Kristen Vinakmens is currently Editor-in-Chief of Cosmetics magazine. Vinakmens has been working as a magazine journalist since 2001, landing her first gig as a writer at documentary film industry magazine RealScreen. She moved to the consumer side in 2004, when she joined Glow as copy editor. Vinakmens has held staff editor positions at Elle Canada (where she was Associate Beauty and Health Editor), Today’s Parent and P&G Beauty’s Rouge, where she launched Rougemag.com for American and Canadian audiences. Most recently, she was Beauty Editor at Glow and Flare magazines. She is also an accomplished lifestyle writer and has written for titles such as Azure, House & Home, Style at Home and Best Health.
She won the Best Beauty Editor award at the 2011 P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards, along with her colleague Wing Sze Tang, for her work with Flare.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
It took me a while to realize I wanted to work in media, even though I hoarded fashion magazines from a young age. I studied art history and English in university and thought for a while that I wanted to be an art gallery curator, but soon realized it’s a very niche field and jobs are hard to come by. After dabbling in some writing for the student newspaper, I enrolled in journalism at Ryerson and that clinched it.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Working as a magazine editor in some capacity. I love having the opportunity to be creative on a daily basis and to collaborate with amazingly talented, creative people.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Take every opportunity that comes your way and never say no.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
For news, the Globe and Mail and the New York Times (often via their websites). For fashion/beauty: Women’s Wear Daily, NY Mag’s The Cut, Fashionista.com, Style.com. Fashion/beauty magazines: Flare, Elle, Marie Claire, Allure, Vogue and Vanity Fair.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Taylor Swift. I’m not a huge fan of her music (although I can appreciate her talent), but she won me over with her charm and she genuinely seemed to want to talk to me, which is not the case with every celebrity. But I can sympathize somewhat with celebrities on the press junket circuit; I’d probably be cranky too after two straight days of non-stop interviews.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Work your ass off now and reap the rewards later.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Put yourself first and don’t try to please everybody.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Keep up-to-date on editor moves in the industry and study mastheads on a regular basis. It’s such a small industry and people are constantly moving. That said, keeping editors up-to-date on people moves on the PR side is just as important. As for press releases, it can’t be stressed enough that they should be clear and include all the relevant info (for product releases, that includes price, launch date, etc.). I’m also not a fan of book-length press releases – when I need info quickly, they’re tough to navigate to get to the “meat” of the matter. Keep them concise.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
My best experiences with PR pros are when they’ve taken the time to get to know me. We rely on each other so much that it’s important to establish a rapport and a sense of trust.
Getting a thank you note from a PR pro regarding a story they (or their client) liked. It’s a small gesture, but a welcome one. I once got a personal note from Dermalogica founder Jane Wurwand, thanking me for capturing the story about her FITE initiative so well. She was a great interview and a very inspiring woman, and the note really made my day.
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.
Best place on earth?
Lady Gaga or Oprah. Both would be nice.
Journalism-wise, Anna Maria Tremonti of CBC’s The Current. She’s always engaging and one of the best journalists in Canada.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I’m an obsessive pinner on Pinterest. Also, I love a good game (or several) of Words With Friends.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean. Preferably in Greece.
Voicemail or email?