Joanna Coles
Joanna Coles

When Step Up launches Power Hour on May 22, it will honor a champion for mentorship in Marie Claire’s Joanna Coles. Joanna has been editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, the smart woman’s fashion and beauty magazine, since 2006. With a mission of empowerment, Joanna has extended the magazine’s readership to 3.8 million and pushed its award-winning mix to cover the issues that matter to women most, big or small, from the best accessories of the season to international journalistic features to inspiring profiles of women on top. Always striving to find new ways to engage MC’s readership, Joanna launched Marie Claire@Work, a supplement aimed at professional women. A runaway success, it established MC as the authority and voice of working women and provided a go-to guide for success.

Exclusively for readers of the Step Up Blog, Joanna invites you to check out the new! Fall edition of Marie Claire@Work

Then, continue the conversation on the Marie Claire Career Network on LinkedIn–the only online community for professional woman who are stylish, smart, and successful–just like you! Join now for exclusive access to networking events, curated career content, and the opportunity to network with leaders in your industry.

Step Up: If a Step Up teen wanted to follow in your footsteps, what advice would you give her?
Joanna Coles:
If a Step Up teen wanted to go into magazines or fashion, I would say start writing and drawing and designing now, and keep on doing it until you get really quite good at it. Use the web as a way to get your work out there. Never be afraid. Once you have something to show somebody, call them up and ask them for 15 minutes to show and discuss your work and ask their advice for your next steps. Be bold.

SUWN: When you were 14 like our Step Up teens, what did you envision you’d be doing for a career?
I always knew I would be in the media. I invented my own magazines starting at age ten, and I was always writing and designing things. I also entered every writing competition I came across, and I won some, which boosted my confidence to continue.

SUWN: It’s been said that your honesty is inspiring to others. Do you see this as one of your signature traits? Why is it important?
I try to be honest because it’s the quickest and easiest way to get things done. I’ve noticed people would rather do almost anything than say no to an idea or to something that someone else wants, even when it’s a terrible idea. It’s a hard thing to just say no and leave it like that, but it’s very liberating. The people you are often saying no to may not agree, but they fail to understand. People understand what a simple no means. If you qualify and say maybe, they get confused. It’s simpler to be straightforward.

SUWN: Tell us about one decision you are very glad you made.
I am very glad I chose to stay in the USA. I came here to report for British newspapers, and after four years my boss called me and said, “We want you to come back and report from London.” But I knew I wanted to stay in America. Though I could see a comfortable future stretching out in front of me in Britain–where I am from–I wanted something that felt more unpredictable. So I decided to take the gamble, get a visa, and stay here. I took a job that involved a big pay cut, but it was an investment in a different future. I worked there for three years and then quite quickly I moved to Marie Claire, and I am so glad I did.

SUWN: What does a ‘typical’ day in the office look like?
I love my job because there is no typical day. I might be at a fashion show in Paris or Milan or sitting trying to figure out a difficult article for the magazine or having lunch with an advertiser. I have never had a job with a typical day. I would find it soul crushing.

Let Joanna Coles know how she has inspired you by commenting below!

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