Lisa Smosarski is the Editor-in-Chief of Stylist magazine and has been at the helm since its launch in 2009. Stylist is a free weekly magazine for women, featuring thought-provoking articles, the best fashion and beauty buys, travel and lifestyle. We are big fans of Stylist and Lisa’s phenomenal work as the editor; always pushing the boundaries, empowering women and keeping it honest and real with a dash of humour thrown in for good measure.
Lisa started her career at the young age of 21, she first became a junior writer at Bliss magazine. At 25 she was the editor of Smash Hits and then of More magazine before deciding to join the team at Stylist. She lives in North London with her husband and their son Dylan.
Having the opportunity to interview Lisa right before Stylist Live event was incredible. We discussed all things fashion, publishing industry, lifestyle balance, career highlights and more.
Please read our interview with Lisa, follow her journey and make sure to visit Stylist Live this weekend!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT AS THE EDITOR OF STYLIST? DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHT? There are three moments that really stand out for me. The first is interviewing Hillary Clinton, a fascinating and inspiring woman who proves you can be kind and incredibly powerful. The second is creating a special issue in just 24 hours in a pop-up office. We didn’t sleep, almost froze to death, encountered a small electrical fire and yet found creative inspiration amongst the chaos. It was also really emotionally affecting to have so many readers to turn up to be a part of the experience. That really makes a difference. The final one was producing an issue from the Saatchi gallery, we essentially became an installation in an attempt to answer the question: what is modern art? I love that clash of culture, creativity and experience – it’s such a unique magazine to work on.
Work hard, be prepared to be disappointed and find a way to get back in the saddle, remember it’s only work – fun work at that – and don’t take it too seriously, get as much experience as you can in your chosen field (experience is everything and shows dedication and passion), enjoy it and be kind.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE FASHION INDUSTRY AND THE ROLE THAT MAGAZINES PLAY THESE DAYS? ESPECIALLY THE BALANCE BETWEEN PRINT AND ONLINE? The fashion industry is working through momentous change at the moment, which is brilliant for customers – more choice, faster turnaround, technology that can enhance the shopping experience and experiential environments to shop in. The customer is king (or should I say queen?). That in turn has created new opportunity with print and digital for content creators like Stylist – it is brilliant to be able to bring the aspirational fashion stories to life with video, or show the authentic and real side of a shoot, we can be incredibly useful through print and digital too – inspiration, how to wear not just what to wear, authentic fashion and insider trends. We have different platforms that mean we can talk to our reader in different accents – that’s brilliant for us but also for our audience. You can find what you know what you want at a touch of a button, but also find what you didn’t know you aspired to in print – we still have the ability to surprise. I also think the explosion in digital media is an opportunity for brands. Trust and authenticity are buzzwords because it is hard to know what voices speak with authority online, having a reputable, trustworthy and proven brand allows you to have trusted engagement with that audience.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THE ‘STYLIST LIVE’ CONCEPT AND HOW DID IT ALL COME TOGETHER? We have always run events at Stylist, and Stylist Live was the culmination of a series of successful smaller events – the living, breathing incarnation of the pages of the magazine. We discovered early on that our readers are passionate about Stylist and keen to get up close and learn more, to expand their world and immerse themselves in new experiences, which is why Stylist Live was such a hit. We created an event version of our main pillars – fashion, beauty, career, people (talented and inspiring women) and lifestyle (food specifically) – and turned these into micro events within one big space. So you can see a catwalk show and an inspiring talk that will help your build your self esteem or start a meaningful business, have a manicure and learn some new crafting skills, laugh along with your favourite comedian or try out a new hair tutorial. It is the event version of how rounded we want our lives to be. This year we’ve doubled the size, moved to Olympia in West London and have over 100 incredible speakers on the bill. The energy at them is amazing – it’s incredible what happens when you bring groups of women together.
YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY VERY BUSY, JUGGLING MOTHERHOOD, FAMILY LIFE AND YOUR CAREER. WHAT DO YOU DO TO UNWIND? Haha, unwind… I can’t say I do much other than work and parent right now. But I do love a good wine, great chat, lovely food, the odd massage and an experiential night out (think Twin Peaks pop ups and giant bouncy castles). As for sport, I went for a run for the first time in 18 months last weekend… I just need to try and make sure the next one comes around a bit quicker!
WHAT/WHO INSPIRES YOU? Women who have been incredibly successful in their fields – Sheryl Sandberg, Zaha Hadid, Hillary Clinton, Anita Roddick – and funny women. I am overly impressed by humour and as a result have worrying obsessions with many comedians (Julia Davis, Bridget Christie, Jennifer Saunders… to name three on a very long list).
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING FASHION STUDENTS WHO WISH TO BUILD A CAREER WITHIN THE INDUSTRY? Work hard, be prepared to be disappointed and find a way to get back in the saddle, remember it’s only work – fun work at that – and don’t take it too seriously, get as much experience as you can in your chosen field (experience is everything and shows dedication and passion), enjoy it and be kind. I am never failed to be bemused by people who think you need to take a Devil Wears Prada attitude to fashion – I surround myself with supportive, kind, helpful people. That’s far more important.
WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN? You’re not an ambulance driver… nobody dies.
WHAT WOULD YOU BUY IF MONEY WAS NO OBJECT? Some more time to myself – maybe on a beach in the Maldives or a swanky spa!
LET’S TALK ABOUT FASHION… WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE GO-TO PIECES FOR EVERYDAY DRESSING AND WHERE ARE THEY FROM? I am famed for wearing black… and am currently trying to surprise everyone, but the goth-inside always wants out! I am currently in love with culottes and jump suits, which I’ve bought from the high-street because it’s probably a passing whim (Whistles, Asos and a couple of little independent boutiques). I am very in love with my black Donna Ida Ivy High-top jeans (I have three pairs), and some blue Victoria Beckham ones which I’ll often wear with a pinstripe VB top, and I have a black Zara blazer that’s a few seasons old I’ve worn to death because it goes with just about everything. Shoe wise my three favourite pairs are a gorgeous low black heel, pointy suede tow and mesh sides by Bionda Castana that are no longer being made and I’m devastated, my Chloe Susannah boots and some lovely Rupert Sanderson buckled stiletto heel boots.