What It Takes To Be A Fashion & Beauty Editor w/ Sara Tan
She’s the West Coast fashion and beauty editor at renowned digital publisher, Bustle, the senior fashion and beauty editor at Please and loving mother to a darling French Bulldog named Oliver James. Her charm and wittiness makes you relate to her as if you’ve known her for years. You live vicariously through her Insta-stories where she shares everything from the glamorous events she attends for work, to her home life, and enjoying her time with her dog and husband. We’re talking about Sara Tan — a proud Asian-American female go-getter, navigating her way through an industry where representation matters most.
My very first job was working for Tiger Beat Magazine. I started as an intern in college and that’s where I got my feet wet in entertainment journalism and I knew I always wanted to be in editorial. My very first interview was with Zack Efron — this was High School Musical days. I didn’t cry but I froze. I didn’t know what to say, I thought he was so cute. My boss just threw me in and I was terrified but it was a great opportunity. After I graduated, Tiger Beat offered me a job and then I worked with the “up-and-coming” stars like Justin Bieber, The Jonas Brothers, and Selena Gomez. I launched Tiger Beat’s blog, I did their social, and got to do so many things. I knew I always wanted to do something in beauty and fashion though, so that passion eventually lead me to working at where I am now with Bustle.
I LOVE pop culture and the internet. I love being on Twitter and Instagram to see what people are doing, what they're reading, how other people are covering things, etc. I love The Cut, New York Mag, Racked, Refinery29, The Atlantic.
Our reader is on Instagram all the time so we just want to know what she’s sending to her friends, who’s she’s following, etc. She informs the kind of content we want to create. I’m also talking with my friends and seeing what they’re into and talking to my younger nieces and nephews. *laughs*
I love hearing their stories and how they got started. I am always in awe of how they built themselves from the ground up but I am more interested in what they were doing before, and how they discovered the world of blogging and social media. I always want to know what keeps them motivated to keep doing what they’re doing because it’s such a cut-throat industry — it’s not always glamorous. I also want to know what they see themselves doing in 10-20 years.
It’s just really tiring. I’m so, so grateful for my job and I worked really hard to get to enjoy these perks but at the same time, I am sacrificing personal time with my husband, dog, family and friends. Work/life balance is what I'm working on. I’ve gotten to meet so many amazing people through this job but many of those friendships don't continue on very long so it makes you appreciate the real friends that you have. It makes you realize how much you miss your best friends, so taking the time to connect with them is so important.
I love a big party but I love the more intimate ones where you can meet the people from the brand, the designers, etc. I get to really ask about the process and story behind whatever we’re gathered there to celebrate. There are so many events and you just grab a gift bag and leave and that’s what I don’t like. Rarely do I go to an event and regret it. Yes, it’s tiring sometimes but I always remind myself how lucky I am to do what I do.
I really think that right now, millennials are treating fashion as something that is custom to them; there’s meaning behind it, versus just following trends. Although there are trends to be followed, I feel like millennials and gen z are more independent in their thinking. Because there’s an over saturation of inspiration, they may feel more inspired to be their own person. There are so many more brands out there that people can shop that we don’t have to just shop at Nordstrom or Forever21 anymore. That makes it fun and interesting.
Growing up, I didn’t get to see myself on TV or in the magazines I read and it was difficult to envision what I could be beyond a doctor, or whatever my parents wanted me to be. My goal when I was younger was to write for CosmoGirl — the editor at the time, spoke to us as equals in her Editor's Letters. I always wanted to help younger women feel more confident in their own skin just like her — that was always my goal. At some point, I lost sight of that. It’s hard when you’re young and you need money so you get wrapped up in entertainment and gossip instead. Being at Bustle, I’m actually getting to do what I want to do. When I do create content like All American and people are reaching out to me because they can relate to my story, it’s amazing and I feel like I’m doing my job — the one I've always wanted. No matter the ethnicity, we all have so much more in common than we think.