This week we chatted to Mary Cate Smith; freelance journalist and super cool fashion blogger (The Fashion Horn). She tells us all about how she made her name in a competitive industry, and shares with us some tips and advice on how to build and sustain your rep as a journalist.
How did you first get into the industry?
I went back to college as a mature student and realised that the part I loved most about it was actually writing. When I finished my post-grad, I felt a bit at a loss, so I started a fashion blog. Then one day I was chatting to a friend and she said she had heard Irish Tatler was looking for an intern. I applied with an email to Jessie Collins and within three minutes, she emailed me back. I came in to meet her and when I finished the meeting I thought I had the job. I showed up on the Monday morning at 9am and she looked shocked! I wasn’t definitely hired but my determination showed her that I really, really wanted the job. I learned so much from the team at Irish Tatler, they all took me under their collective wing and I was so lucky to be given responsibility. Jessie took a chance on me and I owe her my career. It’s so hard to get your start in the industry and without her accepting me onto the team and all the girls there being so kind, I might not have that.
Can you describe a typical work day?
I scroll through Twitter and Instagram in the morning and read the online newspapers and blogs. I then go through my emails and check with PR agencies for stories. I love having the variety. This week I was writing some biographies for a magazine, last week, I was researching new fashion labels and interviewing business woman and next week, I’m doing a photo shoot for my blog. It’s brilliant because I can go to the gym and work later in the evening if I like; I am way more productive after 7pm. I’m like a cross between Rab C.Nesbitt and Worzel Gummidge in the mornings.
What motivates you?
I gain strength from watching other women who are successful. I see how much work, for example, Jess from Irish Tatler does on a daily basis and marvel at how she can still manage to run marathons; or Shauna, who is a mother of three as well as editor of Irish Tatler; or Jo Linehan who writes and styles for so many different publications and doesn’t confine herself to a box. I interview business woman and entrepreneurs for my business article and it amazes me how much women can achieve with the support of other women.
How do you integrate social media into your career?
I’ve only recently started doing this and I find it’s really paying off. Through Instagram, I met the amazing Amelia O’Mahony Bradi of Amelia Eclectique. We kept liking each other’s posts and eventually met. It’s amazing how much we have in common and I’m almost twice her age! I adore Twitter and Instagram but I’m not so keen on Facebook or Snapchat. I find them quite boring but I feel like I need to be more active.
What has been your biggest career achievement to date?
I interviewed the feminist Gloria Steinem at the Annie Leibovitz exhibition in London. It was an absolute dream come true.
Have you any advice for people thinking of entering the industry?
Be yourself, be polite, be extra careful on social media – your digital footprint is your reputation. On saying that, I’ve made loads of mistakes and learned from them. You have to just pick yourself back up again. Manners and respect are the most important thing. If you don’t respect someone, don’t work with them and keep it to yourself. There’s enough negativity and hardship in people’s personal lives, nobody needs it in their professional lives too.
Is there anyone that influenced you to take this career path?
Jo Linehan was a huge inspiration. I met her when I was acting when we were both involved in a festival, she was drumming and acting too. When I met her, I thought she was the bubbliest, nicest girl ever. She just had this amazing personality that shines through everything she does. I thought, ok, I’ve given up on the acting but maybe I could do something like that too. Jess O’Sullivan is a huge influence. She went above and beyond the call of duty to help me with anything, critique my work and offer feedback. Feedback is critical and when you’re starting out, you need to take on board what the people at the top of their game say – they know the industry inside out.
Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
Holidaying in the Maldives with bae on a yacht in my Lisa Marie Fernandez swimsuit! I hope that my hard work will pay off and be really busy with my freelance journalism. A full time job with a pension and a mortgage would be amazing though! Ugh, I’m so basic!
What is your pet peeve about working in the industry?
I haven’t had any negative experiences to date. I was in the acting industry for eight years and I honestly don’t think anything is as hard as that! The only thing really that gets my goat is you can’t just do your work anymore; you have to promote it on numerous social media platforms. Everyone has to be good at photography now for Instagram, you need to be funny for Snapchat, you need to be super savvy to work out the Facebook algorithms and be clued into the hot topics to be engaging on Twitter! So, first world problems really! It’s not a big deal, it’s good that you have so many platforms to draw attention to your work.
What do you do to relax and unwind after a long days work?
Eat! Ugh! I’m trying desperately to be healthier so I’ve started working out with a personal trainer and watching what I eat but really there’s nothing better than a big dirty doughnut and a strong cup of tea at the end of the day, is there? I rent a house with an open fire so I love lighting that and watching TV. I am obsessed with TV. My favourite show is the US Office, I’ve watched every episode numerous times and it still makes me laugh and cry. Right now, I’m really into Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and I love anything from Chris Morris ,Charlie Brooker and Tina Fey. Mindy is great too.
Make sure to keep up with Mary Cate's Twitter and Instagram.