From the age of seven Jenna Rosenstein knew she wanted to be a magazine editor. “I would sit for hours and draw my own magazines and staple the pages together for my family and friends to read,” she says. “They were awful and full of typos. But I was obsessed with eventually moving to New York City and working in magazines.”
Then, at the age of 10 she decided she desperately wanted to become the next Kim France (founding editor of Lucky). “I was Lucky magazine’s biggest fan,” Jenna says. She took the first step toward her dream while attending New York University. As a college student, she held internships at Women’s Wear Daily, Harper’s BAZAAR (as editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey’s intern!) and Allure. She also interned with another fashion-forward brand, Bloomingdale’s.
But, it was her Allure internship that turned into her first official job as the magazine’s beauty assistant. Then, over the course of three years at the publication she worked her way up to senior beauty editor. From there, she spent a handful of months at Refinery29 with the same title overseeing the site’s branded content.
Now, in her role as senior beauty editor for BAZAAR.com and as host of Harper’s BAZAAR’s hit digital series The Beauty Show Jenna is a loved and trusted beauty news and trend expert. Episodes of The Beauty Show have more than 2.2 million views and more than 91,000 viewer interactions. Episode topics range from a sneak peek into the beauty stash of makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic, to woman-on-the-street interviews to see what New Yorkers think of the latest KKW perfume.
Jenna’s job comes with loads of perks, like having the newest (sometimes not-even-yet-released) makeup and skincare in her office. She also puts in the hard work her job demands. Creating content is a nonstop job, and she takes her role of journalist and host very seriously. What else does her job require? “You have to be fearlessly creative, have a strong writing voice, and be able to identify content across all mediums that resonates and over-performs in an ever-changing digital media landscape,” she says.
Tell us how you went from the girl dreaming of editing a magazine to turning that dream into reality as a beauty editor.
Even though I knew I wanted to work in magazines, I had no idea what that really meant. I knew editors had (seemingly) glamorous lives, wrote articles and went to fashion week at Bryant Park. That was the extent of it. But I truly believe that you can manifest your dreams into reality through the power of positive thinking.
I spent the duration of high school obsessing over getting into NYU. I got in, then I spent the duration of college obsessing over working at all the magazines I loved. I still believed that fashion was the best route to go in order to get my foot in the door, because I didn’t know that editors could specialize in beauty. Even though I read Allure every month, it never really clicked for me that beauty editors existed until I interned there.
My mom worked in cosmetics for years, and I was fluent in prestige cosmetics and skincare. I was even a fragrance spritzer as a side gig in college, and I recorded a few terrible makeup tutorials for my now-defunct blog. Once I got a taste for the Allure beauty department, it all seemed so obvious: I was destined to be a beauty editor.
Most college students feel great with one internship under their belt, but you had four! What did your experiences at WWD, Bloomingdale’s, Harper’s BAZAAR and Allure teach you that you still use in your career today?
The publishing world is very different now than it was in 2010 and 2011. However, there is truly no better way to learn about the industry and to develop the skills you need to survive than working endless nights organizing samples in a fashion closet. It’s tough and physical work—and you need to not only have impeccable organization skills, but you also need to be fast, efficient and anticipate the needs of everyone you work with. I learned so much about problem solving and keeping my cool.
One of those internships was with the legendary Glenda Bailey. What did you learn from your tenure working for her back then, and now in your role with the publication today?
I assumed the role of Glenda’s second assistant while I was interning at BAZAAR—and it was truly the role that changed the entire course of my life. I learned how to be an assistant by watching and mirroring her first assistant at the time; he was the epitome of grace under pressure. I saw how magazine copy was passed around and edits were made, and I also had an exclusive look at the life and schedule of an editor-in-chief. That internship was really my first glimpse into what my life could possibly be like, and it cemented my career path to be a magazine editor. I was in absolute awe of Glenda at the time, and I still am to this day. Keep in mind, the website was just taking off at that time.
In your job you serve as a beauty authority for women everywhere with your hit digital series, The Beauty Show. What feeling do you aim to leave each viewer with after an episode concludes?
I hope that after they watch an episode of The Beauty Show, the viewer learns a new tip or is introduced to a new pro in the beauty industry, and leaves feeling inspired to try a new product, hairstyle or makeup look.
What is something you’ve learned in the process of leading The Beauty Show that stands out to you?
