Page 1

twentyWHAT Oh,

SNAP! Film photos

Define your decade May 2012

are back

She thinks my budget is


Lena Dunham

Not just one of the girls

When Money Is No Object This month we take to the trees

The NEW Go-Getters

Four dispatches from startups’ front lines An e-commerce site built from scratch




May 2012


15 16

19 22 FEATURE Startup Vets

What they learned working in the entrepreneurial trenches

Photo of Gentleman Square shirts courtesy of Gentleman Square

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

22 15





20 20 Photo courtesy of

Pious or Pagan Is “none of the above” a religion?

Saving has never been so attractive

Give Credit Where It’s Due One word: plastics

Cash is Crass

An etiquette expert offers her two cents

On the cover If you haven’t guessed, we have a LIFE CRUSH. Read more about our favorite girl on page 6 and 28. >>





30 Who has the green thumb? Find out which editor planted this garden in the contributors’ bios on page 9. >>

New in Town

Tips to turn a strange city into a home


Urban Renewal

Transform your windowsill into a garden

Wake-Up Call




The Bold and the Beautiful



The tW Hot List

Storage Wars



Leafy Lodgings

We dare you to hit snooze

Coffee makers that brew happiness

Where to put your music; no shelves required

May 2012

How one film photographer avoids a digital demise

What and whom we love this month

Go climb a tree – and live there


Photo of Parker Fitzgerald by James Fitzgerald; photo of herbs by Shelby Jacobs

It just keeps getting better... Check out “What’s Online” on page 28. >>







Erin Carson Gerilyn Manago


Lizzy Gomez


Alyssa LaFaro

SPECIAL THANKS TO Mark Obbie Shelby Jacobs


TwentyWhatMagazine @TwentyWhat

TwentyWhatMag TwentyWhatMag.


May 2012

One of the first times I really thought about being in my 20s, I was probably 40-deep at a Flaming Lips concert. All afternoon the sky threatened to open up on us. Just as frontman Wayne Coyne burst an enormous balloon of confetti over the audience, it started to rain. Not hard, but just enough to wash the cigarette smoke out of the air. My friend turned to look at me, smiling widely with rain droplets on her glasses. We had nowhere to be in the morning. It’s moments like those that make all other kinds of strife associated with being young completely worth it. It’s also moments like those that make me stare in bewilderment when someone says something like, “You couldn’t pay me to be 20 again.” You may have noticed our generation in particular has incurred a lot of bad press. There’s a notion that 20-somethings are, to be honest, hopeless. We’re immature, flighty, spoiled, and ultimately headed nowhere. We’re the Facebook generation, the gold star generation. There are books on how to deal with millennials written like instructions on how to disarm a bomb. And these judgments are handed down by a generation famous for being wild and unconventional. The irony here is not lost on us. With that said, I welcome you to the launch issue of Twenty What. If you’re tired of being told you’re SOL, we’re here to push the clouds away. The truth is we’re living inside the most kinetic decade of our lives. It’s good to be in the world. It might not always be easy, and society seems to be hedging its bets against our generation, but life is exactly what you make of it. Always was, always will be. For every basement-dweller, there’s a kid with an apartment in Chicago or New York, hell-bent on making something of herself. And for those basement-dwellers? There’s hope for them, too. So why put Lena Dunham on our cover? Dunham, merely 25, is more than just the star of the can’t-avoid-it-even-if-you-tried HBO show Girls. She writes and directs it, too. I believe they call that the trifecta. She’s another reason to feel positive about our cohort. You can read more about why we’re keeping an eye on her on page 28.

In this issue, writer Alyssa LaFaro brings us need-to-know insight on working for a startup company (page 22). We also profile, on page 31, Portland-based photographer Parker Fitzgerald, who bucks the stereotype of the totally digital 20-something through his love of film photography. Writer Gerilyn Manago helms the debut of our recurring New Spin section, page 12, where we ask you to reconsider those items we all take for granted, like the alarm clock. On page 19, financial blogger J. Money gives advice on budgeting through slow cash flow (bonus: He tells how to stay positive during tough economic times). And on page 34, writer Lizzy Gomez leaves us with a little something to daydream about: Treehouses. Really, really fancy ones. Life is not a loop of Flaming Lips-style energy and excitement. We get that. But, with unshakable optimism, we thought it was about time we speak for ourselves. May your email be always pleasant,


Photography by Shelby Jacobs


Twenty What is a magazine created in the graduate Spring 2012 magazine management course for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.




WHAT’S ONLINE Because you’ll keep wanting more


Access print articles, view exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, and have your questions answered by our senior editorial staff. Careers. Finance. Sasquatch. You name it.


We’re linking you to news, research, tips, and debates from other places online, making it easy for you to keep up with the topics you care about.


Make sure to follow us on Twitter at @TwentyWhat where we’ll post up-to-the-minute information on specific topics, updates on past stories, and previews of coming issues. And if you like something we say (and we’re sure you will) give us a #TW shoutout.


Need a new book to read? Some cool new gadgets to add to your collection? A website to waste all your “free” time on? Then hit up our Pinterest account to see all the items featured in our “20 Somethings” lists, “New Spin” section, and more.


May 2012

CONTRIBUTORS Over 5,000 miles from her hometown of Aiea,

Photography by Shelby Jacobs

Hawaii, GERILYN MANAGO is hungry for a plate lunch and shave ice. She’s turned in the sand between her toes for a pair of warm wool socks with hopes of breaking into the New York magazine industry. As the art director for Twenty What, Gerilyn flexes her InDesign muscles daily but also uses her experienced front-of-book writing skills to talk about everyday objects with a twist. Her “New Spin” this month? Alarm clocks and coffee makers (pages 12-13). And if you were wondering, her most-reliable alarm: Keurig.

LIZZY GOMEZ plays a mean piano. She loves doing her best impression of Debussy on the blacks and whites but thinks nothing sounds quite as lovely as James Taylor and Carole King on the same stage. Missing an Ohio State football game or an episode of The Office is out of the question — she won’t answer the phone during either. A bit of a restless soul, Lizzy feeds her compulsive need for exploration with spontaneous road trips and a hefty stack of travel magazines that she wouldn’t mind working for someday. Until then, she will spend her time writing about simple things, like windowsill herb gardens (page 30) and grownup treehouses (page 34).

