“You either know fashion – or you don’t.”
Today we have the second issue of our little ‘fashion jobs’ series, in which we provide a glimpse behind the scenes of various jobs within the industry. For today’s installment, may we introduce you to Karoline, beauty editor at Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. Month after month, Karoline feeds two of the world’s most important print magazines with exciting content from the segments beauty and cosmetics.
Digital media are growing and growing, and as for most of us, they also constitute an important information platform for Karoline, who has recently moved to Munich. Nevertheless, printed fashion magazine have shown considerable staying-power. There is something about the tangibility of a magazine, the experience of leafing through a creative photo series and the feeling of holding something in your hands that cannot really be replaced – an important aspect for Karoline.
How she got her job, why you shouldn’t stress out too much when choosing your course of study, and what a regular working day looks like in the editorial office of a glossy high quality magazine – we got some answers for you.
So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.
How did you get your job and what did you do before?
I’m a pretty good example for how it’s sometimes possible to reach your goals via detours. I knew pretty early that I wanted to work for a print magazine, but after graduating from high school I decided against a fashion course at a private uni and enrolled in courses in German, English and French literature instead. While this choice meant that I had to sit through quite a few seminars that did not cater to my interests one hundred percent, I’m very happy today that I learned writing, research and text interpretation from scratch. After graduating from uni I returned to Berlin, and straight into fashion. I wanted to understand ho clothing really works, so I started to learn sewing in a little studio. Soon I was completely convinced that the fashion industry is indeed exactly the right field for me, and proceeded to send tons of applications to all fashion magazines. It felt like I wrote hundreds of letters. My efforts were rewarded, and I found myself working in the beauty department for ELLE shortly thereafter. After a while I switched to the lifestyle department to gather some more experiences, and then eventually returned to the beauty department as assisstent. About a year later I was offered a position as editor, and there it was – my first full time job in the fashion industry. Today I work for ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar as well as elle.de, which gives me a good insight in two of the most important fashion magazines on the German market.
What does a fashion editor do?
My job as fashion editor for ELLE, elle.de and Harper’s Bazaar is very diverse. I plan topics, product tests and press trips and write articles. My main area of focus, and my biggest passion, is the beauty segment, but the areas overlap in everyday work and are not always that clearly defined. For our online magazine I often write fashion and lifestyle articles. Generally speaking, I have a lot of freedom with my choice of subjects and presentation. I’m always on the hunt for the newest trend, It-labels and favorite looks that fit the line of our magazine. I draw my inspiration from everywhere around me: international press, blogs, Instagram – in fact I’m pretty much scrolling, turning pages or reading every free minute of the day. From time to time I also produce so called stills (product shootings) for ELLE or elle.de. Often, when I receive pretty new lipsticks, scents or cremes, my colleague Christina and I create little spontaneous arrangements and post pics on Instagram. In a way, our editorial office is a filter through which all products, trends and brands pass at some point or other. So I keep my eyes and ears open at all times, and do my best to pick the best content to present to our readers.
What does your typical working day look like at ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar?
Typically I start my working days at 9 am in the office. I start with answering e-mails and get an overview of my schedule for the day. Depending on where we are with preparations for the upcoming issue, I either select products, scan the runway looks or write texts. There’s a widespread preconception that jobs in the fashion industry are very glamorous affairs, but the reality is that normal days feel pretty regular, and work is quite relentless. But even in the most stressful periods I take the time for a coffee break with my dearest colleagues, even if it means that I have to work even harder when I get back. It’s necessary to take a break sometimes to get a clear head and to charge the creative batteries. In the evenings I often attend press events or shop openings, where I get a close look at the industry news and spread them via Instagram, elle.de or in the mags as fast as possible.
What advice do you have for fashion students and graduates to get jobs and internships?
Don’t put yourselves under too much pressure! In the end it really doesn’t matter all that much whether your CV is perfect, whether you took a break from your education at some point, or whether you changed your focus! What really counts is how good you are in what you do, that you have fun doing it and that you have an outgoing personality and enjoy working with others. Of course, an ounce of luck and the right timing is always part of the equation, but if you’re reliable and motivated, things will fall into place. And the crucial tip is: don’t be scared to apply. It’s completely normal to get rejected. With hindisight, I can say that getting my first internship was much easier than I expected, and it opened all the doors to my current job.
What do you like most about your current job, and what does your professional future hold?
I love how diverse my job is. There are stretches when the awesome invitations are just piling up, and I get to see the most impressive places and venues. Other times I sweat over a text for many hours, or work painstakingly through a huge pile of new products. I get the chance to organize my self to a large extent, am able work creatively and get to see the tangible results of my efforts every month. That leaves me with a feeling of deep satisfaction, and confirms over and over again that I am where I always wanted to be. I can’t really say what the future holds, and I don’t really need to know it. The industry is turning upside down these days, realistically there is not much of a point to plan too far ahead. I focus on doing my best, try to be open for new things and am genuinely excited to see where the journey will take me. Will I stay in print, switch to doing online full time or do something completely different altogether? I always trusted my gut feeling with such decisions, and it worked out pretty well. Whatever the future has in store for me, I’m sure it’ll be exciting!
More from Karoline on her Instagram.