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Trendsetters at Work: Redbook Magazine

Trendsetters, Redbook Magazine Jennifer Coopere, E!

Redbook is a go-to magazine for expert fashion, beauty and health advice—and we can see why. The Hearst publication—headquartered in New York City—has a long-running history of catering to stylish and well-informed women.

We caught up with three of the mag's editors to get the inside scoop on their current fashion and beauty obsessions, pop culture faves and why they love their jobs. Here's what they shared:

Victoria Kirby, Beauty Director

How did you get started in your career?
I started on the publishing side when, at 23, I landed a job as the assistant to the beauty advertising director at Harper's Bazaar. I was so young then that I didn't know that magazines had an editorial side and a publishing side—all I knew was that I wanted to write stories for a major fashion magazine, so I jumped at the opportunity to work at Bazaar. I adored my boss and she was a wonderful mentor to me, but I quickly realized that I wanted to be on the edit side of the magazine. About 6 months into my job, my boss resigned, and her role remained vacant for a few months. During that time, I ended up talking with the beauty director on the editorial side a fair amount and one day, she casually mentioned that her assistant had just quit. I immediately piped up and asked if I could apply for the position. I did an edit test for her—which I probably worked harder on than my college thesis I wanted the job so badly—and as luck would have it, she hired me. So I transferred over to the Bazaar beauty editorial team as an assistant, and ended up staying there for six years, eventually becoming the beauty editor working right under the beauty director.

What is a typical day like for you?
There really is no such thing as a typical day! Which is one of the things I love most about the job—I get bored very easily, so I wouldn't enjoy a job where I just sit at my desk and do the same routine every day. As beauty director, I go out on market appointments almost every day to meet with beauty brands and see their upcoming launches, as well as meet with amazing hairstylists, makeup artists, aestheticians, nail artists, bloggers, and beauty company founders, i.e. the people who shape the trends we write about each month. In addition, I edit all of the stories that go into the beauty section, work with my incredible team to determine which products and trends we're going to cover each month, and do TV, radio, and print interviews on behalf of Redbook.

Describe your work environment.
The Redbook office is pretty laid back—there's certainly no Devil Wears Prada drama around here. Everyone here is kind, respectful, and open to one another ideas, which is refreshing. Our editor-in-chief is very approachable and accessible, and I think her friendly, open attitude trickles down to everyone else here.

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Tell us about your office décor or creative inspiration.
I try to keep my office neat, but it's not easy when we get 20-30 beauty product deliveries a day! I'm not sure how I'd describe the décor: what do you call a desk with 20 nail polishes on it?

What do you typically wear to work?
I love getting dressed up for work. I like pieces that are tailored and feminine: a great blazer, a crisp pencil skirt, a good button-down, slim-cut pants. And always heels! I just don't feel as professional when I'm in flats, though I do resort to them on quiet Fridays every now and then. But I never go too edgy with my clothes or shoes—those pieces never look right on me. And I try not to wear all black. My mom had amazing style and always wore color, so I try to do the same. It just makes me happier to have on a little color.

Where do you shop for work clothes?
I think Theory and Rag & Bone make the best blazers and pants. I love Zara and Club Monaco for seasonal trends, and J. Crew for sweaters. And when Barneys does their seasonal sales, I head straight for the Proenza Schouler and Balenciaga sections—granted, they're still an investment even on sale, but their pieces hold up forever and never go out of style. 

What are your favorite brands of accessories?
I have a weakness for Hermes enamel bracelets. The rest of my jewelry is classic and simple. I have a few chunky, sparkly necklaces that I'll pull out every now and then, but otherwise, I wear the same rings—which were my mom's—and same little gold stud earrings every day.

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The best part of my job is…
I'd be lying if I said the endless supply of free beauty products isn't the world's best perk! But I also love when we feature an up-and-coming brand or beauty pro for the first time, and they're just beyond excited and grateful to see their name or product in the magazine. When you can introduce millions of readers to a person or product you really believe in and see the effect it has on them, it's a wonderful feeling. I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today without some amazing people believing in me, so it's really nice when you can give that same kind of opportunity to someone else who really deserves it.

