Riding the CREST of their success

Their online surf and style magazine averages 2,000 hits a day, they have thousands of followers on Instagram, manage a team of contributing writers from Orange County to Australia — and they're only 17.

While many girls their age are reading style magazines like Teen Vogue and Nylon, Courtney Garkani and Amanda Penna have been busy creating their own: CREST Independent.

"We want to cater it to the youth, but at the same time I want it to inspire people to go out and be more creative," Garkani said as she sipped her latte.

CREST stands for culture, resource, entertainment, style and tell. The goal is to give other teens something they can relate to.

"I go into a store and find my mom liking more stuff at Billabong than I do," Garkani said. "It's targeted for teens, and it's adults who are making it."

The co-founders, both of whom will be seniors at Corona del Mar High School next month, make sure to feature style tips that their peers will not only enjoy, but can also afford.

"Our inspirations are Faux Magazine, Vogue and Teen Vogue, and those are all companies that are run by adults," Penna added. "So I think [CREST] is cool for us because we are teens, knowing what teens want and giving them what they want."

The site is filled with surf shots, local musicians, art from photographers and local artists, an events page and food reviews submitted by their team of about 20 young, unpaid writers. Every article is geared toward their peers — one features overalls, another is on Punjammies (women's pajamas made by women rescued from the human-trafficking trade), one gives tips on good lighting for photographs, and another is all about summer love.

For what the girls lack in age and professional experience, they make up for with bubbling creativity and passion. Even during an interview at the Gypsy Den Cafe in Costa Mesa they were brainstorming and pointing out various story ideas.

Whether it is fresh stories or art, the girls said they are always looking for ways to expand their website, crestindependent.net, and recently launched CREST T.V. The new addition will feature video shorts ranging from interviews with young musicians and designers to short surf videos.

The friends launched CREST in September with $150. Now, they sell advertising space. Not only have they earned back the investment, but the site pays for itself.

The girls have been so successful that they were invited to present their magazine at Concordia's Teen Entrepreneur Academy in July and gave an hour-long talk on their business model.

Garkani and Penna have no intention of slowing down during the school year and plan to grow the magazine, despite packed schedules.

Penna will be editor of the high school magazine, plays softball and is a member of Junior Statesmen of America, while Garkani is in youth and government and is a historian for the Newport Beach Mayor's Youth Council.

"This is our dream, so why wait?" Penna said.

The two plan to attend college next year and said the magazine will continue no matter where they go.


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