Meet Kara McGrath, the Senior Fashion and Beauty Editor for Bustle.com. Kara is awesome, and has some great advice for making your mark and getting sh$t done.
Hey there Kara! Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and Bustle?
I’m the Senior Fashion and Beauty Editor for Bustle, which is one of the largest digital media companies for millennial women. We cover a huge range of topics, including breaking news, sex and relationships, body positivity, books, and, of course, Kylie Jenner’s makeup. Before coming here about a year and a half ago, I was doing similar stuff at Seventeen.com. Before any of that, I went to beauty school.
What was the initial idea behind the creation of Bustle?
I started a year after the site launched (so about two years after the idea for Bustle first started). But I can speak to our continuing mission, which is to build smart, interesting, and fun content for women. We’re very proud of the fact that most of our writers are young women. We are really thrilled to be able to give them an opportunity to write and get their name out there in media.
What were some of the greatest challenges and rewards that come with doing your own thing, career-wise? What current challenges and rewards are you seeing?
I’ve never thought of my career as “doing my own thing,” actually! Obviously journalism has been around for a while (and fashion and beauty even longer), though online journalism is fairly newer of course. I work with a super supportive team, and together we make sure that no one has to be reaching for success completely on their own.
I do love the creativity that’s encouraged working at a startup — especially at the beginning of Bustle, it’s was a lot of experimenting to see what worked and what didn’t. Now we’ve started to realize where our strengths are which is exciting and influences our content a lot, but there’s still loads of room for growth, which means loads of room to execute new ideas and experiment.
What’s your day-to-day motto for managing a team?
I try to keep my focused balanced between the present and what’s coming in the future, only learning from the past rather than dwelling on it. If we’re in the middle of a crazy breaking news day, for example, it’s easy to feel flustered by the amount of work that needs to happen seemingly simultaneously. But I find that focusing on the fact that we will get through it in a couple hours to be incredibly calming and centering. Also, physically writing down to do lists is key.
Who are some up-and-coming-players to keep an eye on in the world of fashion and lifestyle blogging?
I’m really stoked about the amount of diversity we’re starting to see in the blogging world, especially on Instagram. I personally admire/try to mostly follow body positive bloggers, both fashion and fitness-related. This is a very, VERY small selection of some of the writers/bloggers I’m really into right now!
Marie Southard Ospina: "associate fashion & beauty editor @bustle👗loves books, vintage, sci-fi & eating dessert first🍰body posi + fat posi and not apologizing for it"
Gina Florio: "Gina is a writer and traveling yoga teacher. She puts butter on/in nearly everything."
Marlen Komar: "Marlen is a writer first, vintage hoarder second, and cupcake fiend third. "
Ushshi Rahman: "I craft words and hoard sunglasses...Dhaka raised🌃NYC made."
Candace: "International yoga instructor, youtube partner, healthy living blogger and soon to be author."
Olivia Muenter: "Associate fashion + beauty editor @bustle • NYC • Passionate about aesthetics and burritos. And burrito aesthetics."
Breaking into the Fashion industry can be tough – do you have any advice for fashion and lifestyle bloggers or entrepreneurs who are trying to find their niche?
Outside of great writing chops, the number one skill you’ll need is the ability to talk to and sell yourself. Cold emails to hiring managers work sometimes, but you really want to get yourself into the position where you’re at the top of as many people’s minds as soon as possible so that they immediately think of you when there’s a new job opening.
Also, spend some time honing your social media skills. My heart sinks a little whenever I hear someone who’s trying to break into the industry say “I’m not that into Twitter/Instagram.” Use those hashtags! Build a voice! Especially when you’re starting out in the digital space, this is likely to be a big part of what potential employers look for.
What’s the most brave risk an entrepreneur can take?
For women specifically, it’s probably to believe in yourself and be totally confident that your idea is good and constantly tell people why you’re the best. Society hates that. But who cares?
Do you have any tips for developing a brand online?
Start out by sticking to a theme and develop a strong identity form there. Sure, we all (especially writers) have a bajillion interests, but if your main goal is to build a recognizable brand quickly then it’s ok to be a little more niche and stick to the topics you do best. From there you’ll find it’s easier to expand and grow into new and additional areas.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs with a day job…or just an active social life?
I’ve been interested in beauty and writing for as long as I can remember. And working at Bustle means I also get to tap into my other passions that might not seem directly related to my position as fashion and beauty editor, like books, feminism, TV, cats, cheese, music, and photography.
As far as balancing a social life goes, set aside a few days a week where you are never allowed to say yes to a work event and reserve them for hanging out with friends/family/your cat. Also, send yourself calendar events for everything. Your friends probably have a hectic schedule too, so even if they make fun of you at first they’ll eventually appreciate having that on their calendars.
What the hell does “success” look like anyway?
For me, it’s just being happy and proud of what I’m doing every day. Oh, and getting the 11th like on Instagram. That’s success.
What does the future hold for Bustle?
We really just want to keep growing and continue to reach more and more women.
Final question: pie or cake?