ALYSSA LAFARO is a small town girl with a big city heart. When not writing about how to transition into a new city (page 11), work for a startup (page 22), or maintain a credit score (page 20), she can be found obsessing over Mad Men or jogging around the city of Syracuse, searching for some inner peace. All the waitressing she’s done will, she hopes, serve as material for a series of short stories. She’d be willing to put that dream on hold to travel back to Italy to become fluent in the language, marry a beautiful Italian man, and perhaps, open up her own winery.

This month ERIN CARSON wrote about a variety of topics ranging from spirituality (page 16) and personal finance (page 19) to cloud music storage (page 14) and film photography (page 31). That’s quite the spectrum to cover in one issue. When given the option to focus, this longtime Nashvillian gravitates toward music. She’s amassing a formidable record collection, including a healthy selection of vinyl LPs, all while trying to stay abreast of the latest digital developments in the music industry. On a good day, she’ll admit to playing guitar. But she’d rather write about guitarists.

>> Want a hipster doll? Check out Twenty Somethings on page 32




May 2012


THE DIY WELCOME WAGON Five tactics to introduce yourself to a new city By Alyssa LaFaro

Moving to a new city is exciting and nerve-racking. Not only do you throw years of junk into boxes and lug them across the great American expanse, but you have to learn about your new digs. We know you’ve heard the typical new city advice — join a club, read a guidebook, study a map — so we want to give you some fresh ideas on how to get to know the neighborhood.


Sites like inform readers of local happenings, such as culture and arts, food and drink, music, and sports. Any questions you have or advice you may need can probably be found here. These sites can also be helpful for keeping up with the smaller, more unexpected bits of life. (Ever been to a Snuggie pub crawl?)

The Best

Begin a search for the city’s best (you fill in the blank). It could be anything from a bakery, food truck, or yoga spot. A personal quest will not only force you to find the unobvious charms of your new city, but it will provide you with an adventure and a goal to achieve. Just pretend you’re one of the Knights of the Round Table in search of the Holy Grail of burritos. You’ll have a blast (just leave the sword at home).


A unique alternative to public transit, biking allows you to navigate parts of the city that are otherwise hidden if you stick to the interstates and major streets. Wind through smaller streets to find the hole-in-the-wall places that help define the area (a neighborhood of quirky bungalows, an ethnic enclave, a park on the quiet side of town). Take in the sights and sounds you may not notice behind the wheel of a car. Best of all, you’ll get some exercise while doing it.

Become a Regular

Whether it’s a coffee house, diner, or bar, find a hangout and make it your own. Once the staff knows your name and can recite your usual order from memory, there’s a hefty chance the other regulars will get to know you, too. And there’s no better way to mingle and chitchat than over a house blend, bacon, or brew.

Take the Bus

Let someone else do the driving and take a bus route you’re not familiar with. Relax and stare out the window to observe the different places along this fresh route. And don’t hesitate to people-watch — you’ll find some of the city’s most original characters on the bus.



FORWARD / new spin For the eco-friendly

Whether battery-powered or plugged into an electrical outlet, clocks need a power source. But if you’re concerned about your carbon footprint, look no further than the Bedol Water Clock. These clocks convert tap water into natural, clean energy. Fill it up and you’re set for up to 12 weeks. A memory chip also stores the time so you don’t have to reset the clock when refilling the water. | $19.00-$29.99


Deep sleepers require more than a cellphone alarm to yank them out of bed. Here are some innovative alternatives to the traditional clock. By Gerilyn Manago

For the perpetual snoozer

If you have a love/hate relationship with the snooze button on your alarm, check out the clocks from Nanda Home. Both Clocky (alarm on wheels) and Tocky (ball-shaped alarm) can fall from three-foot nightstands without breaking and roll on carpet or wood floors until turned off. Tocky is a bit more advanced and customizable. It holds up to two hours of MP3s and has different colored skins that encase the alarm. Also, if music doesn’t get you out of bed, record your voice — Tocky can store up to six hours of audio — or wake up to preloaded messages. Special Edition NPR Tocky clocks feature voices of Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! or All Songs Considered hosts. | Clocky $39.00 | Tocky $58.00

And if nothing else gets your lazy butt out of bed...

Time flies and you must catch it. This clock from ThinkGeek launches a propeller when your alarm goes off. The only way to turn the alarm off is to retrieve the helicopter piece and attach it to the clock. It sounds irritating, but just think: You’ll always have time for your morning Starbucks run. | $19.99

For the tight-eyed

Rise and shine with the Philips Wake-up Light. You can fall asleep to dimming light and wake up with the simulation of natural sunrise. Not only is the light an alarm clock with four wake-up sounds, but it’s also an FM radio. The newest model comes with a docking station to charge and play your iPod. | $199.99


May 2012

FORWARD / new spin

HOT OFF THE PRESS Percolate your way to caffeine bliss with these cutting-edge coffee makers By Gerilyn Manago

PEBO Vacuum Coffee Maker

We’ve never wanted a cup o’ joe more. The modern hourglass shape of the PEBO vacuum coffee maker is the first thing that caught our eye. Then, when we saw it filter the coffee from one chamber to the other, we couldn’t stop staring. The machine is dishwasher safe – no fancy cleaning brush needed. Set aside five to 11 minutes during your day to brew anywhere from four to eight cups of your favorite roast. | $80.00

Tassimo T10

Tassimo takes the Keurig K-cups to the next level. Each Tassimo T DISC displays a barcode that the T10 scans to set specific brewing presets for that drink. This coffee machine can even create foam for your lattes. And if you’re on the go, slide away the removable stand and fill up your travel mug. | $99.99


Meet the most high-tech coffee machine on the market. The TopBrewer is not only eco-friendly (its tap is made of 80 percent recycled materials), but it has the world’s smallest milk frother at the faucet’s tip. The machine is hidden beneath the countertop (special installation required) so only the faucet can be seen. This coffee brewer can even be controlled by your iPhone. Just save your favorite drink preferences on the iPhone app and the TopBrewer will be ready to go before you reach the office. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, consider this for your first home or office space. | Price TBA

Keurig Vue

Besides being twice the price of the single-serving Keurigs currently on the market, what makes the Keurig Vue so special is its ability to adjust water pressure, timing, and airflow to ensure stronger coffee. Also, it can brew “bigger coffee” – cups up to 18 ounces – at a hotter temperature (from 187 to 197 degrees). But if you currently own a Keurig, note: The Vue doesn’t use the specially designed Keurig K-cups. You’ll have to invest in the new Vue packs. | $249.99




No matter your budget or device, there’s something for you By Erin Carson

Digital music files are such a space infringement. Or at least, this is what we’ve learned in the past year as the tech-savvy waited anxiously for any whispers of music streaming services designed


to make their music library accessible from anywhere, through desktop or mobile device. The space race has come to a head. Now it’s time to settle on a service that best fits your needs.


