The Assistant Files, Vol. 77 : Nicolette Lyons, Town & Country’s Jennifer Levene Bruno

by Kristen Heinzinger

Town & Country recently saw a change up when Jay Fielden took on EIC duties at Esquire and Stellene Volandes filled his shoes. It’s staffers like Nicolette Lyons, assistant to publisher Jennifer Levene Bruno, who are key to keeping things in order. She also has her hand in other departments, like planning the upcoming Philanthropy Summit, on top of keeping her boss on schedule and a cookie stash fully stocked. We visited the rising star to learn more!

How did you get the job?
I had a lot of internships prior to this, but landing this was from a ton of networking. Someone from my school was the business manager and I came in and interviewed with five or six team members. It was rapid-fire meeting the team. I kind of liked it that way, though, because I got a good sense of everyone right away, and the team dynamic.

Where did you intern?
After I graduated from FIT, I interned at Lulu Frost, a jewelry company, and Haute Hippie, where I did a merchandizing internship. And I interned at the Collective Agency, a small PR firm. I always knew that I wanted to work in fashion; I work well in a fast-paced, kind of chaotic environment.

Did you envision yourself one day working in publishing?
I did so many internships to experience every aspect—work in merchandising, work for a brand, work for PR. Magazine publishing touches on all of that. I don’t know if I saw myself working in publishing, but when I interviewed here and met with everyone, it was clear.

Would you consider T&C a fashion mag?
What drew me to T&C is that it’s a lifestyle brand—not only fashion, but every aspect of our culture. I think that’s what drew me to it.

What was it like meeting Jennifer for the first time?
I started off as an ad sales assistant and I assisted our fashion director and our beauty director and then our AP of advertising. I did that for six months. I had already kind of known Jenn—she’s very present on the floor and she meets with everyone before they’re hired. But when I was asked to interview, she’s all business all the time, so I definitely was a little nervous. But it was lucky that I had already known her.

What is she like as a boss?
She has an open door policy. She takes that to the extreme—as her assistant I can tell you that firsthand. She lets anyone in her office if they want to talk to her, whether that’s an intern or a manager, which I think is a really good quality. She’s definitely all business but she has a big personality.

When do your days start?
Jenn commutes 2.5 hours each day—it’s crazy—and we’re the first two in the office always. She lives in Montville, New Jersey with her husband and two kids. She wakes up at 5 a.m., works out, and start shooting emails. Luckily I’m an early bird and I get in the office around 7:45 a.m.. I like that time when I can go through my emails, make sure everything is prepped and ready. And Jenn is there, so it’s a good time to connect and go through things.

What are your days like?
What I like about my job is that there is no typical day. Jenn is traveling, or the schedule changes. Usually we look at her schedule, make sure she’s ready—she’s in and out of the office all of the time, so most of it is making sure she’s on time, getting where she needs to be, and that she has everything she needs and feels good about it.

Jennifer Levine Bruno

Jennifer Levene Bruno, Jay Fielden (

Since she has such an open door policy, does that make your job hard?
I’m like, ‘Jenn, you need to close your door! You need to sit down and get this done.’ I think she likes that, and she needs an assistant to be able to do that for her. Anyone on my floor can vouch for me literally going into her office, getting her coat and purse and being like, ‘Jenn, you need to go or you’re going to be late.’ So yes, it is tough. That’s probably the hardest part of my job, and it can get overwhelming, but I have a calm personality, which makes it work.

Did her former assistant help you out?
She did, and she works on the marketing side now, so that was really helpful. But it definitely was, this is the day you’re starting, this is the day I’m starting. She was there to answer questions, but for me to be able to grow and learn, I needed to do that on my own.

What are some of your lesser known responsibilities?
The biggest part of the job is Jenn’s schedule—she takes a lot of meetings and she travels a lot and she’s very present in the marketplace. This is funny, but Jenn tracks the amount of water she drinks. If she doesn’t drink a gallon of water a day, she feels unaccomplished. I drink more water now because of it.

Does she make you track her water intake?
Not to a crazy extent, but I’ll be like, you drank a gallon, Jenn! [Laughs] And, since she’s up so early she’ll ask for a cookie at 10 a.m., so I try to always have a stash at my desk. She always asks. It’s just something everyone knows! Jenn loves cookies.

What’s her favorite cookie?
She loves the sea salt and chocolate chip from Balducci’s downstairs. They’re so good!

Does she have any other obsessions?
Wheat thins! It’s so random. She’s a snacker.

Nicolette Lyons Opt 1

What’s her sense of style?
She’s very professional, and always put together. Hair done, lipstick done.

How do you keep her on schedule?
She has a written calendar, and doesn’t use the digital one, which is sometimes tough. Any meeting that’s scheduled, I’ll email her. And I’ll go into her office and mark the calendar. It’s made me get a written calendar, too. She’s so organized…and she always uses pencil, never pen!

What does her office look like?
I actually helped her put it together. She has archival T&C images, so I helped pull those. I like the Ansel Elgort one where he’s midair taking a photo. It’s a cool shot by his dad.


Do you guys shut off? Are you always answering emails?
It’s lucky that I’m an early bird like her! She sends me something when she first wakes up, but she would never expect me to answer right away. I think she’d be weirded out. We’re a good team and she has confidence in me.

When Jay’s role was announced, did Jennifer’s day to day change at all?
Jay is still very present on the floor. He’s still involved in T&C, so it didn’t change. It was kind of business as usual.




What’s your favorite part of your job?
That no day is the same. I like running around and having new things each day. I learn a lot and get to be involved a lot. That’s really lucky.

How involved do you get in event planning?
I work all of our events. One big event that I did was the Golden Globes party in the winter. I wanted to be involved form the start to finish, which I’d never done. I was able to fly out [to L.A.] with everyone. Doing that from the start to finish really shifted where I see my career going, or hope my career to go. I love traveling abroad, so if I could pick a dream job, it would combine the two.

Does that mean you would want to be a publisher one day?
With the experience I have, and what I’ve been a part of, that’s where I see myself. I adapt really well to a lot of situations so I could go anywhere.

What advice would you give someone filling your shoes?
Ask a lot of questions, be curious because you never know what it could lead to. And keep a stash of cookies at the desk!

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