This October marks 5 years of living in the big ol Apple. Which is wild because there are still mornings that I’m mid-commute with Ryan and murmur “I can’t believe we live here.” It’s been a real dream, save for being homesick, and the subway (see @SubwayCreatures on IG for what I mean), and one horrid case of bedbugs. It’s an actual professional blessing to say “my friends at Vogue” or “Hi, this is Haley on for the Refinery29 team.” I pinch myself at fashion shows or when I’m perusing the new collections at Hermès or Coach with colleagues.
I haven’t even touched on my incredible friends here who are truly my family. We really stumbled into the jackpot, you guys. But I’ll circle back on what this post is about: how I landed my dream job(s) at some of the most in-demand companies in New York, creating content for other outstanding fashion, retail, and beauty brands.
Spoiler: it involves a lot of prayer, a ton of optimism and hard work, and #blessings.
After living here for 5 years and being fortunate enough to have worked at some well-known companies in the fashion publishing, I often get emails or DMs from friends or friends of friends—or sometimes total strangers—about how I got there and what they can do to do the same. Ryan and I have an unorthodox career path, which should be encouraging to anyone thinking they don’t have the skillset, so I’ll start from the beginning.
- We Prayed
Like crazy. I believe that my life was designed with and for purpose and that I can use passions and talents that we can use to glorify God. Ryan and I were styling in Nashville and looking to develop our career, and New York had always fascinated and excited me. So, we set a goal to move to New York and pursue styling or work at magazines. Long term, we plan to use our experience to help us in a smaller market—leaning into our resumes to snatch what we want. (No updates on moving anywhere, yet! Love you, NY.) We prayed for God to open doors and make it clear we should move. Our parents, ever pragmatic, recommended we start by selling our cars, and when mine sold in four days, we felt we were taking the right steps.
- We Started Small—And With What We Could Get
Ryan and I applied to dozens of entry level fashion jobs before we left Nashville. With no response. Not even a follow up email. I was working at Nordstrom at the time and even though I wanted to be far, far away from retail, I told my store manager I saw a role available at Nordstrom’s Manhattan Rack store. She put in a good word and I ended up interviewing the weekend we went to the city to look for apartments. I got the job, much to my dismay. We figured at least one of us would need a job to start out, so I accepted. It wasn’t what I wanted at all. But it was a job.
3. We Took Our Saved Money—And Moved!
Somewhere during our time in Jackson and Nashville, I realized most people don’t get a call to move to NYC. They get themselves there first, and then sort out the rest. It’s a really lovely mental test, the first of several thousands you’ll experience in this city. The night before we left Nashville, the apartment we applied for fell through (more on that another time), but I had the Nordstrom job waiting on me, so on we went. We pulled into NYC on our one-year wedding anniversary, homeless. Honorable mention goes to my cousin who put us up in Astoria for a few days. Give me your tired, your poor, and your homeless millennial, am I right? Our second day in the city, we found a place on the Upper East Side that was tiny and awful (and wonderful). It was below what we budgeted and didn’t require a guarantor so we signed the lease after seeing it for 5 minutes. Voila, Hoovers have a home.
- We Continued Looking For Jobs
I vividly remember coming home to my cousin’s from my first day at Nordstrom Rack
and declaring I hated it. My cousin is a dancer and had her fair share of horrible gigs. She sweetly shared that her first job in the city was Planet Hollywood and it was three months and she hated it. Boom: I found a new goal. I gave myself three months at the Rack, applying to anything fashion-related on my off days. Ryan got a job as a PA for an author which didn’t last very long. We were three months in and still at square one when things shifted.
- We Pivoted
Our original goal was to be stylists when we moved here, but we were open to anything in fashion. Our pivot to marketing and publishing was more practical than anything, though. Becoming an editor or stylist in this city, in my opinion, means low pay, long hours, and hustling for longer than I wanted to. To be a full-time stylist here, you need a schedule that allows for constant networking and random, last-minute (and often low-paying) gigs. I was (and still am) too cautious to gamble our savings, so I continued to look for fashion brand jobs. There was one memorable conversation Ryan had with the VP of Sales at Saint Laurent early on that shaped this decision. Styling was a “tool in your toolbelt,” he said. And it is, I reference my styling experience often. My current role allows me to work directly with the fashion and beauty brands I love. I go on set, weigh in on imagery, creative direction, and even the styling. The pivot was a good choice for me here, but I still dream of having a roster of clients I’m shopping for. #Someday
- We Learned To Get Specific
When we first moved here, we truly were open to any job fashion-focused that wasn’t retail. Turns out that saying “I’m open!” is not super helpful to a hiring manager or mentor; specificity is needed in order to make a strong recommendation or connection. We learned to reference our experience and point out specific roles we liked at companies when meeting new people.
It was during my hot pursuit during those first three months of living here that led to me getting a job at Longchamp. I stumbled across a role for a showroom assistant with their HR contact’s phone number. I had worked very briefly as a buyer in Jackson, TN and referenced that experience when I called five minutes after I found the job listing. Admittedly, Longchamp wasn’t my ideal dream brand to work for, but it was a known fashion brand and ended up being the most amazing experience. Managing the showroom allowed me to meet editors, designers, artists, buyers, and production teams, pulling back the curtain for how fashion “works” and ultimately solidifying my desire to work as a marketer in publishing—I always loved meeting the editors and magazine marketing teams the most.
Funny enough, Ryan’s retail job led him to Vogue. He met a customer, now a dear friend, who worked at the now-folded Details magazine and knew Condé Nast was hiring entry level roles. Ryan interviewed and started working on digital media for Allure, W, and Vogue, and was dedicated exclusively to Vogue within a few months. I ended up at Brides about a year later—it was just luck that my resume got picked up in the HR portal. I had been interviewing unsuccessfully elsewhere: DVF, Derek Lam, and others, and by the time I made it to Brides, I had said all the stupid stuff in other interviews and was able to really focus my responses to help me land the job, which was great, because it was the one I really wanted. From there, one thing has led to another, but the fundamentals of staying proactive and specific when networking are concepts we lean on constantly.
I share all of this because it seems that people are under the impression that Ryan and I have this sort of special sauce for getting to certain places. We don’t. Our focus is simple: we work hard and are proactive, we try to be kind, and let God do the rest.
When I recently made a move from Condé Nast to Refinery29, I was really scared. I was sad to leave my team and a job I had dreamt of having. I wondered if I could fill the shoes I was being ask to fill (still working on that!). But this time, I was able to look back at five years of my career in New York to show myself I was capable. I had no idea how to get a fashion job in New York City, but somehow I managed to meet the right people to help make it happen. I didn’t know how to “do” marketing for a magazine, but I learned; I asked hundreds (it felt like thousands) of questions and had amazing supporters around me who taught me. I didn’t know how to make my dreams come true, but I kept my head down and worked. And when I looked up, I was living them.
xx – hh