While Eva Chen is known for her loyal following on IG (us included), she’s also known for carving out a career path that’s totally her own. She started off in editorial, and now she straddles the tech and high fashion worlds as the director of fashion partnerships at Instagram. And in case she wasn’t busy enough… she’s also a children’s book author. This week she told us that one of the biggest secrets to her success has been: her network. Because she’s stayed in touch with everyone she worked with.
Carly: When I think about your career, you've been able to truly carve your own story every step of the way. And what is it about you that you think is why you got promoted in fashion? And why were you able to make a [what] at the time seemed like a really out of left field transition to a tech company?
Eva: I think that I generally, and I think this is part of an immigrant mentality, is that I'm very much kind of like, “I can figure it out.” Like, I don't know, but I can figure it out. So a lot of the time people will ask questions, or they'll ask me to do something. Almost always, I'm like, “I don't know, but I can figure it out.” I think it's also an openness to trying things in a different way. And failing is okay.
Carly: You said you stayed in touch with the people that you interned for. How do you stay in touch?
Eva: I think it's really important if you have a door open, keep it propped open. You don't have to be like, "I have a life update.” It’s okay just to send an email. This is what I did. I remember this vividly. I remember coming back the winter after my Harper's Bazaar internship and coming back to Harper's Bazaar around the holidays, sending an email that's like, "Hi, like, I would love to drop by and say hi, and bring you guys some holiday treats." And I literally came with a bag of cookies.
…. It doesn't have to be this huge formal thing. I'm not saying DM or text your former bosses. But now that email is… such a casual modality, email them, wish them a happy holiday…. Don't be offended if your former boss doesn't write back. They are busy. You saw firsthand how busy they were, but keeping that door open is really important. And also not just saving outreach for when you need something.
…. I think the word networking is gross. I think it sounds kind of sleazy, right? But if you think about it and kind of reframe it as maintaining contacts or maintaining relationships... that's the way to think about it.
Skimm'd by Alex Carr and Peter Bonaventure.
Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter.
Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.
"I want to diversify [ballet]. I want people to see and know that a Black girl can be a ballerina in a mainstream white company."
"No matter what you do, whether you're in media or other things, learn business," she told us.
“You have to realize your limits.”