Sabrina Santiago

Fashion + Editorial Intern
Russh Magazine + Vogue Australia
New York

Sabrina is a junior at Gallatin NYU majoring in fashion journalism and photography. She has spent time at Delphine Danhier, Nylon, The CFDA, Harper’s Bazaar, and is the editor-in-chief of Visceral8. She is working towards becoming a stylist/editor.

This interview took place via email between Tate in New York and Sabrina in Sydney

TVPS: How do you like NYU?

SS: I absolutely love it. NYU was always my dream school ever since I can remember. I’ve had some really amazing professors and have taken some really interesting classes. I love being surrounded by people of all ages and the independence I have as a student. Being in the heart of Greenwich Village, the pace and energy of New York inspires me everyday.

What are the challenges/benefits to creating your own major?

Gallatin’s “Individualized Major” program is one of the main reasons I chose NYU. I think having to choose one major that you’d like to dedicate four years of your life to seems daunting and limiting. In my case, I’ve always had multiple interests that I could see myself pursuing as a career. Gallatin allows me to merge some of these interests into one major. The major I’m pursuing is Fashion Journalism / Media and Photography. Some challenges of creating an individualized major is creating one that combines interests that can work together and also keeping in mind, “where can this major take me?”

What did you do for Delphine Danhier?

Emailing showrooms, assisting on set of photo shoots and assisting with clothing pick-ups and deliveries as well as other various tasks.


How did you land the internship?

I had been following Delphine’s career for quite a while and saw a posting online that she was looking for an assistant. On a whim, I thought I’d apply despite still being in high school. I met with her for coffee and she gave me a trial week and I ended up interning with her for 6 months. She still calls me to assist her with jobs and acts as a mentor for me.

What did you learn from it?

Working with Delphine changed my life and was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Being relatively young and green ended up being an advantage as I was able to really absorb everything and learn from someone who has had so much success in fashion. Also, fashion really is all about who you know and working on set allowed me to meet photographers, models, makeup artists, etc. In the internships I’ve had since working with Delphine, I constantly refer to things she once told me and tricks I’ve learned from her.

Can you explain the process from requesting clothes to the on set execution?

Delphine would go to showroom appointments or email fashion PR companies to pull clothes for upcoming shoots. The clothes would then be gathered for the shoot and I would be in charge of picking up the clothes at the PR companies prior to the shoot. This isn’t a glamorous job, as it involves long days of traveling around the city picking up garment bags. In the end, seeing all the clothes that were chosen for the shoot is exciting and satisfying.

What was your favorite time on set?

My favorite time on set was a video segment with Camille Rowe for i-D. Seeing the behind the scenes for a fashion video was really exciting and the i-D team was incredible.


What was your first role at Nylon?

I was the fashion intern. My responsibilities included working in the fashion closet, sample trafficking, assisting fashion editors with various tasks, and working on set of photo shoots.

What did you learn from it?

I learned how a magazine runs and how closely each department works together to get the finished product. I was able to see how the issues progressed from start to finish. My responsibilities as an intern were very similar to those I had while interning for Delphine so I was able to transition easily.

What was the company culture?

Everyone at Nylon is a family. The staff is quite small so I got to know not only the fashion team but other departments too. There are bagel / pizza Fridays and dogs running around the office - the fun brand image that Nylon has as a magazine is reflected clearly throughout the entire office and everyone who works there.

And then you were the editorial intern there?

Yeah. I helped the editorial team with various tasks, fact checking editorial content, and writing for the magazine as well as online platform.

What did you learn from it?

It was my first time in an editorial role at a magazine so I wasn’t sure of what to expect. I learned how important fact checking is, how important time efficiency is and how much work goes into a single paragraph of written content.

““I think in today’s social media driven world, for a brand social media doesn’t necessarily have to be authentic in the ‘spontaneous’ meaning of authentic.””

What was it like to switch positions at the magazine?

I was able to try out two aspects I am interested in pursuing as a career and it allowed me to gain a greater understanding of how magazines work.

What was the writing process like from pitch to publishing?

It’s a difficult process and it’s really important to not be sensitive when it comes to pitching ideas. A lot of ideas aren’t approved because other competitors have covered the story or it isn’t exactly true to the brand. I found though that often pitches that aren’t approved can inspire other ideas for other articles and content, so it’s still valuable.

So then the CFDA?

