Don’t we all day dream of packing up and whisking away to pursue our dreams in Paris? Kate Betts, author of My Paris Dream, took a risk, and did just that. Kate is a former fashion journalist for some of the most well respected publications in the industry, such as WWD, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Landing these power-house-positions did not come with ease, nor were her great experiences handed to her. My Paris Dream is a coming-of-age memoir that reflects on the importance of heart, guts, luck, and dedication to create a life you deserve. Her passion for Paris, French culture and how it intersects with her career is a relatable read and to say the least, very inspiring. Last week, I had the honor of speaking with Kate Betts herself at Virgin Hotels Chicago for her book tour, read the interview below!
Lauren Fern: With so many accomplishments at such a young age, what advice do you have for people who want to become successful in the fashion industry?
Kate Betts: Today, it feels as though everyone feels a pressure right out of college to follow a direct formula to be successful, or as Tom Ford calls it, “a ten-year plan.” After I graduated college from Princeton with a degree in journalism, I was unsure of my next step. All I knew was one thing: I was captivated by Paris and all it had to offer. I moved there, and the rest was sort of history. I continued to follow my intuition and not to force anything. Kids out of college are intimidated by the thought of risk-taking or making wrong-turns. My advice is that it is okay not to know, and it is okay to get lost, and through that unknown journey, you will find yourself. The more interesting story is the struggle, and that is what inspired me to write my memoir.
LF: What is the best advice your mentor, Anna Wintour, has ever shared with you?
KB: I did not expect to ever work with Vogue. After I left Women’s Wear Daily, I received a call from Anna Wintour asking me to work with American Vogue. I knew this was an opportunity I did not want to resist and left Paris to work with her and the team in New York. She works very, very hard and sets the bar very high for whoever comes to join the magazine. She is a very powerful force in the fashion industry and I was very flattered that she followed my work and reached out to me. One thing that I learned from her, hands on, is that you will only get as much out of your work as you put into it. She has been in the fashion industry for over 40 years and manages to maintain a restless, everlasting energy and a REMARKABLE attention to detail. She isn’t one of the most powerful, well-respected people in the industry for just any reason. It is her drive and dedication that lead her to earn her status.
LF: What is the ultimate message you would like to get across from your new book?
KB: My ultimate message is that great success does not happen overnight. So many people want a certain title or image and they want it to come easily. Nowadays, we are so used to getting any information or gratification we want instantly, either through the internet, social media, or technology in general. Being the youngest editor to ever work for publications like Vogue, WWD, or Bazaar, people always shared my success story, and I never felt as if they shared the story all the way through. They told my story in a way that made it all appear very easy, and it was quite the opposite. My main message for this book is to relate to young professionals, motivate them to work to their fullest potential, and to inform them that the beauty of success is within the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into it!
My Paris Dream is available online and at all major bookstores! It is a summer read for the beach essential!
photographs by: Macy Freeman