How lucky am I to have met Petra Middelthon and have my breakfast served while listening to her passionately talk about fashion, style and her work? Petra is the Fashion Director of ELLE Norway, which I found to be oh so cool, and she kindly took time out of her schedule to talk to us during New York Fashion Week. She was of course very intimidating, probably not intentionally - but at the same time very friendly. I guess I was just kind of frightened of her absolute power position in the Norwegian fashion industry, especially since she works very closely to Signy Fardal, editor-in-chief of ELLE Norway. I'm pretty sure she could either make you, or break you. Regardless, I want to share the tips and tricks she gave us during our meeting with you, my wonderful friends!
Petra starts the conversation by telling us about her life; her hectic days and how she got in to the fashion industry to begin with. She has over 20 years of experience, and started out before she really knew what a stylist was; before mobile phones, the internet, blogs and twitter. Her favorite city in the world is, of course, Paris. "The most creative", she tells us. She may be partial, though - as she spent 7 years living there. Today she sits in a position where she gets to travel all over the world and experience fashion for all that it is. She gets to choose what trends, styles, models, locations and make-up trends to follow - surely, a dream come true for a lot of us. Listening to her talk is like watching a movie, or more accurately, a documentary. I have a very vivid imagination, and I tend to daydream while listening to people talk. Petra's description of her experiences are very detailed, and I feel like I get to experience a little piece of her life just by being in her presence. I'm so focused and concentrated, listening and taking notes, that I almost forget to eat my breakfast. My coffee is getting cold.
“If you want to be a part of this industry, you have to live the lifestyle”, Petra says. "You have to believe in yourself, and you have to have experience!" She worked her way up from bar-tending and being a cleaning lady through absolute focus by meeting people and just never giving up! Her story is very inspirational, and just shows that nothing is as glamorous as you might like it to be. You can of course be very lucky and catch a break, meet the right person at the right time - but you will always have to prove yourself. You will have to show that you actually can work, deliver, perform - anytime, anywhere.
Petra underlines that one of the most important aspects of this industry is trust. How do we earn trust? Through hard work and consistency. Another important thing is to know your limits and never take on too much, because if you can't do your job, it will most definitely backfire. I feel that my experiences during NYFW, in some way, are very similar to what she was talking about. I did feel that I wasn't able to do my very best at all times, and that I did in fact - take on a bit too much. She definitely hit home-base, so to speak, and I'm glad I now have some experience to back up what was just theories two weeks ago. Myth busted.
But what is it really like being a Fashion Director?
"It is both difficult and fun", she tells us. I can absolutely relate to her job description, even though I'm an independent blogger, without anyone watching my every move. Mostly, Petra's job consists of a lot of paperwork, answering e-mails and just generally being organized - a full time job, for sure - but a normal day is always different. There are all sorts of meetings, e-mails, decisions that have to be made, editing, putting it all together and in the end, it's all about making it work. Then she goes home - keep talking on the phone, make dinner, more emails, more calls. It's a 24/7 job and a lot of work, hard work. She underlines the importance of teamwork, which magazines are all about, and that kind of left a mark on me personally. I've never been really good at teamwork, I guess I'm a very independent soul - so if I want to aim for a career within fashion and/or journalism, I will have to work on that. I've always thought writers were their own masters, but in the end it's really all about teamwork. You can't make it on your own.
Her best tips for us newbies are: build your own network, remember that nothing is set in stone and always know that you choose your own road! She reminds us that some of the people we meet actually become our friends, which I think suits the whole Nokia & ELLE experience very well. We have actually all become friends, and forgotten that this whole thing a competition - and I believe that we will stay in touch even when all of this is over.
Suddenly, an hour had flown by and Petra ends our conversation by telling us: "You’ll always have regrets and think you should have done something different, but you can’t dwell on it – you have to move on! Always remember, you never know who you are going to meet. Just be your best, be yourself. It’s going to come for you."
Petra told us that working at ELLE is very rewarding, and though it may sound silly; I feel that meeting her was truly inspirational and rewarding for me. Thank you so much for meeting us, Petra - and a special thanks to Bonnie for helping me with some of these pictures!
I'm wearing Estela Balan blouse, Romwe.com skirt, Cubus belt, Abbey Dawn by Avril Lavigne shades, Blue Mercury bag and JC shoes. Believe it or not; the JC shoes actually become my most comfortable shoes during my stay in NY!