Welcome to my newest post series, Industry Spotlight! This will be the first in a series of posts where I will be highlighting artists, entrepreneurs, designers, influencers, basically anyone and everyone involved in the design/film industry that inspire me. I will be asking them about themselves, their jobs, experiences, and for advice, in the hopes to both help and inspire you. To start things off, I'm so pleased to be interviewing my good friend and former L.A. roommate, Mackenzie Anderson, who is an Art Director at Carbon38. Mackenzie is one of the kindest and giving people I know. We met in college, and became very close when we became roommates in LA. Mackenzie has had quite the journey to get where she is in her career, and because of this has so many positive and helpful things to say about industry and working in general. She goes above and beyond in all aspects of her life, especially her job, and has an amazing Instagram feed and style. I can’t wait for you guys to read what she had to say, so with out further ado let’s get into it!
So you are currently working for the company Carbon38. Can you tell us about your company for those who aren’t familiar, and what your job position with them entails?
At Carbon38, my job title is Art Director for Marketing and Social Media. I basically oversee creative on all paid advertisements, press placements, and social media platforms. This includes concepting photo and video and campaigns and then seeing them through execution. I also work a lot with influencers and brand ambassadors on our social platforms, including gifting and events.
You are originally from Philadelphia, what do you think has been the biggest adjustment for you moving out to L.A.? What brought you there?
I moved to L.A. about 8 months after I graduated college. My long-term career goals (at the time) were to work as a graphic designer in fashion (specifically at Free People), but I needed fashion industry experience. My older brother had moved to L.A. about 4 years before me, and I absolutely loved the city every time I visited. And, I was really for a little bit of adventure. Everything seemed to be pointing towards moving to L.A., both professionally and personally.
Literally EVERYTHING is an adjustment moving to L.A. The first month I lived here I was SO tired because my brain was working overtime to adjust to everything. I think that building a new community was the biggest adjustment - when you're a kid, you just have friends. As an adult, having to make friends is weird and hard. L.A. is a huge city but kind of lonely, and finding people that you can connect with and who care about you takes a long time. Once you find your people, hold onto them hard.
Your previous job saw you working for a men's fashion line. What are a couple of major differences in designing for women's fashion and men's fashion?
Since a lot of my job focuses on marketing, there's a lot of psychology involved in the design. Men and women respond to things differently. For example, men don't respond well to male model's faces/eyes, where as women respond well to female model's faces when she is not making eye contact. Men subconsciously tend to feel that they couldn't look as good as the model, whereas women often subconsciously aspire to look as good as the model. I had to immediately learn to stop cropping girls' heads off in my designs hahah.
In my experience, women are also much harder judges of photography/models than men are - because we are hard on ourselves. We are often our own harshest critics, and I think that we, as women, have been long-termed trained to find faults. Like - the clavicle looks too pronounced, her feet look too rough, her tan is too orange, her hair doesn't look shiny enough. I never heard comments like that working at a men's brand. I've learned to be more conscientious of tiny little details like that.
What is a typical workday like for you?
9am - 6m, usually. Social media is 24/7 though, so that never ends haha. Since my job includes a lot of work for Facebook/Instagram, it's subject to change a lot, just like the social media landscape is.
I have everyday projects, including social media planning, and email and ad designing. But new and random things come up every day. For example, this week I have these things on my calendar: conference call with YouTube team, ambassador photoshoot, acquisition ad meeting, conference call with an experiential networking group, influencer event at a self-defense class, editorial photoshoot, video post-production review, and a landing page re-design.
What is one of your favorite projects you have been a part of so far?
Last week I got to direct all of the video on a photoshoot, which was intimidating but also really exciting. Usually I sideline myself a little bit and don't always speak up, but I found that when I boldly asked for my vision, the whole team helped to execute it the way I wanted it and all of the footage turned out AMAZING.
Influencer events are also really fun. I get to create actual personal connections with girls from Instagram, and bring social media into real life. Getting to work out with them and take selfies as part of my job is pretty awesome too.
At my last job, I got to make some really rad marketing assets for professional sports teams, which is by far the coolest place I've ever seen my work in real life - a billboard on Fairfax and Melrose in Hollywood, a backboard in the Chicago Bulls Arena, and on the marquis around Yankee Stadium. SO cool.
What made you decide you wanted to pursue design in fashion?
