I am SO EXCITED about today’s post for two reasons. One, this is the first post of a new series I’m bringing to my site called “Friends In New York City.” Essentially, I wanted to introduce you to different people in my life who I admire and love and who have kick a$$ careers and just have them talk about their job, their life in the city, themselves and any advice they may have. I’m obviously biased, but I think my friends are great, and I’m really excited to introduce you to them in this new series.
And to kick things off, I’m EXRA EXCITED to introduce you to a longtime friend and someone I am completely obsessed with, Emma Benshoff.
Emma and I have known each other for years ever since we met at Cosmo/Seventeen. I interviewed her for an internship position and was so impressed with her passion, energy and excitement. It honestly reminded me of how much I wanted to be in the magazine world plus she took the time to hand write me the sweetest thank you card after the interview. Emma and I grew incredibly close during my time at Cosmo/Seventeen and she was truly my rock and helped me survive. You guys know that job was so crazy and I spent most nights staying till 10 or midnight and honestly Emma, as an intern would stay with me just to keep me company and help me out and to this day, I love her so much for that. She also really inspired me by her creativity and pushed me to think of new ideas and really play around with my photos.
Emma now works in publishing, is a fellow book lover, is a fellow Disney lover, has the best style and Instagram account, has the cutest apartment in Brooklyn, throws the best book club and themed parties and is all around my favorite person. Can you tell I’m obsessed with her?!
So today, I asked her to make a guest appearance on the blog and talk about everything from her job to her Instagram to her life in New York City to her love of Disney and skincare.
CAREER & NEW YORK CITY
From your perspective, how did we meet & become friends?
Linda was my internship supervisor and gave me my first real media experience, so obviously I love her forever. But we bonded pretty much instantly and hung out all the time. She’s one of the best bosses I’ve had and taught me so much!
Can you tell us about your current job?
I work at Random House Children’s Books as an associate publicist, which means I work with authors on all types of books, from picture books to YA. I work on a lot of influencer events and pitch authors to appropriate outlets.
How did you get started as a publicist in the publishing world?
I seriously applied to probably 50 publishing jobs and interviewed 6 or 7 times before getting hired. I have always loved books and reading so it was a pretty natural transition for me, but it definitely took a while! It’s all about networking and getting to know people who work in the industry.
I know everyone always asks you this, but is your job really like the show Younger?! And what does your day to day look like?
Hahahah, it is definitely not as glam as Younger, and obviously no one dresses like them! But I love Younger and there are definitely accurate aspects!
Day to day, I usually spend a few hours pitching in the morning, depending on which books I’m focusing on. I usually have a meeting or two, sometimes about events we’re putting together or book festivals we’re going to. I also draft up press releases and monthly roundups that go out in a newsletter. When an author is in town, I’ll accompany them to media and events. Every day looks different and it is super busy, but personally I prefer a busy day!
Any advice for someone looking to break into the publishing world?
Network as much as you can — the publishing world is super small. Know your stuff — go into interviews with specific reasons you want to work in publishing and books you’ve read by that specific imprint.
As someone who was born in New York, I feel incredibly lucky that I never had to pack up and move here because I honestly don’t think I could or would be brave enough. So I am in awe and really admire how brave you were to just pack up and come to New York as an intern and then eventually move here for good. What was that like & do you have any advice for someone looking to move here?
Moving to New York is super hard, and I’m the first to admit I would not have been able to do it without two key things: one, my parents helped pay for my expenses during my internship and when I first moved to NYC (though I paid them back). Two, I was lucky enough to have extremely generous friends (hi Stina & Sean!) who let me live with them for a ridiculously affordable rate. I absolutely would not have been able to move without those privileges and I think it’s really important to admit that. If someone is looking to move to New York, I would reccomend reaching out to friends and seeing if they know anyone looking to sublet a room because it will likely be much cheaper than the dorms or renting on your own.
What are your favorite places to go to in New York & favorite things to do?
My favorite NYC bookstore is Books Are Magic in Brooklyn — it’s small and the staff have great recommendations. I also love trying new restaurants and walking around and people watching! I try to make it to museums and plays pretty often as well because I know I’m so lucky to live in a place that has such great art! Recently I’ve seen Mean Girls and Frozen on Broadway and would recommend both!
You’re not a blogger, but I feel like you’ve created quite a brand for yourself. How would you describe your personal brand and how did you establish that?
I’m naturally a very visual person and so I feel like Instagram has just been pretty natural for me — it’s more of a hobby than anything else. I’ve always loved doing it, but for a few years it became stressful when I was so focused on making sure everything matched and went together. Now I have a pretty cohesive color palette in life (pink all the way) so things tend to match but I try not to stress too much over what my feed looks like. That being said, I think pink and candy are two things people associate with me, which I love! I have always been a sweet tooth and love sharing my candy/snack recs. More recently I’ve done book reviews which I really enjoy, but sometimes I feel pressure to read more when I see people reading hundreds of books a year! I try not to let myself get too competitive and to just remind myself that reading is supposed to be fun, not a chore.
Describe your Instagram aesthetic in three words.
Pink, Disney, books!
How did you start creating your instagram aesthetic, how do you manage it and how has it changed over the years?
