Selby Drummond, Bringing Style to Snapchat's Empire
July 22, 2019
You studied Art History at Columbia, and began your career in the art industry at Sotheby’s and the Huffington Post. What inspired the switch from art to fashion?
Honestly, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve always been passionate about many things - art, fashion, content, technology, innovation, etc. Throughout my career, I’ve always pursued roles based more on what I’m interested in and less on the particular industry.
I picked Vogue because it was an incredible opportunity, not necessarily due to it being in fashion versus art. I once heard that millennials will have a portfolio of careers with several different chapters, and that has always resonated with me.
Nothing about my career path is linear as I’ve had many jobs and held many roles - I predict that it will all make more sense in hindsight.
You stayed at your first job for a little over a year. How did you know it was the right time to switch jobs, and what advice do you have for those early in their careers who are feeling the itch to switch careers?
It’s important to stay long enough to really know what your role is and how you made an impact. A year is usually the absolute minimum. Before a year, you’re rarely able to experience enough about a company to both contribute value and take away something significant.
Err on the side of patience when it comes to switching jobs. The best thing I ever did was stay at Vogue for eight years. In fact, it was only in my last three years there that I accomplished the greatest successes of my career. Had I left in my first, second, or even fifth year at Vogue, I never would’ve accomplished what I did. When you stay at a job, returns aren’t diminishing. By sticking with a company you’re able to grow and develop in incredible ways, expanding yourself and your career more than you ever could have predicted.
Building Your Career
You’ve held a few positions in addition to your day-to-day job, including serving as a council member at EMILY’s List and a board member at M3 Ventures. How did you balance these roles with your job, and what advice do you have for women looking for a side hustle?
It is so important to be involved in something outside of work. Hobbies, communities, and organizations provide you with external references that can help to bring a different perspective to your work. Keep what's important to you in your orbit.
Early on in your career, you likely don't have the job that you desire - you probably won't for another 15 years. However, you can manifest it. Be intentional about what you do, prioritize what's important to you, and invest in your future career.
That being said, be careful about overcommitting and overextending yourself. This day and age you can work 24/7 if you want - say "yes" often, but not to absolutely everything.
You’ve worn multiple hats throughout your career - writer, editor, investor, collaborator, trendsetter, manager, etc. - what are the top three skills that have helped you to succeed in your roles?
Patience: Do not quit before the miracle. We all want everything to happen immediately, especially when we're young. We think we know what all the answers are. Having patience is key to seeing projects through and delivering tangible value.
Allyship: Being an ally and a friend is the most successful way to get things done. Celebrate others, be kind, and be friendly. Personal connections help you move through organizations and elicit support. It's the people who you impact that will have your back and open doors for you. Every job in the world is influenced by people. If you have the people, you have the map.
Positivity: No matter what, stay positive. When things don't go according to plan and the outcomes you envisioned don't happen, stay positive. It always gets better and positivity is something that is universally appreciated by all people, groups, and organizations.
What does your role as the Head of Fashion and Beauty Partnerships at Snapchat involve? What’s a typical day-in-the-life of Selby Drummond?
I laugh when people ask this question - there is truly no typical day in the life. Every day is a new story that we write.
I came to Snapchat because I wanted to work at a technology-first company that is changing the world. At Snapchat, we go where the world takes us as it's hard to be proactive when my work depends on ever-changing trends, competition, and innovation.
I'm always on the go, whether it's traveling to a fashion week or fashion show, representing our company at fashion industry events, staying on top of what's happening in content, or taking meetings with diverse people across industries and companies who are inspiring others through their stories.
Internally, I'm really focused on building bridges between different parts of our company. When I came to Snapchat, there was no fashion component of our business. Now, it touches almost every part. Creating these internal connections with every department - sales, engineering, talent, etc. - and bringing people together to work with brands and on content is key to my work.
What about the future of the fashion industry are you most excited about?
The trend toward fashion telling increasingly diverse stories is most exciting to me. The question of who has the mic and whose voice is being amplified is fascinating.
Billie Eilish is a perfect example. She's such an iconic fashion figure, but she didn't come from the typical path. Her fashion is directional and it influences fashion in incredible ways but she didn't set out on the conventional path. She exemplifies how fashion has become so much more diverse and authentic; we went from being an exclusive industry to one of the most inclusive on the planet.
I can't wait to see and influence how fashion becomes even more accepting and celebratory of the voices that were historically left out.
What advice do you have for women looking to work on the business side of the fashion industry?
Getting a job in fashion can be hard. It's a competitive industry, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. The more you can spend time around what's happening in the industry, whether it's through internships, volunteering your time, joining organizations, making connections, etc., the better your chances are. The business side is important and exciting, but you should also have a passion for fashion itself.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing on your first day at Sotheby’s, what would it be?
Go into every situation thinking "What can I offer?" rather than "What can I get out of this?". It's hard when you’re young to not think about your career in terms of what's next - a new opportunity, a raise, some type of recognition. You don’t have much so you’re always grasping, but know that it will happen. And even more quickly if you show up and offer your help!
What would you say to young businesswomen who are eager to find a career they’re passionate about, but don’t know where to start?
Start anywhere. Forward momentum is key. It’s easier to know the direction you’re going if you just start somewhere. Try different things. Learn what you like and what you don’t like. It’s better to go 90 degrees in the wrong direction than go nowhere. You’ll learn from your experiences and if you spend your time focused on something, the universe will bring you to your passion.
What did you think? Let’s chat. Comment below!
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