Category Archives: Internal affairs

Internal affairs: eva chen

Meeting Eva Chen, the beauty and health editor of Teen Vogue, was one of the coolest experiences we’ve had at mark. – she’s such a vibrant person. Hearing about everything from how she spent the day out “in the field” (beauty companies’ holiday open houses!) to how she originally thought she was going to be a doctor, Eva communicated so much about the fashion & beauty industry and just general life advice to us interns.

As an undergrad student at Johns Hopkins, she applied for 30 internships the summer before her senior year. From working at a law firm to Lucky to Elle to Teen Vogue, she demonstrates that you shouldn’t be afraid to move around in jobs/careers. Her goal at Teen Vogue is to make beauty more interesting and dynamic for readers (as a reader myself, I can affirm it’s a job well done).

Soundbites:

  • Teen Vogue is such a fun magazine because it’s beauty & fashion in a fun, young way, not quite as serious as “Big Vogue.”
  • You can make a career out of what you do in your spare time – it’s what you’re passionate about.
  • Studying abroad is one of the best experiences anyone can have – it’s a new culture and forces you to get out of your comfort zone.
  • Fashion changes every season, but beauty is about ingredients and science.
  • BE ORGANIZED! Especially in magazines/fashion/beauty.
  • Your 20s is the time to experiment.

Daily Blog Reads:

  • Fashionista
  • WWD (a must for anyone looking to be in beauty & fashion)
  • Refinery29
  • The Sartorialist
  • teenvogue.com (obviously)
  • Gawker
  • Jezebel
  • Shopbop
  • Who What Wear Daily
  • Grazia (my obsession as well – British magazines are so good!)

Best part of her job?

A) Writing   B) Interacting with people

Job Advice…

  • Design an astounding resume
  • Say something personal to a company in your cover letter
  • Look professional, self-presentation is important
  • Follow up with a handwritten note
  • Set yourself apart!

Internal affairs: meredith kahn

Meredith Kahn, the designer of the jewelry line Made Her Think (an anagram of her name!), is the definition of edgy, unique personal style. With seven tattoos ranging from a shortened quote by WH Auden (“love or perish”) to an image from the book Art Forms in Nature and rocking an all-black vintage cutout dress which is equally as cutting-edge now, she is truly still the “Dark Star” that ELLE deemed her back in 2008. While working as the head of denim for Old Navy (impressively at age 21/22, no less), her inspiration board was always filled with bleached out denim, leather and menswear-inspired items – a far cry from the widespread cutesy, floral, girly sensibility. After designing some jewelry on the side, one day Lucky and Vogue came calling, followed by celebrities such as Kate Hudson and Rihanna – and the rest just spiraled out.

Kahn’s ideal goals?

  • To set up a true brand – one with a very specific identity and style that caters to a specific customer.
  • To expand – design in one area is easy to apply elsewhere. Examples: in the 1930s, industrial designers were also jewelry designers, the architect (most famously of the Guggenheim) Frank Gehry created a line for Tiffany’s. Kahn might even make a silverware line one day – she already works with metals! (See how easy the overlap is?)
  • To inspire other artists and young women and leave a legacy of some kind.

Made Her Think’s style today is not too soft or delicate, it has more attitude and righteousness. It’s successful because it speaks to girls in a way they want to be spoken too – they’re stronger than women of the past and want to display their inner confidence. It even appeals to men – it’s tough! The line is reminiscent of the current archetypal powerful, aggressive females such as Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox.

Snippets:

  • It’s important to maintain yourself when you have a family and a business.
  • Life is made up of chapters: when you finish one, you go to another.
  • Have confidence and perseverance – if you believe in yourself, you will be fine.
  • Favorite thing about New York City: The energy, the pulse. You can be anything here, this city embraces it. It’s filles with people with ideas.
  • Favorite stores: Curve, Assembly, Fluke, Edith & Daha, Narnia, Oak, shopbop.com

My personal favorite pieces? The Fallen Star necklace, Viking cuff, Kissing Gemini cuff, and Mini Gemma knuckle buster. So gorgeous!

The mark. interns meeting Meredith Kahn (back row, dead center) today – photo courtesy of Kelsey Riley, sales intern.

Internal affairs: firmenich

With a short walk down Madison Avenue, the mark. interns were within the walls of Firmenich, a family-owned 115-year-old luxury perfume company, whose palette is known as the haute couture of perfumery (Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, Marc Jacobs Daisy, and many more). Luckily, they create fragrances for both the Avon and mark. brands as well! We had the great opportunity to visit the offices and get an inside look at the intricate process of developing a perfume.

