This past semester I worked with Vogue Contributing Editor, Elissa Santisi, and her assistant, Molly Kennedy. I could blab on and on about how amazing it was, but I thought my time would be better spent sharing Molly’s perspective. I’ve always wondered what it takes to be an assistant—especially a Vogue assistant. Just like any kid out there with a fervor for fashion in some far off land, Molly was born in Williamsburg, VA and knew early on that fashion and writing was what she wanted to do. Read in her own words how she was able to transcend the boundaries of colonial Virginia into the bright city lights of NYC.
Growing up, Molly got a healthy dose of travel before finally settling down in New Jersey, where she resides now with her fiance, Peter. “My dad is a museum director so we moved a lot growing up. I was born in Virginia, in Williamsburg, then we moved to upstate New York where I lived until I was about 9. Then we moved to New Zealand where we were until I was about 15, and then we moved to Boston where I was a Freshman & Sophomore in high school. And THEN back to New Zealand,” where she received her B.A. in Art History from the University of Auckland. Reading this, I’m sure you wouldn’t find it surprising to know that she considers traveling to be a huge source of inspiration when it comes to her work as a stylist.
After New Zealand, Molly and Peter lived in Zurich for about a year. It was at this time that Molly experimented with her own creativity. “I didn’t have a working visa there so I was kind of left up to my own devices. I had a really strong interest in writing and in fashion so I always wanted to fuse the two and I ended up writing for Pete’s sister’s website TURNED OUT. I also started writing a fashion column for a PR firm that was based in New York. It was just a way to fill my time when I was in Zurich.” Molly didn’t stop there, she eventually started her own fashion blog. “This was three years ago so blogs were just becoming the phenomenon that they are now. I used it more as a platform to show my writing and my interest in fashion. I thought that since I wasn’t working in a mainstream sort of way, it was a great way to showcase what I’ve done and what I could do when I started to apply for jobs when we moved here [in NYC]. We always knew we were going to end up in the New York area.” (Take note; if you want to be a writer, then write! When I personally go on interviews and ask, do you have any advice for someone like me who wants to be a writer/editor; 99.9% of the answers are: START WRITING! Practicing your craft is like practicing a sport—you’ll get better, which means you’ll get noticed. Whether you blog or even just jot down your daily musings in a diary, you’re basically working the same muscle. Ok, now back to Molly.)
New York City, like Frank Sinatra says, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” Luckily for Molly, she made it, landing her first assisting job at Teen Vogue. It all started with an introduction, “a friend introduced me to her boss, Heathermary Jackson, who is an editor at Teen Vogue. I was lucky enough to assist with them on a few different photo shoots and I loved it!” It was in this moment that Molly found her calling. “I loved being on set. I think that’s a good sign, if you see a stylist or someone you want to emulate as a career and think, ‘oh I can do that;’ it shouldn’t be intimidating and it should come to you very easily.” Once Molly found what she wanted to do, she assisted a lot. “I worked at Victoria Secret Pink for a couple of years, assisting a couple stylists there and then ended up styling on my own there a little bit. Since it was part-time I was able to work with the people that I had met through assisting and then start shooting my own stuff and started building on that. I look at the first fashion story I did, it’s really embarrassing, but you just have to go through those growing pains.” By the way, you should check out her site to see her more recent editorials.
So what’s Molly’s advice to students just like us? “I would say don’t put off a good idea that you have. Do it right there and then because somebody else will do it. Also, trust in what you think is a good idea; people are bound to agree with you. And just really only have people on your team that you feel are beneficial and that you admire and have mutual respect for. And don’t spend all your money. Don’t file for bankruptcy. Avoid that.”
Working with Molly and Elissa this semester was the highlight of my Spring semester. I learned so much and met so many insanely talented people. Internships really are the best possible way to get firsthand experience. Meeting great people like Molly along the way should motivate you to realize that if you work hard enough you really can pursue your dreams.
-Written by Lauren Sanchez, Design and Management BBA ’12