This time around, I didn’t sit down with an editor, I emailed one! Whenever I went into the office, I’d see the bohemian chic Victoria Hoff and since I won’t be seeing her anymore, I thought to pick her mind a little bit.
Victoria was the Associate Editor of ELLE.com. Yeah, you noticed I said “was” right? Victoria’s headed to California to pursue an opportunity with the sister site of Who What Wear! In the past, she interned with Runway Rundown, Catherine Malandrino, Vogue and even with ELLE before she later got a job there.
Follow us along as we discuss grad school (or nah?), her career path and her old blog!
AIA: You’re traveling all the way to California for Who What Wear! How did you find out about the opportunity? Do you know anyone in the area?
Indeed, I am! I’m very excited–I’m actually out in LA now for training before moving permanently in a month or so. I was actually connected to the position via a former colleague, which was immensely helpful. It’ll be pretty different than what I was doing at ELLE, as I’ll just be covering beauty for Byrdie, which is Who What Wear’s sister site. It actually won’t be my first time living in California, since I went to school at USC for a year before transferring to NYU. I’ve maintained some friendships since then, and I actually have several friends who have recently moved out here. (I’m working on convincing my NYC friends to also make the move–for selfish reasons, of course.)
AIA: What are your favorite things to cover?
While I tend to focus on beauty and wellness–which is what my new role at Byrdie is all about–I also love fashion (and culture, and travel), so it’s hard to choose! Really, the common thread is that I love learning about new or little-known things–whether it’s a cool indie brand or an ancient detox method from a thousand years ago–and bringing that to a wider audience. I’m also game for anything, because it feels most authentic to me as a reader when a writer can offer a firsthand account or experience and weave that into the story, even if it isn’t the focus. That’s why you can often find me doing things like trying a crazy beauty treatment (like the Escarglow facial I tried for ELLE.com) or working out at with a trainer who I might be profiling. It’s part of my research process, and I think it simultaneously makes my writing more authoritative and more personable.
AIA: What other fashion sites or writers do you enjoy?
There are so many! Who What Wear is great for style inspiration–I always pull the site up when I don’t know what to wear in the morning. I love The Cut for its witty fashion and culture reporting. Allison P. Davis always makes me laugh. I’m fairly convinced that the writers at Into The Gloss are living inside my brain–I’ll think of a great beauty story idea and the next morning, they’ll have it up on their site. (This has happened so. Many. Times.) I’ve been watching Byrdie just explode as an amazing beauty authority over the past several months as a reader, which is why I’m so excited to join the team. And of course, I’ll always read ELLE.com religiously–even though it’s a little bittersweet now! I’m not just saying it because I’m biased, but Leah has truly built an incredible site, and the talent on that team (not to mention the esteemed freelance roster) is just immense.
AIA: What’s been a standout/favorite moment from your career so far?
VH: It’s hard to pinpoint it, but I’m really just so proud of my time at ELLE.com. Getting hired was a huge accomplishment in itself, but I had no idea at the time just what I was getting into–the site was just a baby back then, and so was I! I think I decided somewhere in the beginning that I wasn’t going to see my position as an assistant as any kind of limitation, but just go above and beyond my job requirements and tackle any and every story I could, no matter how much extra time or effort it took. (And it took a LOT of time and effort.) Of course, I have Leah to thank for being so open and supportive of this. But when I think about who I was when I first graduated and just a year and a half later, it’s kind of unbelievable. In many ways it was a blur because I was constantly working, but now that I’m on the other side of it, I can really see exactly how much I’ve grown as a writer, an editor, and as a person.
AIA: I noticed that you went to NYU for undergrad. I want to go there for grad school…someday! Are you planning on going to graduate school?
VH: No plans to go to grad school at the moment! It can be very expensive, and many people I respect in the industry who have gone to J-school feel pretty ambivalent about it. I totally respect people who want to commit to that but I’ve learned so much on the job that I don’t really feel the need. I didn’t really have a traditional college experience since I was mostly focused on my internships, and finishing up my credits in as little amount of time as possible so that I could start working full-time, so sometimes I get nostalgic and think about going back. But I don’t think so! I’m planning on getting certified as a yoga teacher soon, does that count??
