It's Shelby's World. An Interview with Shelby Ivy Christie
Being a notable person in the world of fashion and digital media isn’t something that is easily obtainable. It is probably just as hard as building a presence online. Not only does it require a substantial amount of hard work and dedication, but your followers must grow to trust the information that you’re putting out into the digital world. For our favorite digital marketer, the two go hand in hand. As no stranger to the world of online media and advertising, Shelby Ivy Christie has achieved a lot in her career thus far. With her impressive background, she’s been able to leverage herself online as a trusted source for all things in relation to digital media, fashion and beauty. Having previously worked with major brands and publications such as Vogue and Instyle Magazine, she continues to show the world that she's a force to be reckoned with. Now serving as the Media Manager for L’Oréal, it’s safe to say that Shelby is undoubtably living her life. As a woman I admire, adore and will forever appreciate, it was an honor to be able to interview her for The Core Magazine. I couldn’t image another person more fitting to be featured in our issue covering fashion and its influence on society and culture.
“I’m a lover & student of luxury fashion. I’m at the self-discovery point of my life.” — Shelby
SC: At the start of the New Year I decided I’d start to share more of myself & my knowledge with my audience. This decision has subsequently bubbled up so many elements of myself, my passions & my abilities that I wasn’t fully aware of. After leaving fashion journalism for luxury marketing I stopped contributing content to publications & stopped discussing fashion on social as a whole. I was a “serious corporate marketer” now, right? I didn’t need to discuss topics outside of marketing, I thought. This served me in some capacity as I started to share marketing & advertising news on Twitter via my daily #Media posts. However, all of my fashion love, hunger & knowledge went without my attention. Since January 1 of this year I’ve consistently expressed my love of fashion through a variety of social posts. It’s become so organic to talk about something I love so much. (When you love something how many times do you use the word “love” to describe it? Lol This paragraph answered that question).
Contrary to my own belief it hasn’t muddied the waters of my brand association with media but instead has helped to amplify my platform garnering me features in ELLE, Refinery29 & other publications. That was the long answer lol the short answer is : self-awareness & self-discovery is the point I’m on in my journey
When I think of Shelby Ivy Christie, I think of all things fashion and digital media. How and when did you know that digital media was a field that you wanted to pursue?
SC: I’m so glad that those two descriptors define my brand for you! I knew shortly after graduating college in 2015 that media was where I wanted to be. I was an accessories intern at InStyle Magazine at the time (I’m still a shoes girl at heart!) & I had been freelance writing & interning in fashion since I was 19. There were a number of reorganizations going on at Time Inc. during my time there. My boss at the time left after my 2nd week as her intern. So I was thinking: The job security in this field is not great. I’d also enjoyed marketing ever since I had to market & build my student organization, Bombshells in Business, from the ground up. We went from a new organization, with 15 members who met in small library conference rooms, to the largest student org at NC A&T SU with 200+ members. People knew us for our excellent branding & marketing. This was something that came easily to me. I thought: well, it’s something I’m organically good at & allows me to continue to work in the fashion industry. So I started applying to agencies. I landed my first full time job at Group M, one of the largest agencies in the world. That was my launching pad into marketing & media.
You’ve gone from Vogue to Loreal within the last year or so, what has this career transition been like for you?
SC: It’s been excellent! I talked earlier about how my love of fashion had been neglected for so long. This was in part due to the demand of my previous job. I would come into the Vogue office at 5am some days. I’d work on weekends, holidays & I’d often stay in the office well past 12am. Vogue is a pillar of excellence – It demands a certain level of excellence from those who are fortunate enough to work there. So I had to sacrifice a lot of free time while in that role.
L’Oreal encourages work life balance & provides so many options to their employee to ensure this is a realistic part of our time at the company. A huge part of me being able to do my fashion IG stories, discuss media on my timeline & generate content is being in a role where I can leave at 5:30pm if I need to.
In my actual role it’s been quite an adjustment getting used to the workflow of L’Oreal. I am used to the high demand of Vogue, which was at the service of their advertising clients. On the L’Oreal side I am said client so things move according to our internal timelines. There is much more wiggle room with timing. I’m used completing work days/weeks ahead of campaign launches. At L’Oreal things shift so close to launch that it’s hard to complete things proactively. I’m also a “fashion girl” by design so I’m used to very direct, clear & concise communication regarding work & not very much talk about personal lives. Whereas, at L’Oreal people are very friendly over email & often times rather meet in person to discuss projects. It’s an adjustment lol.
What’s a day like for you as the Media Manager for Loreal?
SC: A large portion of my role consists of campaign management & planning. These are not super sexy functions of marketing. They entail working with our external agencies that help us across print, social, digital, video & experiential advertising. I am the main point of contact for all of our partners (like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google/YouTube etc.) & I work with them to traffic campaigns. This includes everything from strategy to launch: making sure the budget, flight dates & targeting are in accordance with what by boss briefed them on, ensuring they have the right creative assets in the right sizes, making sure the campaign is flowing correctly & managing the day to day questions/needs of these teams.
Internally I track all of our plans & budgets for media spend. I meet across all of our marketing teams (divided by make-up, fragrance, skincare, retail & e-retail) to capture any budget updates they make. I also work alongside my boss to ensure any budget shifts or updates she’s tracking are reflected in our budget views. I then work with finance to ensure each piece our budget is in alignment with what each team has been approved to spend. Super precise work but I’m a perfectionist so I don’t mind lol My team has learned that when I request something from them it needs to be to me on time & it needs to be correct. They call my boss the speaker of the house & I the whip of the house J I have get all the teams aligned.
