Career Code: Allure's Editor in Chief on How to Kill It in the Workplace

Faith Xue

In honor of Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s upcoming book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($17), we’re kicking off an interview series featuring 17 questions (in honor of the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of the most inspirational female leaders in the beauty industry.

Reinventing something beloved is a monolithic endeavor—daunting at best, impossible at worst. Plus, there’s the whole fear thing. What if the new iteration doesn’t work as well as the original? What if it's a complete disaster?  We’ve stopped ourselves from getting snip-happy on a well-worn pair of Levi’s for this thought alone. There’s a reason why things like ice cream, denim, and lipstick have more or less stayed unchanged since their conception (and also why the Cronut craze was so short-lived—some things are better left unchanged). But there comes a time in every lifespan when change is not only encouraged but necessary. This leads to the million-dollar question: How do you evolve with the times while staying true to your roots? Many brands have attempted this and failed. Many people have attempted this and failed (our thoughts drift to the Kardashians, but they seem to have it figured out). Michelle Lee, Allure’s new editor in chief, is not one of these people. The former editor in chief and CMO at Nylon comes to the beauty magazine with over 15 years of experience in the editorial field, including strategy positions in both digital and print (she launched Us Weekly and CosmoGIRL, and held the title of editor in chief at In Touch Weekly).

Lee brings her past experience and fresh eye to Allure, and has been slowly but surely reinventing the iconic 25-years-young glossy. Flip through the recent issues of the magazine and you’ll see features on social media–adept It models like Bella Hadid alongside industry mainstays like Naomi Campbell (all hail the queen!). This is no coincidence, we can assume; the magazine is ushering in its new age while letting readers know it won't forget its storied history. The classic Allure layouts you’ve come to expect (and love) are infused with pops of color and an eye-catching new design aesthetic. Suffice to say, the magazine is in the middle of a renaissance—and Lee is the fearless artist leading the way.

So, back to that million dollar question: how does one manage such a reinvention while keeping the soul of the brand (and one’s sanity) intact? We caught up with Lee via email and asked this question and all of her secrets to success, as well as how we might apply her advice to our own careers (a sky-high pair of heels is recommended). Keep scrolling to find out how to kill it like Michelle Lee in the workplace.

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