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  • Writer's pictureBEBE HODGES '18

A Day in the Life: Beauty and Fitness Director

Have you ever dreamed of a job that allows you to travel the world, write about the hottest trends in fashion, beauty, health, and entertainment, and reach women across the globe with the simple typing of your fingers? Or maybe merely wondered what a career such as this would even be like?

On Saturday, March 18, I learned all about what it takes to work on a best-selling magazine staff and have these amazing opportunities from Elle magazine’s beauty and fitness director, Emily Dougherty. Emily has worked for Elle for several years and shares fabulous insight of the tips and tricks of her position:

You Don’t Need To Be Born Wanting To Be a Journalist That’s right, ladies, you don’t have to know right at this very instant that a decade from now you’ll be sitting in an office in New York sampling beauty products or preparing models for their next photoshoot. Emily is in fact a perfect example of this. She originally wanted to be a nun, which is definitely a shift from learning about cosmetics. But at Yale University, where she studied comparative literature, which is the philosophy and theory behind writing, her passion began to solidify. She even explored different subjects, noting how she was interested in the “sciency” aspect of things, but was hesitant to get bad grades. (Which many of us can relate too!) She graduated and took a year off before starting her first journalism job at Fairchild Publications, a fashion media that at this time owned Women’s Wear Daily and W. Here, Emily realized “what a rare privilege it is to be a journalist” since she was paid for doing what she loved, learning.

Discover Something That’s Different Not many people wanted to work in beauty because it was commonly thought that if you were “smart” then you would write about books or movies. However, Emily sees beauty and fashion as “a prism of what is happening in society at any given time.” Which seems pretty important! She even took her job one step further by placing the beauty industry into a new light: science. By studying what the products are made from, she can surmise their effectiveness and durability.

Be Prepared to Face Challenges Challenges are good because, as Emily recalls, “if you’re not being challenged, then you’re not learning.” For her, the biggest obstacle that comes with working on a magazine is creating a sustainable flow of content across platforms. In a world where people can find information online for free, how can they be persuaded to pay to see? And yet, although the internet can present itself as a burden in this way, it can also be a tool for connecting with readers. Emily loves that, whether through a “.com,” Instagram, Snapchat, or a print issue, there are several platforms that enable inspiring stories to be told in different ways. She described the web as a reactive and proactive source that focuses on the “now,” while the print issue provides readers with trends to look forward to in the future. It compels the audience to Google something for the first time, whether it may be Kay Beauty, which Elle was the first to cover in 2010 or BB cream, an Elle discovery in 2004.

Editors Are People Too, but Busy People As an editor, Emily admits she is always connected. But although she has a fully-packed day, she always gets up early for her baby boy. With a super busy schedule, Emily finds what works for her. In the morning she grabs her coffee and checks the newspapers and internet for any breakthroughs, and because she wants to get a start on her day has breakfast interviews with a makeup artist, new science innovator, independent beauty founder, etc. Around 9:30am, she goes into the office without any makeup, nails bare, and her hair air-dryed. This provides a bare canvas for testing products. Depending on the category, it can take up to 28 days to appraise a skin care product or a quick swipe of concealer or mascara to see what works. With fewer interns, she spends a lot of her time in the beauty closet unpacking boxes and “falling in love with the products.” It is then a back and forth all day of ideas meetings, testing, photoshoots, events, and editing text. Outside the office, Emily is able to travel the globe to places she never dreamed she’d be able to go. She attributes this to the nature of beauty which “itself is so global [with] international companies who having amazing events all over the world.”

“Success Is Based on What [You] Can Help Other People Achieve” For Emily, her greatest accomplishment is helping women she’s worked with “get to amazing pinnacles in their careers beyond what [she could have] dreamed to do.” She is so proud of all the women she’s worked with and always feels gratified by the “I knew her when” feeling. By being a mentor to propel other women, Emily is the epitome of a woman helping women that we advocate for at Saint Ursula Academy.

Find What Works for You If you are interested in pursuing a position like Emily there are a few seemingly minute concepts to keep in mind. First, look at the state of the market place. As magazines consolidate, there are fewer traditional beauty editors. Yet, beauty experts will always be valuable so find a platform that fits society’s needs. Second, “look at a field and learn how to become a true expert.” You don’t have to focus on beauty to be a beauty director. As Emily puts it, dermatologists are beauty editors too. This coincides with the final advice that you don’t need to be a journalist major for this career. As long as you enjoy writing and are a good writer it is more beneficial to have a biology or science major that you can apply to make your articles unique. After all, “it is more about peaking your curiosity and exploring the world.”

Read more about Elle and Emily’s articles here:

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