During your time at Vogue, you stated that you were the only Black woman on your team. What has your experience been like working in these types of spaces?
Yes – that is correct. When I started in 2016 I was the only black person on my entire tem until about 7 months in when a black man, now one of my best friends, joined the team. He was the only black man & I was the only black woman on the business side of Vogue. This has been my experience at most of the places I’ve worked. On my team at Mindshare I was the only black woman for about 11 months.
My experience up until now has been one of difficulty, as you can imagine. People may want to test you because they feel as though your blackness somehow means you’re less qualified to occupy the space – They want you to prove it. Working in that type of environment is stressful but in the end it made me super sharp. When people are always looking to set traps for you or undermine you you become so good at what you do – Because you don’t want to give them the satisfaction. You don’t want to fall into those traps & you don’t want to prove them right in their stereotypes. You become super good at what you do. So in my current role all of my I’s are dotted & T’s crossed because I’m used to working 3 and 4 steps ahead. I’m also super good at working with difficult people. I know how to spot it, address it, shut it down & keep it moving because I’ve dealt with those types for so long. I’m not saying I would wish this kind of experience on anyone but I am saying what they meant for my harm only ended up making me better.
What are some pros and cons of corporate life in the fashion/beauty industry?
SC: Cons: Cattiness, as it is a female dominated industry. Lack of diversity & lack of diversity in C-suite and leadership roles in particular. You work with a lot of people who are there because of nepotism & classicism not because of merit.
Pros: If it’s what you’re passionate about you’re glad to be in a space where it’s all about fashion and beauty. It’s great to come into work every day and have those things at the core of what you do. These industries are super tough so they breed hard working & super intelligent individuals – You meet so many geniuses in these fields. It also doesn’t hurt that you go to fashion week presentations & after parties J
You’re well known for your thought provoking fashion & media moments on social media. My favorite Instastory that you’ve ever done was “Black Fashun.” How important is it for you to keep expressing the importance of Blackness in the luxury fashion space?
SC: It’s of the utmost importance to me to continue to document our contributions to fashion. If someone does not act as historian all of our amazing work will be lost. I feel super responsible to capture & share black fashion moments. Especially when “cultural appropriation” has become such a hot topic, it is important to give attribution to the black community. It’s empowering & inspiring to see just how much has been birthed from blackness & I’m hoping this knowledge fuels more historic black fashion moments.
Do you feel the industry is undergoing a shift that will create more opportunities for men and women of color?
SC: I feel like fashion is highlighting the POCs who already existed in the industry. I think they are slow to make room for new POCs. I think it will take more POC at higher levels in the industry to open up space for fresh talent in the industry. There is always that struggle in the industry of “the changing of guards” right? When it’s time for the older generation to hand things off to fresher more modern talent. We’re at that point of strain right now & we are feeling the pressures of that. For instance, I love Edward Enninful – He’s long been in the industry. I had a chance to see him work during his time as CD at W, where I was an intern in 2011. He’s been elevated & it’s awesome! But he’s been here all along that wasn’t exactly welcoming new POC talent into the industry. However, he’s since opened so many opportunities for POC on the British Vogue team. It took his presence as EIC to cause that change. I’m hoping the rest of the industry notes Edward’s practices and makes changes accordingly.
Who’s your favorite designer now and why?
SC: Christian Dior – For one, they are a true French couture house. They still hand stitch couture creations & have a fully functioning Atelier, in the time of fast-fashion. That alone is amazing! Dior is rich with so much fashion history – For instance, YSL got his start there at age 19 apprenticing under Christian Dior himself. He later became the youngest couturier in the world after taking over after Christian Dior’s death. I mean one great French fashion house birthed another – So much legacy! I also have so much respect for traditions they carry on & how they aren’t driven by trends but by taste. Dior somehow manage to be timeless yet modern all at once. True artistry in that house.
How would you describe your personal style?
SC: I’d say it’s definitely posh spice meets sporty spice.
What advice would you give anyone starting out in the career field of digital media?
SC: Learn the work. Do the work. Master the work. – Sometimes entry level employees get too caught up in climbing the ladder. They want to network to the top. They focus on becoming their boss’ favorite or making sure everyone on the team likes them & they leave work to go to mixers. But all that doesn’t really matter. Because those people who you worked so hard to get approval from can unlike you tomorrow. All that social climbing can go on & they can still promote someone else instead of you. You know what can’t be debated, denied or refuted? Your work. When you go into your mid-year & end of year reviews no one asks: So who on the team likes you? How many mixers did you go to? Who added you on LinkedIn? They ask you to prove that you’ve performed your roles and responsibilities. So make sure you don’t get caught up in the smoke & mirrors. Especially as a POC, when people go low & get catty you need to always be sure you can say you did your job above & beyond. You’re not there to be liked you’re there to do a job & do it better than anyone else can.
In a perfect world, what is life like for Shelby in the next 5 years?
SC: Walk in closet, first & foremost lol Probably living oversees in a beautiful townhome or condo. I’d like to be leading a team of my own at a top luxury brand by that point in my career. The rest – I’ll let God decide.