Meet the 21-Year Old Media Entrepreneur Owning Your Inbox

Daniella Pierson began brainstorming an idea for a company because her twin sister was too busy to hang out with her (she was just, you know, working on her own app). Both a student and a lover of leisurely magazine-flipping, the then-college sophomore came up with The Newsette, a daily pop culture newsletter, as a way to offer people the curated content of a lifestyle magazine without the time-consuming elements of reading a full journal. Good idea, right?

She seemed to think so. Not one to rest on her laurels, Daniella sent out the first edition of The Newsette just a day later. Sure, there were some typos. Sure, the design needed work. But Daniella is thankful for the driving motivation and youthful ambition that drove her to go all in with her project. It's gotten her where she is today: just poised to finish her undergrad and already the founder of a growing company. This soon to be graduate is most looking forward to moving to NYC and opening up her comapny's HQ. Now how's that for a post-college plan?

Her Starting Point

Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? How has that influenced where you are now?

I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, a town where driving is practically a part-time job because everything is so far apart. Fashion was not a prominent part of our town’s culture, so my mother, sister, and I would often venture to Orlando or Miami to shop the brands that weren’t available to us in Jacksonville. My parents have their own business and their entrepreneurial spirit definitely inspired my twin sister Alex and me to start our own companies. Starting when we were seven years old, we would spend most of our weekends helping out at the business and regularly attended the [team] meetings, so I attribute a lot of my drive to being exposed to the backend of a company at such a young age.  

You were only a sophomore in college when you started The Newsette, right around the same time your twin sister was developing her own app! Have you always motivated each other? Do you feel like being young helped keep you excited about it?

My sister actually started her positive social media app Springpop before I had even come up with The Newsette, and the idea came to me during our winter break because she was busy working on her app and I was brainstorming ideas for my own company. It’s amazing having someone to talk to who is in the same position as you are, and we have daily chats about our progress. She even helps edit The Newsette, and I help with some of her marketing efforts. I think that being young makes you feel like you can do anything, and I am grateful that I felt that way early on. It was a lot harder than I initially thought it would be, but growing The Newsette has been the most rewarding experience of my life.

Coverage on The Newsette emphasizes its content about style, pop culture, beauty, and editorial that’s like a little gift in your inbox. Have you always been a follower of style and beauty trends?

I have always loved reading magazines, and that’s where I would follow style and beauty trends. However, once I began college I found that I rarely had time to read through magazines or search on countless websites to get the information I wanted. That was the entire idea for The Newsette—giving our readers everything they want to know in a pretty little e-mail every morning. I wanted to recreate the feeling I got when I turned the pages of my favorite magazine, but just in a size that was easier to digest on a daily basis.

What were the first reactions people had to The Newsette, either in its initial inception or once you had sent the first newsletter out? Do any particularly positive or negative reactions come to mind, and how did they make you feel?

I sent out the first Newsette newsletter the day after I had the idea, so as you can imagine it was a little rough. I had absolutely no writing or journalism experience, so I was really learning as I went. Some of the first reactions were a little discouraging—people pointing out typos or complaining about the first layout—but as time went on, my writing improved and I got better at creating the graphics for the newsletter. Even the rudest e-mails (that in the moment made me feel like crawling under a rock with no Wi-Fi) motivated me to work harder. I did, and shortly after I started receiving several emails a week from people saying they were in love with the product. There will always be haters or people who try to bring you down, but it’s how you react to negative criticism that defines you.

Career Contessa Interview, An Interview with Daniella Pierson, Founder of the Newsette

Her Big Break

Tell us about the process of making The Newsette. Did you initially write all the content yourself? Who were the first people to receive the newsletter?

I wrote all of the content and did everything until about six months ago when I hired interns to help me. They do a lot of the curating and reaching out to girlbosses to feature in the mini-magazine, but I still have my hands on most of the content. When I first started The Newsette I posted on every Facebook group that I was a member of, and sign-ups started to roll in from there. The audience has definitely been the hardest thing to build, but I’m glad I had a smaller subscriber base in the beginning so that only a handful of people saw my initial mistakes.

