Meet O Mag Insider – Nia Lawrence!

Age: 37

Occupation: Creative Director at The Nia Lawrence Design Studio, Freelance Art Director at Essence Magazine, Blogger & Influencer at Mocha Mommy in the City

What did you want to be when you were a little girl?

When I was younger I wanted to be both Jem, from Jem and the Rockers, and an anesthesiologist.

What are some different jobs you’ve had in your life?

My first job after college was as a Designer at The Charlotte Observer newspaper in North Carolina. It was the perfect job for me as a recent journalism grad with a focus in magazine and magazine design. I worked with a team of editors to design the layout of the inside of the world news section. I worked from 3:30pm to 1:30am…making sure every single page of the paper was sent to the printing press and then checking it when it came off.

I left Charlotte for NYC after 2 years– determined to pursue a career in the magazine industry. I packed everything in my car and drove from NC to NY for a job as the freelance photo director for a small non-profit magazine. While it was scary to leave my first full time job for a new city, I’m so glad I did. It jump started my 15 year career in the magazine industry, and I found a job I was truly passionate about.

Since then, I’ve worked as an Art Director at titles such as Real Simple, Women’s Health, Redbook, Latina, Lucky, Martha Stewart Living, and Essence.

What do you work toward in your spare time?

I dedicate all my spare time to my family. Right now, I’m building my graphic design studio and managing a parenting blog. There’s so little “free” time in my life. I create free time to spend with my 6 year old daughter. I love exploring NYC and the tri-state area with her. All other time I spend working. I know if I put in the hard work now, I’m setting myself up for a life of leisure.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I’m definitely a night owl. I’m most creative after easing into my mornings and with a late start, I’m able to stay up much longer each evening. I am not now and have never been a morning person. I’ve been blessed my entire career with a 10am start time for most of my jobs. Most art directors are used to working late into the evenings, so I’m always surrounded by like-minded people!

What are you most proud of?

Making it as a single mom in New York City. It’s not easy…sometime it feels impossible. My family is in Chicago and all my friends have moved from NYC to cities that are more family-friendly. When I tried to move home to be closer to my mom and childhood friends, my ex filed for full custody of my daughter, starting what has been a 2-year, very intense custody battle. Instead of giving up, I started a blog about parenting in the city. I wrote about my concerns, fears, shortcomings, and accomplishments. It started as a fun side project and hobby and has turned into a much larger brand, Mocha Mommy in the City. The one thing I love about myself and am the most proud of is my resilience and ability to bounce back in the face of adversity. I turn lemons into lemonade whenever I can by finding a way to turn bad situations to good. My favorite hashtag? #eternaloptimist

What are you known for?

Being honest. I’m very candid and direct. I don’t really beat around the bush, and I like to get straight to the point. I’m solutions oriented and don’t like to focus on problems. My friends come to me for real advice and practical solutions to their problems.

What inspires you?

I honestly get so inspired by the streets of NYC. I used to be an Art Director on the Concept team at Victoria’s Secret. We came up with ideas and visual concepts and mood boards for each season. At most jobs deadlines forced us to look for creative inspiration online. Don’t get me wrong…I love the worldwide web.  Pinterest, Behance, stylists, and photographer websites have thousands of images to inspire creativity. But there’s nothing like spending a carefree day out in the streets of the West Village, SOHO, or Harlem…popping in and out of boutiques, taking photos of street art, typography, and people. I’m constantly inspired by street fashion just walking the streets of Brooklyn everyday. I’m always shooting and creating Pinterest boards, so I can reference my photos and come back to them again and again.

Tell me something about you that most people don’t know.

I’m a hardcore introvert.

Why did you apply to be an O Mag Insider?

My sister was actually a part of the first group of O Mag Insiders. She told me about the program when I started my blog. I applied because I’m a huge fan of Oprah Winfrey and felt like blogging for her and representing the brand would be a perfect fit. So far, so good!

How do you live your best life?

I love spontaneous travel. I hit the road whenever I can. One day I’d love to organize some bigger trips, but right now I’m notorious for renting a car, booking a bus or train ticket, and hitting the road. We love to visit Philly, DC, or Chicago for the weekend. Getting away from NYC and changing up the scenery is how I relax and stay sane!

What’s a day in your life like?

It all depends on my workload and my energy levels. On a perfect day, I’d wake up at 7am and sneak in a quick cup of coffee while listening to my favorite morning playlist. I wake my kid after I take a quick shower and cart her off to school by 8:20am. I run home to grab my work bag and spend the morning working from the patio at the Dumbo House, a members only club for creatives that has some of the most amazing city views. I stay there for the all you can eat lunch while I tackle design projects and write for my blog. At 4:00pm, I pack up my laptop and head to their rooftop pool. I tan poolside in a cabana or lounge (self care) and manage the social media accounts linked to my blog until 5:30pm, then pack it all up and head to school pick up at 6pm. From 6pm to 8:30pm, I put my phone and laptop away and give my daughter my undivided attention. Dinner, homework, bath time, and story time keep me busy all evening. Then it’s back on my laptop to finish up everything I didn’t get to the day before!

Follow Nia’s Instagram here:

Check out Nia’s website:


This is part of an ongoing series, introducing you to the dynamic individuals who make up O, The Oprah Magazine’s Brand Ambassadors known as the O Mag Insiders. For more information on the program or to apply, click HERE.

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