Have you ever wanted to work in fashion? Meet Kaitlyn Sullivan, a jewelry assistant at W Magazine and the voice behind the blog NYC Girl in Pearls. Kaitlyn knew she wanted to work in fashion and the magazine industry when she was ten. She’s since worked for publications such as Seventeen, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar. I know that you’ll be inspired by her career path and advice!
You have what many people would consider to be a dream job. How did you end up at W Magazine? What was your career path?
I was extremely fortunate to be asked to be part of the W Magazine team. Right now I’m the jewelry assistant, which is wonderful because my background is mainly in the accessories and clothing markets so this position has given me a fantastic opportunity to learn more about just how much goes into the pages of an international fashion publication.
I always dreamed of working for a fashion or lifestyle magazine – I was ten when I started my own magazine for my school. I had a cover star complete with an interview section, style advice, and (given my age) personalized games and puzzles. I’ve since retired The Scoop, but that sense of communicating ideas that could be looked at over and over again was something I really took a pleasure in.
Working in fashion is not always as glamorous as it sounds, but the incredible fashion team, photography, and the overall direction of the magazine is what attracted me to W.
What are your roles and responsibilities at W Magazine?
As jewelry assistant, I’m in charge of making sure we receive all the jewelry we need for any upcoming shoots, as well as making sure they’re returned in their original state. We work on about three to six shoots a week, so it can get tremendously busy, but it’s all worth it once you see the photographs.
Claudia Mata, our jewelry and accessories director, is a genius when it comes to designing jewelry-based photo shoots. Tina Huynh, our jewelry associate editor, has an outstanding eye for knowing what we need in the jewelry closet. I like to imagine that in some small way I’m helping create the artful pictures featured on our pages.
What is your favorite thing about working at W? What has been your favorite moment so far?
I absolutely love the staff at W. I’ve been in situations where jealously and ego have gotten in the way, but at W, that’s not the case. The teamwork shown here is remarkable.
What advice would you give to someone who hopes to have a similar career path as yours?
Start early. I began working at a local boutique near my high school and then at any internship I could get my hands on both in my college town (Go Gators!) and in New York City.
My first major internship was working in the Fashion Closet at Seventeen Magazine — I wanted to see if I could handle working for a national magazine while living in a city where I essentially knew no one. I took off my entire spring semester and was working five days a week for a grand total of three credit hours, but it didn’t matter. I learned so much from my time there, especially from Tina Langley, the accessories editor at the time, and Jasmine Snow, the fashion assistant (now accessories editor).
I learned about the different markets and how important it is to have a positive attitude that can handle any challenge — big or small. I was eventually allowed to go on photo shoots with the photo editor, Betsy Mullinix, who was kind enough to take me through the second part of creating the images that filled the magazines. I even filled in for a model during one of our photo shoots in Central Park — it was such a dream!
Since then, I’ve been adding on different internship and freelance experiences from other magazines like Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. I’ve used all of them as a crucial learning experiences.
You can never stop learning in this industry! Curiosity is what keeps creativity alive.
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. No one expects you to know everything when you’re first starting a new position — or even later down the road. It’s better to learn how to do something correctly the first time around.
How would you define your professional style? What are a few staples?
Working in fashion, I can get away with quite a bit. I love working in feminine pieces, like skirts or dresses, with an occasional twist. Before I moved here, I found the softest fur vest in a Paris flea market that I throw over anything — including a preppy, plaid button-down just to give it some edge. I also love that sneakers are still on-trend. I cannot tell you how many times I wore my Nike tennis shoes and Vans skip ons this summer! In the owinter, a sturdy, classic pair of Stuart Weitzman boots can be thrown on with anything.
What is on your desk right now?
About five post-it’s with photo shoot information; pick-ups for my guard, Mark; a camera; writing tools; a letter of responsibility that I write every time we borrow from a fine jewelry company; an invitation for a gala this Saturday; my iPhone, and a cup of Yogi tea – today it’s the decaffeinated kombucha green tea. I’m obsessed with this brand and love that it’s tea season again!
Where do you turn for inspiration?
Instagram is usually my go-to, especially since it’s extremely easy to find anything on there and to scroll through on my commute to 1 World Trade Center. I also read a bunch of books and watch a ton of films which add to my perspective. Living in New York and walking through the different neighborhoods can also spark a number of ideas.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received and what advice do you have for other young professional women?
Work hard and be nice to people.
You never know who is going to help you out later down the road or notice that extra three hours you put in one night to organize all of the photographs in the runway show look books.
Being humble and grateful is always a plus, too.
Thank you, Kaitlyn!