Nina Garcia, editor-in-chief of Elle, has a job that many would love to have — but that doesn't mean it's always smooth sailing. The publishing industry, like almost every other industry, is undergoing a technological revolution and jobs are at risk. "The future of publishing is much in line with the future of other industries," says Garcia.
The secret to being successful, keeping your job and even scoring a role like hers? Staying ahead of the curve.
"With every technological shift, our world — and our jobs — get disrupted. I always tell people to pay attention to what's happening now and imagine where we're going," she tells CNBC Make It over email. "There's a place in the future for all of us, but it is up to each person to recognize that change and figure out how what they are doing now is relevant in the future."
Keeping up with trends, both in fashion and tech, has been crucial to Garcia's success. For 16 seasons she served as a judge on "Project Runway," a show that reinvented the way audiences interact with and think about fashion. She has written four books about fashion, each one evolving from the previous, and has approximately 4.5 million engaged followers on social media.
Before being named to Elle's top position, Garcia worked in the fashion industry for three decades. She got her start working for fashion brand Perry Ellis under head designer Marc Jacobs in the early 1990s. Garcia then made the jump to fashion journalism and climbed her way up the industry ladder from an assistant stylist position at Mirabella to editor-at-large at Elle. In 2012 she began working as the creative director of Marie Claire and in 2017, Garcia returned to Elle as editor-in-chief.
In her relatively new role, Garcia is trying to make her innovative mark. "I understand firsthand what the DNA is," she tells The New York Times of her return to Elle. "I am looking to amplify the DNA of the brand. It's bold, it's provocative, it's inclusive, democratic, it's innovative."
And while fashion trends may be her first passion, she finds industry trends particularly "fun." She says that readers today are looking for personalization and customization — and technology can make it happen. For instance, Elle partnered with HP to personalize 50,000 copies of their April issue with subscriber's names.
"Publishing is evolving with the rise of technology and as editors, we have to embrace the opportunity to engage with audiences as a multi-platform brand," she says. "I've never been afraid of change and have embraced it. It's an opportunity, not an obstacle."
Garcia also recommends that young people use mentorship opportunities to open doors and stay ahead of the pack, just like she did.
"You need somebody to give you a chance, and there are a lot of people that will give you a chance if you work really hard and you have a passion for it," she says. "That is how I started, and I'm constantly finding new mentors as the industry changes. We can always expand our knowledge base and personal connections are essential to that development."
Today the mogul deeply understands how rapid industries evolve but she was less confident when she was younger. The piece of advice she wishes she could give her younger self? Keep cool.
"Change is inevitable, and you should embrace it as an opportunity. The fashion and news industries are always about change. Just because something has been the status quo does not mean it will continue to be so," says Garcia. "We are all active producers of our own future."
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