STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: Talk about your career path in detail. Did you face any obstacles?
Yes, definitely! In fact, I still continue to face them. After graduating from Northeastern University a year and a half before the rest of my class, I came out college with a little bit of a fast-paced, overachiever mentality – but in reality, I had absolutely NO idea what career path it was that I actually wanted to pursue. At the time, I was living in Boston and most of the industries that were conducive to my real passions didn’t exist on a large enough scale there, so I took a position in finance purely out of necessity, and I hated every second of it. Within six months, I decided to go to law school, figuring that it would serve as a viable back-up plan, but it was just that for me – a back up plan.
While there were parts of law school that I definitely enjoyed, and I’m extremely proud of the fact that I’ve earned my juris doctorate degree, I wasn’t nearly as passionate as the rest of my classmates about the prospect of actually. . . well, practicing law.
Post graduation, I moved back to New York City, and I worked as a personal assistant to a celebrity, which was a Devil Wears Prada like experience that I ultimately opted out of with good cause (you don’t even want to know!). Almost immediately thereafter, I was offered a job at a digital media company that produced content (mini docudramas) for MSNBC. Since I’ve always loved to write and to be in front of the camera, I took a position there as a producer and reporter.
After more than a year of doing that, I decided that more so than continuing forward in a quest to be an on-air news anchor, I wanted to put together stories in the way that a producer does and to write about them for my readership base. When my contract was up, I decided to leave and to focus solely on my fashion blog.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: Did you always know what you wanted to do in life? What did you want to be when you were little?
Since second grade, I knew that I loved to write, and I received a great deal of praise for my work, which made me cultivate the hobby further, turning it into a form of therapy that I’ve maintained throughout my life. And, since the time of my inception, I was unquestionably enamored with fashion. It should have been glaringly obvious that I wanted to write about fashion (and all things related to young women – beauty, lifestyle, bank balances – or lack thereof — , travel, boyfriends, ex-besties, growing up, etc.), but like I said, it took me the long way to definitively arrive at this conclusion.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: Do you have any advice for someone interested in starting a fashion / lifestyle blog?
For sure – my blog didn’t start garnering a readership base until I was comfortable enough with establishing my own identity and projecting it onto the pages of NoteBrooke. As much as I love certain sites like, for instance, Sincerely Jules and Tuula Vintage, my personal aesthetic is very different, so when looking for inspiration, I stick to forums that are more conducive to my own style. I also think that you cannot underestimate how much work goes into putting up a publishable post. In order to be really good and to set yourself apart from the zillions of other bloggers that are out there now, you have to ensure that everything from your outfit to your hair to your makeup to your nail polish is oozing with inspiration for your readers. I think that’s why women like Olivia Palermo are so successful – because droves of girls are more apt to look at a Google Image photo of her for inspiration than to turn to an editorial spread in a magazine. I constantly push myself to ensure that the quality of my work gets increasingly better.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: What is a typical workday like for you?
This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever been self-employed, so although my schedule is a little bit more enjoyable, I’m actually just as busy as I was when I was producing stories for MSNB.
For me, the day doesn’t start before coffee – no matter where I am in the world (I travel very frequently because that is also a huge component of NoteBrooke.com), I need caffeine to get going. It’s my only severe addiction, so when I’m in New York, I’ll run to Starbucks for a grande iced latte. On a good day, I’ll hit the gym, but generally speaking, I’ll skip that part and immediately start preparing for my photo shoot. I try to shoot three times per week, but the preparation process entails having everything decided upon and laid out beforehand. I like to incorporate makeup, hair and outfit inspiration into each one of my photos, so it takes quite awhile to essentially be my own glam squad and to get “shoot ready.”
