You Can Take CosmoGirl Off The Shelves, But You Can't Take the CosmoGirl Out of the Girl

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When I was in college, I was a master networker. I was fearlessly unafraid to e-mail anyone and everyone that could get me to where I wanted to go. I wanted an internship at CUNY’s Feminist Press — so I emailed writing samples and references despite no open position listed on the site. Guess what? I ended up getting an editorial internship with the Feminist Press. 

That very same summer I worked at the Feminist Press, I wanted more experience — so  I reached out to my feminist idols Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, authors of Manifesta and Grassroots, and next thing I knew — I was an intern for their Soapbox Speakers Bureau scheduling Gloria Steinem (yes, THE Gloria Steinem) to speak at colleges across the country.  

During my sophomore year of college when trans activist Kate Bornstein visited, I questioned her over spaghetti on how to truly succeed. She told me to never fear success but to fear the ability to not speak up for what I want and then to be brave or else I’d never get what I wanted.

I took that advice to heart but looking back at my childhood self that would write magazines in my room, smear acrylic paints on large canvases I bought with my allowance money, and dance wildly to the Spice Girls — it’s clear to me that I never gave much mind to fear because I always knew what I wanted to do, how to do it, and how to speak up when the time came.

When my junior year of college expected me to go after an independent study or internship — I knew I wanted to return to New York City and I knew exactly where I wanted to go: CosmoGirl. 

To me, CosmoGirl was the holy grail of publishing and it would be my stepping stone to a career in journalism, my ticket to living in New York City, and my opportunity to speak to the world through the pieces I’d get to write one day. Rumor had it, only 9 girls would get an internship at CosmoGirl each semester out of thousands. I was one of thousands…not bad for a girl from a broken home with my family on food stamps and three of us living in a one bedroom, sleeping on pull out couches and living off scrambled eggs. 

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It was a very sunny New York Day when I went to start my CosmoGirl internship, but before I made it to the Hearst building I got an email telling me CosmoGirl was folding. The magazine was no more. There was no more internship program. There was no more hand written CosmoGirl in a new shade of lipstick each month on the cover of the glossy mag. The editor-in-chief, whom I loved, Atoosa Rubenstein, was now “former CosmoGirl magazine editor.” The magazine became a ghost and my dream drifted off with it.

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I was devastated. But instead of crying my mascara off like a scene from The Hills (you know the ones where Lauren would have mascara stream down her face)…I put my head up and immediately cooked up a plan of who I could connect with in the city. 

Could I meet with the head of Planned Parenthood? Well, it couldn’t hurt to ask (I met with them and volunteered). Could I visit Bust magazine? It couldn’t be too much of a burden to send them an email and explain my current situation (They let me in and let me feel cool for two hours in their super sweet loft). Could I reach out to former graduate friends living in the city to hear about their NYC adventures? Absolutely. 

Ringing in the Fourth of July on the Lower East Side. I may not have been a CosmoGirl but i was definitely learning how to be a rooftop dwelling New Yorker (even if it was only just for the summer).

Ringing in the Fourth of July on the Lower East Side. I may not have been a CosmoGirl but i was definitely learning how to be a rooftop dwelling New Yorker (even if it was only just for the summer).

While I thought that I would sit at a desk writing articles about soulmates and orgasms between visits to the accessory closet and getting coffee for my editor, my time in New York post-CosmoGirl going under gave me the gift of time and the gift of conversation. 

If it wasn’t for CosmoGirl folding, I would have never considered the opportunities in marketing. If it wasn’t for CosmoGirl folding, I would have never seen the gruesomely ugly side of what it truly means to be a New York “It Girl” (yes, it’s true — I worked for Julia Allison). If it wasn’t for CosmoGirl folding, I would have never learned how to hustle and bustle in a city that thrives at a pace much faster than where I called home — giving me the confidence to claim that “Yes, I am in fact a city girl. Keep up the pace.”

To this day, I’m still a connector of people. I want to connect everyone I can to everyone they need, just in case their CosmoGirl moment comes and they need to cast a web into the great wide open to find opportunities fit for their skill sets while opening their minds to something completely different (and they need to do it fast). 

