How did you land an internship at Man Repeller?
Leandra actually extended the offer, which was exciting! By that time (October 2014), I had written a few pieces for them, and then one day I woke up to an email inviting me to come on for the summer.
What was the interview process like?
I guess in this scenario the interview process was a little different. Leandra and the team had gotten to know me, in some ways, through the comments section on the blog, and through the pieces I had written for the site. It was as if I had already created a portfolio for the company.
A fellow MR intern had told me, though, the interview process included the pitching of hypothetical stories, a copyediting test, and a phone interview. All of these in addition to a resume, of course.
What were your responsibilities?
My tasks were pretty wide-ranging, which provided a necessary variety each day. I did anything from pitching and publishing my own stories, to transcribing interviews, to optimizing SEO and taking care of other more technical “back-end” duties. I also supervised reader engagement to make sure the comments section of MR remains constructive and generally supportive in terms of reader-to-reader relations.
What was the company culture like?
The company culture is really interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly , the women who work there are interesting; the growing team is comprised of really strong yet varied personalities. Secondly , the office is a lot quieter than most people expect it to be. This now makes total sense, though. A quiet environment is really the only kind conducive to producing such consistent and frequent content. It’s kind of a paradox- the subject matter is mostly fun and stimulating, but in order to be efficient, the office has to be quiet and productive.
What are the departments at MR?
The company is expanding in new directions fairly rapidly, but currently I believe there is: Editorial, Photo (which includes shooting original images and also photo research), Video/Podcasts, Social Media, Ad-Sales.
Each of these larger departments has sub-categories, of course, wherein new hires are taking on more specific tasks.
How were you influenced by your time there?
I learned a lot at Man Repeller, in both the realms of applied skills, in a less tangible sense. In terms of applied skills, I was able to learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), how to think about and apply business- terms for the blog’s monetary trajectory, and simpler things such as the most efficient way to transcribe long interviews, which was useful when editing MR Roundtables and It’s Kind of a Funny Story. The latter is their interview series on couples in the fashion industry.
However, I’d say the most valuable learned skills were time-management and a flexible attitude. The fast-paced nature of the internet, when paired with the relentlessly forward-thinking nature of fashion, means that there is little time for reflection. It is critical to get a story out at exactly the right time, and even more important to be able to make the decision to cut it if necessary.
I was fortunate to sit in on MR editorial meetings and see how flexible the editors were about storylines. It is very easy to be idealistic about a piece, but I learned from Leandra and Amelia Diamond, MR’s Deputy Editor, how to keep audience and purpose in mind, in order to convey my ideas in the most useful way.
Any favorite stories from MR?
This is a really tough question! I always love Leandra’s fashion week reviews – she’s really come into her own as a fashion critic, and I enjoy the accessibility of her pieces. I also really like one of Amelia’s first pieces, called A Place to Call Home, about moving, identity, and creating connections with the places we live.
My favorite pieces that I wrote for Man Repeller were a review of Saint Laurent’s Spring-Summer 2016 Mens’ collection (Think Venice Beach! Think Santa Cruz flea markets!), and then also a very personal story on performance anxiety. The latter was definitely quite raw, but I hope being honest about such setbacks is helpful to others, and it puts my own goals into perspective.
In your opinion how was Leandra able to maintain good relationships with people in the industry?
I think Leandra has been able to maintain such good, meaningful relationships with a host of industry people because she is so candid. Sure, Leandra has a vitality and quirkiness to her that draws people, but what you do not necessarily realize at first glance is her business acumen. She is also a very serious businesswoman with good ideas, ambitious goals, and a work ethic to execute both. And I think her work ethic has gained the respect of editors, etc, just as much, if not more, than her style.
How is Man Repeller able to stick to one clear vision?
The great thing about Man Repeller is that its development has been quite transparent. The stages of its growth -- from one woman posting once a day, to many employees and further-reaching content – means that the site has seen many faces. Successes, relative failures, they all go into a more synthesized MR vision. So while content spans fashion, beauty, love, fitness, literature, I think the MR attitude (one of independence and vitality), is what allows for cohesiveness.
Still, balancing the MR attitude with broadening subject matter is definitely a continuous editorial consideration.
Was your writing influenced by your time at MR?
My writing was certainly influenced by my time at MR. Generally, I would say the MR voice is different from my “regular” writing voice, if that makes sense. This, I think, has a lot to do with the pace of the internet, as mentioned. Often Leandra or Amelia would request that I cut the first couple hundred words of my pieces and start with one of the sentences I wrote in a middle paragraph. There’s really no space to set the scene for many, many words. Plus, readers lose attention and the goal is to deliver an opinion or information as efficiently as possible.
I am not really sure whether or not I have “my” writing style down yet, so I had a lot of fun trying to write to the MR voice, and also trying to find my own voice within a larger one.