Editor Kristy Guilbault on Creating, Sparking Action and Sad Girl Collective

Our new managing editor Kristy Guilbault gives us a primer on making freelance journalism work, activism through art and how a joke between friends became Sad Girl Collective.

Photo by  Alexis Haggerty

The first time I met Kristy Guilbault in person was at Grant Park’s Octane, aka the best place to drink coffee and beer while two Atlanta-based writers talked about their dalliance music journalism. We discussed where we wanted to ultimately go with our careers, and the dire state of the music industry; but how we were going in head first into it anyway, fate be damned.

Since then, a lot has changed. Octane is now Revelator. I’m typing this from my new home in NYC. Plus, finding a gig in the music industry has arguably gotten even worse. One thing that hasn’t changed though is Guilbault's drive, and it’s paying off.

“I’m a semi-recent college grad, with a B.A. in Journalism, focus in multimedia reporting and minor in music,” Guilbault says. “By day I’m a retail manager, by night a brewery beertender and every other second is filled with freelance music writing. I also spend a lot of time trying to explain to people what music journalism is, and why I’m not doing it full-time (hint: A steady journalism gig? In this climate?). I also just finished out an internship with NPR Music, and I’ll never stop talking about it.”

As if riding the constant ups and downs of freelance music journalism, retail management and beertending wasn’t a feat within itself, Guilbault is also the co-creator and music editor of Sad Girl Collective, where she collaborates with style editor, Katie Lipsiner and community editor Erin Patrick to transmute their unique femme, artistic and millennial world view to foster creativity and activism within their community.

“Sad Girl Collective started out as a joke band name between Erin, Katie and I,” Guilbault says. “Then one night, I texted Erin and Katie and insisted that we combine our overlapping passion for music, activism and design to create something. The name itself is born from our love for sad music, a jab at ‘sad boys,’ and an openness when it comes to discussing mental health. It’s about recognizing and embracing your emotions and realizing that it’s okay to be sad, or however you’re feeling. To quote one of my favorite songs, ‘Whatever you’re feeling is all right / Let you, let go / Whatever you’re feeling is natural.’”

Guilbault hopes Sad Girl will fill the gap of left by independent publications like Creative Loafing, informing their audience about people, projects and organizations, while also starting conversations that catalyze community involvement. “We want to motivate creators to talk about their endeavors, especially when there might not be an outlet they feel worthy of chasing. Essentially, we want to talk the talk and walk the walk,” Guilbault says.

Starting this month, Guilbault is also taking on the role of managing editor for the Dream Warrior Foundation’s DWF Mag, a role that fits neatly within the goals she has for SGC as well — handing a microphone to underrepresented voices.

“Having diverse voices represented in media leads to diverse perspectives being shared and more stories being heard. We believe in self-expression, in all of its weird and wonderful forms; we want people’s voices to be heard and represented. We want to foster a community where the underrepresented have a safe space to create and share,” Guilbault says.

Atlanta is the perfect place to spark a movement, especially when that movement has a keen eye on music, style and community. “At its core, SGC’s three sections are simply an overlap of our three interests, and I think that social issues often bleed into music, which often bleeds into design, which often bleeds into social issues. There are so many Atlanta creatives who embody the same overlap. I don’t know if doing a million things, and chasing multiple aspirations, is the millennial way, but I think millennials don’t want to be pigeonholed. It’s possible to wear sustainable clothing, create music and advocate for trans rights simultaneously. That’s why community is an important section for us to have, because that can cover anything from an organization, to a visual artist, to a poet.”

So, how does she do it all? One day at a time.

“Since graduating college, I’ve been working at least two jobs (at times up to four). I recognize my privilege for this being the first time that I’ve encountered that, but it’s just flat out hard. Millennial burnout is a very real thing. But at the end of the day, writing and connecting with people is what brings me joy. I understand that it’s going to take years of consistent hard work to get to where I want to go, and that can feel daunting and overwhelming, but I try to take things one day at a time. Having an extremely supportive partner, friend group and family certainly helps, too. My dad, in particular, is a huge cheerleader for my work, which is just so dang sweet and wholesome.”

With her eye set on the future, Guilbault is working with SGC and DWF Mag to not only give Atlanta something to talk about, but something to do.

“When someone first stumbles upon SGC, the bottom line is that we hope it starts a conversation or action. We want people to learn something new, and to take that to their community of friends, neighbors and family. We aim to curate a diverse range of content and hope that we’re bringing things to table that people haven’t seen or heard of yet.”

Get to know SGC in person — they’ve co-hosted two events so far in 2019, and will continue to extend their community development past their digital platform, and into a tangible space.

Erica Hawkins