I never leave home without…
My iPod. Living in New York City, you need to block out all the noise around you during your commute on the subway—or even just walking down the street. And I always have lip balm on me—right now I'm loving Vaseline Lip Therapy Rosy Lips, which is extra-moisturizing and gives my lips just the slightest hint of rosy color.

What is your guilty pleasure?
I just discovered that SoapNet runs classic Beverly Hills, 90210 episodes—we're talking the Brenda years—on Sunday nights. It's the best cure ever for the Sunday blues.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Whenever you spot a problem, offer a possible solution—don't just bring it to people's attention and then expect someone else to fix it. And don't point fingers—own up when you've made a mistake. I'd so much rather have someone come to me and say, "I made this mistake and here's why" then try and give me all sorts of excuses as to why he or she isn't at fault. We all make mistakes, myself included. But you'll get more respect if you own up to it and move forward than try and shift the blame.

What are your travel must-haves?
Sunscreen—even if I'm going someplace cold, I wear SPF 50 on my face every single day. It really is the world's greatest anti-ager! And someone recently taught me the greatest trick for packing all of your chargers and headphones so they don't get tangled: buy a set of those tiny claw hair clips at the drugstore—the ones that are only an inch or so wide—and use them to clip the cords. Just wind each cord into a circle and place the clip over it, and then you can toss all of your chargers and headphones into one pouch and they won't get tangled.

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What are your beauty must-haves?
I'm lucky that I get to try so many amazing products every month, but there are a few items that, in all my years of testing products, I've never found anything better. They are:

1. Kiehl's Crème de Corps Body Lotion: Once I started using it, people began telling me, "You have the softest skin I've ever felt." Trust me, I don't—it's all because of this lotion.

2. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence: Within two months of using this toner twice a day, my skin changed from combination to perfectly balanced. My oily areas disappeared and my dry patches cleared up. That was nearly a decade ago, and my skin still looks good. I'll put it this way: before I began using this product, no one ever told me I had good skin. Not once.

3. CoverGirl LashBlast Length Mascara: I'm probably going to get in trouble for saying this, but I find that drugstore mascaras are so much better than most department store mascaras. Maybe it's like Avis: They try harder. All I know is, for all the dozens of new mascaras I try every year, I keep coming back to this one from CoverGirl. It defines and lengthens beautifully without making my lashes look spidery.

4. Oribe Maximista Thickening Spray: Having fine hair, I've spent the better part of my career hoping that someone would invent the perfect volumizing spray: one that makes my hair bouncy and full, but never sticky. Oribe finally did it with this product, and it smells amazing to boot.

5.Rita Hazan Root Concealer: If you color your hair, this is a must-have: it's a tinted spray that comes in different hair color shades. You mist on your roots when you have regrowth or grays, and it completely covers them. It looks totally natural and doesn't flake or make your hair crunchy. And it won't come off until you shampoo. It's a lifesaver!

What is your go-to lunch or snack?
My go-to lunch is usually from the salad bar in our building's cafeteria: a mix of veggies, tofu and whatever else they have out that day. I try to keep it healthy! If calories were no object, I'd eat a brownie every day. In real life, though, I love Popcorn Indiana Kettlecorn—anything that combines salty and sweet makes me happy. And I cannot even think in the morning until I've had my Starbucks coffee. I don't do a special drink, though—just plain ol' coffee with whole milk.

If I wasn't doing this job, I would be…
Wishing I had this job.

Can you share some advice for aspiring career girls?
Don't be shy about reaching out to an editor over email or social media and asking him or her for an informational interview. You'd be surprised how often people will say yes! Keep on top of what's going on in the industry and in the digital world by following sites like Mashable and New York Magazine's The Cut blog. And if you can swing it, subscribe to Women's Wear Daily online (it is a little expensive, but worth it for all the insider news). Most of all, once you get your foot in the door with an internship or assistant position, be enthusiastic about everything that you do—even tasks that seem completely menial. We all had to do them at some point, and they offer you the chance to learn about the industry from the ground up. I promise, if you have a great attitude about what you do, you will go far. 

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Audrey Slater, Fashion Director

How did you get started in your career?
I got my MFA in writing and one of my grad school friends knew someone that worked at Glamour. An assistant position in the fashion department there opened up at just the right moment. I went to work for the fashion director and I've never looked back.

