If you follow Made Woman Magazine on any of our social channels you know we <3 nails! Nail art allows you to show off your personality in your otherwise buttoned up work look. I know that when I look down at my fresh mani, I feel polished (pardon the pun) and like I have my sh%t together. Cuteness aside, we rarely think about the huge billion dollar industry around nail art and nail care. Beyond just polish there are nail artists, models, bloggers, and magazines that cover the hot trends in nail art. One such publication, NAILS Magazine, keeps up with all things nails and claims Beth Livesay as a Senior Editor.
Beth is a dear friend of mine, whom I’ve know since our freshman year of high school. I’ve watched as Beth has taken her talent as a writer and turned it into a very successful career. Aside from being a writer and editor for Made Woman Mag and NAILS, she has been published on the Huffington Post, Hello Giggles and was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times for her contributions to Apronology Magazine.
Now that we are grown women, I wanted to get Beth’s insight on what it takes to build a career in digital publishing and how she stays creative in such a deadline driven world.
Serena Watson: As a writer, how do you stay creative and get past writing blocks?
Beth Livesay: To be honest, I feel like I have blocks often. That's the main reason I started my personal blog (www.coutureovercoffee.blogspot.com), so that I could write about the things that interest me outside of nails. It's been a great outlet for me to find myself again creatively and to challenge myself to maintain the habit of blogging.
SW: What traits or skills help you be successful at what you do?
BL: Self-discipline is key. I work in a deadline driven environment, so there are days where I can't let myself take a break or leave if something's not done. You have to be able to self-motivate to succeed. Honesty is also vital. Communicate honestly with your colleagues and superiors so that you can manage the tasks at hand in a timely and professional manner. But also be honest with yourself. I've learned the hard way about biting off more than I can chew. There has to be a time where you are willing and able to say "no.”
SW: What is a typical day like as a Senior Editor for a beauty magazine?
BL: My day is jam-packed, which is why I really like my job (I hate being bored). I oversee social media, so I open up Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram right away. We have a daily nail art blog, which is where I start Pinning from, then I try to Tweet and post to FB immediately before reading through notifications we have received overnight. Once I am caught up on that I try to get in a daily dose of reading, if there is time. I love Women's Wear Daily, Buzzfeed, and Style.com (if it's Fashion Week). I have my editorial run-ups with the due dates right next to me, as well as my own personal to-do list. Almost everything on my to do list involves writing an article, creating web content such as blog posts or photo galleries, social media tasks, or putting together our digital magazine. If a cool product comes across my desk or something fun happens in the office like a photoshoot, then I will stop my work flow to Instagram it, but otherwise I am buckled down to my set list of deadlines and to-dos.
SW: As part of your job you get to attend fashion shows to check out the new trends in nails. You recently traveled to New York Fashion Week to see the Spring/Summer collections. What was that experience like?
BL: New York was overwhelming. I don't know if there's a way to really prepare yourself for Fashion Week. It's crazy because nail companies don't always have their schedules finalized until the last minute, and things change constantly, so I went with a loose schedule that ended up changing as I was in New York. Backstage at Fashion Week is insanity! Everyone is scrambling around frantically and the spaces are usually very tight. You have models having someone work on their hair, makeup, and nails at the same time. I saw Libertine, Opening Ceremony, Alice + Olivia, the Blonds, and Raul Penaranda, all amazing shows in their own right. There is nothing like being that close to exquisite clothing! I also was in the same room as women whose work I admire so much. I was too starstruck to talk to them. I just admired them from afar. [Laughs]
SW: It seems nail trends have gone global. We've seen influential designs from Europe and Japan but what do you think will be the next big thing in nail art?
BL: Nail competitor Chris Mans told me recently that he predicts Eastern Europe will be the next big place to look to. It makes sense to me, with so many influencers in fashion coming from places like Russia. When the rest of the industry craves something different, I think they're going to look at the shapes, lengths, and artistry from that part of the world and become very interested.
SW: You were a Creative Writing major at Pitzer College. How did that shape your writing career and prepare you to succeed in your field?
BL: Pitzer was my top choice for college because of their Creative Writing program. I loved my time at Pitzer; it was a top rate education. However, since I studied writing there, I don’t think I can say that my college career aptly prepared me for the particular job I have now. The business side of the Creative Writing major is to learn about publishing, agents, and continued education, because that’s what most writing students go on to pursue. The majority of my classes focused on writing, reading, and getting feedback, which is what I wanted and what I miss about my time in school. I work with a lot of people now who studied journalism, and that might be a better route to take if you know you want to be a magazine editor. I actually didn’t know that’s what I would end up becoming when I went to college. I just wanted to write, plain and simple. I knew it was a tough career choice, but there wasn’t any other option for me. I think if you love something, you have to have the mindset that it’s do or die. Anything else will fill you with regret. I am so blessed in that I stumbled upon this amazing career that encourages creativity, and where I get to use my love of language. No, it’s not the type of writing I was trained to execute in school, but I learned from my many experiences as a freelance writer how to editorialize and now I always have my training as a creative writer for when I write for myself. I work with artists on a daily basis, so my education has really helped me appreciate everyone’s artistic ability and empathize with the passion they have toward their craft, whether it’s making nail art or making magazines.
SW: What is the most challenging part of what you do?
BL: Unplugging. I am so used to being wrapped up in social media for work and for reading the news that it’s sometimes difficult to back away after work or on the weekends, but I believe that you have to step away for your sanity. Another challenge we face daily is not getting too caught up in competition. Sometimes it can be motivating to aim to do better than your opponent, but other times over-competitiveness can be your own downfall.
SW: What advice would you give to others who hope to turn their passion for writing into a career?
BL: Keep writing. It’s the cardinal rule. Not everything will be published and not everything you write will be good, but just keep working at it. If you love writing it won’t matter what job you have, because you can always write in your spare time. Don’t be afraid to share that writing via blogging or freelance work. Eventually clips add up. Build a portfolio and use that to get the position you want. I started out freelancing right after college while I held a tutoring job. Had I not had a substantial amount of freelance experience, I don’t know that I would have been offered my first editorial job. You have to start somewhere.