Role Call | Stella Bugbee, Editorial Director

Stella Bugbee, the editorial director of New York Magazine’s The Cut, says that it’s important to be very honest with yourself about who you are and what you’re good at.

Stella Bugbee of New York Magazine's The Cut | Source: New York Magazine

There are few sectors of the economy that offer as wide and interesting a range of career opportunities as fashion. In our continuing series to correspond with the launch of BoF Careers, the global marketplace for fashion talent, we highlight some of the industry’s most interesting jobs and the talented people who do them.

NEW YORK, United States — As the editorial director of New York Magazine’s The Cut, Stella Bugbee oversees the content and tone of the website, which covers topics ranging from fashion to politics and feminism. With a background in art direction and design and a degree from Parsons School of Design, Bugbee has also held roles at Condé Nast and Ogilvy & Mather.

BoF: Please describe your current role.

SB: I am the editorial director of The Cut at New York Magazine. I oversee and edit as well as the six pages of The Cut in each issue. I manage about 13 people on my team, including writers who cover fashion, beauty and politics, as well as photo editors, fashion editors, a social media editor, and a few great interns. I have what I consider a very fun job because my colleagues are smart, stylish women who make me laugh all day. I also get to work with the brilliant editors of New York Magazine and a contributing stable of some of the most interesting women writers on the Internet. I feel very lucky.

BoF: What attracted you to the role?

SB: Originally I came on to The Cut as a consultant during the year leading up to our re-launch in August 2012. I had always admired Adam Moss and Ben Williams and what they had built both in print and online. They wanted a smart, feminist, funny, clear-eyed look at fashion, beauty and issues that matter most to women. I love print but was also interested in learning how online publishing worked. So I stayed on.

BoF: What is the most exciting project or initiative you have worked on?

SB: It’s too hard to pick one thing because we do so many different kinds of stories. I loved editing Robin Givhan while she was writing for us. She is a dream to work with and I felt that the writing she did at The Cut very much represented how I think writing about fashion should be. I also loved a project where we spent six months filming the making of Ohne Titel’s collection from sketch to runway show. It was labour-intensive and well done and showed how a small design team goes about making their work. And I’m very fond of our Out of the Box series where we send a photographer a box of current season designer clothes and let them shoot whatever they want.

But mostly I am proud of the women who make this site all day every day. Assembling this team has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever worked on.

BoF: How is your role changing? What are the forces driving this change?

SB: Recently the magazine added six pages of fashion to each issue and they come from what we do online. I have a background in print so it’s fun to get to use that muscle too. It’s also forced us to think in new ways about how we cover fashion in different formats. The editing process is very different when you’re dealing with a finite number of pages versus the web.

BoF: Tell us about a time you failed and how you learned from it.

SB: I haven’t yet had any spectacular flameouts but I have a very distinct sense of failure related to negotiating a salary when in was in my late 20s. I went to work for an international company and the job had intense, 60- to 80-hour weeks. I was taking a directorial role, replacing a young man exactly my age with similar experience levels. I wanted the job and was excited to be offered the position. I accepted the first offer they made because I was shy about asking for more. Later I found out that the man who had been in the position before me was making 30 percent more than they offered me. I was naturally upset to learn of the disparity but also realised that I had failed to do the proper research and be brave and demand equal pay. They may not have given it to me, but I should have asked.

BoF: What advice do you have for people who are interested in doing what you do?

SB: The best advice I can give is to be very honest with yourself about who you are and what you are good at and don’t waste time doing things that don’t align with those interests and skills. At the same time, I think bad experiences can teach us a lot about who we are, so try to make even less-than-perfect work experiences meaningful by learning from them. You never know when you’re going to use some random skill you learned in a job unrelated to the one you have now.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

To explore exciting fashion industry roles like this and others, visit BoF Careers, the global marketplace for fashion talent.