Here’s a breakdown of what we consider the top music streaming services so you can reach up into the ether and listen to “Roxanne” whenever you feel like it.





5 GB or unlimited depending on plan EXTRA



No. Google offers free music on the Android market.

No. Accessible through Yes/ Free the Safari browser.

-Free with ads -Unlimited tier: $4.99/month -Premium tier: $9.99/month

No. Access to just about any record or song.



5 GB for free; then $20, $40, $100 annually for an additional 10 GB, 20 GB, or 50 GB






iCloud stores documents, photos, and other files, not just music. Unlimited



The pricing tiers come with different features. Unlimited has no ads. Premium offers offline access in addition, and only Premium subscribers can stream music through the app. 5-50 GB


Only on iPad. Otherwise, accessible through the Safari browser.

No syncing required. On March 6, 2012, the Google blog introduced Google Play, which rolls music, movies, books, apps, and games into one service. The music interface remains the same. Unlimited



MP3s purchased through Amazon do not count toward storage limits. The MP3 store also offers good deals on albums if you keep your eyes open. Amazon won’t allow users to upload Digital Rights Management (DRM) protected music files. 20,000 songs


-5 GB for free -$1/GB per year

-Free with ads -$60/year for Grooveshark Plus -$90/year for Grooveshark Anywhere


Subscription tiers come with added features like priority tech support and desktop access. Grooveshark Anywhere features unlimited mobile access.

May 2012


THREAD COUNTS Gentlemen Square founder weaves business plan from networking skills By Lizzy Gomez

Allan Jones, a college dropout with a serious dose of gumption and style, is the mastermind and CEO of e-commerce site Gentlemen Square. This 25-year-old didn’t just haphazardly stumble upon success overnight, though. Jones has an impressive résumé that spans across his years working for other web-based companies, like the small business document supplier Docstoc, Inc. and the online “people search service” With a laundry list of work experience to his name, Jones has cultivated a strong background in high volume, subscription-based products in the e-commerce realm. He also has more professional experience than his peers and a wealth of knowledge that helped him find success on his own. To think it all started with a notebook. Jones fosters ideas. Like any sharp thinker, he logs his thoughts in a notebook, which bursts at the seams with dozens of passing whims that rarely make it to reality. “I have ideas every day – it’s like ADD. I’m just thinking of ideas all the time,” Jones says. Coupled with his knack for creative thinking, the networking gene that runs through Jones’ veins makes for a business-savvy combination that seems bound for prosperity. Over the past year, Jones has been putting those talents to work on Gentlemen Square.

Photo courtesy of Gentlemen Square

Gentlemen Square delivers button-down dress shirts, polos, and ties to your doorstep free of shipping costs. After requesting an invitation to Gentlemen Square, clients fill out a style survey to assess their personal taste. The staff at Gentlemen Square looks at factors such as color preference, work environment, and desired fit before assigning the client a team of stylists, who coordinate unique wardrobe combinations. This attention to detail is what makes all the difference, Jones says. Gentlemen Square is not alone in its quest to provide personalized style through the ease of a few mouse clicks. GQ and Esquire are just two of the big names that have recently formed partnerships with e-commerce clothing retailers. But for Jones and his colleagues, the goal reaches beyond merely pulling a few outfits together based solely on a set of questions. The Gentlemen Square staff aspires to form relationships with their clients, thereby ensuring each stylist is fully aware of his client’s needs. This relationship is what Jones says separates Gentlemen Square from other retail competitors. And why not? This belief in building relationships is one that has served Jones well.

Thanks to a former colleague, Jones and his three co-workers have set up shop two blocks from the beach in Santa Monica, Calif., on the outskirts of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Their office space is a direct result of a relationship that Jones formed during his time at All that networking talk is no joke. In fact, without it, Jones wouldn’t have his staff – a group of colleagues, he says, believed in Gentlemen Square enough to work without pay from the very beginning. Jones attributes the “culture of success” at Gentlemen Square to the people around him and the relationships that they have managed to maintain throughout the building process of the site. But beyond the strictly professional reasons to network, Jones stands firm in his belief that relationships are important in all aspects of life. “Make friends, not only because they might become important somewhere in your life, but just because good relationships matter,” Jones says. This mantra is but one of the many lessons Jones learned through past experiences – one that showed signs of growth as far back as Jones’ days as a toddler, when he would raid his grandmother’s closet in search of shoes. Lined up, organized, and ready for sale, they were the products of Jones’ very first business venture, and he sold them to any family member who happened to pass his way. It was from here Jones flexed his selling muscles and never looked back. The plan for Gentlemen Square took off in the fall of 2011. With market research in hand, Jones and his colleagues took great pains to design the company website from scratch and celebrated a mini-launch near the end of last year. All the while, one of the greatest challenges the team faced during the building period was the actual merchandising of the business. Without fashion backgrounds, it took time and effort to build relationships with the suppliers of high-end garments that make it into the hands of the clients. After nearly a year of laying the groundwork, Gentlemen Square was able to officially launch in March 2012. As for Jones and his colleagues, their once self-funded company is now backed by Science, Inc., an investor of “emerging Internet businesses.” The Gentlemen Square team takes it as an auspicious sign for their growing company. But it all started with Jones’ talents – ideas, energy, and a network.



