Loyal Ed2010 readers know and love style influencer Caroline Vazzana, who has blogged about everything from NYFW to how to turn a side hustle into a full-time job. And her wildly impressive resume now includes published author—her first book Making It in Manhattan was released this summer! I caught up with Caroline to discuss her career journey from fashion to editorial, her iconic glasses, and what you need to do to make it in Manhattan circa 2018.
Congrats on Making It in Manhattan! For those who haven’t read the book yet, can you give us the skinny on what it’s about?
Thank you! It’s a guidebook about making it in the fashion industry. The book follows my career from my internship at Teen Vogue to my first job. I’m pulling back the curtain on how to get your foot in the door. It’s written like you’re talking to a best friend.
What was your career backstory before you decided to focus on your creative brand?
Growing up, I always wanted to be in a creative hands-on field. When Project Runway came out, I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer. I went into college as a fashion design major, but quickly transitioned into a dual design and merchandising major. I found I didn’t like sewing classes as much as I liked the business of fashion, like product and portfolio development.
I began interning to find out what else was out there beyond designing and buying. My first internship was with Anna Sui. I was working in production development in New York City’s garment center and living out my wildest dreams. I loved it so much that I went back to intern with the company at Fashion Week.
My next internship was at Marie Claire. I was the personal intern to their fashion editor and found my love for editorial working there. After I graduated from college, I landed a job interview with Teen Vogue. During my last interview, I told them I could literally start tomorrow—which was a Friday. I got hired! I was at Teen Vogue for a year and started off in their PR and marketing department as an assistant for the Back to School Saturday events. This meant helping to coordinate fashion shows at malls all over the country and pulling and styling different looks. When Teen Vogue hired a new fashion director, I interviewed to be that director’s assistant. I also started to write for their website. Even though I was a print assistant, I saw the importance of digital and was able to write articles that gave me bylines on the site.
I then went on to the digital department at InStyle. I wrote market and style stories for every season, styled outfits for digital, and interviewed designers. I learned so much more about digital while I was there that the experience inspired me to start writing this book. I wanted to write down everything before I forgot it.
Was it easy to find a literary agent and get your book published?
I started writing Making It in Manhattan in 2015 and it didn’t get published until this summer. I reached out to a lot of literary agents and received many rejections. Finally, I heard back from an agent who wanted to sign on the project. As we developed the rest of the book, she suggested I start a website—Making It in Manhattan—to tie in with the book. By the time I finished writing the book, I was established as a voice in the industry for great career advice.
Who is your biggest fashion inspiration?
My biggest life inspiration is Iris Apfel. She has this mentality that she’s going to dress for herself and only herself. She inspires me to be and love myself. She also inspires me to wear my glasses (which are real, by the way!)—I didn’t for a while because I didn’t know if they were cool or sexy. But now I embrace that about myself!
Making it in Manhattan in 2018 is a little bit different than it would be 10, or even 5, years ago. If someone aspiring to be the next Carrie Bradshaw moved to Manhattan tomorrow, what advice would you give that person to “make it?”
- First, have a solidified game plan. Don’t move on a whim. Save up as much money as you can and have things figured out before you arrive in the city. Build a nest egg so you’re OK before you get paid at your job.
- Determine where you want to be in three years and what you need to do to get there. Don’t lose sight of your end goal. Write it down and go back to it.
- Budget! I’ve been called a more relatable Carrie Bradshaw because I wear clothes that are cool but are also super affordable. You don’t need to break the bank to be stylish. Shop consignment, vintage, and sample sales. Be smart about budgeting your money and time.
Do you ever want to “make it” in another city like Los Angeles or London?
I’m not opposed to trying out another city! New York is definitely my home and where my brand is rooted, but I would love to live abroad for a couple of months to see how I can make it somewhere else.
There’s definitely more to come with my books, too. I left Making It in Manhattan open for a sequel. No matter how old or successful you get, there’s always something new to learn.
Photo credit: Daphne Youree
Heather Taylor is the Senior Editor of PopIcon, a blog about brand mascots powered by Advertising Week. Her bylines have been published on Business Insider, HelloGiggles, Brit + Co, The Drum, and BettyConfidential. Find her on Twitter @howveryheather.