Q&A: Jennifer Dickinson
Jennifer Dickinson, Digital Editorial Director of Netaporter and mother of four, talks strong female role models and what she wears to work.
How did you get to where you are now in your career?
‘My route was unconventional. I didn’t study English at A-level, I didn’t go to university (I had my first child at 16 so it wasn’t a practical option) and couldn’t afford to intern for free. So I started as an assistant in an advertising department and worked my way across. I moved around a lot for the first decade of my career, taking risks, never earning much more, going after job titles and extra responsibilities that would improve my CV. Just before my 30th birthday, I got a job working at ELLE and loved it so much I stayed for five years, finishing as Acting Editor. From there I did a brief stint in the same role at Harper’s Bazaar, then left print for Netaporter and the New World. Now I run digital editorial for Netaporter, including editing Daily content and the weekly fashion magazine, PorterEdit. I have four kids, which isn’t as exhausting as it sounds as my eldest is 23, my youngest is 2. It’s a dreamy house dynamic.’
Can you take us through a day at work?
‘Office days are about meetings, lots of them. We have so many issues to plan – at least eight in progress at once – that there are always updates to be given and decisions to be made, plus we work on reactive stories and publish throughout the day in four languages. Once or twice a month I’ll travel, usually to LA or NY, for photo shoots or to interview our cover stars. I love this – it’s creatively rewarding and though the pressure to deliver is intense, it’s incredibly satisfying to work with a team of talented people and get the job done.’
You’ve interviewed a lot of famous people… Who inspires you?
‘Every so often someone comes along who blows you away and it’s rarely who you expect. I loved Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Jessica Parker and Michelle Williams. Geena Davis is amazing. She started an organisation focused on ensuring females are equally represented on screen. The stats on how meagre roles are for girls and women make for shocking reading. She says, “If they see it they can be it” – it’s important for our girls to think they are as likely to be a CEO or lawyer as their brothers or friends. It’s important our boys recognise that too, so they grow up to treat women as the equals they are. She helped me realise that although my job does not save lives, I can have a positive impact by what I put out into the world.’
Netaporter offices are super-stylish. Do you have a style uniform for work?
‘I’m so influenced by the magazine and channel a different trend every week! Some days I’ll wear Frame jeans with a Double Trouble Gang tee, other days, a Tibi dress with Jimmy Choo boots. I just bought a Markus Lupfer midi dress covered in tiny hearts that I love. A dress is a great failsafe because it feels as though you’ve made an effort, even if it’s a super-comfy style.’
Can you share five key pieces in your wardrobe?
‘A black Gareth Pugh evening dress that’s plain yet dramatic so you can wear it on repeat; Saint Laurent camo jacket; black Acne ankle boots that I wear every week; a great Joseph knit and my Maria Tash sleeper earrings.’
Which SS18 trends will you be wearing?
‘A Jil Sander lilac trench to tick the pastels box and city shorts. They’re a flattering couple of inches above the knee and easy to wear.’
What makes you feel put together?
‘Jewellery lifts everything. I always wear ears full of Maria Tash sleeper earrings. Charlotte Chesnais does elegant statement pieces that make jeans and a shirt right for a night out. Plus a great blazer with a dressy detail or two.’
What do you wear at the weekends?
‘Living outside London in Buckinghamshire means I dress completely differently at weekends. I’m a pilates and yoga addict to try and fix my bad back, so I’m head to toe in Nike, The Upside and Live The Process. With maybe a Stella jumper if I’m going to a kids’ party later!’
Any tips for juggling family and work?
‘My ELLE boss, Lorraine Candy, taught me the best lesson. She left at 5pm every day to see her kids and wouldn’t be back on email until 10pm. I learnt you have to set your own boundaries about what you are and aren’t prepared to do. Most of the time people respect them.'
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW IN OUR ONLINE MAGAZINE