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If CosmoGirl never folded, I know for a fact — 100% — I would have gone on to pursue journalism and I would have worked my ass off to become an editor at a glossy like CosmoGirl or Marie Claire. I would have never turned to marketing or branding. I would have never gravitated towards social media except to tweet out another piece I wrote. I would have been a completely different woman than I am today. 

Sometimes I dream about what that life could have brought me. Sometimes I dream about the opportunity I missed by not being one of a few girls picked out of a thousand to enter the CosmoGirl office as an official intern. Sometimes I dream if I would be walking down 5th avenue in a pair of Christian Louboutin right now. And most of all, sometimes I dream about hearing “Hey Charlsie, the cover story of Taylor Swift - it’s yours.”  

But then I wake up and realize  — this is where I need to be. Freelance marketing, social media, branding, and writing wasn’t something handed to me or delivered in an envelope saying “Congratulations! You have been chosen to freelance.” No, instead — freelance life is entirely my own and even though I never got to play in the fashion closet at CosmoGirl or try on a Gucci dress — I have managed to make what I wanted to happen just like everything else since I was a child, a teenager, a college student, and a CosmoGirl. 


My Dad Died Three Months Ago and Here's What It's like Grieving As a Freelancer

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My father died three months ago today on April 18, 2019. Some days I cry. Some days I talk to the sky — in case my dad hears me and I often yell at him for leaving my sister and I like he did. Every day his death crosses my mind, but as a freelancer — the grieving process has been complicated because when you own your own business, the show must always  go on…even when your father is on a ventilator with 0% chance of waking up again.

Many companies offer bereavement when you lose a loved one. Freelance life doesn’t come with bereavement. It comes with “Holy fuck, my dad is on life support” as clients call you while you’re on the line with the ICU doctor explaining aspirated lungs, sepsis, pneumonia, and the reality of the horrible nightmare of a situation. 

Grief is hard. Grief makes you tired. Grief can overtake you — especially when you have no time to reflect, sit in, and process the death of your beloved father because your to-do list is a mile long. Grief isn’t a fleeting emotion — it lingers, it stays hovering over your shoulders … no matter what freelance website project you’re working on or what copy you’re crafting for a blog. 

Death is a bearer of chaos. Even when a body is cremated and put into pocket sized urns, the chaos doesn’t stop…but you can’t turn a switch off to cut the chaos out of your life when you own your own business. You can pretend the chaos and the grief isn’t there, but in all actuality — it’s there and now it’s a part of your day-to-day routine.

I like to think I’ve done the best I can over the last few months given the situation, but even today — the chaos and grief from my father’s passing clouds my heart and looms over me as I try to pick up the pieces and push forward in my career and get back to my life, which I realize will never, ever be the same again. 

A lot of people have told me to take a break, go on vacation, or just stop working for awhile. It sounds tempting. It sounds just like what I need, but when I’m responsible entirely for my own income — I can’t just take off to Costa Rica to sit on a surfboard in the ocean and process what it means making the decision to pull your father off life support. Also, my dad would hate me to just halt my life, stop my work. A phenomenal business man himself, he would for sure tell me: “Charlsie, get the work done. Keep moving forward. You owe it to yourself. You owe your grief over me nothing.” 

With all this in mind, the voice in the back of my head — my Dad’s voice — has been a critical momentum driver for me to keep on keeping on. And his three most important life lessons have become a staple in just how I can move on (even on the hardest day), piece by piece…moment by moment. 

Dad’s rules: 

  • Kick ass and take names — According to my dad, work is all about “kicking ass and taking names.” He always told me that if you kick ass at what you do, no one can stop you — no one can slow your roll. He always told me that if you kick ass and take names, you establish yourself as an expert and an authority figure in your field. Despite being lethargic and filled with sadness over his death, I have promised myself to keep kicking ass and taking names…because he would want nothing more. When I’m tired or sad or emotionally drained by the reality that my father is dead — I realize with a little patience, this doesn’t mean I have to stop from rocking and rolling and kicking ass on all the work I’m producing for clients. 