I was the social media/pr intern. My responsibilities included assisting with posting to various social media handles, helping with social media during fashion week and working closely with the Director of Editorial and Communications, Communications Coordinator as well as the Digital Media Manager.

Why did you choose this position?

I’ve always been interested in the CFDA as a company and the work they do such as the CFDA awards and the CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund. I also hadn’t done a PR or Social Media position before so it was a good combination for me at that time.

What did you learn from it?

The internship allowed me to dabble in a bunch of areas. I helped with the CFDA tumblr, which I loved doing, and this task allowed me to work on my photoshop skills and curate content. I also helped in posting on all of the social media outlets in general, and for that I got to work backstage during NYFW and NYFW: Men’s to take photos. This was the first internship that gave me the ability to use my photography background which I really enjoyed. I learned how huge events such as NYFW: Men’s are executed from start to finish, and understood just how much thought goes into social media, and how much of an impact it has on fashion today.

Can that amount of time editing content for social media make it lose its authenticity?

I think in today’s social media driven world, for a brand social media doesn’t necessarily have to be authentic in the ‘spontaneous’ meaning of authentic. At CFDA, I spent hours on one IG post, or 10-15 minutes coming up with one tweet. For a company like CFDA, it’s important to stay true to the brand so it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get the perfect post, which is a different form of authenticity.

What specifics did you learn about the process of NYFW when you got to watch it from start to finish?

I learned about venue selection, budgeting, social media plans, the scheduling of shows- in particular the constant flux of the fashion calendar--set organization, and the planning of smaller events during the week.

““It’s really about time management and being passionate about what you do. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices (like having a day off) to be able to accomplish your goals.””

Is a separate Mens NYFW important?

Menswear and womenswear are completely different even if there is an overlap in designers. Having a separate week gives menswear the opportunity to shine by itself and sets up a platform for menswear designers to communicate their ideas to a more focused audience, who can then really grasp what the designer is trying to convey.

What was the company culture?

The CFDA team is very small and everyone has an extremely large roll in the company. I was the only intern for the communications department so everything was extremely hands on and there was no such thing as “busy work”.

And then Harper’s Bazaar?

Yeah. I was the accessories intern. My responsibilities included maintaining organization and order of the accessories closet, sample trafficking, assisting fashion editors with various tasks in addition to working on set of photo shoots.

How did you land the position?

I cold emailed the accessories assistant with my resume, cover letter and a letter of recommendation.

What was the interview process like?

It was around 10 minutes and similar to most other interviews I had been on previously. If you know the brand and your strengths as an intern, it’s nothing to be worried about.

What did you learn from it?

Harper’s Bazaar is a global brand so the team was huge compared to both NYLON and CFDA. I got to see how the dynamic of a larger fashion closet and the execution of content for a bigger magazine.

What was the company culture?

It was very different from NYLON as a magazine. The office culture was more like typical office and I wasn’t able to get to know anyone outside of the fashion department.

What is the difference of working at a magazine in the US versus Australia?

Russh is a bit more relaxed as compared to Nylon and Harper’s Bazaar. There is still the same drive and workmanship but Australia as a country is more laidback in general, and that attitude is also reflected in the work culture

What have you learned from it?

I’ve been able to write for both the online platform and in-mag, which has taught me to alter my writing style to fit the specific tone of a brand.

““I can’t picture my life without creativity and I believe I’m my best self and thrive professionally when I’m surrounded by those who are itching for that same outlet and for something new.””

What is the company culture?

It reminds me a lot of NYLON, the team is really small and young, and they have become one family. The in-house editorial team is also all women, which is really fun.

And also the editorial intern at Vogue Australia. Wow.

What is your role?

As an editorial intern I am in charge of transcribing interviews, researching for upcoming articles, and pitching and executing content.

What have you learned from it?

I’ve learned how to write news articles for a magazine as large as Vogue and how much research goes into the in-mag stories.

What is the company culture?

Everyone is extremely down to earth and there isn’t much of an organization by position in the offices, so even as an intern I’m immersed in the team.

How do you balance two internships at once?

It’s really about time management and being passionate about what you do. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices (like having a day off) to be able to accomplish your goals.

““I’ve learned that in most cases: you are your biggest obstacle.””

And you also have a side project!?

My two best friends and I created a zine entitled Visceral8. We focused on the word “guts” for our first issue, and every image in the zine was a play off that word. We were in charge of all of the photography, styling and editing. In addition, we were the only subjects in the zine. Before mass-printing the issue we wanted to be 100% sure about the printing quality, and we weren’t completely satisfied so we’ve decided to hold off. We’re still in the process of working on it and rebranding a bit, which is exciting! It’s always great to have something tangible to put your name to.

What makes a good intern?

Never saying no, having thick skin, and being passionate.

Do you have any favorite stories from being on the job?

Working with Brianna Capozzi and Molly Bair on set for Interview Germany.

What’s the most rewarding aspect to what you do?

Being surrounded by others who are fueled by the same passion, ideas and creativity. I can’t picture my life without creativity and I believe I’m my best self and thrive professionally when I’m surrounded by those who are itching for that same outlet and for something new.

Who are your role models in the industry?

Delphine Danhier, Olivia Bee, Melanie Ward, Zadie Smith and Phyllis Posnik. They each have a unique way of seeing the world that inspires and excites me. `

What effect is the digital world having on the fashion industry?

Things are becoming more accessible and can reach a wider audience. It’s easier to become inspired and be aware of upcoming stylists, photographers, models, etc. which I really love. I think the negative side is that there is an elevated need for instant gratification, and often I think that makes the industry lose its magic.

Where do you think magazines are headed?

Personally, I think there will always be a market for print magazines. Yes, much of it is shifting online but for myself, online is incomparable to being able to hold a magazine in your hands and turning those thick matte-pages. I’m also a hoarder and have accumulated quite a collection that I’d like to keep expanding.

““It’s important to try new areas to see what you do and don’t like. I might try out PR for example and fall in love with it and then I can compare this to other areas I’ve tried and decide what direction I’d like to go in.””

What changes do you think magazines need to make to survive in a digital world?

I think there should be a stronger selection of content and no roll over in terms of what is going online/in-mag. This would make readers more likely to buy issues as the content in-mag would be totally separate from content online.

What has this industry taught you on a personal level?

I’ve learned that in most cases: you are your biggest obstacle.

Do you have any short-term goals?

Continue to intern and gain experience, try out new areas in the industry, have no expectations and meet new people.

Long term goals?

Eventually I’d like to be a fashion editor for a fashion publication or start my own. As an editor, I’d be able to be immersed in everything I love: fashion, art, writing, travel… etc.

Why do you want to try different areas?

It’s important to try new areas to see what you do and don’t like. I might try out PR for example and fall in love with it and then I can compare this to other areas I’ve tried and decide what direction I’d like to go in.

What is your biggest challenge right now?

Trying not to focus 100% on the future.

When did you know you wanted to go into this industry?

I’ve known I wanted to do something within fashion and the magazine industry since I was roughly 13 years old. I loved to read when I was younger and my mom often had fashion magazines lying around the house. I remember falling in love with Harper’s Bazaar. My dad also used to shoot photography which also gave me a creative eye at an early age.

Did you start out knowing people in this industry?

I knew absolutely no one and my parents had no connections so it was completely up to me to make my own.

““Keep pushing for it even if it seems impossible. Make a list of the places you’d like to work and make it happen, you’re the only one that can.””

How would you like to see the industry evolve and how will you be apart of that happening?

I’d like the stereotypes associated with the industry to change, in particular the image of the arrogant fashion editor. If I do become an editor, I don’t want to alter who I am due to my position, and I would try to help the younger generation to accomplish the same dream I had.
If I become a fashion editor, I’d like to help young aspiring editors and incorporate vintage and thrifting more. I think repurposing clothes isn’t just great for the environment, but it challenges the eyes of editors and makes fashion more accessible. I know I don’t have $500 to spend on a pair of shoes, and I can say that the majority of people don’t. Fashion shouldn’t be elitist.

What is your take on this generation? Where are we headed?

There are so many innovative ideas that are coming to life due to this generation. I think we have the benefit of being in a generation that can appreciate both the valued of before and after the tech boom and we can use this knowledge to our benefit.

Why is it helpful to see the before and after of technology as opposed to the generation below us?

The younger generations grew up with iPhones and instant gratification at its maximum, while we had a period of time where we didn’t. We can reflect on both the past and the future of the media industry and become more grounded in whatever we field we choose.

What advice would you give to someone reading this interview thinking I want to be the next Sabrina Santiago?

Well, I’m just like everyone else, but I’d say keep pushing for it even if it seems impossible. Make a list of the places you’d like to work and make it happen, you’re the only one that can.