A creative at heart, Gianna Nicole leads a multifaceted company that empowers others
By Elizabeth Liberatore / Photos by Claudia Johnstone
A person with an entrepreneurial spirit has a knack for inspiring others. They are fueled by opportunities, collaboration and innovation. They are creators uninhibited by risk and they are natural-born leaders. They don’t just say, they do. Gianna Nicole has embodied this spirit since she was young.
“When I was in fifth grade, I wrote my first bucket list ever. The No. 1 thing it says on there is ‘travel the world as a photographer.’ It’s pretty spectacular to see that I had claimed this life for myself as a child,” Nicole reflects.
Before she became the founder and CEO of Gianna Nicole Media (www.giannanicolemedia.com) – a boutique media house that offers digital marketing and production services to folks in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries – she was a young girl with many creative outlets. Sketching, painting and taking pictures with her old Polaroid camera were some of Nicole’s go-to hobbies.
As she got older, she dabbled in other mediums of artistic expression. While enrolled in classes at Paradise Valley Community College and Arizona State University, Nicole regularly picked the brains of her English professors or spent time in the schools’ art halls. She found refuge in things like creative writing and digital marketing, but mostly photography.
“Finding creative ways to express myself has always been a need in my life,” she says.
Beyond her professional pursuits, Nicole is a full-time mom. As soon as her three children came into the picture, Nicole knew what kind of parent they deserved – the kind that empowers them to reach for their goals and create real change. Leading by example for her children, Nicole pursued her goals and launched her own business in 2014.
“I had worked very closely with many leaders in the entertainment and beauty industries over the years,” she says. “When I saw an opportunity to have my own voice and create my own lane in this crazy world, I jumped on it.”
Her own lane, Gianna Nicole Media, is headquartered in Scottsdale’s Kierland Commons. Along with her team of multimedia strategists, Nicole offers a gamut of branding services to clients, namely young fashion models. From fashion styling on photo shoots to creative editing to curating electronic press kits, this creative entrepreneur and mom keeps a busy pace juggling her two worlds of career and kids.
“If you want to build your brand into a household name and still have dinner on the table by 6 p.m., you just have to prioritize your life to make it happen,” says Nicole, noting that after the family nighttime routine, it’s back to work for her around 8 p.m. “Long nights turn into long weeks and even longer months, but in the same breath, I can easily say it’s the most rewarding part of my work, too. We’re all capable of living whatever life we claim; it’s all [in your] mindset.”
Photography has always been Nicole’s favored creative medium. Throughout the years, she has honed this craft and become a sought-after children’s fashion photographer in search of the world’s next Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. With this aspect of her business, she travels a lot.
“I’m like a little mama duck, collecting new kids everywhere I go,” she says.
As part of this business, Nicole hosts Fashion Passport (www.fashionpassort.org), an annual retreat for children and teens in the modeling and entertainment industries and their families. The one-of-a-kind trip offers educational workshops with top photographers, fashion designers and modeling instructors. Fashion Passport – taking place on Italy’s Amalfi Coast in 2019 – is meant to teach young people to pursue their goals with a limitless mindset.
Nicole’s own limitless mindset, the one she’s had since she was a little girl, has enabled her to break down doors and run her own empire while raising three kids. And, she’s only 30 years old.
“I’ve found the farther up the ladder I move, the more common resistance is to young, thriving women in business,” Nicole says. “However, I revel in the challenge of rewriting people’s perceptions and never forget to have a sense of humor about things. After all, everyone has the right to be wrong!”
Nicole is the first to note that her industry is not all glamour, and that being an entrepreneur means putting in more hours than most, which is a part of the job rarely talked about.
“I truly believe you’re either born with the soul of an entrepreneur, or you’re not. It’s easy to get excited by all the perks of being a business owner, like creating your own schedule, but you don’t always see the 24/7 grind they’re living to make that freedom possible.”
Gianna Nicole Media and Fashion Passport are continuing to evolve. In fact, a New York office is already in the works, though Scottsdale will always be Nicole and her business’ home.
“Although I travel a lot, nowhere else is home other than Arizona,” she says.