I have been looking forward to this adventurous time in my life for so long since I have always felt that I was a fish out of water when it came to this school of fish. In the past, I would vent to my family about how I just wanted to be out in the real world and caused many jaws to drop when I told my friends that I was excited to be moving on. I believe the most frightening reality for those in my position is that they have spent 16 years sitting in a classroom and now they are being thrown out into the world and unsure where they will be seated next.
To be honest, I on the other hand wasn’t concerned about that. Innocently, I considered myself to be extremely fortunate to have a passion for writing; feeling blessed knowing what I wanted to do after graduation and thought that there would be an assigned seat just for me in the real world. Recently after experiencing a harsh reality check, I am now well aware that employers aren’t necessarily eager to pull out a chair for you due to today’s economy and limited employment opportunities
Lately, I started to question my career choice; therefore, I chose to interview Lauren Parker, the Editor at Accessories Magazine to get her advice and to better understand how she got to where she is today. This past summer I interned for the magazine’s fashion editor(read about it here), Nicole Kronenberg, where I assisted with the photo shoot for the August 2011 Issue, as well as worked on the AccessoriesDirections.com Trend Finder page. I have so much admiration and respect for the dedication these ladies have while always remaining positive and upbeat.
I met Mrs. Parker at Crumbs Bakery in NYC where we discussed our love for writing while flipping through the pages of her impressive portfolio. One of the first questions that I had to ask was what inspires her to continue writing after all these years. I appreciated the fact that her answer wasn’t a cheesy cliché; instead she responded that she loves playing with words that create a unique story with her own voice. I felt exactly the same way; it was as if she stole the words right out of my mouth. This was the reassurance I needed to continue to pursue a career in writing and follow my heart.
Mrs. Parker has been the Editor at Accessories Magazine for close to ten years and is highly respected within the industry. She suggests that working for a trade publication is much different than a consumer publication since trade offers valuable information to a specific industry; whereas, a consumer publication is meant to interest the general public. She enjoys working with a small publication, not because she is a big fish in a small pond, but she loves having the freedom to write, edit, and design a complete story. She also mentions how important it is to her that the work she and her co-workers have done is exactly what will appear in the magazine. At a larger publication your work may be re-edited and tossed around so much that by the time it hits the printers it’s not your story anymore.
Mrs. Parker went to Cornell University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Arts. I was thrilled to hear that she pursued the same major that I currently am; however, she hadn’t imagined herself having a career involving the fashion world and referred to the show, Mad Men, to illustrate what she originally saw herself doing.
When I asked her how she made her splash into the industry, Mrs. Parker described how she dove right in without even getting her feet wet. She explained that before she graduated from college, she took an exam on a whim for an Editorial Trainee position withGralla Publications which owned about 40 trade magazines, one of which was National Jeweler. She passed the test and was immediately hired.
After 6 months as a trainee at Gralla, Mrs. Parker landed the Assistant Editor position at National Jeweler. Ironically, the woman who interviewed her for the trainee position at Gralla, just happened to be the Editor in Chief of National Jeweler. That was where she had hoped land a job since it was the most fashion inspired magazine at that company.
After hearing her story, I realized that taking tests throughout life never really ends. One of the most terrifying moments a student faces in the classroom is being surprised with that dreaded the pop quiz. I believe that after our graduation from college we will all be subject to one pop quiz after another not only while searching for our first job, but also throughout our careers. We are all told to be prepared and we are aware of what lies ahead, but the transition from school to the workforce is still a shock. The harsh reality is that once we are handed our diplomas we go on to test our abilities in the real world where failing isn’t an option, its sink or swim.
Mrs. Parker reminisced about that fateful test she took before graduation, mentioning that if she had decided not to take it, there was so much she would have missed out on. For example, she wouldn’t have had the opportunities to travel to Hong Kong, Switzerland, Paris, Israel, Germany, Milan and Japan for various trade shows along with handling executive interviews. Although these trips were filled with extremely long work days, in the end, these experiences were invaluable in her journey to where she is today. Amazingly, these trips were all made during her first 10 years as a writer. Her life lesson exemplifies the fact that opportunity doesn’t always present itself by testing the waters… it’s also about being able to just jump right in!
Mrs. Parker did quite a bit of jumping… from Senior Editor at National Jeweler, Editor- in-Chief at Accent Magazine, Executive Editor at Eyewear(+ Rays), Managing Editor at Stuff Magazine, Executive Editor at Smock Magazine, to finally where she is today, Editor at Accessories Magazine. After learning about some of her past positions, there was one story that stood out to me the most. Let’s backstroke back to the year 2000. Mrs. Parker discussed that before working at Accessories Magazine she dedicated time, money, and trust into the startup of Smock Magazine, which highlighted contemporary art and its impact on fashion lifestyle.
I heard the passion in her voice as she described how during that time the magazine was unlike anything ever done before, and she was willing to risk it all because it was something she believed in. However, starting at the bottom of the pool wasn’t easy. Mrs. Parker managed the contracts and budgets, as well as 30 freelance writers, photographers, curators, researchers and copy editors. Even during times when she felt as if she was drowning in work, she kept her head up high and remained optimistic. She spoke about the financial challenges her and the team faced and how they would literally hold their breath just trying to stay afloat while making a name for the innovative magazine. Trying to prevent the magazine from falling off the deep end, she described all the jobs she had to take on which included writing articles, creating business plans, and profiling artists and gallery owners just to name a few. Paddling their way to success, the team wasn’t prepared for the tidal wave of 911 and shortly after, in 2002, the magazine went under.
Despite her disappointment, Mrs. Parker held back her water works, never unzipped her life jacket, and dove right into a new challenge at Accessories Magazine where she remains today. She has been employed within the magazine editorial industry for over 20 years and has written more than 1,000 articles since the beginning of her career.
I truly feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview Mrs. Parker and learn about her accomplishments in addition to how she navigated all the rip-tides in her life. After speaking with her, I am more determined than ever to pursue my dreams, and despite all the fish in the sea in fashion, I am prepared to work for that open seat within the industry!