August 21, 2011
Fashion Office: Katherine and Hillary of WhoWhatWear.com
In addition to giving you an insider's peek at the offices of various fashion-industry powerhouses, we also wanted to give you some insight into their career choices and workplace style choices. Read on for a work-centric interview with WhoWhatWear.com's own co-founders, Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr! Hillary Kerr, WhoWhatWear.com, Co-Founder/Editorial Director Katherine Power, WhoWhatWear.com, Co-Founder/Creative Director Explain your job in one sentence please: HK: Aside from running the company with Katherine, I'm responsible for overseeing all of the written content for our website and books, which includes everything from conceptualizing stories to copy-editing. KP: I formulate and execute the look and feel of WhoWhatWear.com, as well as create new features and projects to enhance our content. What is a typical workday like for you? HK: There's not really a typical workday around here, but it's always a balance between two things: editorial/advertising and business. For the former I'm editing and writing stories for our website, creating advertorial copy, running our twitter account (@whowhatwear), coming up with story ideas with Katherine, overseeing our editorial calendar, researching new products, fact-checking, copy editing, meeting with publicists and designers, going to showrooms to see new collections, handling in-bound press requests, and whatever else comes my way. For the latter, I'm always working with Katherine and our COO, Mika Onishi, on both short and long-term business strategies, whether that's developing new concepts/features so we can expand the Who What Wear brand, dealing with budgets, or working with our ad sales team. KP: A typical workday for me has lots of different components. I might be conceptualizing potential ad campaigns with the ad sales team, overseeing the fashion market department and guiding the clothing and accessories we feature on the site. I'm also always coming up with story ideas with Hillary, brainstorming and strategizing the growth of the company, and overseeing all of Who What Wear's visuals, which includes daily story layouts, ad campaigns, and other promotional or branding materials for the company. What is your go-to work outfit? HK: Even when I was an assistant at ELLE, I always thought it was really important to really dress for work. I wear heels every day and usually some sort of feminine blouse with a pencil skirt or a full skirt. KP: An Equipment blouse, the jeans du jour, and a pair of fashion-forward shoes. How did you get this job? Did you always know you wanted it? HK: Well, I got this job because I created the company with Katherine! But no, if you'd asked me if I wanted to be a businesswoman prior to starting Who What Wear I would have looked at you like you were crazy. I always wanted to be a writer and editor though, and have been obsessed with magazines since I was old enough to read. KP: I got this job because I created it! I've always been entrepreneurial and I knew I wanted some sort of media company, but it wasn't until about seven years ago that I knew it would be based around fashion. What did you do before you worked at your current company? HK: Prior to starting WhoWhatWear.com, I was a freelance writer in LA. Before my year-long stint as a freelancer, I was on staff at ELLE in New York, where I was an Associate Editor in the features department, writing about food, travel, design, entertaining, art, music, health and beauty. KP: I was the West Coast Editor for ELLE and ELLEgirl, which was ELLE's teen magazine. What's the best part of your job? The worst? HK: The best part of my job is getting to introduce our readers to amazing designers, fabulous products, and inspirational looks. I also love discovering up-and-coming talent; being able to give their companies a boost and raise their profile is incredibly rewarding and satisfying. And I truly enjoy working with our team of amazing editors and freelancers. We have the best staff in the world and work with the most talented and extraordinary people, which makes my day-to-day life so fulfilling. The worst is dealing with HR issues: we're a small staff, so we still do the headhunting ourselves, and that is extremely time consuming. KP: The best part of my job is that I love it"every single day"and that I'm still inspired to do it. I love that my job is something that I created, and that I can be so proud of it. The worst part is never being able to shut it off. When it's your company, you never clock out, and your brain is working 24/7. How important is having a fashionable/chic work area? HK: I could work in a box"I did work in a box, basically, when I started my career"but I have to say that having aesthetically pleasing surroundings is incredibly inspirational and uplifting. I love how personalized our individual offices are, as well as the entire workspace: that attention to detail and taste is really a hallmark of our brand! KP: For me, it's everything. I'm completely motivated and inspired by an aesthetically pleasing environment. I'm such a visual person, so it's really important to me. Describe your office/work area: are you next to a bunch of other people, secluded in your own office, or something else? HK: I have my own office, but one whole wall is glass, so I can always see/hear what's going on. KP: I'm in my