What is a typical day like for you?
Generally, a day is a mix of market appointments and press events, putting looks together in the fashion closet, and checking in with my team to keep the our pages flowing. The other typical day is when I'm on set or on location shooting a fashion story.

Describe your work environment.
I'm surrounded by at least dozen racks of clothing and three hundred pairs of shoes on any given day. I stand in the fashion closet where my computer is. It's me with the indispensable closet manager and our fashion interns. The rest of the fashion team sits at proper desks in the Redbook office with all the other editors.

Tell us about your office décor or creative inspiration.
Behind my computer is The Redbook Fashion Closet Official Wall of Cuteness, which has a total mess of kid and dog photos, sketches, funny tears, notes and lots of other random mementos. I have a bulletin board for swipe but I never end up working that way. I'm much more "practical shoes" about it. I pull clothes I like and then spend days in the closet with them, turning them into outfits, tearing the outfits apart and starting over again.

Describe your office style. What do you typically wear to work?
When it comes to my personal outfits, there is no "typical." I've never worn the same outfit twice. I'll repeat pieces but not full ensembles. So the shoe and jewelry will change, or I'll layer pieces in a new way. It's exhausting but that's my thing. Generally though, summer means there's probably a dress involved and in the winter, I'm a cashmere sweater girl.

Where do you shop for work clothes?
High/low dressing has always, always been my style, and I love a bargain: Bottega Veneta or Marc Jacobs sample sale finds mixed with Topshop and Zara.

My favorite thing in my office/on my desk is:
A photo of my daughter and me wearing identical messy buns and tees. She is just so totally my child in that moment. 

What is your guilty pleasure?
I have a serious Food Network addiction. I adore Chopped, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and Restaurant Impossible. I don't watch TV, except for food TV!

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Get in over your head—it's the only way you'll ever grow in your career.

What are your travel must-haves?
I'm the worst at packing. I bring a dozen outfit options for a two-day trip. There are always far too many shoes in my suitcase.  But I never get on a plane without my headphones.

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What are your beauty must-haves?
Mascara, blush, lip balm and dry shampoo. And Nicole Tresch at Rita Hazan. Best. Colorist. Ever

My favorite gadgets for work and play
My iPhone and iPad of course. Also, my digital jump rope.

I read these web sites/blogs/newspapers/books daily
Refinery29, Well & Good, Goop. I read my stack of monthly magazines because I'm old school. I read the Times on Sundays. I read WWD in spurts, like I'll fall behind and then attack two weeks' worth.

If I wasn't doing this job, I would be…
A fitness instructor.

Can you share some advice for aspiring career girls?
Be hungry but be humble. Work as hard as you possibly can when someone gives you the chance to. Nothing impresses like a serious work ethic.

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Cris Pearlstein, Senior Fashion Editor

How did you get started in your career?
I was studying journalism in college with the goal of wanting to be a political analyst in Washington, D.C. when I stumbled into an internship at the now-defunct Shop, Etc magazine. They asked me in the interview which department I wanted to work in and I said fashion just for the hell of it. Literally on the first day I knew that's what I wanted to do with my career. It was quite a 180 turn from my original plan but as a girl always interested in fashion it was the perfect fit. As a young student I never knew there were any jobs in fashion other than being a designer—it's not like today where you have 100 reality shows exposing people to every cool job out there.

What is a typical day like for you?
My day can vary so much depending on the time of year. Right now I'm hardly ever in the office because I'm out visiting showrooms and attending line previews. Basically all the brands I work with are showing their Spring 2014 collections right now and it's really important for me to be in the know about what will be available to the consumer at that time. We work at least 3 months ahead and seeing the spring collections now helps us to plan our editorial coverage for the future.

Tell us about your office décor or creative inspiration.
My cube is filled with personal pictures that make me happy when I look at them—mostly my husband, my dog, and my friends—but also I have a lot of magazine tears taped up with beautiful fashion images or cool haircuts I secretly wish I could copy (I have a whole strip of celebs with pixie cuts that one day will give me the courage to try it, I swear!). I switch them up every few months when I'm newly inspired by what's out there in the advertising and editorial world. I also work with a lot of amazing publicists who send me sweet notes and cards, thanking me for covering their brands in Redbook or telling me how much they appreciate working with me—those always go up on the wall to remind me how lucky I am to be in this industry. Two funny things I have on my desk are a collection of piggy banks and a collection of miniature iconic shoe key chains (think Bean Boots, Sperry Top Siders, Dr. Martens, etc). Over the years you just sort of accidentally accumulate weird things!