You’re now a rising senior at BU. What are you studying and how does that feed into The Newsette and any future career goals?

I’m in the business school at Boston University, and I’m majoring in entrepreneurship. My concentration fits in nicely with what I’m doing with The Newsette, and it’s been helpful to learn about the financial, accounting, and marketing aspects of business. I definitely think that I have learned more about business from starting my own company, but the material I studied in college was a good foundation.

What has been your proudest moment with The Newsette?

I think my proudest moment was when we asked our readers to send us testimonials to put on our new website. We received hundreds within the first few minutes, and I was shocked at how positive they were. When I started The Newsette, I wanted it to be like a little gift in your inbox, and hearing our readers describe us in the same way was electrifying.

You're a full-time student on top of everything else. How do you manage work, life, and school now?

It’s very very very hard to do both. I pretty much run nonstop on the weekdays from 6am-9pm, but I let myself relax the second I get home until I go to sleep. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes I get caught up in my latest Netflix obsession and go to bed late! I also really value my weekends and try to relax as much as possible during those days off.

You became an entrepreneur before having received a BA or BS. Do you think that higher education is necessary to career success in our evolving world? Was it or is it necessary for you?

It’s really important to my parents that I stay in college, but there have definitely been times where I wish I could leave and continue growing The Newsette. I think that being in a place where you can explore your interests, be independent, and meet people from all walks of life is great life experience for anyone and I strongly recommend that you at least try it out. I don’t think college is for everyone, but it’s a must if you plan on working in the corporate world.

Career Contessa Interview, An Interview with Daniella Pierson, Founder of the Newsette

Her Perspective

Your initial desire to start The Newsette was sparked by your frustration with the overwhelming amount of negativity in the news. With the recent election cycle as it was, has it been hard to stay completely unaffected? Do you ever incorporate more of the hard news or current events into The Newsette content?  Why or why not?

I chose to have The Newsette cover strictly happy news like pop culture, style news, tech news, and trending topics because I didn’t want my readers to start their day on a negative note. We did not cover the election at all, except for telling readers to vote on Election Day and announcing the winner the following morning, because I knew that everyone was already getting bombarded with that information. We rarely ever talk about serious current events or hard news because our reader doesn’t come to us for that. We have a very particular point of view, and it doesn’t involve making our subscribers frown after reading us. The Newsette is that one place where you’re safe from the depressing topics your Facebook feed is flooded with.

What is your advice to other young women with an entrepreneurial idea? How can they make their idea a reality?

My main piece of advice is to become obsessed with your idea and begin the process of executing it immediately. I learned so much from trial and error in the early days that I would have missed had I taken longer to release my first newsletter. You also need to be consistent and work on your business idea every day if you can. Had I ever missed a day of The Newsette, I would have lost the loyalty of my readers, and that would have been detrimental to the business.

What’s one thing you try to do everyday? Of course, every day is different, but do you have any mainstay routines?

I listen to career-focused podcasts every day while I get ready (usually while trying to put lipstick on without channeling a preschooler during color time) or take a shower. I believe in constantly educating yourself about the industry you want to be in, and I really think that podcasts and books can help you learn what college doesn’t teach you. My current favorites are Girl Boss Radio, The Glossy Podcast, and Office Hours with CollegeFashionista. Hearing other entrepreneurs talk about their path to success is really inspiring and helps me get motivated.

What do you wake up looking forward to? What’s next for your career?

I’m really looking forward to moving to New York after graduation and opening up an office. I also want to expand our team and take The Newsette to the next level. I’m practically counting down the days! My sister is also moving with me, and I’m excited to see Springpop grow as well. I have a feeling that the next few years are going to be filled with a lot of change, but I’m ready for the ride.

Career Contessa Interview, An Interview with Daniella Pierson, Founder of the Newsette