Career Code: Sally Singer on Why Your Job Title Doesn't Matter
In honor of Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s upcoming book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($17), we’re kicking off an interview series featuring 17 questions (in honor of the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of the most inspirational female leaders in the fashion industry. So far, we’ve tapped Rebecca Minkoff, Emily & Meritt, Rachel Zoe, and more. Up next? Sally Singer.
Sally Singer is quite a woman of power when it comes to the fashion industry. From being the editor in chief of T Magazine to writing several dozen cover stories for Vogue, Singer has continued to prove herself as a woman who knows a thing or two about facilitating a successful career. Currently as the creative digital director of Vogue.com, she is responsible for the website's trademark phenomena like the It Bag 2015 Election and Vogue’s original videos. Singer was kind enough to share with us a few of her secrets to success, what to avoid when starting out in this industry, and the latest Vogue project that has her excited.
Keep reading to learn more about Singer and to hear her crucial advice for anyone starting out in this industry.
"I oversee the content and creative direction of Vogue.com on all platforms."
"That I still write fashion captions."
"For my first job interview in fashion (at British Vogue), I wore a navy cashmere jacket with gold buttons by Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche that I had purchased years before from the “Vogue closet” booth at the first-ever Seventh on Sale. I wore it with a Hanro T-shirt, chocolate-brown Ultrasuede cropped flares (bought for five quid at a sidewalk sale), and Tom Ford for Gucci boots."
"I am most impressed by people who are super-engaged with the larger culture without being enslaved by it (especially in the digital era) and who maintain a fierce sense of independence and privacy. Louis C.K.? The Duplass brothers? And of course I would love to talk about many things with Edward Snowden."
"I am lucky to have friends who keep me relatively in the know. I try to avoid gossip and hearsay and any sites or publications that traffic in it."
"I am not one for regrets. I really don’t have any, period. But I imagine there are stories that I could have published more effectively; I think there have been times when I have been too early or too enthusiastic about a person or a cultural shift. Sometimes it is best to be on the curve and not ahead of it. The internet really teaches one this lesson daily, perhaps to a fault."
"Curiosity, intelligence, passion, humor, and humility."
"A dress in a solid color with a neat waist and (ideally) set-in sleeves. Nothing ironic, tricksy, trendy, flowy, or flowery. Could be in wool crêpe. Low heels. A little bit mourning Italian widow, a little bit 1940s shop assistant."
"Nice but specific. Prone to a messy desk."
"I ride my bike down new streets, watch screwball comedies, read debut short-story collections, download new music (and buy tickets to shows of acts I haven’t seen and crowds I haven’t stood in), and watch dance videos on YouTube."
"Be clear and rational and kind, and consider the relationship you want to have in the future. This is the first day of it."
"At my desk, tortilla soup or a chicken quesadilla from El Vez. If we go out, it's probably to the Odeon for the frisée salad with a poached egg on top and fries. In between eating in and going out there’s PJ Clarke’s at Brookfield Mall, which is a sports bar essentially, filled with larger dudes … but also reliable for a kale salad with grilled salmon."
"Entry-level employees can get too ambitious for the wrong things—titles, masthead placement, external markers of success—and forget to value their actual experience and opportunities to make interesting things. You want to be challenged and have real input in all things; you want your work to grow every day in ambition and direction and scale (if that matters). What people call you, unless it is directly linked to a substantial rise in salary, doesn’t matter a whit."
"I follow my closest friends and collaborators because I love their eyes and their taste: Duro Olowu, Susan Winget, Daniel Arnold, Cass Bird, and Todd Selby."
"I try to meditate briefly in the morning at 5:30 before energetically cooking breakfast for my sons. In the evenings, I always take a hot bath."
"Kim Hastreiter, who is one of the biggest geniuses I know, once said something like 'This (meaning New York, the scene, the industry, everything in her world of the hip and new and brilliant) is only 3%. There’s 97% out there yet to know.' I think about that every day. It influences everything about the way I work."
“The Vogue app, which launched this past week. We have been working on it for months—a real team effort—and it's so beautiful, so intuitive, and so much fun to play with. It personalizes the Vogue.com experience for the user in such a clever, deceptively easy way. I am so proud of it.”
If you had a chance to sit down and talk to someone about their career, who would it be? Let us know in the comments below!