YOUR ROARING TWENTIES: lifestyle / essay

SOUL STRAIN Millennials are a bunch of heathens. Maybe. By Erin Carson

I grew up in a place where there’s a church on every corner and your best friends are your Sunday school classmates. When people meet you, they ask your name and where you go to church, all in one breath. It made for tight communities, but it also made for awkwardness whenever someone found out I was Catholic. Being non-Protestant in certain places in the South is tantamount to being poker buddies with Lucifer himself. Folks will tell you that. Or try to convert you.


n the flip side, as a recent college grad I had all these snapshots in my head — evidence of a drift toward buffet-style spirituality. In my freshman philosophy class, the professor sent us into a frenzy by posing the question, “Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?” It was a lesson on objectivism and relativism, and the initial, overwhelming reaction was a resounding “Yes. Of course, what a stupid question.” What struck me was that first burst of certainty for the uncertain. We are absolutely sure we’d rather not step on anyone else’s toes. Then there were the kids who at the wise old age of 18 could declare their “problems” with organized religion. Some concerns struck me as valid. Some just sounded like an excuse for not wanting to get out of bed on a Sunday morning. I’d been exposed to two competing attitudes. Either, “You’re stupid for not being concerned about your eternal salvation,” or “You and your unquestioning faith completely perplex me.” So when the Pew Research Center released a recent study finding that folks in their 20s describe themselves as less religious, I figured that was going to send more than one youth


May 2012

minister into a panic. The study said one in four are not affiliated with a faith. Sounds serious. There’s certainly plenty of concern out there for the scattering flock. Drew Dyck is the author of a book called Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults are Leaving the Faith.... And How to Bring Them Back, and he’s well aware of the trend outlined in the Pew study. While researching for his book, he had the chance to talk to these 20-something “leavers” of the faith. He said many in the Christian Church will offer cognitive dissonance as an explanation, meaning a label like “Christian” no longer jibes with the things young folks do (a moral compromise), so they decide to drop the label. Dyck thinks that theory is a simplification. He offers six different types of leavers, acknowledging there are more. One of the most relevant-sounding, though, is the postmodern leaver. “To come out and say, ‘This is what I believe is true,’ is often seen as arrogant and an implicit threat to other people’s beliefs,” he says, “and I think that’s something that causes some young people to leave the faith, to not be into organized religion.”

YOUR ROARING TWENTIES: lifestyle / essay

In an age that gets placed on the scale anywhere from accepting to permissive to a fault, it makes sense that younger folks are less inclined to want to draw lines around what’s “right” and “wrong.” It does feel arrogant. We were raised to live and let live, right? But what happens when all that “do your own thing” talk results in a hemorrhage of the faithful?

have a family and you start to stay in a particular community,” he says. People have kids and start thinking they better join a house of worship because that’s just the way you do things. That same Pew study acknowledged that one-third of baby boomers go to a church service at least once a week, as compared to the 70s when a quarter of baby boomers reported they did.

”If you live in New York or San Francisco or something, you can kind of become convinced that everyone is practicing yoga and occasional meditation as their religion, and that’s actually a pretty small minority.” — Steve Waldman

Whether it’s studies or casual observances, there’s not a clear picture of what this generation looks like in terms of spirituality and religion. And in truth, there really doesn’t need to be. Perception is difficult, Waldman says. “If you live in New York or San Francisco or something, you can kind of become convinced that everyone is practicing yoga and occasional meditation as their religion, and that’s actually a pretty small minority,” he says. The San Diego Jewish Journal ran a piece last year by a 21-year-old writer who was raised by a Catholic mother and a Jewish father. Neither parent pushed religion on her and her siblings, but she eventually found herself wanting to commit to Judaism, stressing how she could be a “real Jew” and “becoming bat mitzvah.” Any squeamishness she’d had about fully embracing Judaism went away.

Steve Waldman, a former reporter for Newsweek and US News and World Report and the co-founder of, is far less fazed by this trend. “I think some of that is a life cycle thing,” he says. “It shouldn’t surprise anyone that people in their 20s have less of a connection to a religious institution. They have less of a connection to every institution.” This trend is also not something that just happened when the very first millennial went off to college and whizzed by the College Baptists table at the clubs fair. According to Waldman, the trend is actually about 20 years old and started when baby boomers began to refer to themselves as more spiritual than religious. Perhaps that trickled down. The real question, Waldman says, is what happens next. “Things change when you start to

So where does that leave us? Is this a generation of commitment-phobic backsliders? Maybe we’re still just working ourselves out, you know, like every other generation. Perhaps I’ll see you at the church potluck in 10 years.




May 2012

DEAD PRESIDENTS: it’s your money getting a financial plan put in place. Right now there’s nothing wrong with saving $50 a month or even $10 a month. In the first two years or so, it’ll only be a couple thousand dollars. As you get bigger jobs, and more money, you’ll continue adding to your habit of saving. The longer you do that, the harder it is to break it.

tW: What’s going to trip me up when I finally start making real money?

JM: Lifestyle inflation is important to keep in mind so you don’t get into trouble. Don’t spend a lot more just because you’re making a lot more. Keep your daily habits roughly the same whether you make $30,000 a year or $130,000 a year.

tW: Is there a point where we need a guy in a suit to handle our money?

I’M BRINGING BUDGETS BACK J. Money on how to approach our financial future

with confidence, optimism, and a dash of seduction By Erin Carson

This might be the weirdest sentence you read all day: Budgets are sexy. It’s true. D.C.-based personal finance blogger J. Money has shown that watching your cash flow can not only be practical, but also entertaining. And most of all, he’s got a positive message in tough economic times. With nods from the Los Angeles Times, Lifehacker, and Kiplinger, he’s spreading the gospel of responsible saving and spending in a style that makes us want to bust out Excel on Friday night and bask in the glow of our growing nest egg. Twenty What recently chatted it up with J. Money about what to do with our big kid bucks.

