We had the good fortune of connecting with Taylor Jean Stephan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Taylor Jean, how do you think about risk?
I’m a freelance beauty expert and editor and I currently write for Cosmopolitan, Oprah Magazine, Elle and more. I also work closely with beauty and lifestyle brands to create original social media content for paid partnership campaigns. When I left my corporate editorial job 2 years ago I had zero game plan, I just knew the way I wanted to feel. Best risk I’ve ever taken. Early in my career, a traditional office experience really worked for me. There was a box to work within and I needed that safety net as I was building my confidence. Eventually, however, that box became too small and I naturally wanted to start taking more risks and be bolder on creative projects. Like I said, this was a very organic process and it didn’t happen overnight (it took many many years, infact). I think that’s noteworthy, because you have to realize you can’t rush personal growth. It’s important for me to emphasize that when I left my job, to forge my own path, I was terrified of the unknown. You have to get to a point where you’re so confident in your own brand or whatever it is you want to share with the world that you genuinely do not give a shit what other people think. That’s when I really started to find my stride. Try to remember that not everything you do is going to work and not everything you put out there is going to resonate. That’s ok. The point is for you to keep going and embrace every step of the process. When you misstep or don’t hit the nail on the head, that’s feedback that points you closer in the right direction. I’ve learned to fall in love with trial and error–something I had a difficult time with in the beginning of my career. I love creative people because they are the most authentic types of people. It takes a lot of courage to say ‘hey I have a crazy idea and I want to share it with the world.’ It also takes a ridiculous amount of work to execute whatever beautiful idea is taking shape in your brain so if someone is doing it, they’re really in it. Just sayin’, you will never see a creative person working 9 to 5.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It’s funny, I’m a UCLA graduate and I recently spoke to a group of current students about making it in the entertainment and fashion industry. This makes me sound so old, but hearing their questions and where they are at mentally really took me back. It’s no secret that a young me was an absolute perfectionist and overachiever and I wanted to have my career all mapped out before I got my diploma. But, of course, that’s not how it works. Did I inevitably land in the career path and job that I envisioned for myself? Absolutely. Was the road to get there what I thought. Nope! I think it’s important to remember you don’t have all the answers and you shouldn’t. Chill out about that if you can and have some fun. Think of establishing your career as a journey of self discovery (this is advice for those who actually want to enjoy their day to day). Take that internship, get a feel for it and decide if it’s a part of the industry you like. If not, try something new. At 21 I was certain I wanted to work in celebrity PR dressing A-listers for red carpets, then I wanted to work in-house at a fashion PR firm trying to land press hits for clients until I eventually landed on my true love: being in the editorial world. If you’re learning about yourself along the way, nothing is a waste of time.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
OMG I used to be so plugged in, but I’m so boring now! I’m super chill and love a good long lunch at one of the old school hotels on Sunset Blvd. Maybe Chateau Marmont or Sunset Tower. You can casually hang and or work there all day and people watch. It’s a very low-key LA experience and super fun for an out-of-towner. I’m always down for a happy hour at Gracias Madre (they have the best spicy margs and vegan food). And if I’m brunch I love a beach moment somewhere in Santa Monica or Venice. Basically I’m always eating.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
In this business you will run into two types of senior level people. People who want to help and mentor you and people who are threatened by you. I’ve encountered both. It really is true what they say: You will never be criticized by someone doing more than you, you will only be criticized by someone doing less. On two occasions I can think of amazing individuals who mentored me through my career: the woman who took a chance on me and taught me everything I needed to know about being an editor and a VP who had worked her way up from the bottom of the company (both, at the time, were doing exponentially more than me). I remember being so floored by how much they wanted to help me be successful, mostly, I learned, because at an early point they had someone extend that same courtesy to them. The latter, however, was an absolute bullshitter who charmed her way to the top and had absolutely no redeeming qualities. The point is, learn to recognize the energy vampires for who they are and lean into the direction of the people that have found success on their own terms and are personally invested in seeing you excel. I’m positive I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support.
My own personal instagram @taytayjean