Fragrance combines the creative/artistic with science and business/strategy. A perfumer is like 1) a chef who images a finished dish and writes a recipe to achieve it and 2) a fine artist who plays with molecules. So really, you’re just mixing all the different disciplines when creating a scent. There are top, middle and dry notes that make up each fragrance – a perfumer breaks it into pieces to analyze the formula. On average there are 50-100 ingredients! (I still don’t understand how that’s possible.) The process of developing a single perfume takes months.

The 5 Fragrance Families:

Citrus: fresh, sparkling, happy, tangy

Floral: opulent, intense, delicate, fresh; the pillar of feminine perfumery

Oriental: sensual, warm, voluptuous; traditionally for winter

Chypre: elegant, refine, signature

Woody: warm, sensual, sexy, rich

Get Firmenich’s stellar scent with mark. Jewel (a warm caramel-vanilla scent in the oriental family and my absolute obsession) fragrance ($20) and body cream ($12) or the RioRhythms and RioBikini fragrance mists ($18 each, both for $28!).

Internal affairs: rebecca minkoff

Today we had a lovely lunch with Rebecca Minkoff (whose closet and style I want to steal – especially the gold cascading chain necklace and oversized sleeveless red button down shirt she wore today)! Only having known her from afar from obsessing over her most famous bag, the Morning After line, I was awed by her incredibly poised presence and warm personality in person.

Minkoff opened her own company in 2001 – her first major launch was an I Love NY shirt made for Jenna Elfman, who wore it on David Letterman after 9/11. Starting out in 2005 with accessories, her first bag, the Morning After bag, (unsurprisingly) sold out in a single day. The line, expanding quickly because of its contemporary price points and great value, organically grew to encompass more bags. Clothing production was relaunched in 2009 thanks to the reality show The Hills. (Reality TV is good for something!)

The main thing Minkoff emphasized was her relationship with her customers – she answers every email and listens to their needs, such as changing a certain feature of a bag. She even created a sample sale in San Francisco when a customer asked! Minkette is a special blog on the website which features daily posts by Minkoff and a forum for people to talk as much as they want about any kind of bag.

From left: Morning After quilted clutch, pursevillage.com; Alligator Nikki, rebeccaminkoff.com

Quick Takes: Minkoff’s…

Inspiration?

Flea markets and vintage stores in places out of NYC like London and Paris

Customer?

Classic with a twist; “Our girl shops online!”

Designing preference?

85% bags (more popular and fun to do), 15% clothes

Way of avoiding designer’s block?

Traveling

Best part of the job?

Right before a collection comes out and she gets to see all the new pieces!

Larger vision?

To have a lifestyle brand with areas such as jewelry, swimwear, watches, sunglasses, shoes and even sheets one day

Inspiring designers?

  • Alexander McQueen, for his incredible shows and art
  • Coco Chanel
  • Alexander Wang
  • Marc Jacobs – “like him or not, he sets the trend for the coming seasons”

Aspirations when hiring?

Loyalty; people who can see the five-year plan, want long-term advancement and growth and bring things to the table

Best bag for fall?

The Morning After quilted clutch

Internal affairs: who what wear

My daily fashion fix starts with a look at Who What Wear Daily, an online magazine about celebrity style and fashion trend coverage created by Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power. I had the chance to sit down with them for a phone interview and get a few questions answered about their amazing success – they are literally the sweetest people ever!

On the creation of the magazine…

There was a huge rise in gossip and popular celebrity culture, but fashion wasn’t addressed – you had to wait 3 months until print magazines were published, missing a lot of daily style and micro trends. Who What Wear Daily was established to match the immediacy of celebrity gossip sites, but with a focus on fashion, to address trends as they happened and show how celebrities styled themselves.

On their features…

An organic process of what Hillary and Katherine themselves would want to see – editorials, photoshoots, guest editors, and more. The most popular feature is What Would She Wear, a collection of pieces tailored to a celebrity that she would probably choose to wear herself. Recent WWSW posts focus on Kristen Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Olsen, who all have incredibly distinct styles that WWWD nailed.

On marketing and growing…

Along with previous industry contacts, the magazine grew largely through viral marketing – social media, celebrity forums and blogs, organic growth through people sharing it with their friends. They gave a special mention to their interns who helped reach out!

On the “it” factor of the site and what makes WWWD unique…

Their very distinct, specific point of view – the magazine makes high fashion accessible, taking trends and breaking them down so anyone can understand them in their own way.

The goal is to have women take away sheer inspiration: celebrities are normal people who mix price points and designers in their unique styles; they (can be)are more inspiring than models on the runway. The site gives women tools to execute inspiration – concrete facts, tips, tricks and techniques.

