love for our future generation together with the obsession society has with public figures. What sets it apart a bit is we have involvement from teens in the process behind the scenes and there will also be ways for educators to utilize the site. Also, it’s important that we highlight that it is urban but teens of color are not monolithic and should not be forced to be grouped as such. For example, there are Black kids living in “urban” disadvantaged neighborhoods that love K-pop and Hip Hop. We want to be a place that is inclusive of what it really is to be a teen of color.
Emma: You’ve really created a platform for a Black teen to see themselves in so many ways. What initially drew you to creating Cachet Junior?
Lena: I love blogging, writing and the whole content creation process. I have been at the helm of several successful blogs and wanted to apply what I have learned to the young adult and child demographic. I also wanted a platform that promoted children and teens that were relatable but still positive.
Emma: YES, POSITIVITY! You must have taken a sneak at my next question. With so much negativity online, how important is it to empower young teens? Especially teens of color?
Lena: It is extremely important. My mom has a non-profit and I come from a family of educators. I also taught high school fresh out of undergraduate. My mom has helped teens of color and single mothers in our community for several decades and I grew up as her right arm. She taught me that it takes a community to raise a child and also that they are our most important asset. We must not let them down. We absolutely must give them a voice. Many of us would not be who we are today without others believing in us along the way; especially in our formative years where we were unsure of our inner power. Being a teen of any shade or color is hard in America, teens of color have it even harder. My commitment to teens is not something new and Cachet Junior is just a formalized extension of empowerment initiatives I have already been a part of. As a former pageant queen representing Liberia on the international stage, I had so many life changing experiences and opportunities to serve youth of color. The youth are our future and failing to act in service to them is not an option.
Emma: You’re extremely passionate when you speak on Cachet Junior! Looking back, what is one thing that you wish someone would have told you before you started this process?
Lena: I think that you have to be your biggest cheerleader point blank. People will believe in you when they see the light. You must be the light in the dark before people ever see it.
Emma: You’re speaking to me and readers for sure! What has been the most challenging thing during the process of starting Cachet Junior?
Lena: I think as with most brands we are challenged heavily by Coronavirus. I would love to meet in person with my teen staff and do all types of activities and meetings that would be more effective in person.
Emma: Agreed, virtual is great but it’s nothing like being creative in the same space. On a lighter note, what has been the most rewarding?
Lena: The most rewarding has been working with our teen team of interns. During the COVID-19 lockdown I think it really boosted their morale. It was important for us to have Latina and Black female teens on board. This is a Black-owned company but it is targeted to Black and Brown teens. We would have zoom calls and they would be assigned tasks to perform as well as reading assignments. The program also develops them as young professionals and positions them to have credible work experience. I personally mentor them and we work on so much beyond Cachet—from resume editing to teaching them the correct way to write an email and how to network.
Emma: Wow, I am really learning that Cachet is more than just a magazine. If you had to describe Cachet Junior in 3 words what would they be?
Lena: Young. Fun. Educational.
Emma: I’m pretty sure the teens are keeping you up to date on the latest! Now, you have the original version of your magazine which is Cachet Digital. Why was it important to have a “Junior” version?
Lena: We often forget how much teens and pre-teens absorb what is out there on the net. It is a reflex for the younger generation to check Instagram and keep their fingers on the pulse of popular culture. There is a huge gap between that and what we provide for students to read that is written in a way to grow them academically. Cachet Junior is for a younger crowd but the goal is for the writing to be easily understandable but available in a format that can also be utilized by parents and teachers.
Emma: I’m going to subscribe my little cousin right now! Where do you see Cachet Junior 1 year from now? 5 years from now?
Lena: In one year I see the brand really growing as a whole and being able to bring in investments or a few key investors. The plan is for the brand to be solid as a stand alone company separate from Cachet Digital. In 5 years I see it being multidimensional and a platform that can also create original content.
Emma: Well we at NILE will make sure to keep our eyes out! When can we expect the launch and where can everyone find it?
Lena: You can expect the soft launch this August with our first official Cachet Junior cover featuring My Spy co-star and Big little lies Actress Chloe Coleman. You will be able to find us on our site cachetjunior.com. A bigger secondary launch is planned this fall.
Emma: Any last words?
Lena: Thank you for supporting us and providing us with the opportunity to be featured on your platform. Please keep up with our efforts by following us on social media!
Emma J., originally from Durham, North Carolina, is a model, actress, and producer and loves ALL things Black-owned! From living in major cities to overseas adventures, one thing that has stayed consistent is writing and conversing with Black entrepreneurs and hustlers. Follow Emma J. on Instagram @FromEmmaJ for more!
Tags: black owned, black business, black leaders, black women, black woman owned, black books, black magazines, magazines, teens, teen magazines, youth, young adults
Pictured: Chloe Coleman (Talent & Actress)
Photographer: Allegra Messina @MessinaPhotos
MUAt: Renee Loiz for Exclusive Artists using Danessa Myricks Beauty @ReneeLoizMakeup
Stylist: Enrique Melendez @MrEnriqueMelendez
Hair: Nina Mercado @NinaMoniqueHair
Viewpoint PR, EA Management & Crosby Carter Management.