(L) Lisa's 1996 head shot. Photography Cindy Sommerfield. / (R) Lisa's best "Blue Steel" in 1996. (lisatant.com)
Editor's note: One of the people I count as a very good friend is Lisa Tant, who is probably best publicly known for her years as the editor-in-chief of Flare Magazine. She turned that magazine around while at its head and I am sad to say that it has never been the same since her departure. After an executive position at Holt Renfrew on the other side of the fashion equation, she recently decided to strike out on her own and build her own freelance brand. I can't wait to see what the future holds for my friend and I encourage you to check out her newly launched blog where you will find, and benefit from, knowledge gained from her years as a fashion insider. I loved this recent post from her on some career lessons learned on how to make it in fashion. It's a question I get asked as well and I think I might just point people to this post as my response from here on in because it kind of sums it all up wonderfully. Enjoy it! xx Cherie
January 10, 1997 to be exact, I landed in Toronto from Vancouver. It was a brutal snowy day but I was on fire with excitement to start the next chapter of my career. I had been hired as the Beauty Editor at Chatelaine, the largest monthly magazine in Canada at the time. And now, as I prepare to move my home base back to Vancouver this week, I realize that the attitude I brought with me 20 years ago is pretty much the same. (The haircut is pretty close too - just blonder!)
Moving across the country was a brave challenge. I left behind a flourishing freelance career (with gigs at The Vancouver Sun, Flare, BCTV and more) and a heritage house that I just started to renovate. (Too bad I sold that!) I came by myself. I only knew a couple of people. Chatelaine was owned by Rogers Publishing - it was my first corporate job. I worked at home in Vancouver, and now I would be in a skyscraper with hundreds of people. I wasn't sure what to expect from work, Toronto or my personal life. Here are the top five things I vowed when I made that move two decades ago - and those vows apply today as I head back to the West Coast. (Although I plan to be in Toronto often.)
ONE - Be positive all the time. I didn't make the decision to give up my freelance career lightly. I couldn't afford to walk away from it. I researched Chatelaine and met with Rona Maynard, its celebrated Editor-in-Chief. I was going to succeed in my new job even if it meant working around the clock. I vowed to love my job, co-workers, new friends, the snow, apartment, the subway as much as I adored my hometown of Vancouver. And I did, without reservation.
TWO - Listen to your instincts. I had a really good feeling about Rona and her team at Chatelaine. I knew that I would learn a lot from this insightful woman. (More on her in another post - she was a brilliant mentor.) And after ten years working freelance on my own, I needed to learn how to work with others in a bigger environment if I wanted to achieve my career dream of being an Editor-in-Chief. My gut told me that this was the right move at the right time. And it was, in spades.
THREE - Just say YES. As I was getting to know Toronto, I accepted all invitations and met a variety of different people. At work, I embraced projects outside of my responsibilities (beauty coverage) and was quickly promoted. I made friends that I still have today. I learned new skills that benefitted my career down the line. And as a result, I built a network that helped support me as my career progressed.
FOUR - Be prepared. My former Girl Guide years set me up for success with the move. I didn't just jump off a cliff and pray for a safe landing. I did my research. I saved some money. I cultivated supportive friendships and strong mentors. I lobbied hard for a great role at the strongest magazine in the country. I took a lot of calculated risks and looked after myself. And it paid off.
FIVE - You got this. Never once did I lose faith in myself about the move. I had the confidence that I would be successful. I had no choice. I forced myself to go out and network even when all I wanted to do was jump on a plane and visit my friends and family. I wasn't going to give up and go home with my tail between my legs. Failure never occurred to me. I've had my share of knocks over the course of my career, but I've always had that confident approach to life.
20 years later, I'm heading back to Vancouver - and will travel back and forth to Toronto for work and social events. I have too many wonderful friends and work colleagues to leave behind. I've followed all five of these vows as I planned my current move. I sold my treasured Toronto home and have embraced self-employment with the same energy and passion as I had for the corporate state twenty years ago. And it feels great - it's 1996 all over again ... older, wiser and just as happy.