When I learned that the founder of BUNCH Magazine, Lizzy Okoro, had gone to UC Berkeley, I knew she had to have favorite East Bay places that were important to her. Little did I realize that the experience of living and going to school here had a tremendous impact on her life and career. Lizzy started BUNCH Magazine in 2012 as a platform for sharing stories and offering inspiration to those taking risks to start ventures in the creative space. Keep reading to learn how she turned her dream of starting a magazine into a reality, how the East Bay is special to her, and where we are both going together when she visits!
24 East: What is your background?
Lizzy Okoro: I am the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of BUNCH Magazine. BUNCH is a print magazine devoted to providing resources and inspiration for creatives. I started the magazine while living in New York. I was inspired by the booming creative class there and instantly knew that I wanted to create a platform for them to connect, learn and thrive in their careers. I currently reside in my hometown, Los Angeles, where I live with my boyfriend and dog.
24E: Did you always want to be in magazine publishing?
LO: Yes, from a very young age I knew this was what I wanted to do. I was in middle school with a countless number of subscriptions to every magazine you could think of and I knew I had to one day own my own publication. Over the years, I drifted away from that goal and tried my hand at other careers that I thought were “safer.” I had buried that desire to create so deeply that I actually forgot about my childhood dream of being a magazine publisher. About two years after I started BUNCH, my boyfriend found an old journal of mine during a move and I couldn’t believe it. There it was: my grand plans to run a print magazine. Talk about manifesting your dreams!
24E: What is a typical day like for you?
LO: My days used to look like a whirlwind and by the end of them I couldn’t remember what I had done. As of late, I’ve tried to be more organized and systematic about how I approach my schedule. Mornings: exercise, walk my dog, meditate. Afternoons: emailing, photo shoots, meetings and conference calls. Evenings: usually there is an event happening, which is technically just an extension of work but I really can’t complain. I get to do a lot of cool things with a lot of cool people, so I’ll take it.
24E: What is your goal for Bunch?
LO: To one day be a multimedia company with a large online presence and video.
24E: What is the most challenging part of your day?
LO: Oh boy, I’d have to say staying sane when I’m being pulled in so many directions. We’re still a very small team so we all have to wear numerous hats. It can be difficult to be the publisher (which is numbers and sales) the editor-in-chief (which is the fun creative part) the team leader, the accountant, the organizer, the peacekeeper, the errand runner and still find time for myself, my family and friends.
24E: How do you recharge?
LO: I’ve learned to recognize when I’m nearing burn out and to take the time when I need it. That may be sitting on the couch with my boyfriend and binge watching Netflix. It may be happy hour with my best friends. It may be a weekend vacation. I’m lucky in that I’ve been doing this for some time now and I’m starting to get the hang of this work/life balance thing.
24E: What would be your alternate career?
LO: A travel blogger or chef. I get to dabble in travel writing now with the magazine so maybe I’ll just say chef. Who knows, it may be my next venture.
24E: You went to Cal so you know how amazing the East Bay is! How did going to school here shape you?
LO: UC Berkeley was my dream school and I remember the moment I got in like it was yesterday. The entire experience truly shaped who I am today. I promise you there is no place on earth like the East Bay. The diversity is unmatched, the culture is thriving and everyone is fiercely protective of the city and each other. I’m an LA native and you all don’t love us that much, but that’s okay because I love you! The reality is that the Bay is different from Southern California and I appreciate the differences.
The city is full of so many amazing women who are strong, smart and skilled. It was wonderful to walk onto campus and see badass ladies doing it for themselves. That experience only challenged me to stay on top of my game.
24E: What don’t people realize about the East Bay?
LO: I would say that the East Bay is by far the best example I’ve seen of an area that is truly integrated. New York is often pegged as being the most inclusive city in the United States. I lived there for many years and it’s a city that also has my heart but it was also one of the most segregated places I’ve ever lived. Sure, every type of person is represented there-racially, ethnically, religious-but that didn’t mean that people are bonded together. People were proud to make comments like, “I don’t go to Brooklyn” or “If I go above 92nd street, I get a nosebleed.” To me, that’s a city divided. The East Bay was truly the first (and maybe even last) place that I felt like I was part of neighborhood, where I could say that people are friends and support one another.
24E: What are some of your favorite East Bay places?
LO: It’s changed so much since I’ve lived there. I go back a few times a year to see friends so I’m starting to familiarize myself with the new places. I’ll always enjoy an apple sausage from Top Dog, Italian food from Gypsy’s and Berkeley Bowl. I loved running along the Berkeley Marina to de-stress.
24E: When we go to Zachary’s, are you getting thin crust or deep dish pizza?
LO: I actually laughed out loud at this question! I love it. Deep dish all the way for me.
To see BUNCH Magazine’s amazing work, go here.
To see 24 East’s feature in BUNCH, go here. I am thrilled to be #oneoftheBUNCH
Need more inspiration to read this weekend? All of these entrepreneurs have incredible stories to tell about following your dreams.