Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gals We Admire: Chantel Simmons

Chantel Simmons has a dream job—three actually! Not only is she the Hair Editor for The Kit and a beauty expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, Simmons also followed her dream to become a published author and to date she's penned two novels. And, as if it even needed to be mentioned, this stylish career gal has fabulous hair!

Name: Chantel Simmons
Profession: Hair Editor of The Kit, Bestselling Author
Twitter handle: @chantelsimmons

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish
Every day is totally different—which is what I love about my career right now. I’m able to work on several projects I’m passionate about, on my own time, in my own office. Here’s a sample day:
7 am: Workout – swim or run (I like to do Nike+ Challenges with other freelance writers—it makes me feel like part of a community even when we’re all working from home!)
9 am: Get a blowdry at Blo @The Four Seasons. As Hair Editor, I love having nice hair, but hate doing it myself, so this is a nice perk. Plus, having bad hair totally ruins my day and I can’t get any work done, so I consider this the first accomplishment of the day. Reply to emails while in chair.
10 am: Back in my home office—finish up pricing and product images for the Fall issue of The Kit, review new products that arrived in mail this week (I get about 5 packages a day, so I try to spend an hour once a week reviewing them and deciding which I’ll test out the following week).
11 am: Prep for a segment I’ll be doing on The Marilyn Denis Show in a few weeks. The producer sends me the segment idea and I fill in the products I’ll be mentioning, plus some fun tips and celebrity references (everyone loves celebrity tie-ins!)
12 noon to 1 pm: Errands, lunch, more emails.
1 to 2 pm: Beauty event for new product. Stop on my way home to check out new shoe store.
2 to 4 pm: Photoshoot for The Kit; we’re all getting new headshots for the upcoming issue. Reply to emails while waiting.
4 to 6 pm: Work on novel.
6 to 7 pm: Check in with book designer—I’m having novels made into ebooks; send to-do list to intern for next week.
7 to 8 pm: Meet my husband for after-work cocktails and dinner.

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
I always wanted to be an author. For the first 10 years of my career, I worked full-time in-house at magazines (ELLE Canada, TV Guide, Elevate, as an editor, and tried to write my novels in the evenings and on weekends. Now, with two novels published, I love that I’m able to work part-time on The Kit from home, and spend more time working on my author career. It’s a dream come true.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love that I’m able to manage my career myself. I’m able to go to the events I want to go to, take on the projects I’m interested in, and organize my day in the way that makes me want to get up and go to work every day. I love my jobs!

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
The magazine industry and the book world are similar in that they’re both really difficult industries to crack into. From September to April, I teach magazine writing and editing courses to post-grad students at Centennial College, and I know the hardest part for them isn’t learning the skills, it’s breaking into the industry. But it just takes some time and perseverance, which all pays off in the end!

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
I wouldn’t call it a “calling”. It was definitely my dream to be a writer, but I believe success (in anything) is 99% hard work and 1% luck. Whenever I’m feeling discouraged, I just remember that all I can do is my best. If I’m giving it my best efforts, things will work out.

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Follow your dream. Don’t ever give up, no matter what anyone tells you. I had an editor tell me I wasn’t a very good writer. I decided that was just her opinion, and to prove her wrong.

Don’t compare yourself to other people. It’s a waste of time and energy, and it’ll just make you jealous and petty – and that’s self-destructive.

Break your goal into bite-size pieces, achievable steps you can reach (in a day, in a week, in a month). Saying you want to be a Broadway star can seem insurmountable, when you wake up in your basement apartment in your flannel PJs. What’s the first step? Taking singing lessons? Auditioning for a community theatre play? Make a list, then make it happen!

1 comment:

  1. Great work, Chantel, it's exciting to be featured!

    It's neat to compare writers' schedules. I need a full morning for writing because I'm a morning person! And once I start, I just want to keep writing.

    Hurray for The Kit!