Photo courtesy of

twentyWHAT: The nightly news tells

me that everything’s going to hell. Do we have a shot at anything that looks remotely like financial stability? J. MONEY: For every phase of life the media say all this bad stuff is happening and that the world is coming to an end. My friends use it as an excuse to not beef up their profile at work or look for jobs. Even if the economy is going down, your own actions affect the outcome whether it’s money or your career. What I always tell people is focus on the stuff that you

can control. Save money, get rid of your debt, and build a good future financially, physically, emotionally.

tW: Any advice for balancing life and

student loans that doesn’t involve eating a whole lot of ramen? JM: Realize that it’s only a phase of your life. Growing up in high school and college, everything seems so drastic — my life’s going to be this way forever, whether it’s good, or bad — but it’s such a small portion. For those people that have a lot of debt now, after five, 10 years, you will be a lot more financially free. Besides the attitude adjustment, you can cut down on expenses in other areas, or you can earn more money. I always prefer earning more money because it gives you the option to do with that money what you want.

tW: I opened a savings account in first

grade. What else should I do if I want to retire (someday)? JM: The main thing is to get into good habits of saving, even if you’re simply putting a little spare change aside in your savings account. As you get into your 30s, you can think about investing more and

JM: It’s not necessary until you really start bringing home the bacon. Everything you need to know starting out can be found online for free on blogs *ahem* or with other sources. I’d say it’s a good idea to consult a financial planner and/or accountant once $1,000 turns into $100,000 or so. The basics of growing your money are pretty simple: Spend less than you earn, and save the rest. It’s the motivation part that’s the biggest problem.

tW: What are some stupid things that young folks do with money?

JM: Really just blowing it all and not saving any. When I got out of college, I got $1,000. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got so much money!” and looking back, I’m like, “Wow! What an idiot.” I got an apartment, put the first month’s rent down, I got food, and within three weeks, I’d spent my whole $1,000. I ended up moving back home, and I’d just wasted $1,000.

tW: You claim budgets are sexy. Can you please elaborate?

JM: Put simply: Budgeting equals confidence equals sexy! For me, I didn’t have a budget, and I didn’t know where my money was. Once I started paying attention to it, I got more confident in a lot of things. When I was thinking of buying something, I already knew in my head roughly how much money I had to spend without worrying. I can tell you that women love a man who is financially stable. And vice-versa. Edited for length and clarity



DEAD PRESIDENTS: it’s your money


GIVE ME SOME CREDIT Three tips for a better credit score

To ask for cash, or not to ask: That is the question.

By Alyssa LaFaro

By Lizzy Gomez

A stack of cash tops a custom-knit sweater from Great-Aunt Miriam any day of the week. But is it appropriate to ask for dough in place of a gift?

Etiquette blogger Maggie McAlister, who writes under the name Annabel Manners at, provides us with some refined tips.


SITUATION: I’m running low on funds. Can I take inspiration from A Charlie Brown Christmas and ask Santa for 10s and 20s? ANNABEL SAYS: Never, ever ask for money as a gift. Not only is it presumptuous to assume you’ll be receiving a gift from someone, but to begin making demands about what type of items you want makes the situation as tacky as ever. Instead, be courteous about any presents that come your way.


SITUATION: I’ve been invited to a wedding. The happy couple is asking for gifts of money for their honeymoon. Should I comply with this request, or head over to Swarovski for some crystal stemware and make a scene about their crass gift list? ANNABEL SAYS: Do not point out the etiquette error (this only creates another manners problem). In this type of situation, it is fine to follow their lead and offer a monetary gift. SITUATION: So that stack of cash we mentioned earlier — how should I handle it if I end up having to give someone money? ANNABEL SAYS: A gift given in the form of a check or gift certificate inside a thoughtful card is more subtle, keeping the attention on the wishes inside the card, rather than money alone. SITUATION: My uncle sent me a generous check for my birthday. What’s wrong with shooting him a quick email, thanking him for the moolah? ANNABEL SAYS: Handwritten thank-you notes are always appreciated. In regard to the check, say something polite like, “Thank you for the gift and the wishes that came with it.”


May 2012


Your days of living off the grid are over. Once those thoughts of buying a home, a new ride, or even renting a studio apartment take hold, you have to make sure your credit score is in check (or even exists). We know the one about not running up credit card debt. Cue the credit score commercial jingles while we count other ways to improve your number.

It’s not all about the cards

A car payment or unsecured line of credit will do more for your score than having a wallet full of plastic. Once you get it paid off, lenders will notice that you took out a loan and managed to stay above water when it came to sending in those checks every month. Nelson Smith, finance blogger for Financial Uproar, says this kind of repayment history not only gives you a solid reputation among lenders but also becomes especially useful when the time comes to start applying for things like a mortgage. The hearty little boost it lends to your score isn’t too bad, either.

Keep your utilization rate low

And by utilization rate, we mean the fancy term used for the percentage of your available credit that has already been spent but has not yet been paid off. Let’s say you have a card with a $1,000 limit, and you’ve spent $500 on that account. That’s 50 percent of your available credit, which translates into a 50 percent utilization rate. The smaller your rate the less ominous you will appear to creditors when they see you’re not maxing out your cards every chance you get. Andrew Schrage, blogger for financial self-help site Money Crashers, advises that maintaining a utilization rate below 30 percent will help keep your score low.

Resist the temptation to close unused credit cards

Don’t let all the hard work you’ve put into your utilization rate go to waste. Canceling a card lowers your available credit, causing your utilization rate to spike (which signals trouble to creditors). Down the road, you will also lose any credit history built around that card. Swipe these cards every few months to keep your card active and prevent your lender from closing the account.




May 2012

START ME UP It’s good work if you can get it — and if you can learn from your mistakes and triumphs By Alyssa LaFaro


very time a young entrepreneur and his early-stage employees pull a Mark Zuckerberg and cash in on a startup company, the rest of the world hears one message, loud and clear: Startups = instant fortunes! Of course, savvy followers of the startup world know the downsides: great risks and deprivations; extreme pressure and around-the-clock work. But there’s another part of the story worth hearing. Starting a business or working at a startup teaches lessons about work. Even about life. Whether a business wins or loses, and whether our stock options blossom or collapse, every experience in the trenches holds the potential to make us better and smarter. Veterans like Jeff Weitzman will tell you the startup world is no place for commitment-phobes and big egos (at least not among the worker bees). Weitzman, with more than 20 years’ experience at companies like and Yahoo, is now chief operating officer for Internet ad technology

company Buysight in Sunnyvale, Calif. He believes the best approach after landing a job at a startup is to be willing to take on any assignment with a certain flair for perfectionism. “You have to show me passion, humility, and a willingness to work hard,” Weitzman says. That’s probably a good lesson for any line of work, but with the number of new businesses being created – the Kauffman Foundation, which tracks entrepreneurship stats, describes present day as a high point of the 15 years — you might just find yourself working at one. Twenty What caught up with some folks who, despite being merely in their 20s, have already filed reports from the entrepreneurial trenches.




