|Photo: Katie Friedman Elle.com 2014
Danielle Prescod has the career that most fashionistas dream about as Fashion Editor at one of the world's most popular and well respected publications. She travels all over the world in the name of fashion, attending exclusive runway shows, chic parties, and befriending our favorite designers and models alike. She is only one of the few (very few) women of color to hold such a position within the industry, oh and did I mention she also gets invited to the Met Gala. Yeah, the Met – like, do I even need to keep listing things? Trust me I know what you’re thinking. All of these wonderfully glamorous things sound like the makings of a straight up cold-hearted fashion snob, rightfully so, but Danielle is different; she's one witty sweetheart with one hell of a sense of humor, who I adore to pieces.
I had the opportunity to speak with Danielle, who dropped some tweet-able gems about how vital interning is for a successful fashion career, diversity in the industry, and some exceptional advice to aspiring hopefuls everywhere.
Sabrina Dunn: For many of us who choose creative careers we often have to deal with backlash from our family. They either don’t understand our career choice, or simply don’t think it is the best choice for us. So first of all, how did your parents feel about you wanting to take up a career in fashion?
Danielle Prescod: My parents were hugely supportive! They have two daughters who work in fashion, not just one. When I first was starting to work in fashion my mom didn’t understand it at all. She was like, “I can’t believe you are working for free,” and “are you sure this is what you want to do?” But they never tried to discourage me – they were always like, “As long as you work hard and you’re happy, we’re happy.”
SD: These days it seems as though people are less inclined to work for free. They feel they are too talented, or perhaps just too entitled to intern. As someone who started their career interning at Nylon and Teen Vogue, how critical would you say interning is in order to be successful in the fashion industry?
DP: I think it is a huge part. I learned so much when I was interning! Especially in fashion because you’re sort of invisible when you intern, so as long as you’re good at observing, you gain so much knowledge. Interning gave me a huge advantage and I even switched colleges in order to intern even more because I realized it was such an important asset in order to build a career and get a job in fashion. You can’t really get past that, it’s required. Everyone does it and everyone pays their dues.
SD: How did you land your job at ELLE.com?
DP: It’s a funny story actually. About a year ago, I was writing a personal blog about online dating and it was getting seen by a lot of people. I then met Leah Chernikoff, the Editor of ELLE.com, at a social dinner in Paris, it was just like a friend thing. She told me she had read my blog and wanted me to write for them. It was sort of complex because I was working at Moda Operandi at the time and I was just doing my blog on the side for fun. It wasn’t like I was ever supposed to make money off of it or anything. Then a few months went by and I had been at Moda for over two years and thought maybe it was time to try something else. I emailed Leah and from there I did an edit test and we just clicked right away. It ended up being the perfect fit.
|Photo: Katie Friedman Elle.com 2014
SD: Many people look at your current job at ELLE.com and think it’s all glamour and fun. What are some of the challenges of being a Fashion Editor?
DP: The thing that is most challenging about my job is the pace for sure. We move so fast, the Internet is insane. I remember, this happened last week, Kim Kardashian put up an Instagram and we were all holding our breath because we had to wait a full eight minutes before we could get everything coded and ready to go on the website, and I mean, eight minutes! It seems like absolutely nothing but that sort of panic happens every single day. We are always trying to be the first and get everything up faster, and you have to make sure that everything looks perfect and there are no spelling errors. It’s a lot of pressure!
SD: Recently there has been a resurgence of black models and women in the fashion industry, do you think this is just a trend right now, or is this a sign of race relations improving?
DP: Well, I think in general you will always run into stories where people are talking about diversity problems and how minorities are underrepresented in fashion, and because of that huge backlash, people are finally starting to make sure that every culture is being represented. I know that we [ELLE.com] are already committed to diversity in a huge way, and I make sure to represent all races and ethnicities in my work, whether it’s a street style slideshow or a fully photographed fashion feature.
SD: As a woman of color yourself, how has your experience of working in the fashion industry been?
DP: Well I’ve been really, really lucky. People are generally very supportive of me, and all the people I’ve worked with have been very forward thinking.
SD: What advice would you give to aspiring Fashion Editors?
DP: My advice is to read and learn as much as you possibly can. The Internet is great because it is an endless pool of information. I’ve been actively reading fashion magazines since I was like 14 or 15, but there are so many things that people older than me remember and loved, that I missed. So I’m able to go online and find these images. Having that historical knowledge is a really important tool. Being a hard worker is also really important because working in fashion isn’t easy! As fun or glamorous as everything sounds or looks, there is a lot of work that goes into it. I’m never going to put up a picture of me wheeling a rack of clothing down the street, but sometimes that happens. Also stay really humble and make sure you listen to people that know more than you. Don’t take criticism too harshly, ever. Personally I love it when readers criticize my work, it’s awesome. They really keep you on your toes and it makes you better when you can see what people are responding to, what they like, and what they don’t like.
For more on Danielle Prescod be sure to follow her on Twitter + Instagram @danielleprescod, and of course check out her work in action over on ELLE.com!