Moving to the Big Apple and creating a career out of nothing is usually not a rare feat. You research what companies you want to work for, you ask for informational interviews, and you — sometimes — drink an unhealthy amount of coffee just to keep up with the ever-changing, fast-paced environment that most of us call the Concrete Jungle. But no matter how hard you hustle, it can sometimes feel as if you’re just running in circles, chasing your own tail. Thankfully, there are a few places you can run to when you feel lost and confused and need a quick pick-me-up to get over that always-exhausting career hump — and today’s Boss Babe’s site, Making It In Manhattan, is the perfect place for you.
Caroline Vazzana always knew she was meant to work in the fashion industry. Ever since she was little, she was fascinated by magazines, clothes and everything in between. After interning for a couple of renowned fashion companies (like Anna Sui and Marie Claire), she eventually landed her first job after college at Teen Vogue, where you learned the ins and outs of the editorial industry. Now, Vazzana is a flawless human being who not only writes, but styles celebrity clients and runs a career-centric site called Making It In Manhattan. Even though Vazzana eccentric style and work ethic will capture your eyes, her larger-than-life personality will capture your heart. Meet the one girl you *need* to have in your clique, Caroline Vazzana.
Staten Island, NY
New York, NY/Staten Island, NY
An accessory you can’t live without:
NYC bar for a post-work happy hour get together:
Designer you could live in for the rest of your life:
Next travel destination:
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved in the fashion industry.
When I was about ten years old, I knew I wanted to work in fashion. I originally thought I wanted to be an artist actually. I spent a lot of time painting and drawing and used to enter art contests in the city. But, after Project Runway premiered, the thought of drawing and designing clothes really fascinated me, and from there I spent a lot of my time cutting up old dresses I had and sewing them into a new purse or top. As time passed, and I went to college for fashion, I realized I didn’t like formal sewing classes and needed to figure out what I wanted to do in the industry. I decided the only way to learn about different career opportunities was to do internships. My first internship was with Anna Sui in her production department right in the garment center, where I eventually ended up coming back and interning with her again during NYFW, which was such a great learning experience. After that, I went to intern at Marie Claire magazine. At Marie Claire, I was given the opportunity of working directly with one of their editors who really took me under her wing and gave me a crash course that summer in the editorial world. After that experience, I knew I wanted to work in editorial and I landed my first job after college at Teen Vogue.
You also created the widely popular site, Making It In Manhattan. Tell us a little about that and what you hope your readers to take away from the site.
I started the site really as an outlet to just share lessons I’d learned working in the industry. From mistakes I had made, to great advice I’d received — I wanted to share it with others. Soon after, I was receiving countless messages from readers telling me they loved the content and from there it’s just continued to grow. I now have several freelance writers who contribute to the site regularly. I’m super thankful for my background in magazine journalism though, because that’s what has helped me with a lot of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the brand such as, planning an editorial calendar, SEO, and the overall design of the site. From Making it in Manhattan, my overall hope is to shed light on the industry for the future generation or to inspire someone who is hoping to make a career change. I can remember what it was like when I was first starting out in my career, I didn’t know anyone in the industry, so MM is my way to give back and help others.
Before the inception of Making It In Manhattan, you were an editor at high-profile magazines like Teen Vogue and InStyle. Do you ever miss that typical 9-5 office job? And how do you feel this past experience has shaped your work ethic today?
I absolutely loved the time I spent working at both Teen Vogue and InStyle. It was the magazine experience every girl probably hopes she has one day, and I am incredibly thankful for that. I will say though, I don’t really miss having the typical 9 to 5; I absolutely love having the freedom to create my own work schedule and not having to sit behind a desk every day. Most days now, I’m running around the city and writing on my phone while on-the-go, which I find more exciting. With that being said, and I briefly touched on it in the last question, I owe my success with Making it in Manhattan to my experience in the magazine world. The skills I learned while working there are things you could just never learn on your own. As a result, I am constantly working 24/7 and pushing myself, and the site, to be the best it can be. I also feel very thankful to have friends who are still editors that I can turn to for advice or input when I need it.
Give us a brief synopsis of what a typical work day looks like now.
So now I can happily say that no two days are ever the same. One day might be spent writing and editing all day, another I might be running around the city for meetings with designers and various events, and another day I might be styling an editorial shoot or celebrity for a red carpet. I just take each day as they come because I honestly never know what each one has in store.
What was the greatest piece of advice you believe you have received?
I always say that the best advice I have ever received actually came from my older sister. I was in high school, and was actually pretty shy and realized I wanted to break out of my shell. I would look at my older sister who was fearlessly outgoing and had tons of friends and I wanted to know her secret, so I asked her for advice on how to break out of my shell. So, she asked me, “What do you get out of being shy?” When she asked me that, everything just kind of clicked.
Your social media presence is out of this world. How did you build your Instagram account over time and what do you believe was the biggest obstacle to build your audience?
I think for me, my secret was just always remaining authentic to who I am. Posting content that is real. My goal is to help my followers feel as though they can connect with me. Whether through my colorful and eclectic style, a caption on a photo, or through a video — I just always try to be my most authentic self and hope that that resonates with someone. The biggest obstacle about building an audience is definitely that the market is very over saturated right now, meaning there are so many fashion accounts out there so to stand out and get noticed can be pretty difficult. But, just keep working at it and don’t get discouraged.
As someone who has lived and worked in NYC for quite some time, do you believe NYC is the end all for fashion careers? Do you believe the job market is expanding beyond the island?
I definitely think when you’re first starting out, New York is a great place to be in terms of fashion. There are so many job and networking opportunities that will really help you get your foot in the door. With that being said though, there are definitely opportunities outside of just New York depending on what you want to do. And now, with social media being such a big part of the industry, it is definitely possible to create a brand and business no matter where you are.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?
I hope to continue growing Making it in Manhattan, expanding its readership, interviewing new and exciting people, and growing it into to a well-known site in the industry. I also hope to do more appearances, maybe speaking at colleges or conferences — or even teaching a college course. I also hope to continue to share my insight into the industry, and maybe one day will have a book.
Any advice for future boss babe, especially those looking to enter into the fashion industry?
Work really hard, network a lot, and be kind. Networking, especially, is the key when first starting out, so do your best to meet as many people as possible. It’s often not what you know, but who you know that will help land you your next job. Also, the fashion industry is super small, though it may seem big, so be kind to everyone you work with. I promise it will pay off down the road.
Written by Raven Ishak
Photography via Alyssa Greenberg
Office space c/o Crowns by Christy