Tiffany Reid On Her Big Plans As Bustle Digital Group’s VP, Fashion

by Freya Drohan

Tiffany Reid has come a long way from sneaking off to her internship at Allure when she was in college. With stints at W, InStyle, and Cosmopolitan under her belt, she began her most ambitious role yet, as Bustle Digital Group’s VP, Fashion, last month. Here’s what to expect from the multitasking powerhouse.

First off, where are you from?
I’m from the Bronx.

A real New Yorker! So how about all these ‘New York is over’ personal essays?
Please, that’s not even real to me!

How did you get your start in the industry?
I did my undergrad at Temple University in Philadelphia. I was an advertising and psychology double major. I was doing bits and bobs, freelancing, and figuring it out. It helped that New York was my home base to get me started in fashion. I interned one summer for a young female ad exec. I was her PR, looking up media contacts and that’s when I discovered what an editor was. I didn’t even know it was a career path I could follow! No one in my family works in fashion, I was the first person to think of this as a real career.

Why did being an editor appeal to you?
I wanted to decide that what I’m doing is cool. I started researching how to be a fashion editor and I ended up landing an internship at Allure when I was in my undergrad. I was still living in Philly but I would take the bus three days a week to New York. I scheduled classes around it, and I worked on the weekend at Nordstrom because I had to pay rent and pay for my traveling off my commission. I didn’t tell my parents!

Yeah! They would have lost it! But Allure was the place to be. We had crazy photoshoots. I had to finally tell them when a photo shoot ran late one night and I would have missed my bus home.

How long were you at Allure?
I interned there for a year. That’s how I got my start, then my editor introduced me to W which led to an internship and then a freelance job as an assistant. They couldn’t hire me full time with  budgets, so I left and worked at a market research company…so. not. fashion: writing copy for Kraft and Colgate! 

Why did you leave your role as Hearst’s Style Director last year?
I was ready to go, I knew I had outgrown the position. I started freelancing and gained momentum as I had clients to sustain it. I wasn’t looking for a full time job, I had no interest in it.

Emma [Rosenblum, editor in chief of Bustle Digital Group] had reached out to me when I first left. It was a long conversation. I didn’t imagine this to be the next step, but it made absolute sense. I’d worked at Time, Condé, and Hearst, and I’d dabbled in digital, but never had a fully digital role. It had always been in print. Coming to Bustle felt like the next step and like what I needed to do.

You started your initial role, as Fashion Director, at a pretty crazy time too!
I jumped right in. We had shoots the first two weeks in LA, like the Nicole Richie cover and the cast of Cheer. Then February came so I was in Europe for three weeks. And then COVID hit….

Have you even seen your team in person?
Operating in this new role, I’ve had two weeks in the office, face to face with the team! But it’s been a blessing in disguise. I’ve been able to sit, get readjusted, and really learn the job.

Tell us about your new promotion to VP, Fashion and what it entails?
The position oversees all five of the women’s lifestyle sites. It felt like I’d already been trained to do this role as that’s what I was doing at Hearst. As an editor, you traditionally only talk to one audience, one reader, one demo. I was pushed further as an editor at Hearst, to switch between thinking caps. This role feels like an extension of that. I manage the creative of photoshoots, picking the hair, makeup, and styling teams. I’ve been excited to connect our executive team to some of the initiatives I’m working on externally, like the Black in Fashion Council. I’m on the media board, along with Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Nikki Ogunnaike. As part of my role on the board, I’m helping to get Bustle aligned with different brands and they are excited to become a partner. I’m also on the social justice council at FIT. In this role, I feel able to connect Bustle with causes I’m working on externally.

Bustle Digital Group was an early adopter of remote photo shoots, how’s that been?
We came up with systems early on. My team and Karen Hibbert [VP, Creative] and her teams sprung into action, figuring out logistics without endangering people. I feel like we’ve creatively scaled back, but we haven’t compromised. We want to push ourselves to still have amazing shoots. I think you can see the difference between last year and this year.

Which ones were shot virtually?
The ones we shot virtually included Gabrielle Union for Romper, Beanie Feldstein for Bustle, Tallulah Willis for The Zoe Report, Lauren Vassar for The Zoe Report, and Demi Lovato for Bustle.

Do you think virtual shoots will just be the norm now?
I think that this will allow us to understand what shoots can be a low lift. There’s bigger moments that need to be shot in person. But for smaller profiles, we’ve figured out a way to streamline the process and make it more efficient.

Overseeing five media brands is a lot. How do you differentiate?
When I initially came on board, I created a 100-page fashion direction deck, right when I got back from collections. It has the fashion direction for each site: how the reader shops, her references. All the site leads have it, and the team is fully equipped with it.

Can you tell us more?
NYLON is more Gen Z. She’s a cool ‘it’ girl. For her, it’s about the bridge between music, fashion, and pop culture. The Zoe Report reader is a stylish, trendy girl. She loves fashion, she likes street style and runway images, but she needs help learning how to break it down. She likes to have things first! Romper is for our cool moms—all moms. She cares about fashion, it’s her self-care. She wants to look polished and she’s interested in luxury pieces, but she’s conscious. The Elite Daily girl is experimental with beauty and fashion. She loves TikTok! For the Bustle reader, she cares about sustainability. She knows fashion and will splurge if needed, but she’s not trying to jump on trends. She also thinks inclusively is the gold standard.

Sounds comprehensive! How do you maintain personal balance in your life?
I meditate twice a day. It’s necessary! I have high energy and I like being busy. I do need to take breaks, but I like to have my hands in a bunch of pots.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
I genuinely love my job. I’ve been blessed to have this career. Being on set is probably my favorite part: the energy, everyone being creative, when talent is happy. I’d love to have a shoot every week! We’ll get back to that world, but I want us to be reflective. It’s not, ‘Let’s get back to normal. It wasn’t working and the norm was not OK.’

What are you excited about in the future?
Mentoring. I’m also involved in IMG’s incubator program. Education is very important to me. I grew up in the Bronx. This is like nothing I experienced growing up and it took a while for me to get adjusted. I don’t want that to ever discourage anyone, just because they think they don’t fit or they’re not supposed to be in this role. I’ve always tried to hire assistants of color; I always try and spot the outlier. I’m also excited about undiscovered talent. At Bustle, there’s no pressure to shoot brands who are advertisers. My market team are always bringing new designers to me. We want to give everyone a chance, not just talent we already know.

Your op-ed you wrote for BoF + Bustler about a racist experience at PFW went pretty viral…
It was not easy to share it. I’m a super private person. Even though I did a reality show, there’s not a lot of my personal life out there! But I felt comfortable telling the story because [writer Lindsey Granger] framed it for me. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. It was important for my peers within the industry who have known me for years to remember that the color of your skin is what makes you a target.

Thanks for reminding us you were on E!’s So Cosmo. You’ve done TV, print, digital, podcasts….what’s left to explore?
I do like TV, I’d love to start doing more TV. Bustle actually has a video project that we are working on editorially. It’s a new series highlighting creatives that are being innovative and figuring out how to navigate this world. We’re still locking in talent for it.

What’s making you hopeful about the future of fashion?
The September covers have been a pivotal moment. Especially the Breonna Taylor ones. Traditionally September covers usually a celebrity, someone who is going to sell as newsstands sale were important and that’s how we casted talent. Now that’s definitely not the case. Shooting real people, social activists, changemakers: that to me is the most exciting part. We’re pushing the limit, and that’s what I want to see.

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