Meet Jenn Barthole and get a glimpse into her life as a Senior Editor for SHAPE Magazine.
1. Tell us a little about your background – did you always want to pursue a career in fashion/editorial?
It's funny, I grew up collecting hundreds of magazines and books, they were like pieces of art to me and I always dreamed of being a writer. This passion continued while I was in college in Baltimore. Even though, there weren’t many glamorous media jobs available, I was determined to express myself and wrote museum reviews for the local newspaper and started a fashion blog. By my senior year, the fashion blog had gained popularity and evolved into a show that I hosted on our local college TV station all about students adapting runway trends.
I worked on the show tirelessly and it consumed me (in a good way). It excited me so much that a month before graduating college, I decided to pursue a career in fashion (despite having no industry connections). I ended doing 4 overlapping internships the summer following college, which seems crazy in hindsight! My final gig ended up being a PR internship at Carolina Herrera and it was one of the best working experiences I’ve ever had. During my final week, my boss pulled me aside and told me that I should shift my focus from PR to becoming a fashion editor. She set up an interview for me at MORE magazine for a fashion assistant role. I had never considered this career path but I got the gig and the rest is history.
2. What would you consider your first career “big break” and how did that put you on track to get you where you are today?
My first “big break” was landing the Fashion Market Editor role at Cosmopolitan for Latinas magazine. The team at Hearst had created the “Latin version” of Cosmopolitan magazine to reach a new demographic and it was treated like a start-up environment. The budget and resources were limited so we got scrappy to make the magazine as beautiful and impactful as possible. I was given the creative liberty to style models and celebrities, build close relationships with brands, represent the brand in TV interviews and really grow as an editor.
3. How do you define your personal style?
Comfort is a priority to me so I like to merge classic silhouettes with feminine details. For the winter, I wear lots of blazers, cozy knits, and tailored coats with unexpected textures, colors, and bold details to make it feel unique.
4. What are some trends you’re seeing and loving for spring?
For spring, I’m loving the short-suit trend (matching blazer and shorts set) that can be worn to the office with great loafers or the weekend with sporty sneakers. It feels both polished and playful. I’m also excited that tie-dye and animal prints are still relevant but being shown on more sophisticated items—polished bags, boots, trench coats, etc.
5. What is your favorite piece from the Rag Poets spring collection and why?
My favorite Rag Poets piece is the Villa Paradiso Reversible Sweater because it’s such a timeless item that has endless styling possibilities. I would dress it up with a silk slip skirt and boots or just rock it on the weekend with leather leggings and a bold bag.
6. What is one style tip you would give to all women to help them define their personal style?
When it comes to defining personal style, I think it is important to start with the basics that you need on a daily basis—a great leather jacket, a white blouse, the perfect weekend t-shirt, etc. From there, you should add items that bring you joy and show the world who you are. These pieces can be trendy or not an “everyday” item but they make you smile and say something about yourself which I think is important.
7. In honor of Women's History Month, who is a woman you look up to and why?
I look up to the women in my family—particularly my mother—who immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti and dealt with so much adversity and never lost her grace. By choice, she is a teacher in an inner city elementary school, which is riddled with problems, but she has remained there for 15 years to help the large Haitian population there that reminds her of herself as a child. It’s a constant reminder of the power of gratitude and the strength that lies in giving back to your community.
8. Why is women’s empowerment important to you?
Women’s empowerment is so important to me because so many strong women have lifted me up or offered help without expecting anything in return. As an adult, I volunteer with organizations like Step Up, who focus on encouraging high-school age girls, especially in high-risk neighborhoods, to believe in themselves by preparing them for college and celebrating their dreams.
9. How do you stay confident when facing challenges?
When I find my confidence wavering I remind myself how far I’ve come in an industry I only dreamed of working in and how much more I’m capable of achieving. Sometimes I have to be okay with not being the “best” or “most popular” but remind myself that hard work and tenacity are just as important.
10. What’s one piece of advice you would give young women out there looking to grow in their career?
I think it is important to be flexible and allow your career path to develop organically. Nothing is permanent or guaranteed so it is smarter to focus on building relationships and experience. I set out wanting to be a full time writer and ended up in a career in fashion because I remained open and trusted my mentors.
For more on Jenn Barthole, click here. To visit SHAPE Magazine, click here. To shop the new Rag Poets Spring Collection, click here.