own office but wouldn't call it secluded. The walls are all glass and the ceilings are open. It's a nice mix of privacy and a team atmosphere. Do you email or use the phone more? HK: Email, for sure. I love the phone for certain things"especially when I'm on deadline and not getting responses in a timely fashion"but for the most part, I'm an email girl. KP: Email almost exclusively. I hate talking on the phone. What surprises you the most about your career? HK: My entrepreneurial spirit surprises me, as well as how much I've enjoyed learning the ropes on the tech and business side of things. I have absolutely no training in either area, so it was a pretty steep learning curve, but it just goes to show that you can learn and excel in anything, if the work and desire is there. KP: It's always a surprise to see how our work has inspired our readers' lives. Whether its encouraging them to try a new trend or to start their own blog, it's always a pleasant surprise when we meet people who have such a passion for the site. What changes do you make to your look if you have to go to dinner or drinks immediately after work? HK: I don't always wear much makeup during the day, but I love a bright lipstick"MAC Pro Longwear Lipcreme in Good to Go or Dior Addict Lipstick in Fire are my two favorites"so I'll add that if I'm going to drinks or dinner. I also tend to bring a smaller bag for after-work events, so that is definitely a must for me too. KP: I know you're supposed to let your hair down when you're not at work, but for me the opposite is true. If I want to look a little more done-up for drinks or dinner, I put my hair in a bun and add a red lip. It's a sophisticated look that makes me feel more appropriate for nighttime, even if I'm just wearing jeans. What items do you think every working girl should own (clothing and accessories)? HK: Every woman needs at least one perfectly tailored blazer (I liked cropped ones, but any style will do), a classic closed-toe heel (black or nude is fine, but I like gray myself), and a silk blouse with a pretty print. I also love my Hermes Constance H Belt, which is definitely a splurge but I wear it constantly. KP: Fashion-forward"but office-appropriate"pumps! I invest in a couple of new pairs each season because they can take corporate basics and instantly make them feel more stylish. I also think it's important to have a chic work bag, something to tote your laptop, iPad, or whatever else you need for meetings. And every working girl needs an arsenal of blouses, whether they're crisp button-ups or silky feminine numbers. Do you use a Mac or a PC? HK: Mac for sure! I have an iPad, iPod nano, iMac, MacBook Pro, Apple TVApple totally controls my life. KP: Mac, all the way baby! What do you listen to when you're working? HK: Lately we've been listening to a ton of Pandora radio, specifically the following channels: Oasis, The Knife, and Hall and Oates. I also always listen to Radiohead's "Kid A" when Im writing one of our books or am on crazy, stressful deadline. I don't know why it soothes me, but I get in the zone when I listen to that album. KP: I listen to rap, easy listening, or early '90s pop. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but that's what I like! That said, I do feel a little bad about listening to rap in the office because there's so much obscenity, so when I'm at work it's usually smooth jazz"and I'm not ashamed about it! What are you wearing today? HK: A Theory blouse, H&M leather skirt, Giuseppe Zanotti leopard-print heels, Luv Low x Erin Wasson earrings, and a Nissa Jewelry ring. KP: I'm wearing a Jenni Kayne blazer, blouse and skirt"she's one of my favorite LA designers"as well as a Luv AJ necklace, and my usual tangle of bracelets. What do you try to teach your interns/assistants? HK: I try to teach my interns and assistants how to be excellent reporters, writers, editors, first and foremost. Resourcefulness is everything to me, so I try and explain and teach them the next steps they need to take if they don't get an answer the easy way. I also want to nurture their careers and help them get the most training possible while they're here, so that wherever they go, they know how to conduct themselves professionally, courteously, and effectively. KP: I try to teach them the importance of being efficient and following through on any given task. I never want them to stop at a dead-end; they need to always look for the next step and move on to it. Have you fulfilled your career goal or do you still have more to achieve? HK: In terms of achievement, I really think this is just the beginning. There are so many things I'm interested in and so many things I want to do, so I don't ever think I will have fulfilled my career goals. KP: There's so much more that I want to achieve, but I'm right on track with my internal goals! What advice would you give to someone who wants to emulate your career path? HK: Intern, intern, intern. Be humble and hungry, and remember: there are no tasks that are "beneath" you. Execute every job perfectly and treat everyone respectfully because the industry is small and memories last forever. KP: Don't ever be afraid to take a risk. Find people who have careers that you admire and study them. Intern, intern, intern. Be persistent, know exactly what you want, and go after it. And be prepared to work really hard along the way. Harder than you even knew it was possible.