October 23, 2015

Celebrating Four Years at Marie Claire

Just over four years ago, I got an email that would truly change my life. 

It was 10-months earlier that I was still working at my corporate design job as a brand strategist when I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing - full time. To say it was an audacious, stubborn, and mildly stupid decision would be an understatement, especially in the throes of a recession, but writing about fashion and becoming more involved in the intersection of fashion, body positivity, and politics lit a fire in me that I couldn't put out. I had been contributing to Vogue Italia, Refinery29, and virtually any publication that would allow me to write for them when I submitted my resignation to my job. I gave myself a 1-year deadline, and told myself, "If this doesn't work out, at least I'll know that I tried." I've never regretted trying. 

When I got that first email from an editor at Marie Claire, I was honestly a little scared. On both my blog and on social media, I had been really vocal about the ways that I thought the magazine, in 2010, (which I'm sure will be looked back on as the beginning of a wave of change in plus fashion), was failing their plus-size girl; yes, there was a column dedicated to plus-fashion, but the tone didn't feel affirming or body-positive. So, when my inbox lit up with an @hearst.com email address, my overly-anxious brain immediately thought, "Oh my god - are they suing me?!" A couple of days later, I jumped into a yellow cab to head to Hearst Towers for the first time. I remember watching the skyline intently as the taxi crossed over the 59th Street Bridge, harshly second-guessing the outfit I wore (a black top, green razor-pleat skirt, heels, and my hair in it's then black-blue-and-purple coif), and knowing that my 1-year deadline was just two months away. I arrived, and nope, no lawsuit on the horizon -- turns out, a staffer, Jeremy, had been a follower of my blog, and their team loved my point of view and wanted to bring some of it to the magazine. I. Was. Shocked.

Within a few weeks, I was offered a contract to join the Marie Claire team as a contributing editor; it was exactly the dream I had for myself and never imagined was in my scope of reality. Before I knew it, I was calling in samples for photoshoots, writing draft-after-draft of copy, and on location for my first photoshoot - for a coat story in the middle of July! It felt surreal - and it has honestly never stopped feeling surreal. Each day that I get to go into the offices, produce something original and creative and impactful, and work alongside some of the most talented people in the biz, I still have moments of "Is this real life?!" And, still, I can't believe that it is. How lucky am I? 

My very first column: October 2011, with Reese Witherspoon on the cover. I still remember falling in love with that Carmakoma coat that I wore for the shoot!

Four years and 48-issues later, I've learned the myriad of thrills, excitements, challenges, and pride in producing anything for a magazine. While I revered and admired the magazine world - in that starry eyed, Carrie Bradshaw, Andy Sachs pre Miranda Priestley way, I absolutely did not know the ins-and-outs of how each page -- page! -- is produced, how many hands must touch, and work, and approve, how many samples are brought in only to be sent back, how many never make it because things happen (and because not all messenger services are created equal), and how much negotiation can be involved in getting a brand on a page. It's. A. Process. And one that I've honestly grown to love and respect. It's hard work that makes me proud to be even a small part of that process. And, I've had some pretty ridiculously amazing opportunities along the way because of the magazine: I've gotten exclusive access to break the news on design collaborations, and share their wares for the first time (like Isabel Toledo's debut collection at Lane Bryant, and Clements Ribeiro's  Swan collection at Evans). 

I owe my entire career to Marie Claire, and to my audacity in quitting my day job just over 5-years ago. It has afforded me incredible opportunities - like attending and covering Fashion Week in New York and London, meeting and collaborating with some of my favorite designers in the world, producing my own collections for ModCloth and my spring 2016 dress capsule with Addition Elle, and giving me a deep, intimate understanding of the way the fashion world really works. I've developed lifelong relationships and friendships with the creative minds that I get to collaborate with on a daily basis - from other editors, to publicists, to fashion designers.

One of the best things about working at Marie Claire, by far, has been working alongside so many talented, inspiring, incredible people that I can honestly say are lifelong friends. My editor, Lea Goldman, has become one of the best mentors I've ever had in my life. Not only is she ridiculously smart, hardworking, and a total badass (she wrote this must-read piece about the business of Breast Cancer Awareness which will forever change the way you look at pink-ribbon-branded products), but as a working mom-of-two, has been a serious source of #GOALS for me. She's given me life-changing advice along the way, pep talks when I've felt discouraged, and wordsmithed the hell out of my columns to shape them into the magic they live as on the pages of the magazine. Oh, and she's also largely responsible for the amazing MC@Work, which celebrates the lives of real, working women. She even danced alongside Ali and I at our wedding! Our editor-in-chief, Anne Fulenwider, is another trailblazer and always has a wide smile plastered across her face - the complete anti-thesis of the Miranda Priestley archetype. She's a cool Brooklyn girl who is also at the helm of one of the most influential magazines in the country, leading a team of innovators, visionaries, and producers. I get to work with people like Nina Garcia and Kyle Anderson - who create some of the most beautiful, inspired fashion pages ever. And then there are other contributing editors, like Janet Mock, who have written New York Times Best Sellers and become some of my best friends.  I could write on-and-on about the people who have been at Marie Claire alongside me and who have forever left a mark on my own personal history, honestly, but let me just say that are smart, passionate, and total game-changers that make me feel especially lucky to have this position at the mag. 

Alongside really, really strong writing and articles that are truly smart and savvy, Marie Claire is of course known for incredible fashion and beauty editorials!! I know that I'm biased, but I love seeing the inventive and innovative styling, learning about new brands, and getting beautifully curated beauty advice from the magazine. Yes, I'm also a reader. Editorials featuring women like Nicki Minaj, Kerry Washington, Rita Ora (a major recent fav - just look at that stunning cover) and Sienna Miller have left life-long impressions on me (just look).

To celebrate my four-year anniversary (!!!, I still can't believe it) at Marie Claire, the magazine has generously offered a discounted subscription to my readers -- and immediate digital access to the November issue.  Guys, it's $8 for a year of glossy mags delivered to your mailbox, which is basically two lattes, and you get digital access to the magazine as well.  It's a pretty good one, if I do say so myself! 

And, by the way, thank you for your support. The tweets, emails, and Instagram comments I get throughout the month, sharing a source of inspiration you found in my column, or that it's the reason you pick up Marie Claire -- those messages mean the WORLD to me. I cannot begin to thank you enough!  

Wearing Coat, Top, and Skirt c/o Marina Rinaldi.
Shoes by Kate Spade.

Portraits by Lydia Hudgens.

Thank you to Marie Claire for giving me 4 incredible years - so far - 
and for sponsoring this post. All content and opinions are my own.

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