  • Be a decent human being — My father had a wild streak of compassion in him that often surprised those around him (including me). Whether it was buying dog food for the homeless man down the street so he could feed his chihuahua or helping out a friend in need — no matter the cost or request, my dad believed that if you could wake up in the morning and be a human being to others through helping, listening, giving back, or just smiling at someone on the street … you were doing your job as a human being. My dad was a workaholic but despite his perfectionism in the workplace and his hard working mentality, he believed the best accomplishments he could make in life were the ones where he was “just a decent human being.” He never said be a “perfect human being,” instead he always said “a decent human being” is all that you have to do to truly get by and make an impact to those around you. Today, I wake up every day and hope that I can do something that would classify myself as a “decent human being” because with him gone, I still want nothing more than to make him proud. 

And lastly, his favorite rule of all time…

  • Always have fun — Growing up, my dad always had one major rule (especially on the weekends)…and he’d say it like this: “There’s only rule — you gotta have fun.” Despite not wanting to leave my apartment or acknowledge that I’m 31 year old without a father as I go through the motions of his death, his voice has remained constant in the back of my head: “There is only one rule and one rule only — you have to have fun.” Mourning the loss of a parent is anything but fun, but knowing just how much it would mean to my dad to give myself some space for fun fills even my worst days with some lightness. 

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In a demanding industry with clients needing this and that and new business inquiries coming in and meetings here and there — freelancing is not forgiving when those horrible, life shattering moments happen in your life. Freelancing is constant. Freelancing is all encompassing. However, the rules my dad lived his life by have been top of mind and because of this … I’ve been able to break the chains, a little bit, from the freelance beast that keeps you in a seat with your laptop and an endless to-do list. 

 While freelancing hasn’t let me fully have time to digest what happened and how it happened and everything from A to Z that comes from a parents death, I have to say … the things my dad shared with me for the majority of my life have been running through my mind during all hours of the day and night as I work to accomplish my goals.

So Dad, thank you for believing in me when I decided to freelance and thank you for leaving me with three bits of wisdom that  I will carry in my heart forever. I miss you. I miss talking business. I miss venting. But thank you for sharing your rules to success, even under such horrible circumstances — your wisdom has been a comfort blanket for the last 3 months and I’m forever grateful that those lessons will live on in my heart and in my work ethic.

Why I'm Devastated As A Female Business Owner Over Taylor Swift's Masters Being Sold To Scooter Braun

Since yesterday afternoon, I have been openly weeping over what happened to Taylor Swift on Sunday morning —  what she found out when she woke up. Why? Because if the biggest voice in the world can have the rug pulled out underneath her by two men, Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun, who both had vindictive intentions, imagine all the women everywhere, every day experiencing this behavior from the men in their workplaces, social circles, and communities. I am truly shaken to my core to see the most powerful woman in the music world experience this “worst case scenario” (as she called it) and so publicly.


I’m not only furious about this as a Taylor Swift super fan (full transparency — I’m not about to hide this truth) but I’m devastatingly sick as a woman in business who knows all too well about the Good Ol’ Boys Club, the handshakes, the cigars, the strip clubs, the backend deals, the overwhelming belief that women are not equal and will never, ever be equal in the work place. I’ve been off on the ground running in my career since 2010 and I’ve seen men pull the rugs out under superstar employees time and time again (and of course, it’s happened to me).

So you’re not a Taylor Swift fan, what in the hell am I talking about? Late last year, Taylor Swift’s contract with the record label she signed to when she was fifteen years old was coming to an end. She needed to either pick to stay at Big Machine Record or she could go somewhere else (and with her being Taylor Swift, imagine all the options she had — endless options and opportunities). Spreading her wings, she found a new home at Universal and announced it to the world on November 19, 2018. Since then, Taylor has been putting her friends through agony dropping Easter Eggs and clues about her new album, which she finally announced was called Lover and it would drop on August 23, 2019. With two singles out on with her new label, “Me!” and “You Need To Calm Down,” news abruptly dropped on Sunday, June 30, 2019 that Big Machine Records was sold by Scott Borchetta to Scooter Braun.