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Describe your office style. What do you typically wear to work?
I typically wear jeans or pants every day. Lately I've been trying to incorporate more dresses and skirts into my repertoire but I'm really a pants girl at heart. I love button-down shirts either on their own or layered under sweaters or sharp jackets. My look is always one part borrowed-from-the-boys, one part edgy/urban, and one part girly. I don't feel like myself if I wear something that's very overtly feminine. On my feet are either menswear-inspired flats like oxfords, wingtips, or penny loafers or rugged ankle boots (right now I'm loving my Rag & Bone) that I can actually walk in. Because of how much running around I do during the day, I can't wear heels as often as I'd like. Heels and the NYC subway system don't really go together!

Where do you shop for work clothes?
My favorite stores are J.Crew, Zara, Rag & Bone, and Barneys. The jeans I swear by are NYDJ—they fit my body perfectly. Although right now most of my money is going toward decorating my apartment (a new addiction for me) so I haven't been doing much shopping.

What are your favorite brands of accessories?
I love Wanderlust for fun, affordable jewelry. Marni is my go-to for designer heels—they're always so comfortable, quirky, and yet sexy at the same time. For bags I love everything from my Alexander Wang crossbody to my classic Coach legacy to my camo print LL Bean tote.

My favorite thing in my office/on my desk is:
My collection of piggy banks. They're so silly.

The best part of my job is…
The relationships I have with the publicists at the various brands and agencies I work with. Many have become my real-life friends and it makes the work we do that much more fun.

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What is your guilty pleasure?
Reality TV. I could watch it for hours, especially on a rainy day. In particular I love Top ChefKeeping Up With the Kardashians, and MTV's The Challenge. Oh, and also Candy Crush. I know it's terrible and brain-numbing but sometimes on the train on my way home from work I just want to zone out and wind down from the crazy day I've had.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
It was at my first magazine internship. An editor told me to stop talking so much and to listen and observe more. It was the best thing anyone could have told me.

What are your travel must-haves?
When I fly I always carry a pair of fleece socks for the plane, an oversized scarf to use as a blanket, a neck pillow, my Kindle, a copy of New York Magazine so I can do the crossword puzzle, and I always always stop at Hudson News to pick up a bottle of water, a salty snack, and a magazine or two. Even if my flight is only a couple of hours I still go through the whole routine.

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What are your beauty must-haves?
A really good mascara, right now I'm loving Show Off by Beauty Addicts. A manicure for sure – I always feel instantly "done" with a fresh mani. Red lipstick always adds a hint of sexy to any old outfit, so I keep it in my bag just in case I need a boost. Also, hairspray is so necessary for me because I wear my hair up and in all different styles all the time. 

What is your go-to lunch or snack?
In the morning I always have a cup of coffee in bed before I even open my eyes. I have a second cup when I get to the office along with eating whatever breakfast I packed for myself—usually it's a hard-boiled egg, peanut butter and banana sandwich, or some sort of mixed fruit bowl. I also always carry snacks in my bag while I'm running around on appointments so that I don't buy unhealthy food that I'll regret later (i.e. pizza which I find very hard to resist). Usually that's an apple, a bag of pretzels, a piece of turkey jerky that I get at Whole Foods, or a piece of cheese.

I read these web sites/blogs/newspapers/books daily:
The Sartorialist, Garance Dore, New York magazine, and every morning I watch either The Today Show or Morning Joe to get my news/political fix. 

If I wasn't doing this job, I would be…
Probably a chef of some sort. I really love to cook and I've always told myself that if the magazine world collapsed I would go to culinary school.

Can you share some advice for aspiring career girls?
Be persistent and realize that figuring out what you don't want to do is just as valuable as figuring out what you do want. Do as many internships as possible. Be nice to everyone. You never know who you'll cross paths with again—especially in fashion which is such a small industry! 

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