I wasn’t born a style expert — I learned to tap into my potential. I grew up as the oldest of seven kids in a small town in Wisconsin. The day after I graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, I moved to New York City. I didn’t know a soul, but I had a resume and two feet — and I was determined to do something creative. I pounded the pavement until I got a very lucky break: an interview for Fashion Assistant with the Fashion Director of Vanity Fair. I didn’t land the job because of my fashion sense (if you had asked me to articulate my style back in those days, I probably would have given you a quick spin and a flashy smile), but I succeeded because I was willing to learn – and work hard for no credit.
I spent my early days at Vanity Fair in a windowless room with a troop of interns cataloging all the designer clothes, shoes and jewelry that the editors were borrowing for upcoming celebrity photo shoots. My job was to ensure that all pieces were accounted for, sent to the right shoot, and ultimately returned to the designer in better condition than they were received. I may have been the Cinderella of shipping and receiving, but I loved it because every day I learned something new.
Fast-forward to the present, and I’ve been on the inside of the fashion industry for a long time — as an editor and style correspondent for Vanity Fair and Elle, as Chief Style Director for Ann Taylor/Loft, and as an on-camera style expert for E! News, The Today Show and Harper’s BAZAAR, with whom I recently partnered on a new home décor show. As a style and content pioneer, I launched and hosted CBS’s first fashion podcast and a luxury jewelry website that was named fashion website of the year by Time in 2006 — long before most luxury brands even had e-commerce on their radar. My experience developing brands for clients ranging from Tiffany & Co. to Home Shopping Network eventually led to my co-founding The Spyglass Collective, an innovative branding and content agency for businesses and celebrities in the fashion, sports and financial fields. Looking back, the thread of my career has always had one commonality: translating my access to inspirational style into everyday ideas that anyone can apply to their lives.
But I learned the most during the first five years of my career, because that was when I was focused on learning about myself. I’m sure a few people at Vanity Fair still laugh about the girl from long ago who wore vintage fur hats with oversized soccer jerseys and made skirts out of Hermès dust bags left behind from photoshoots. It was the first time in my life that I was living my personality out loud through my look. Yes, I may have looked different from everyone else in that office. But instead of feeling like I didn’t fit in, I felt empowered. The way I showed up to that job every day was 100% me.