Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Q & A | Author Stephanie Simons

The power of social media is not to be dismissed (thank you Twitter!). It's how I connected with Stephanie, a native San Franciscan with one impressive resume. She's a multi-hyphenate and all-around overachiever: author, global brand strategist, beauty and fashion editor and writer. She has worked with some of the most successful brands in the fashion and beauty industry: Benefit, Sephora, Piperlime, Banana Republic to name a few.  And by the way, Manolo Blahnik (yes, the one and only) called her "the real Carrie Bradshaw." Meet Stephanie Simons.

Congratulations on the upcoming release of your first book, All’s Fair in Love and Wardrobe! Was it always your goal to be a writer?
Thank you Jill! Now that you mention it, I used to spend a disproportionate amount of time on my English homework, probably an early sign of wanting to be a writer. In high school my English teacher was a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively. Her classroom was the only one in the entire school with windows, flowers and music (rumor has it my high school used to be a prison). I looked forward to every class.

Once I got to college, a professor took my under her wing and told me I should be writing professionally. I was just a freshman when I began writing feature articles and pitching ideas for a regional magazine; the school paper didn’t really appeal to me. On some level, I think writing books was always my goal. When I was growing up, my grandma used to bring me a new book every time she’d visit, and my mom and dad used to make up all sorts of funny words and nicknames for me, so I learned to love language and “make it my own” very early in life. As far back as 1995, my journal contains notes to self like “write the book already!”
Pre-order your copy now at Barnes & Noble!
The book is a guide to navigating the often murky waters of both fashion and dating.  How did you conceptualize melding the two?
The idea for All’s Fair In Love And Wardrobe was born when I was working as the editorial manager for Piperlime and actively dating. That was when I began seeing so many similarities between shopping for clothes and shopping for love. The fleeting highs. The empty-handed lows. The thrill of the hunt. Many of the single women I worked with were beautiful, intelligent, funny and well-dressed; some of them had attracted A-listers and athletes, but that didn’t guarantee luck in love. We’d share our dating horror stories between conference calls to Rachel Zoe, or in the accessories closet between photo shoots.  Forever bonded by questionable boyfriends and boyfriend jeans.

The idea for Chic-tionary came about halfway through the first manuscript when I realized all of the humorous words I was making up should actually become their own book. It’s essentially the Urban Dictionary of new style lingo.
Both upcoming books were illustrated by the uber-talented Malia Carter.
Click here to pre-order Chic-tionary.
As a FIDM alumni, I appreciate the fashion and beauty industries, but often feel like the majority of brands out there are lacking depth and substance with their brand messaging. As an industry insider, what’s your take?  
I’ve worked on a lot of branding projects for global retailers. Sometimes the ones that do aim for depth and substance quickly decide to go another route because it doesn’t make fast money and there’s not a lot of patience. It’s interesting, fashion changes so quickly and yet it’s the one industry where people at the top are the most fearful of any sudden change.

What was your first ‘big break’?
I think I’ve had a lot of little breaks that collectively equal a big one. I’ve done a lot of unusual things, from being first-runner up at Miss California USA to appearing on The Bachelor: Paris. And I’ve written about all of them along the way. I’ve recently realized each one was a stepping stone to getting where I am now. I remember being in Paris, freshly rejected off the show, and saying to myself “Thank goodness, look at all this shopping I get to do!” That was the point when I realized I wanted to be a fashion writer and when I came back I was pretty determined to make that happen.

You’re the talent behind naming products and collections for some of the most popular industry brands (Benefit Cosmetics, Stella & Dot).  I’ve always thought that would be one of the coolest gigs out there.  How did you come to collaborate with those two companies?  
When I was at Benefit Cosmetics I had the opportunity to work directly with co-founder Jean Ford who is one of the funniest, most brilliant creative minds on the planet. We got along instantly because of our on-the-fly, wild brainstorming style. That brand was such a perfect fit for my writing style. I could make up words and eat Skittles (which were always within arm’s reach) all day long.

What is your dream for yourself?
Is it too early to start dreaming of another book? I certainly have one in me.

What or whom inspires you?
Most of my work these days is very solitary so I’ve learned to surround myself with inspiration and motivation. I have an outdoor work space, my own chick lit library, a magazine collection that spans the last decade and a chalkboard that always has a different phrase on it. This week it’s “fate loves the fearless.”

Follow Stephanie on TwitterFacebookPinterest, and Instagram!