Andy Tabar /

25 years old Founder of Bizooki

LESSON: You have the power to control your life.

Andy Tabar could code before he could drive. In middle school, he was creating personal websites for his friends long before Facebook or even MySpace. It’s a pursuit that shot him straight into the startup world, where he’s happily ridden the waves of entrepreneurship for nearly all of his short working life. He’s glad that’s where he finds himself now. “There are bumps along the road, but it’s definitely exciting to work for a startup,” Tabar says. Today, he runs Bizooki, a new media marketing company that helps clients, typically small businesses, with online marketing. Bizooki’s been around for about six years. Tabar’s first real big break came during his junior year of college while he was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship at Belmont University. At the time, Bizooki was 2 years old. Tabar submitted his business plan to a competition held by, a website that held a contest where entrepreneurs could pitch ideas for new businesses and win money in the process. Though he didn’t win the contest, Tabar benefited in other ways. “All of the opportunities that came out of that were tremendous. In fact, IdeaBlob became a client of mine after that,” he says. Tabar has come to the realization that the size of the company doesn’t limit its possibilities. “When you’re working with smaller teams and a lean amount of resources, the opportunity is so much more expansive,” he says. “Sometimes more is at stake, and sometimes you’re doing something that’s groundbreaking and has the chance of disrupting the whole industry or whole field.”


May 2012

This is exactly one of the characteristics Sean Branagan, director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, says is necessary for someone to have when they work for a startup company. “Everybody thinks resources equals greater creativity. It’s the opposite,” Branagan explains. “It’s been proven that scarcity creates unbelievable creativity levels far more than abundance.” In February, Andy moved Bizooki into the offices of Morino Ventures, LLC, an organization in Cleveland that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. “I plan to keep growing startup companies and being part of startup companies. Right now I have no plans to work for another.”


Erica Trzeciak /

25 years old Director of User Relations, Fundraising Coach at GiveForward

LESSON: Create your own job title.

Erica Trzeciak wouldn’t leave. After an internship at a company called GiveForward ended in September following her senior year of college, she stuck around working for free until the company realized how necessary her position was. In effect, she created demand for a job that hadn’t existed. “What I like about my role is I proved that it makes financial sense and leads to the success of this company. I paved the way and created the role I wanted,” she says. GiveForward offers free fundraising Web pages to family and friends who have a loved one going through a medical crisis. Until Trzeciak, it had never had a fundraising coach. “We are the ones that talk to our users every day on a one-to-one basis and help them have success and the best fundraiser possible,” Trzeciak says. “I was the first

one to step in and take control of that role of centering around the users on the site and really being a userdriven company.” Now the company has three fundraising coaches. Trzeciak, in her days as unpaid labor, exemplifies one of the points Weitzman stresses: “Every person is important in a startup.” Trzeciak filled a need at the company, a need felt especially by the clients. “One of my users who lives in Hawaii offered to fly me out there and stay with her. She loves GiveForward and the help I gave her so much,” Trzeciak says. “That always sticks out in my mind. Our users love us so much so they usually offer to do stuff like that. They want to do everything they can to show they are thankful for the help.”




Nikki Durkin /

20 years old Founder of 99Dresses

LESSON: You’re never too young. A closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. This is not a unique problem for 16-year-old girls. For Australian Nikki Durkin, though, the answer was not a trip to the mall. “I realized I didn’t wear 99 percent of the stuff in there,” Durkin says. “I figured I had spent about $1,000 per year on new clothes.” Durkin would head over to her sister’s room and dig through her closet to find clothes she liked, or she’d borrow clothes from her friends at school. It hit her: What if someone did this on a massive scale, putting millions of women’s closets together and swapping out clothing? Initially, she sent out a Facebook event invite to about 260 of her friends. She explained the concept of her idea and wanted to know if her friends thought it was legitimate. “In two weeks, I had 40,000 women visitors,” says Durkin. “It went viral in Australia.” Four years later, 99Dresses offers a virtual closet for women to sell their clothes online. Women set prices through virtual currency called buttons. The buttons, which can be purchased, are then traded for other dresses, and no actual money is exchanged except for shipping and handling. About four months after the then 18-year-old Durkin launched the site in late 2010, 4,500 dresses were uploaded and 3,500 were sold. She decided it was time to move her business to the States. She packed her bags and headed to San Francisco with the help of Y Combinator, a company that provides seed funding for startups. Thanks to that help, 99Dresses was able to launch stateside at the end of March 2012.

Qualities that Make 20-Somethings Perfect for Startups Here are tips from Sean Branagan, director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University


May 2012


Most of us, especially those fresh out of college, are far from flush with cash. We’ve adapted to this kind of lifestyle, and we’ve learned how to clothe, feed, and shelter ourselves on the cheap. According to Branagan, meager funds aren’t necessarily detrimental to success. “One of the great advantages of some of these innovations is they’ve been developed on a shoestring, and it doesn’t cost as much to buy this amazing product because startup employees think nobody has that kind of money,” he says.


JonEric Pettersson /

27 years old Insight Genetics

LESSON: Find something with purpose.

Working for a biotech startup, JonEric Pettersson doesn’t deal with customers that often. In fact, he can feel somewhat disconnected – until he gets the phone calls. Pettersson works for a company called Insight Genetics, Inc., which develops tests to subtype cancers and suggest drugs that would best combat the cancer. Sometimes he gets calls from patients wanting to take the tests before they’re approved for the market. “From the day you realize there are patients out there not getting a specific life-saving therapy to the day you can legally, actually use that test, you can get really caught up in the moment.,” says Pettersson. Pettersson didn’t get into startups for the money. While he has had the option to move on to bigger companies and bigger paychecks, he hasn’t taken that leap yet. Before Pettersson became a part of the Insight Genetics team, he worked on a project called Rumba Roast in Nashville, Tenn. “I helped start a fair trade coffee business that was more of a social entrepreneur venture,” Pettersson says. The common link: doing good for others. “It’s been more about finding something that has some kind of purpose just a little bit bigger than yourself,” he says, “and really going at it with the mindset that you want to add value and create something that’s going to outlast you. If you can really find something like that and dig in, people notice the results.”