Instagram started to get big when I was a senior in high school, so for the first year or so I was just sharing normal content from my life, especially when I went off to college. As I became more interested in interning at Disney and at magazines, I started following more girls who worked in both fields and was really inspired by the more creative type of photos I saw, and of course flatlays were huge back then, so I started doing a bit of that. I got really into Instagram when I worked at Disney and then in NYC, and that’s when I really started caring about my “aesthetic.” I used to stress about everything matching and would delete pictures if they didn’t, or not post things because they weren’t in line with the brand I was creating, but now I try to be a little more loose about it. I definitely still care a lot about what I post and want it to be visually appealing, but I don’t stress so much about everything being pink or the exact same. I think Instagram stories has been a big game changer too, because I can post more real time updates, and that’s where I post most of my book content! I like that you don’t have to be so intense about stories because they aren’t there forever.
How do you find inspiration for Instagram and how do you manage to create original content in this day and age?
I am really inspired by a lot of people, and find inspiration on Instagram for sure, but I always try to make sure what I’m posting is a reflection of myself, not a copy of someone else. I don’t stress too much about posting on a regular basis and really just try to post when I find something that I think is really cool or when I’m wearing something I really like!
Tell us more about your second candy account!
@sweeturheartout is my side hobby — it’s just for me to try new candies and snacks and review them, because I love all things sugar! It’s not serious or something that’s very professional, it’s just meant to be a fun addition.
Who #influences you whether or Instagram or Twitter or any social media outlet?
On Instagram, I love @nycbookgirl, @
Any advice for someone looking to establish an Instagram aesthetic or just up their Instagram game?
Stick to one filter! I created a custom one on the A Color Story for my instagram stories. For my feed posts, I always edit the photo with brightness/contrast/etc individually but then apply similar filters after. Also, think of what makes you different and why people should follow you, and lean into that!
PERSONAL & MISC.
You read over 75 books last year which I am so jealous about because I was nowhere near my 100 goal. Plus working in publishing I imagine you’re always reading, so what are some of your all time favorite books?
I actually only made it to 70! I think working in publishing, you feel a lot of pressure to read all the great books coming out, and you can’t get to them all! That said, my top books of 2019 were:
RED WHITE AND ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston — a must read if you love royals, and even if you don’t. This book is smart and endearing — you’ll be thinking about the characters long after you put it down.
KNOW MY NAME by Chanel Miller — This book should be required reading in all high schools/college. Chanel is a beautiful writer and there is no chance you’ll make it through this book without shedding some tears.
PERMANENT RECORD by Mary HK Choi — First of all, this book is GORGEOUS #covergoals. It’s about a mega popstar (think Ariana Grande) who walks into a bodega in the middle of the night and meets Pab, a normal guy who loves junk food and is struggling with what to do with his life. It is so good and I’m ready for the adaptation!
CATCH & KILL by Ronan Farrow — So crazy you won’t believe it’s real.
For 2020, I highly recommend checking out ANNA K by Jenny Lee — think Gossip Girl meets Crazy Rich Asians, and part of my favorite genre: Rich Teens! Another great Rich Teen read is INFLUENCE by Sara Shepard (author of Pretty Little Liars) and Lilia Buckingham.
Your followers know that you love skincare & beauty products. We’ve seen all the lipsticks!! So what is your favorite skincare product and what your is your favorite makeup/beauty product?
SKINCARE: I love Farmacy Honeymoon Glow — you notice a difference when you wake up after using it.
MAKEUP: REN Clean Primer — this stuff is insane! Makes your skin look like glass, and smells great.
What are some of your favorite brands to shop?
J.Crew, Sezane, Gal Meets Glam — but right now I’m not shopping, I’m using Nuuly and loving it!
Your Japan photos looked incredible and made me want to book a trip so what are some of your favorite trips you’ve taken and do you have any 2020 travel plans set?
Japan was my favorite trip I’ve taken — so much so that I’m planning to go back this year! I’m also hoping to go somewhere in the summer/fall — maybe Iceland or Portugal!
I know that you were in the Disney college program. Can you tell us more about that experience?
I worked at Disney for nine months in merchandising — it was a blast! I grew up in a Disney household, so living there and working there was a dream come true. You’d think I’d be sick of it, but absolutely not! I love it even more after experiencing the behind the scenes magic.
As a fellow Disney lover & as an Annual Pass Holder(!) can you tell us your favorite park, your favorite ride, your favorite restaurant on property and your favorite snack?
PARK: Magic Kingdom — a classic!
RIDE: At Magic Kingdom, Space Mountain. At Hollywood Studios, Tower of Terror. Animal Kingdom: Everest! Epcot: Frozen ride (but really looking forward to the Ratatouille ride, they have it in Disneyland Paris and it’s amazing!)
RESTAURANT: Trails End!
SNACK: I love both cotton candy & the Mickey caramel apples!
What is your top Disney tip for the first timer or less experienced?
Stay on site so you can book your fast passes early and take advantage of Extra Magic Hours!
You have the cutest group of friends who are always down to match you or attend a book club party or go to Disney, tell us more about your best friends and how you established a group of girlfriends in New York.
I’m lucky enough to have a few friends from high school and college who live in the city, and we’ve stayed close. I’ve also met people through mutual friends and instagram! My book club is made up of my friends who then brought their friends, so it’s really grown! Sadly my original NYC bestie Stina moved to Orlando but it is a great reason to visit and of course go to Disney!
Can you tell why I’m absolutely obsessed with Emma?! If you love her as much as I do and would like to follow along, you can follow her on Instagram @emmabenshoff and at her second account @sweeturheartout.
A huge thank you to Emma for making a guest appearance and chatting about her life. I am so in love with this post and couldn’t have asked for a better first post to kick off this new series.
And thank you so much for stopping by & reading. Have a great rest of the week!