Caroline’s career is really interesting and I’ve wanted to talk to you about her for a long time now. Not only because she’s as funny as she is brilliant, but also because her career path was anything but linear.
By the end of the interview, she’ll tell us how she went from finance to the front rows of the runway shows, what it means to be streetstyle blog darling and what an adventure it was to take on Tank, an independent art and fashion magazine based in London.
All that, plus this look that I just adore (a hoodie plus those dangly earings, so cooooool!), it’s getting a little out of hand today on this here blog. Ooookay! Come take a walk with Caroline!!! Big hugs!
What’s your official title at Tank?
I’m the publisher and fashion director at Tank.
What did you study in school?
I was always interested in business! I had the opportunity to go to an amazing undergraduate business school in the states called Wharton (Caroline is from Montreal). It was full of nerds and I was one of them! I studied entrepreneurship and strategy.
And what was your first job?
After I graduated, I joined a small management and consulting firm in San Francisco. I got to work for their retail clients–my first one was Nordstrom–helping with their petite and plus size strategy.
So then what happened?
I moved to Texas and helped with the acquisition of Snapple for Dr. Pepper. Then they moved me to Singapore, where my mom was from. There I worked on a financial services client and…that’s when I decided I hated financial services! I didn’t want to be reading books about mortgages on the weekends!!
…I wanted to read fashion magazines. So I asked my old firm to move me to their London office, and I got back into retail with Boots. (Editor’s Note : Woh, I guess you shouldn’t be afraid to move when starting your career!)
How did Tank become part of the picture?
I met Masoud Golsorkhi, the founder of Tank, through some mutual friends. He was looking for someone to help him run the business at the time. I was quite young and naïve and so I thought, “Hell, why not? I’m going to give up a really well paying job and become an entrepreneur in fashion publishing.”
And that’s what I did. I joined Tank in mid 2002 so it’s almost been 10 years now, and it’s the best decision I ever made in my life.
How would you describe what you do at Tank?
On top of all of that, we have a dozen of clients through our consulting agency, Tank Form, at any given time. So it’s shooting an ad campaign or developing a web shop, which we just did for Vivienne Westwood. We also do custom magazines for brands like Levi’s.
Wow! That sounds like a lot. So what’s an average day like?
Literally I work 12 jobs in a day and across 10 projects in a week. I’m between having meetings with the fashion team at Tank, to commissioning writers, or coming up with a new strategic platform for a new brand. It’s so varied and that’s why I love what I do.
Tank is more than a fashion magazine. How do you find the right balance between art and fashion?
It’s a hefty enough magazine that we can cover architecture, art music, and fashion with what we’d like to think is credibility and weight.
How do you feel about covering celebrities in magazines?
We’ve never really gone down the celebrity route. The kind of “celebrities” that we would put (there’s only been 3 or 4 recognizable faces in our 14 years of Tank) people wouldn’t even recognize!
For us, celebrities are famous architects or interesting artists or people who do interesting things, it’s not necessarily the People or the US magazine celebrities that we go for.
If you could shoot anyone for Tank, who would it be?
A portfolio of strong, talented women – Zadie Smith the writer, Corinne Bailey Rae the musician, Shirin Neshat the artist, Donna Karan, Oprah…
How do you fund the magazine?
It’s self-financed. When Masoud and his founding partner started the magazine, they only printed 6,000 copies and sold them out of the back of a truck.
It’s 13 and a half years later now, and we’ve been really lucky to have loyal readers who buy the magazine on the newsstands, as well as a small amount of loyal advertisers.
It’s actually the reverse of any sane publishing group. All of the big magazines make their money through huge amounts of advertising and the newsstand sales are icing on the cake, where for us it’s the reverse.
How do Tank and Tank Form work together?
It’s a tough place, because when we sell a copy in Shanghai, Tank gets the margin a year later. That really pushed the agency to grow really quickly, which is lucky because it’s also helped fund the magazine.
Brands came to Tank because they really loved our point-of-view in the magazine, so they would ask us for some art direction or to work on a specific project. When I came on board, it was to develop the agency side with people who could support the bigger projects and still do the magazine despite the other work that was going on.
The magazine is something we do out of passion and love and we’re lucky we work with great clients because it’s helped Tank to grow organically.
The internet is so fast and economical…why do you continue to do print?
I don’t think print will ever go away. At Tank we focus less on news and try to make it about the things that will last and stand the test of time.
The thing is, nobody really knows what the right business model for online is. So I think our biggest challenge right now is figuring out what is the right business model for online and for print.
We want Tank to be a piece of cultural history that people want to buy and keep in their homes and take with them when they move flats.
And now… Time to interview the celebrity !!! You’ve always been one of my favorite people to shoot for the blog! How has becoming a street style icon affected your work?
I think the biggest impact has been around helping Tank and BecauseLondon, getting people either interested in it again or to discover it for the first time.
Fashion week is just around the corner… Do you think it’s important to sit in the front row?
Fashion show seating is a bit of a mystery. If brands don’t like your magazine, you don’t get invited to their show or you get the nosebleed seats and you can’t really see anything. So what’s the point of going?
Maybe we could have a fashion show viewing party where we sit in front of the computer and eat a bag of donuts, like a football game!
What’s your most memorable fashion week moment?
One of them would be the Dior Couture show at Versailles. Fashion is very much a fantasyland and one of the amazing parts of this job is becoming part of that fantasy.
You’re always so calm and smiling during the shows… How do you manage to stay so cool with all of the hysteria around fashion week?
You have to remember there’s a bigger picture. If you can read a newspaper every day and have a bigger perspective than the fashion bubble that exists, you become much more aware that fashion isn’t your whole life.
You’ve been in Vogue quite a bit recently, what are the perks and the pressures of being a public figure?
I’ve never thought about my hair so much, honestly it’s driving me insane! I never dyed my hair, so I’ve got my white hairs coming out, my hair is like a complete frizz nest, for the first time I’m like, “Oh gosh! I really think I should do something with this hair of mine!” I’ve been trying all sorts of things to make it as glossy and as shiny as possible, but I think that I might need to seek professional help now.
The perk has been being invited to more fashion dinners (and eating yummy food, which I guess is not so good for the fashion industry) and getting to meet interesting people!
I know a lot of young people who are eager to start their own magazines. What advice would you give them?
Just sticking to your point of view and making sure whatever you put out has a very specific point of view. And that the people you work with really share that point of view.
That, and getting a great team. We have 22 people in our studio now. But you need a great publisher, you need a great creative director, and you need a great editor. Those 3 people will see you through years of ups and downs.
What is your biggest dream for the future?
Well, I would like to be the next SI Newhouse (The chairman & CEO of Condé Nast). But, I want to be the next SI Newhouse with an on-line and print marriage that’s future proof.
Ok ! So I think you know a little more about her work – I find it super cool… Well maybe it’s because mine is a little bit the same (except we’re much less than 22 at Garance Dore Studio !).
If you have other questions for Caroline, you can ask them in the comments or on Facebook, I love to bother her with my million questions. And if you want to know more about other careers, fashion or not, just make your suggestions ! I am listenning !
Have a great day !
Check out my other career posts here !!!