Happenings at startup companies are unpredictable — one week you may be doing work from the comfort of your home and the next you could get sent to Boston, Los Angeles, or Tokyo. Anything is possible. “You’re able to slide and move around, which is what’s needed a lot of the time,” Branagan says. “Twenty-somethings are in a position in life where that’s less of a big deal.” In other words, no kids, no spouse, and no mortgage means fewer reasons you can’t pick up and move whenever, wherever.


Sometimes too much knowledge and experience turns into inhibitions: the we’ve-tried-that-already-and-itwon’t-work syndrome. “The advantage of that ignorance is that nobody’s beat it out of you in the business world. Ignorance is an empowerment moment,” Branagan explains.


We are young enough to handle the heavy workloads and long hours at the office. “This isn’t a 40 hour per week job, and nobody’s paying you for 40 hours,” Branagan explains. “You’re going to work crazy hours.”

“You’re going to gain more from the experience than the dollars,” Branagan says. “Learn everything you can, work your tail off, and be everything your business card says you are.” And come to terms with the fact that you will be underpaid.



LIFE CRUSH We want what she’s having

By Erin Carson

May 2012

Photo courtesy of Joe Anderson/Tiny Furniture


At Twenty What, we sure do love someone who knows what she wants and goes for it. That’s why, despite the onslaught of media attention surrounding the new HBO series Girls, we’re still not tired of talking about show creator Lena Dunham. In fact, she’s our Life Crush of the month. Watch an episode of Girls and you’ll notice something in the credits. It’s her name. It just stays on screen – directed by, written by, created by. Sounds like somebody’s busy. And awesome. And only 25 years old. Dunham is not totally a rookie in the entertainment world, either. In 2010 she wrote, directed, and starred in her own feature film called Tiny Furniture where she played a recent college grad who moves back in with her mother while trying to sort herself out. The film won Best Narrative Feature at South by Southwest in 2010. Dunham provides a commentary on our generation that might not always be flattering, but the fact that it comes from one of our own makes it a matter of self-reflection versus criticism from the outside. As a rising member of our cohort, Lena Dunham earns our applause. Lena Dunham. Keep those credits rolling.



CLOSING RANKS WHY HERBS? Herbs mingle well with each other and require the same basic care, so there is virtually no limit to the amount of combinations your garden can take on at one time. Avoid rummaging through your spice cupboard or dashing to the grocery store the next time you have a pot of bubbling tomato sauce on the stovetop. Opt for some fresh basil and oregano leaves instead. Get your morning coffee or tea grooving with flavor by adding a pinch of lemon balm, peppermint, or chamomile. Whip up some homemade mint candy by dipping dried chocolate mint leaves in chocolate sauce. Rosemary and lavender can be used in potpourris or as essential oils that can be added to a bubble bath as an aromatherapy tool, while Thai basil is admired for its attractive purple flowers and flavor (not to mention, its aroma acts as a natural indoor insect repellent). Sweeten up your day in a guilt-free way with stevia leaves that can be dried and crushed into a calorie-free sweetener.

STEP ONE: Begin assembling your workspace by placing the plant tray underneath the window box or pot. Add a generous amount of soil to the planter and give it some water for a little extra moisture. Fluff the soil and water together until they are well-combined.

GROW YOUR OWN Twenty What shows you how to plant a windowsill herb garden By Lizzy Gomez Photography by Shelby Jacobs

WHAT YOU NEED Herbs need at least seven hours of daily sunlight to grow, so find a well-lit windowsill for your garden. Purchase a planter with drainage slots, plant tray, soil, and the herb seedlings of your choice. If you’re interested in fertilizers, find out if your local garden center carries compost, which maximizes the growing potential of your garden when added to the soil about once a month.

STEP TWO: Remove the herb seedlings from their packages. Gently squeeze the root clumps at the base of the plants, making it easier for the roots to take hold in the planter. Burrow a deep bed in the soil for each herb. Place each seedling in its bed and mound more soil around the bases until the plants are securely rooted.

STEP THREE: Water the soil near the base of the stems, being careful to avoid getting the actual plant and its leaves wet. Depending on the amount of heat and light the garden receives, the watering schedule will vary. A basic rule of thumb: Press a finger into the soil daily to feel for moisture. If the soil feels moist, do not water the garden.

STEP FOUR: Once the seedlings begin to bush out, start regular trimmings. The more an herb is trimmed, the more it will grow. If an herb begins to outgrow its home, gently remove the plant and its root ball from the soil. Separate the root ball into pieces and plant each segment into its own section of the garden or into its own pot.

(HINT: Yellow leaves mean the garden has been over-watered, while brown leaves mean it has been under-watered.)


May 2012



Why shoot film photography? One pro tells how it changes his whole look. By Erin Carson

Photo by James Fitzgerald

“There’s a whole generation of kids who are now growing up and able to realize the fact that there’s something wonderful about the whole process of shooting on film.”

There was a time when Parker Fitzgerald thought shooting with film was just about the dumbest thing in the world. Sure, it’s trendy, but no serious professional photographer would do that. That was about two and a half years ago. He started shooting with a Polaroid 100 camera and, nowadays, the 28-yearold Portland-based photographer fills his portfolio with film photos. The aesthetic of his work comes, in large part, from the look of film. He goes for something beyond “a pretty girl and a pretty landscape.” In his work, he’s chasing a transcendent kind of beauty, a mood. Often, the mood is that nostalgic feeling so absent from perfect digital photos. Fitzgerald’s work has a warm, rustic feel. The subjects of his photography, ranging from musical acts to fashion portraits, are mostly people, and they’re frequently outside in natural settings like wooded areas. In the past few years, demand for the aesthetics of analog has stores such as Urban Outfitters stocking cameras we thought time left behind — 35mm, Holgas, Polaroids.