AIA: I recently discovered that you had a blog, “The Pursuit of Hippieness.” I got so excited and was trying to check it out but was unable to find it. What ever happened to it? That was such a creative name, by the way!
VH: Haha! That was my little corner of the internet for awhile–it started as something for me to do while I was between USC and NYU and just interning in the city, so I had a little extra time on my hands. But it definitely nurtured my love for online writing, forced me to teach myself the ins and outs of coding, and made me really passionate about photography, even though it was more of a journal than anything else. I loved it dearly, but it was also a bit random–it started out as just vegan recipes and workouts and then evolved into more of a lifestyle blog, with fashion, natural beauty, and my travels while I was studying abroad in Paris. Once I started interning at ELLE, I just didn’t have time to update it–and since I was writing online all day anyway, I didn’t feel the need to! I actually kept paying the domain fees for a couple of years since I was still so attached to it, but this year when I got the reminder, I decided it was time to let it go.
VH: The number one thing I always tell college-age kids is that the best way to learn what you want to do is to find out what you DON’T want to do, and that was my grand takeaway from interning so much! I knew I wanted to work in fashion media but had no idea what kind of capacity I was actually interested in, so the only way to find out was to try different things! Even though I ultimately found that most of those things weren’t for me, it was a GREAT way to learn about different areas of the industry and I made so many amazing connections along the way. And when I got to ELLE.com, it only took a week or two for me to realize that this was exactly what I wanted to do.
AIA: How was it like at Vogue? What did you wear?
VH: Vogue was one of the tougher internships I had, but I learned so much there–and it was so amazing to be surrounded by such huge talents in the industry. I felt like I was fangirling every day, though I tried so hard to keep my cool. I’m still very close with some of the interns I worked with there (who have all gone to do amazing things) and we laugh that our style was erm, quite questionable back then. We thought we were so cool, but we were really just playing dress up! I also wore heels for about two weeks before I realized that it just wasn’t practical. We were running around all day! It took months for those blisters to go away.
AIA: First, you were an ELLE intern. Then Editorial Assistant/ Writer there and finally, you became the Associate Editor. How did you move up at ELLE?
VH: I moved up at ELLE by working extremely hard and taking initiative, but always remaining enthusiastic and excited about what I was doing. Now that I’ve been a supervisor to interns, I can see how beneficial that was for me–NOTHING peeves me more than an intern who acts as if she’s entitled to be there, or thinks she’s above something. I didn’t care if I was running the most mundane errand ever, I was just happy to be there. The same goes for when I did get hired full-time: I earned my colleagues’ trust and respect by always being game for anything, always offering to help, but making sure my own work never suffered. Obviously I made PLENTY of mistakes along the way and had days where my attitude was less than stellar, but that was my general MO, and that’s what made my superiors willing to vouch for me. Of course, I had to vouch for myself, as well–if you know you’re doing the work, that’s important too!
AIA: What did you struggle with when you were an intern (anywhere)?
VH: On that note, I think the biggest struggle I had as an intern was thinking that ONE mistake would completely ruin me in my boss’s eyes, and I really let that get to me. I was so in my own head, and just wanted so badly to be perfect. I was putting way too much pressure on myself! As long as you’re not making mistakes consistently, obviously there’s a learning curve. Learning quickly is a huge asset, but you can’t take it so far that one mistake drives you into a spiral of anxiety. And believe that you deserve to be there–there’s a difference between knowing that you were hired for a reason and feeling entitled.
AIA: What tips do have for interns wanting to play a role in fashion?
VH: Be excited and don’t ever think anything–or any job–is too small. You’re there to learn, and even if it doesn’t feel quite right to you, know that every experience teaches us something about ourselves and what we want–or don’t want! Don’t just see it as something to add to your resume. Your outlook on it reflects in your attitude, which is so important.
AIA: Thanks, Victoria – wishing you the very best in California!!! Guys, do you have any questions?! Let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for a style post this week!
- Photos via ELLE.com