Sydne Bolden Long

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I’m Sydne Bolden Long and this is how I made it.

1990 and there were employment agencies that can find you jobs. So I walked into this employment agency one day off the street and I started talking to this lady about what I wanted to do and she sent me to meet a good friend of hers who was the head of HR at Conde Nast.

I knew all the magazines that they have. They’re some of my favourite magazines. And I had three interviews there and I landed a job at Vogue. I didn’t really know what I was going to be doing. I just knew that I was going to be in an environment that was a dream environment every day. I always call it the Dream Escape.

Landing it, of course, is one thing but keeping it and surviving in it is another. So, as excited as I was about getting the job, I really was nervous about how to fit in to this new environment.

How was I going to wear all these clothes? Was I going to have to change my style? What was my style? What am I going to be doing? Am I going to be able to handle it? You know, this was New York City. This was one of the fashion capitals of the world. This was a New York socialite in the 90s – big shoulders, power suits.

Vanguard Media – they were starting this new magazine called Honey magazine. It was for women of color. It was going to be young and it was going to be exciting and it was going to be fashion. And those are all things that I really missed and craved.

I am a woman of color and I worked for all these mainstream magazines where you just saw a few people, whether it was behind the scenes or in terms of celebrities that we covered, if it was a celebrity magazine, or models. There was just very few black women.

I really was excited about having a chance to cover stories that I was interested in personally and I felt like younger women were interested in so Honey was really appealing to me. So I went there to become the fashion director and I must say that it was a start-up. We were very small.

So I left Honey and I went to InStyle. They wanted me to recreate outfits that celebrities wore at a lower price. That was what magazines were doing at that time. So I would go and shop the market to try to mimic the look of what was on a celebrity. So a lot of the work was still life.

And then came this column that I started doing called Instant Style. It was all still life outfits. It was to teach a woman how to dress in her real life and the response was well-received.

So, here I was now all of the sudden, in a room just with clothing, putting them down on the floor, working by myself. After having this full life of being on set with five different people and meeting a new celebrity every two weeks, it was just me in a room with racks of clothes, putting outfits together on a floor, styling still life.

I liked it. I like the peace of it. I like the calm of it. I like the creativity that really I dictated. And I ended up doing that for almost 10 years. And it was fun. I had a column called Instant Style and my name was on in the magazine and it was huge and it was big and it was fun.

I’m inspired by happy people that really want to live no matter what is going on the world. They get up every day. They want to be positive, creative, giving, and sharing.

So when you meet someone like that, it makes you feel invincible and that inspires me. It makes me want to continue to give and to create because some things that you create are memorable to other people. They might be passing to me but I think that’s a great power to have.

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