A recent report from the Photo Marketing Association shows that contrary to what you might expect, sales of digital cameras have gone down while sales of film cameras spiked 30-40 percent between 2009 and 2010. While digital cameras outsell film in terms of actual units sold, the film bump has been unexpected. Still, the digital camera slump may be due to the growing number of people content using their camera phones, as well as market saturation, but it might also be an indicator of something a bit loftier. Fitzgerald thinks the appeal film photography holds for people his age has more to do with an appreciation for a process that’s slower, more purposeful, and linked to the past, than a drive to populate Tumblr and Facebook with artsy photos. “There’s a whole generation of kids who are now growing up and able to realize the fact that there’s something wonderful about the whole process of shooting on film,” he says. “You’re having to exercise a part of your brain that this culture in general tells you to ignore, which is your patience and discipline.”

There’s something of an entrance barrier getting into film. Many like Fitzgerald are self-taught, but Jim Dygert of MQ Camera Center in Syracuse, N.Y., says a lot of area high schools are still teaching film photography, and that drives younger folks into the store and into the habit of shooting with film. “They feel there’s more worth put into it,” Dygert says. After all, between the roll of film and labor costs, every click costs anywhere from 15 cents to a quarter. The need to be deliberate and conscientious when shooting is part of the appeal for Fitzgerald. Instead of machine-gunning a quick hundred photos, photographers have to slow down and engage with the subject. Fitzgerald says it adds value to every frame. “I think it’s healthy to pursue that quiet, nostalgic purposefulness in life, where you contemplate what your father and your father’s father did and why they did it that way, and ask yourself: ‘Why are we doing it the way we’re doing it?’”



CLOSING RANKS / 20 somethings Typocolate

A typographic sugar rush.

Swing dancing Whitewater rafting

The adrenaline junkie’s best friend: springtime snow melts, turning streams into raging rivers.

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

Not just for Heineken commercials anymore.


20 SOMETHINGS Our monthly hotlist

(Bieber-free guaranteed) By Alyssa LaFaro

Forget fried. These doughnuts are steamed or baked.

15(ish) Things Worth Knowing About Coffee

From dancing goats to caffeine highs, this infographic created by The Oatmeal will offer you 15(ish) intriguing bits about one of our favorite beverages.

There’s something refreshing about a site that admits it’s going to rot your brain.

Grill Guide

This 99 cent iPhone app explains how to grill more than 100 kinds of food, plus the meat ruler will help make sure your steak is the best on the block.

Vintage-inspired fridges Old school cool.

Wearable planters

Hang a garden around your neck, in your ears, and even on your bike.

New Novel by Toni Morrison Home comes out May 2012.

The beatbox flute movement Google it. You will be amazed.

Hipster Dress Up

Paper dolls. Online. Ironic. Therefore, cool.

Festival season from your desk chair

Can’t decide between live music and a daily shower? Forgo the unwashed masses and catch Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza streaming on YouTube this summer.


Get your vintage buzz on. Here’s one worth visiting, started by a bunch of 20-somethings in Eugene, Ore.: Blue Dog Mead.

Themed races

Guess the runners got bored. That’s lucky for us, because now we have events like “Run for Your Lives,” a 5K held in various places around the country. The object: Run an obstacle course while chased by zombies.

Cigar bars

Ensconced in luxury hotels, cigar bars are coming back, and this time with advanced technology — air infiltration systems that keep the air as fresh as a garden in spring.

New Movie by Wes Anderson

Moonrise Kingdom hits theaters May 2012.

Pair summer drinks with music. Listening to The Avett Brothers? Don’t go blind from too much moonshine.

Vapur flexible anti-bottle water bottle


May 2012



CLOSING RANKS / we can dream, right?

TREE-STORY WALK-UP There’s no need for a real estate broker

when you can build a mansion in the trees By Lizzy Gomez

HIGH IN THE SKY It’s time to start thinking vertically. And no, we’re not referring to that famous Manhattan skyline, either. Head to Long Island, N.Y., and discover the handiwork of Seattle-based contractor, Pete Nelson, the man behind the Treehouse Workshop and Nelson Treehouse and Supply. Nelson created a leafy bungalow that inches toward the sky thanks to three levels of living space. An outdoor circular deck peers over the family’s tennis court from its lofty perch, while a winding staircase guides visitors into the arms of the home’s interior made completely of reclaimed fir trees. If the sheer altitude of this treehouse isn’t enough to make you want to start swinging from the branches, maybe finishing touches like the hand-crafted arched doorways and wrought iron grill will do the trick.


May 2012

The ultimate childhood fantasy, updated (and much costlier) for today’s Peter Pan. George of the Jungle would even envy these pads – some of which come complete with retractable roofs, zip lines, and James Bond-esque security systems.

CALIFORNIA DREAMING Go big or go home, we say. And no place does it better than California. It seems only right that Andrew Fisher spared no expense when it came to his top-shelf treehouse located in Healdsburg, Calif. This couple-friendly home, constructed by contractor Living Tree LLC, sits between two Douglas fir trees, more than 25 feet off the ground. A steel roof, redwood siding, and 18-foot-tall cupola ceilings are just some of the amenities that are included in this house. Two sets of antique double-doors, one finished off with a stained-glass archway, were imported from India and China, while more than a dozen plate glass windows allow natural light to fill the interior. And whoever said treehouses were for kids was sadly mistaken. When the home isn’t being used for fanciful cocktail parties, it makes for the perfect newlywed rental spot.

These grown-up treehouses are for any and all purposes, so long as that purpose is extravagant. Each bigger and badder than the one before, these ultimate getaways give new meaning to the term “dream home.”

TECHY TREE The James Bond-loving owner of a treehouse in Athens, Greece used technology to add a little spice to his family’s sustainably designed backyard retreat. The house, built by U.K.-based contractor Blue Forest, is decked out in all types of gadgetry, including a biometric security system that features fingerprint locks, ultra-sharp night vision cameras, and a state-of-the-art control center – nothing too flashy. The entertainment room provides its owners with flat-panel televisions and every game console imaginable to entertain even the youngest of residents. Here, the desire for a brag-worthy childhood hangout converges with the sophistication of a grown-up leisure refuge. And after all, isn’t that the point?




May 2012

Twenty What, May 2012  

Define your decade. | NOTE: Twenty What is a magazine created in the graduate Spring 2012 magazine management course for the S.I. Newhouse S...

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