When I arrive at the location, I’m usually freezing (let’s be honest – it’s winter time nine months out of the year in New York City), and I try to take pictures that maintain a minimalist palette/don’t have swarms of people in the background, so things get a little manic considering we’re in one of the most cold and crowded places in the world. When the shoot concludes, I go for my second coffee of the day with my photographer, Mentor, and we warm up/review the pictures together. I like to get his input because I think he has a good eye, and he’s really passionate about the creative process, as well. Generally speaking, I then peek into all different kinds of shops in a quest to ensure that I really learn and understand the trends of the season because I definitely want to share that knowledge with my readers. As a fashion blogger, I view myself as a personal shopper of sorts, which means that I need to do my due diligence and to ensure that I’m savvy about my product – just like one would do in any other kind of profession. Afterwards, I come home, write an article for NoteBrooke, and edit all of the photos, which takes a number of hours.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: How does your career affect your stylistic choices?
For the first time ever, I’m free to wear exactly what I want to work. I also learned how to do my makeup by reading books, watching YouTube videos, getting lessons from artists when I was modeling in college, etc., and I’m big on teaching women how to be their own glam squads. That said, I’ve learned that ninety percent of my time as a blogger for NoteBrooke involves behind the scenes preparation, and/or being at the desk in my home office, so when I’m not shooting, I’m often in sweats and a t-shirt.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: What inspired you to create NoteBrooke?
I created NoteBrooke four years ago as a writing portfolio. In trying to break into the broadcast media industry, I figured that it would benefit me to have something that was frequently updated and that showcased the way that I write for potential employers. At the time, I was also in law school, and I was feeling horribly creatively stifled, so I would occasionally post street style pictures, as well. As time went on, I lost sight of the blog, and I didn’t revive it until December of 2014 when I knew that I wanted to focus on it full-time.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: What is one of your most memorable experiences working as a TV reporter?
My most memorable experience working as a reporter was when I produced a shoot on the rampant human trafficking of children that takes place in Costa Rica. The customer base there is nearly eighty percent American, which is a deeply staggering and offensive number, and I felt compelled to bring it to light. My team and I conducted interviews with trafficking survivors at a safe house called Salvandos Corazones; they ranged in ages from eleven to fourteen. We also hit the streets and managed to speak to two extremely brave girls who were still forced to engage in prostitution in order to feed themselves.
During our time shooting this piece, we were detained by police, our passports were seized, and we went undercover to brothels in an attempt to expose as many pedophiles as we could. When you meet a fourteen-year-old girl whose bravery surpasses your own, it’s an eye opener. I worked purely off of this crazy kind of adrenaline that I didn’t even know that I had. My team and I did twenty-one hour shoot days and casted aside our own fears about being arrested abroad in order to get this done in the best way possible for the sake of these girls. That’s when something stops being a job and morphs into an experience that will stay with you for life.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: What do you do to de-stress? How do you balance work and play?
I am usually at least mildly stressed about a plethora of things at any given time, which is an aspect of my personality that I am working to improve. But for me, the most effective way to de-stress is to pray. I like to set aside time where I’m able to be completely alone in order to have a quiet conversation with God. It sounds weird to some people, but I’ve been doing it since I was little, and I find that it helps me to express my thoughts and to find balance. I am also a closeted control freak, so I take comfort in knowing that there’s a higher power who I believe has a long term plan for me. Secondly, I get nail salon massages twice a week – I go to the tiniest little place around the corner from me, and while my mani and pedi are drying, I do a ten dollar massage sitting on a chair with my head shoved in a pillow in the middle of a crowded salon. There is nothing remotely posh about it – there’s usually noise in the background and a gust of wind blowing in every time another customer enters, but it’s an indulgence that I can’t forego.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: What are 5-10 beauty and fashion products you love? Be specific.
Two years ago, I moved back to New York City, and I found myself idly wandering around the Bergdorf cosmetics floor. There, I discovered the Edward Bess makeup counter, and I legitimately have never felt the same way since. I’m a self-professed beauty beast, so throughout the years, I’ve tried every line, wasted hours – and tons of money – on products that were generally underwhelming and called Sephora my second home. So when I found this line, it was such a gift. I consider Edward to be a visionary, and I haven’t stopped using his products since – I never will. They’re light enough to wear during the day, but they still allow you to achieve a sexy, dewy glow in the evening. I also shoot all of my blog photos with them, and they photograph amazingly well too, so this question is a no-brainer for me: