Zoe started her career at an art gallery in Amsterdam but quickly learned that she missed the fashion industry. After that realization, she started at Vogue Netherlands as a production intern, later taking on the position of assistant to the editor in chief, and now she is Vogue Netherland's digital editor. Having a well rounded and wide range of positions, as well as her background in Spanish Linguistics and Art History is what contributed to her early success.
This interview took place between Tate and Zoe at The Hoxton in Amsterdam
TVPS: So how did you get to where you are today?
ZR: I have a background in Spanish linguistics, and then I moved to art history and lived in Spain for a bit. After I came back to Amsterdam and started working at an art gallery, which I loved, but I missed fashion.
So I started studying fashion design in a really theoretical way while I was getting my masters. I ended up getting an internship at Vogue Netherlands for production, so something completely different. That's producing fashion shoots and helping the fashion producer with everything.
After two months the assistant of the editor in chief left, so I got to fill in her position. Then last year the position of Digital Editor was available, so I grabbed that opportunity, and I just moved up in the company. I got really lucky.
Yeah, that's amazing. When you were assisting the editor in chief, what was your day to day?
It was really just assisting her in her every need, her agenda, her appointments. I also was assisting the whole editorial team in their tasks.
What does it mean to be a good assistant?
Be organized, professional, and friendly. Take initiative. Make sure you have your shit together so that your boss can do all the crazy things that they have to do.
Can you give an overview of your role now?
Yeah, so I’m one of the two digital editors. We're responsible for all the content on Vogue.NL and all of the social media channels. Since Vogue.nl is a fashion news website, we produce a lot of news articles and social media posts on a daily basis. I think between the other editor and me, I'm more the content maker, and she's more of a coordinator and manager of the team.
Why did you go into digital?
I actually never really thought I'd want to work in digital. Before this job, I was completely oblivious to all the digital trends. But I just love working really hard at full speed because otherwise, I get bored.
My role now compared to when I started a year ago is completely different because the whole digital landscape has changed. It's constantly changing, and I love the speed of it. Now I'm more tech savvy, but I think it was my drive for producing content and doing it in a snappy way that got me motivated to get to know more about the digital world.
Then how does Vogue Netherlands differ from all of the other Vogues?
We produce content for the Dutch market and the Dutch reader, so everything is in Dutch. Something that works in the States doesn't necessarily work in the Netherlands. For instance, Vogue.com is acting like Taylor Swift with Tom Hiddleston is the biggest news ever. Here it does okay for us, but it's not the biggest traffic generator. Instead, our readers are more interested in the lives of Dutch supermodels.
Where does Vogue Netherlands shoot most of their editorials?
Around the world. Paris, New York, Los Angeles. I remember shoots in Indonesia, Spain, and Aruba. Also here in Amsterdam, or at the beach in Zeeland. So really all over.
Then since Vogue Netherlands is a fashion news site, how does that dictate the content that you produce?
We start really early in the mornings looking for news. Anything from a designer leaving a fashion house to a new campaign with a supermodel, so that's really our core, but we don't depend on it.
We also create other content, for instance, it's now summer, and people just want to know what can you do in the city, what's out there, how can you get on your bike without having a sweaty face. So all kinds of stuff, but our core DNA is fashion news. We get a lot of exclusives from PR agencies. They'll contact us and say, "This is coming up. Do you want to be the first one in the Netherlands?" That's really what we strive for, to be the first and the best.
What are some of the challenges and benefits of working with a newly founded magazine but with such a historical significance?
I think the historical significance is amazing because I just feel privileged every day to be working at Vogue. It's such a beautiful brand. They do amazing stuff, but I think it's really fun to work here in the Netherlands because it's so young. We're still “in puberty”. We can just experiment, you know? There are maybe less rules. We're still learning.
Also, the team is smaller because I know the online team at Vogue US is like fifty people, and here it’s two editors, two interns, and one freelancer, so five. I think because of that, there's not as much hierarchy. I can walk into the editor in chief's office and ask a question.
It's funny I interviewed somebody from Vogue Australia, and she said the exact same thing.
Then how has digital affected the fashion industry in Amsterdam?
People want to get their news by digital media. Then Vogue, the print, is more about inspiration. It’s the coffee table book that you will have forever. Print is never going to go away because people always want to have something to read on the couch or in the bathtub, or lay on the table just to have. Whereas for online, you’re just updated on a daily basis.
So why did you choose to work in fashion?
I think for me, fashion is just a part of who I am. It started with admiring what people wore and then grew into me wanting to know more about it on a cultural level. It’s one of the only things that I’m really passionate about. Also having a background in cultural studies and art history has really enriched the way that I view fashion.
Then what’s your biggest challenge right now?
Going offline. On your phone, you’re constantly bombarded with e-mails and texts. Also because I work online, you can always edit. If there's some error in the article, we can change it right away. In the magazine, you can't. That also makes people text me in the middle of the night saying, "You need to change this." I used to get a heart attack every time someone did that, but now I'm learning to say, “I'll look at it on Monday morning.” That's definitely a learning process for me, though.
Yeah just giving yourself time to breathe first is so important. After you realized that you wanted to go into fashion, why did you choose to stay in Amsterdam?
I'm not going to rule out the fact that I'll ever go to Paris or New York.
Of course but just for now.
I think the quality of living here is pretty high compared to other major cities. There’s a lot of green space, and it’s such a nice city to live in.
I love it here so much.
Also, the culture is super down to earth, and everyone is aware of other things going on in the world. People just say what they want to say, and it's a really nice working environment here.
Yeah, so it makes what you’re doing more diverse. Especially featuring the Olympics, which was really cool. I flipped through the magazine last night.
I ran into the grocery store at 10 pm last night, and I was like, "Oh my goodness, I forgot to grab this." I flipped through the whole thing. I couldn't read a word of it, but the photos were amazing.
Do you know who was on the cover? Dafne Schippers, she's an Olympian athlete.
Yeah I looked her up. She’s amazing.
It took two years to get her on that cover.
Yeah because she has such a grueling training schedule. The shoot was in Florida and we only got four hours between her trainings to do it.
That's mad. When I bought it last night, it was the last one on the shelf. Then is there any specific impact that you would like to have on this industry going forward?
No. I just want to do my job and be good at it and have fun and work really hard. I never really think about my impact. I don't even have a five-year plan. I just go with the flow. You know, work my ass off and try to do the best job that I can and be a nice colleague. I'm not really a planner in that way, so I don't really know.
That’s so refreshing to hear; I love that.
Yeah, but some people are, and I'm always really jealous because then they're like, "Yeah, I'm going to do this in September, and then in December I'm going to do this," and I'm just like "I'm just working." I always get to nice places, and I've had a lot of beautiful opportunities along the way.
I’m such a planner I drive myself crazy! I’m jealous.
Don't get me wrong. I am a control freak. I've always been a huge nerd and did my homework on time, so just everything I can control myself, I'll control. Like working hard, that's something I can only do myself. Staying on top of my game and stuff like that, but all the other factors around it like where you're going to be, where you're going to go, which job you're going to get, that's something that just has to happen, and you can't really plan it.
So what’s your take on this generation?
I'm always amazed by how many educated, well-rounded, down to earth, hard working people are in the fashion industry.
I also think it's a lot of fun for this generation because we can really choose. I think it's because of the crisis. People lost their jobs, but the result of that is that a lot of young people are now doing stuff on their own. They're freelancing and working on all of these amazing projects. So that's really a new opportunity for young people.
I could never freelance because I really need a boss to tell me you have to be at the office at this time but for people who don’t need that, they can just be architects of their own career now. It's not like you have to get a job and you stay there for so many years. It's really about what do I want to do? What can I contribute? Which project can I do? It’s also a challenge because we don’t have that security like we used to but especially for the creative industry it’s a time of opportunities.
What advice would you give to someone who looks up to you?
Wow. I feel like I'm doing an Oscar speech right now.
I think just work hard and don't complain. If opportunities arise, take them. Don't think about it. I worked at the art gallery the first year and a half for free. I didn't get paid, but I just wanted to work there. I feel like, for me, I've always been really humble and just hardworking and nice. Then you'll get there.
It's so lovely to talk with you and to interview you because in New York it's so intense whereas here things sound just a bit more relaxed.
Definitely. I feel like at Vogue we're really lucky with the editorial team that we have, and the way that we work. The editor in chief is definitely the boss, and she's so good at what she does, but also if a fashion assistant would want to pitch an idea during a meeting, everyone would listen to her. Everyone is taken seriously. The fun thing about having a small team is if I say tomorrow, "Okay, I want to write about this or about that," my boss will probably just say, "Okay, go do it."