On their job…

The most rewarding part? Being able to have a vision and execute it so quickly; to set the agenda, navigate the content and do something delighting and inspiring to others. According to the girls, ideas are the key to everything – follow your interests, have ideas and make them happen. I think we’d all love to have their job!

On young women starting their own business…

Just jump in – be passionate about your idea. You have to love your work because you spend most of you time there, otherwise your life will be too crazy. Love what you do.

On plans for the future…

To continue to grow to a full magazine online: more content – photos, videos, maybe even TV! They’re planning to touch all media points soon. A major redesign is in the works to make the site easier and elevate it a little more, providing more room for content at the same time. Hillary and Katherine’s second book is coming out in March with instructions for countless style situations – a style reference guide what you should and shouldn’t wear to any event imaginable, from weddings to the dog park.

On fashion and beauty…

Fashion and beauty are part of pop culture: they influence and help people to understand what’s going on at the time. WWWD is a way to provide inspiration, tools and access to women who are equally as passionate about it!

On their favorite fashion trends for fall 2010…

Red leather…as seen at Givenchy, Celine, Balmain

‘50s redux – full skirts, super feminine looks…as seen at Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Isabel Marant

Animal prints…as seen at Dries Van Noten, Mulberry, Moschino Cheap & Chic

On their personal style…

Katherine: Preppy American classic with tough Parisian accents

Hillary: Girly girl and ladylike with extreme accessories; “Hitchcock heroine gone bad” (she doesn’t own flats!)

They often wear similar things and style it differently.

The first request on the call? A new glow baby glow hook up lip gloss ($6) in girly girl (a bright pink shade that is just so fun to look at and wear) – theirs was all used up!

Check out Who What Wear here.

Internal affairs: dress for success

Not every successful day is a day in the office – yesterday, we visited the Dress for Success warehouse in Brooklyn to help sort out professional work attire for disadvantaged women. (For the rest of the interns who live in Brooklyn the trip was easy, for an Upper West Sider like myself, the 1 ½ hour ride on the D train took a little more work!) Upon arrival, we were greeted with countless boxes, bags, and racks filled with donated clothing to help every woman get in touch with her inner working girl. 

Over the next four hours, we judged what was ready-to-wear (proper and in good condition) and sorted them by season and size. Styles ranged from very appropriate (and gorgeous – example, a seemingly unworn Diane von Furstenberg skirt!) to the not-so-much (a box of gorgeous Casadei heels which were most decidedly not meant to be worn in a work environment).

 

Clockwise from top left: The head of the mark. internship program Janet Hector with Erica Lloyd, the Suits to Go program manager; the warehouse; even more warehouse (look at the number of boxes!); the interns and mentors. Images courtesy of Natalie Kitson, marketing intern 

 

By the end of the day, we had organized many suits and separates ready to instantly impart the woman who buys them with a sense of professional confidence. Clothes are extremely important for work, especially for a job interview – and Dress for Success provides every woman the ability to look and feel her best, both inside and out.

 

Dress for Success was founded in 1997 as a non-profit to help outfit and style women for job interviews. According the website, their mission is “to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” Promoting independence through fashion – what a great cause! We had such a blast helping out for the day and will be sure to look into how to get more involved in our own areas.

Learn more about the organization here – and donate (money, suits, or accessories! 

Internal affairs: jeri finard

On Friday, we had another make their mark. luncheon with Jeri Finard, the global brand president and chief marketing officer for all of Avon since late 2008 (pretty cool/stressful). Her career path? A few years working in her college admissions office, a decision to go to business school and 21 years working in marketing at Kraft Foods Inc. After hearing many stories from other women of major job shifts between diverse companies, it was refreshing to know that you actually are able to work your way up in a straight line (although she wouldn’t recommend it!)

Jeri was incredibly approachable, speaking with us in a frank and open manner about her past career and her current goals for marketing Avon’s image. In fact, she spent ¾ of her time answering our questions! I love the idea of possibly being in marketing one day – hearing from a brand marketing executive cemented that even further.

Her advice for general work/life success:

  • If you’re good at what you do, if you’re worth it and you deliver, you can ask for what you need at work.
  • If you are mobile and can move around from place to place, your career will move much faster.
  • Taking a lateral position shift to get experience in a new area (instead of a promotion) will give you more ground to get a better promotion in the future. You can move backwards to pick up new skills and catapult ahead later.
  • Try a million things, talk to many different people. It’s the only way to know if something sparks an interest for a career.
  • Don’t be afraid of changing (companies, careers, etc.) Skills are very transferable.
  • Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at and what you’re not.

Thank god for powerful women who want to empower others!