Hannah Lee knows our nails. The day she opened her hall closet, during a weekend I spent visiting friends down in Hermosa Beach, California, she showered me with foot crèmes, pumice stones, and a wide array of nail color that had me giggling as if I had won the lottery. Because really, what girl doesn’t like to curl up on the couch to give herself a manicure between trips to the nail salon? I asked Hannah what it’s like being the editor of NAILS and VietSALON magazine, and if free mani-pedis come with the job.
AC: What’s your typical day?
Lee: I don’t think anyone’s day in publishing could be described as typical. From day to day, I could be doing everything from writing and editing, planning upcoming issues, posting stories to our Web site, working with graphics on layouts, talking to readers and advertisers about industry issues, doing interviews with newspaper and consumer magazine writers about statistics for the industry and industry trends. I also manage the editorial assistant program at my company so I work with them on assignments and training. My untypical days include attending beauty trade shows, managing photo shoots, visiting salons to get closer to my readers, visiting product manufacturers to better understand the industry. (No matter how many times I go to OPI and watch polish being bottled, I still get a kick out of it.)
AC: How’d you get where you are?
Lee: I kind of fell into trade publishing right out of college as an editorial assistant at a company in Atlanta. After several years moving up the editorial ladder there, I moved to California and started working at NAILS as a senior editor. That was nine years ago. I’ve been running the magazine for the last five years or so. We are part of Bobit Business Media and both magazines are Maggie Award-winning trade publications for the salon industry.
AC: What’s the best thing about your job?
Lee: The free nail polish and unlimited manicures and pedicures. Seriously, the best thing about the job is helping small business owners—mostly women—run their businesses better. Sure, we have nail technique stories and style stories, but we also run articles that could be translated to any small business situation: marketing, training, owner issues, tax filing, etc. That’s fulfilling on another level. I also really enjoy my team and staff. I don’t think I could go to work at the same place for nine years if I didn’t genuinely like the people I work with. It’s also nice to have such a high-quality product. We have won numerous awards over the years and it’s great to be recognized for all the hard work we do. We just finished a wholesale redesign of the magazine, so I’m excited to see how it will be received by the industry.
AC: What don’t you like?
Lee: Because I’ve been at the same job for such a long time, sometimes it’s difficult to come up with new ideas. I mean there are only so many ways to tell a story about toenail fungus. It’s also not so fun to get a call from an angry reader or advertiser, but it’s all part of the job.
My Gig is a series of stories about different careers. Trying to figure out what to do when you grow up? My Gig, which provides a quick glimpse into a person’s work life, may inspire you!
Photo courtesy of Hannah Lee