As she’s done about her mother’s cancer, her political beliefs, and many personal topics — Taylor took to her Tumblr yesterday and wrote the following:

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For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums. 

Some fun facts about today’s news: I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years. 

Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it. (See photo) Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked. Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.

This is my worst case scenario. This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept. And when that man says ‘Music has value’, he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it. 

When I left my masters in Scott’s hands, I made peace with the fact that eventually he would sell them. Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter. Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever. 

Thankfully, I am now signed to a label that believes I should own anything I create. Thankfully, I left my past in Scott’s hands and not my future. And hopefully, young artists or kids with musical dreams will read this and learn about how to better protect themselves in a negotiation. You deserve to own the art you make.

I will always be proud of my past work. But for a healthier option, Lover will be out August 23. 

Sad and grossed out,



Taylor Swift is one of the richest celebrities in the world. She is notoriously known as one of the most generous celebrities in Hollywood. If anyone could afford to buy her own work — it’s her. If anyone should be asked first and foremost if she wants her work that she’s spent years and years writing, curating, and creatively dropping for fans and haters alike — it’s Taylor Swift. I’m sure Scott Borchetta — hurt because his cash cow, the person that built him left his label — felt some sort of vindication selling Big Machine Records and the masters to the last person in the world that should have his hands on this specific artists work. Imagine the back end deal discussions. The high fives. The cheers. The handshakes. It’s sickening to see the biggest woman in the world basically have her work tossed over to someone with nothing but bad intentions and she had to find out while the rest of the world did — in a Wall Street Journal report.

All of this triggers me.

I once worked on a team of all men and they would have back room discussions without me despite me being at a Director level and critical to any and all conversation that would need to happen about the brand. I once worked for a super large company and a coworker who was the same level as me, but with two years less of experience, made $30,000 more than me and spent most days boasting about it as he watched Netflix at his desk. I currently have a male client who has ghosted me — he will not answer an email, text, phone call — despite all services being rendered and now I’m without the signed contract agreement of the second payment installment of $2800. However, before ghosting me — he managed to pay off my male web designer, who would have never been involved in the job if I didn’t bring him on board to begin with. And yet, it triggers me again because I just took a job — which I ended up leaving on day 13 — because I was considered emotional and lacking in character for voicing my opinions (especially about the male owner not wanting me to have permission to run social media platforms — despite it being my job to put together and oversee the social media strategy itself) and I know, without a doubt, for the client scripts I wrote while there final writing credits will go to “James Mabry” instead of me, “Charlsie Niemiec.”

These are just some of the injustices I’ve experienced in the work place. I am a white woman. I was born to middle class parents. My mom, sister, and I grew up in poverty — to many it would be considered extreme, to me — it was just a “struggling single mom” situation. Imagine what happens to women of color. Imagine what happens to women starting out at 22 in their first office job that is predominately men. Imagine what happens to women who come from low income, poverty situations and they enter the work force. The cards are stacked up against them and they are meant to come tumbling down. Why am I so sure of this?

If the most powerful star in the world, the most generous celebrity potentially of all time, the voice of my very own heartbeat has her worst nightmare happen (and so publicly)…it’s clear no woman is safe. At all. Period.


It must be said…Fuck Scott Borchetta. Fuck Scooter Braun. I hope Lover, which comes out on August 23, is the best selling Swift album of all time and these two poisonous man rats will sit in anger and shock when she walks onto that Grammy stage in February to become the first woman to win Album of the Year a third time. I hope she rises up like a kaleidoscope of butterflies (or goes back to being known as a snake) and shows just how sick, petty, and vindictive this business deal was — while selling one of the best performing albums of all time. And if I know anything, it’s to ALWAYS bet on Taylor Swift.

So listen, whether you love her or hate her, this isn't right. It's not okay. And yes, she will bounce back because she's Taylor motherfucking Swift but to have this happen to her -— it's clear, none of us women are safe. Not a single one us. And equality — it’s just an empty buzzword even in 2019.