At age 35, Eva Chen is something of a one-woman wonder with a cult following. The former editor-in-chief of Lucky magazine, who recently announced her imminent departure, is at the top of her game and only climbing higher.
With nearly 400,000 Twitter followers and an Instagram tag named in her honor (#EvaChenPose), the new mom and successful media mogul made a name rising through the ranks at titles like Elle and Teen Vogue. She's become a style icon to thousands of aspiring fashionistas, sharing her favorite products and funniest moments candidly.
Earlier this week, the native New Yorker and first generation American sat down to talk with a lucky (get it?) few of Polyvore's most prominent community members at Dolce Vita's New York City showroom.
Sharing her winding path to journalism – Chen's was a pre-med student and a paralegal before landing Lucky – and her deep commitment to trend hunting, the editor-in-chief dispensed a few choice words of wisdom from her own life.
On finally finding a career path after trying out a few others:
I was bitten by the magazine bug... when I was 20. When I graduated college [I] was like, 'Watch out magazine world. Here. I. Come.'
On staying focused on the end goal:
I think that a really important lesson I learned is… even if it takes you awhile to get to that dream job – you might have to take six jobs until you get that dream job – just always keep your eye on the prize. You'll find a way to make it work.
On making the most out of your current job situation:
There's no such thing as wasted experience… You just have to find a way to spin it when you're talking in interviews.
On lessons learned from getting her “big break” through an old internship connection:
Stay in touch with people no matter what… Consider it part of your job to keep in touch with people.
Regarding the luck aspect of the media industry:
The thing is about the magazine industry and fashion in general, it's very much a timing game... the right place at the right time.
About the importance of saying "yes":
I've found that in my career, what's been helpful is just to always say 'yes.' It sounds really weird and simplistic… [but] I always just wanted to learn more. I found that as I mastered the basic things like scheduling or organizing things for my boss… I would do those pretty efficiently so I would always end up with free time. They would be like, 'You seem to have free time, do you want to do this extra project?' So I always just said, 'Yes.'
Why social media is so important to professionals:
I loved [working on the digital side of Teen Vogue]. I super-loved digital and social media because I always felt like it was an extra opportunity to talk to the readers.
On briefly moving from New York to Los Angeles:
I think in life, having that feeling [of displacement] once in awhile is a good thing because it challenges you and forces you out of your comfort zone. It kind of forces you to adapt, and I think being adaptable is one of the most important things in your career, as well. You don't want to be that person who can't change. You want to be that person who's always adapting and changing... adding new skills to your resume.
Advice about starting a blog in the post-blogger age:
Nowadays, if you're a blogger, you have to find something else in addition to your blog to make yourself stand out because it's really hard to get new eyeballs onto a new site. You have to have a really strong Instagram game. What are you going to do on Instagram that's going to be different?
What to tell interviewers who ask why your resumé seems to wander across different job fields:
'Yes I did that, but I had to do that to learn that [it] wasn't right for me.'
Editor's note: The quotes in this article made by Eva Chen were condensed for clarity and fluidity.