Monday, August 22, 2011

Get Like Me: Julee Wilson

Aspiring to break into the fashion industry or simply intrigued by it? Well LoveBrownSugar has something for ya! Our “Get Like Me” series highlights exclusive interviews with industry insiders from celebrity stylists to fashion designers, editors, fashion PR heads & more!

Behind some of your favorite national glossies about fashion & beauty are hardworking and dedicated editors who devote their time and energy to scoping out what's hot, what's fresh and what's "in". Julee Wilson is one of them.

As the former (and first African-American) Fashion Editor at Real Simple Magazine, Julee Wilson has recently stepped out into the world of digital and now holds the title of Style & Beauty Editor at Huffington Post Black Voices. Now at the helm of a career switch with a fab September wedding in the works, I sat down to chat with Julee about her industry experience, her fashion & beauty faves, and what it takes to work in the world of fashion editorial...

Name: Julee A. Wilson
New York, NY
Personal Style in 3 Words:
Whatever makes me feel good. I'm not that girl who has a "signature style" but I wear what makes me happy. From something downtown hipster to a ladylike ensemble. Depends on my mood!
Favorite Designer(s):
Tracy Reese, Jil Sander, Celine
Must-Have Accessory:
Shoes! Underneath my desk at Real Simple, I had at least 15 - 20 pairs at my disposal. I can wear a pair of leopard flats in the morning and then midday just slap on a pair of YSL wedges.

I saw that on your Real Simple blog - you're wearing 5 pairs for your wedding right?
Yes, I'm absolutely a shoe girl. I have five pairs for my wedding, and I'm wearing every single pair.

Tell us about the defining moment when you realized you were destined to be an editor.
I always knew that I wanted to be in fashion and write about it. My first internship was at Bergdorf Goodman in the buying department. I had a family friend who worked there so that was my in. But from there, I knew I wanted to work at a magazine. So I contacted an editor at VIBE Magazine. I really loved her work, so I kept emailing and calling and calling and emailing. Finally, she called me in and she says "Ok, there's a thin line between persistence and annoyance, and you were right on that line. You have the internship, because I can tell you're hungry for this." That was the moment when I realized something special was happening.

What was your best New York Fashion Week experience of all time?

My best experience was my first Tracy Reese show. I was wearing one of her dresses. I knew who her parents were because they always sat in the same place and after she'd come out, they'd give her flowers. So while I was waiting for her to come out I went over to her parents and started talking to them. I told her mom, "I love your daughter! Each season, I save up all my money for one of her pieces." And at that moment her mom says "You need to meet Tracy!" I thought she was kidding. She brought me backstage and I had enough courage to ask Tracy to sign my dress. So she unzipped my dress in the back and signed her tag. And I have not worn that dress again, since that day.

What's the best sample or gift you've ever received as a fashion editor?

I've been so blessed to get so many lovely and incredible gifts that I honestly cannot pick one. I appreciate everything from a pair of $10 earrings to big expensive handbags. I cherish them all the same. But really, the thing I cherish the most, are the amazing relationships I've made with PR people. Some amazing and awesome friendships have blossomed from working relationships with PR folks.

You're prepping for a wedding this year. What are your absolute wedding must-haves? 

Shoes! My multiple pairs of shoes. I wasn't really obsessed with my dress until I stumbled upon the amazing designs of Katie Ermilio. I'm really excited about that, I haven't seen the finished product yet but that's really important to me. But, really it's just about my shoes and my man.

Greatest accomplishment to date?

Probably falling in love. Finding my fiancé. He's amazing and as mushy as it sounds, being in love puts everything in perspective. I feel so blessed that I've been put in a place that I have an amazing career and I have awesome family and friends, but I'm also hopelessly in love. He elevates all of the positive aspects about me.

Three pieces of advice for aspiring editors?

1. Have passion and persistence. Doors will close in your face, but stay the course. Just get yourself in the door and work hard. The rest will work itself out.

2. Be true to yourself. The industry can be superficial. See the value in it and what you can add to it, but don't get lost in it. Fashion is this incredible way of introducing yourself to the world without saying a word. Just know your worth in the industry and stay focused.

3. Never underestimate the power of networking. Sometimes that word has negative connotations, but networking and meeting people and developing relationships makes your job easier and makes it more enjoyable. It can truly open doors for you. Also, get to know people regardless of whether they can help you immediately. For example, I met a woman in book publishing and managed to stay in touch with her although she didn't work in fashion. When I first moved to NY to pursue my career, she was nice enough to let me stay in her home. Relationships like that are invaluable.

What’s in your purse?
AOL/HuffPost Orientation Folder (I just started there!), Aleve, Nars Lipstick in Fire Down Below, Norma Kamali Cat Eye Tortoise Shell Sunglasses, a pair of Matt Bernsons, the Lia Sophia newest runway collection, an iPhone 3GS (for work), iPhone 4 (my own), my iPad, Boxing Kitten bowtie pin (for last minute accessorizing!)

For more from Julee Wilson, keep up with her style column at Huff Post Black Voices. Follow her on Twitter @MissJulee.

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  1. Great read...i remember reading her tweets from last winter during Fashion week. Love to read and learn more about fashion editors and their personal nature.

  2. Emailing and calling calling and emailing...a woman after my own heart. So encouraging thanks for the inside scoop

  3. This was a great post! I love loved Julee's work for years. So happy to see her thrive and shine! Kudos to both Christina and Julee!

  4. love this post very helpful and inspiring!

  5. Wow great interview! This was absolutely inspiring and enjoyable to read! Thanks for sharing!



  6. I just had the pleasure of meeting Julee at a thrifting event, and this was such an insightful article. So inspiring--I just loved the part where she shared how she kept calling and emailing for that job opportunity. Keep up the wonderful and hard work on your blog.....well done.