I’ve always believed that beauty—hair, makeup, nail care, fragrance—touches everyone and is something that connects us all. I love speaking to women on the street about the perfumes and fragrances that they wear. Everyone has a signature scent and a strong opinion about perfume. I absolutely love learning about what women wear day-to-day and how beauty touches her life.
With so many beauty products out there, what do you find it takes for a new product to stand out today? Is it the big PR (e.g. Kim Kardashian West sending candy hearts you can smash open), the innovation in the product, celebrity influence, etc.?
It’s a combination of all three. A product can be amazing, but if the packaging is lackluster and there’s no promotion of it—it’s hard to get people excited about it. But at the same time, if a product has incredible packaging and a huge PR push—but once it gets into the hands of editors, vloggers and makeup artists it doesn’t perform as intended—the product won’t sell. There is so much noise in the beauty space today, and way too many new launches. I would love to see the entire industry take a step back and only release products that truly feel innovative, groundbreaking and fresh.
What are some trends in the beauty industry that you are excited about? And on the flip side, what is a product that hasn’t seen a lot of innovation with that you’d like to see get a facelift?
I love hair accessories, so I fully embrace the return of ‘90s hair clips, claw clips and scrunchies. You don’t have to own a Gucci clip to get in on the trend: you can literally go to any drugstore and stock up on cute hair accessories. A great hair pin can take a basic ponytail or dirty hair and transform it into an elevated hairstyle. I would love to see sunscreen get a facelift, but that’s on the FDA. If they could approve more sunscreen ingredients for use in the U.S., we could finally have the incredible formulas that have been available in Europe for years and years.
As someone who works in digital, it’s got to feel like you always need to be “on.” How do you manage through this to still find time to recharge for yourself – and spend time with your Bombay cat Maddie?
I was honestly really nervous about making the jump to digital from print because of this perception of being “on” all the time. But there are ways to manage it. We have a wildly talented weekend editor who helps us cover news on Saturdays and Sundays, but there are still many award shows and big events that fall on weekends and require late nights or early mornings. I once wrote a news story on my phone, on a Sunday afternoon, while standing in the middle of the flea market in Paris.
Once you’ve been in the digital game for a while, you can write and publish stories in less than three or four minutes. I make a conscious effort to carve at least an hour a day for working out in the gym. I find my mind goes into a sort of meditative state when I’m lifting weights and counting reps. I also try to stay off social media on weekends, only checking it once or twice a day. I have Slack notifications sent to my Apple Watch so if something urgent happens, I’ll know about it without having to be on my phone all the time.
What is something you wish you knew more about?
Video production! I am in front of the camera all the time, but I wish I had the time to play around with shooting and editing. It’s the future of journalism.
What advice do you have for someone who wants your job?
I don’t think people totally grasp what a beauty editor does for a living. I am a journalist first and foremost; my beat just happens to be beauty. While there are plenty of days when I am running around trying on lipsticks, interviewing celebrities and attending runway shows, there are even more days when I am glued to my desk trying to churn out content. You have to be fearlessly creative, have a strong writing voice, and be able to identify content across all mediums that resonates and over-performs in an ever-changing digital media landscape.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Shameless plug: subscribe to BAZAAR’s YouTube channel so you never miss an episode of The Beauty Show!
I’d love to have coffee with:
Kathleen Kennedy, so I could pick her brain about Star Wars and the movie business in general. In my next life I want to come back as a movie executive or Disney Imagineer.
The books on my nightstand are:
How Not to Die, which is basically my bible. It’s the reason I went plant-based two years ago, and I like to read passages of it often.
My current favorite saying, or mantra, is:
You don’t get what you don’t ask for.
My favorite way to spend my day off is:
With my whole family in Florida, sitting by the pool or snuggling on the couch.
One lesson I’ve learned lately is:
It’s important to set big and little goals for every element in your life. For example, a baby goal I have is to run a 5k on the treadmill at least once a week. It’s easily actionable and a great way to hold yourself accountable. A big goal I have is to film a video episode with a Kardashian or Jenner.
I can’t live without:
Black Dunkin Donuts coffee. It’s literally the reason I get up in the morning.
I feel my best when:
I am deadlifting really heavy weights in the gym. There’s honestly no better feeling.
I don’t think people totally grasp what a beauty editor does for a living. I am a journalist first and foremost; my beat just happens to be beauty. While there are plenty of days when I am running around trying on lipsticks, interviewing celebrities and attending runway shows, there are even more days when I am glued to my desk trying to churn out content.