I love fashion. It's an interesting culture that connects the whole world. I've always loved trying and buying and mixing clothes.
For a long time, I've known that I wanted to have a career doing graphic design work. In school, when we got to pick topics from projects, I was always drawn to fashion, entertainment, music, and lifestyle trends. Fashion made the most sense to me - it's kind of in the intersection of all of these trends.
How do you try to maintain a healthy balance between work life and your social life?
It's really hard. I haven't figure it out yet. A lot of times the people you work with end up as your friends - since you spend the most time with them. So work sometimes follows you around naturally. Social media work also NEVER ends, so the lines around work/life balance are basically obsolete. BUT I'm learning to enforce my lines of balance. Stop offering to do work projects at night. Don't apologize for not working on the weekends. Plan things with your friends after work so that you have a hard out from the office. Prioritize caring for yourself - that includes time by yourself and time with your friends. Try new things, go new places, don't stop doing the things you love. I'm working on it.
Print vs Web?
Professional projects - web
Personal projects - print
or furniture and plants.
What is currently your favorite design trick?
Hmm... I'm experimenting on projects mixing lo-fi and high quality work. Kind of like mixing BTS (behind the scenes) and editorial visuals together. It connects the viewer on both a personal level (feeling like they're seeing into the making of a project) and an aspirational level (seeing the beautiful visuals of a polished project). I don't know if that's a trick, but it's kind of fun, and new for me.
ALSO - Lightroom mobile. Best app ever invented.
You are killing the Instagram game right now with both your personal account and your company's account. Do you have any tips on how you make your feeds look so cohesive?
ummmm THANK YOU!
The best practice for social media I think is literally to be yourself. Stay true to your brand. If you love blue, post blue things. If you love fitness, build a fitness brand. If you love typography, mix in some quotes. Write out a list of 5 things you love, or 5 things you want people to know about you, or 5 adjectives that describe your brand, and stick with those. Remember that your instagram will look the LEAST cohesive to you, and everyone else will see it more cohesive than you will. If you love every photo you post and stand behind what you're showing the world, it will come together in everyone else's eyes.
What is a mistake you have made at any job that you have learned from?
Speak up. Quickly, respectfully, and loudly.
Know your worth. And don't apologize for asking it to be respected by everyone else - salary, title, behavior, whatever it is - don't sacrifice that for anything.
What are some career goals you have for yourself that you would like to see realized in the next five years?
I kiiiiind of have given up on a 5 year plan. My job right now didn't even exist 5 years ago. And I think that's AWESOME. I mean, really, when I graduated college, this wasn't a job that I could have written on my 5 year plan and now I have that job. That's so cool!
I'm not completely aimless though. I would still love to work at Free People at some point in the future. I've been toying with the idea of actually not having a desk job - so many of my friends are doing non-traditional jobs with photography and marketing and social media, and I keep wondering if that's the right place for me too. It's a huge risk but the opportunities keep coming, so maybe that's a direction I'll go in.
What is something people may not know about you?
I'm terrible at (geographical) directions when I'm with other people. Actually I guess that people know that since I'm always leading them in the wrong direction...
I can't watch scary TV shows or movies. I'm a grown-up baby. I can't even watch commercials for horror movies. The "horror" feelings stick with me for too long and I have nightmares for days when I see things like that.
Do you have any advice for young designers out there trying to figure out their niche and the workforce?
Your first choice doesn't have to be your only choice. It's more and more accepted to spend shorter durations at jobs now. If it's the wrong place for you, learn everything that you can and move on.
Learn from EVERYTHING you can and EVERYONE you meet. You never know when that project from two years ago could be helpful in an interview, and you never know when that guy that your roommate's cousin introduced you to at a family birthday party last summer could need a designer for his new project - and that could be you.
Stop underestimating yourself. Have bigger dreams. Apply for bigger positions. The worst thing that can happen is that you don't get the job - right now. But you met a person that can help get you there, and you learned what you need to to do get the job later. So do that.
I just want to thank Mackenzie for taking the time out of her busy schedule to sit down and answer my questions, and I hope that you all got as much out of her amazing answers as I did! If you like this new series and would like to see more posts like it please give this post a like. And comment below more questions and types of people you would like to see me interview!
Also make sure to check out all of Mackenzie’s social media outlets below: