Naomi Elizee Shares How She Switched From Healthcare To Working At Vogue, All Before The Age Of 25
Sneakers: Yeezy 500 “Blush”
Tell me a little bit about yourself. You mentioned you’re from Florida. Life in Florida, what was that like? What brought you to New York?
It’s kind of like Atlanta. Do you watch Atlanta, when they were like Florida man?
Yeah, but I’m so behind though.
If you’ve ever heard of Florida man, it’s like Florida man bites off man’s face. Florida man eats a crocodile, like crazy stuff. It’s basically really how Florida is. I grew up in Davie, Florida which is a very small town. Well I grew up in Cooper City then moved to Davie but most of my teenage years were in Davie, Florida. [It was a] very small town, I was very sheltered. I didn’t go out to parties until I was like 17 years old. My first experience with alcohol was literally college so to give you a sense, I was very goodie goodie which I am thankful for because I learned so much from my parents and everything.
More about me, I’m 24 – woah woah I’m 23 turning 24 in September. Woah, not just yet, sounds scary.
You’re like I’m ready, ready to get it over with.
Haha, no I’m not.
It’s interesting because I don’t see Florida as a place for fashion, that’s not what I think of but you are in the fashion industry, so what age did that come about? When did you realize that this was something that you were interested in?
So it was my sophomore year of high school, so how old was I? Like 15. I think around that age I was on the fast track to do healthcare. Both of my parents are in healthcare, you know Caribbean parents. It’s either that or be a lawyer or nothing else, haha.
I’m African so I get it.
Yeah, you get it you get it. It’s kind of crazy to say it, but I discovered Tumblr and that’s kind of how I started to build my interest in fashion, buying magazines and all of that.
I remember it was the first day of class for healthcare and [my teacher] was like write down why you want to work in the healthcare industry. Like 20 minutes passed and I didn’t write anything down. Everyone else wrote all this stuff down and I didn’t really have anything to say.
At that moment, I realized I don’t want to go down this road and it was a whole long two years of me trying to convince my parents that I wanted to work in fashion. They had no idea what I was talking about. I remember at one point I made a powerpoint for my dad that he didn’t look at. I kind of just did my own thing. They still supported me but they just didn’t understand it.
So besides Tumblr, when you were in high school and college, what were some outlets that helped you think creatively or really get into fashion?
For high school, it was also that lookbook site (lookbook.nu) and you posted your outfits. I did that a lot and would do a lot of photoshoots with my friends. I’m going to show you a picture but it’s kind of scary. I literally have a Panda hat on, haha. I would do photoshoots with my friends and just kind of go to our local park and we would wear different outfits. We would have so much fun with it. It was like we were producing our own little magazine.
In the fashion industry, there are so many different roles that you could play. Did you know which role you wanted to go for or were you like I – Anna Wintour, I just want to be an editor-in-chief?
Honestly, no. I think that’s why I interned in so many different fields because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work in the industry and I knew the type of woman that I wanted to be. Similar to who Anna Wintour embodies, who Shiona Turini embodies, like all of these amazing editors.
My first internship was at Seventeen and I was a fashion assistant in the closet and I loved it. I loved being on set. It really opened my eyes and I thought maybe that would be for me. But then I wanted to make sure I covered all of my bases so my next internship, I interned with Saks doing buying and planning. I realized that wasn’t for me, haha. It was just too much of an office job. I learned so much and it was one of the best internships I’ve ever had. The people really care and want to see you grow but I just realized it wasn’t the environment I saw myself growing in.
Now, congrats you’re at Vogue. That’s a major deal. Did you grow up loving Vogue? When was your first encounter with Vogue and what was that like?
Buying the magazines was pretty much my first encounter but really falling in love with Vogue was after watching the September issue. It was just really cool to get an inside look into what it was. It’s still surreal to me when I walk to work and I open up the doors because sometimes I’m like, “Woah, I literally made my dreams come true.” The Vogue masthead is still on my vision board back home from when I was in high school. My parents were like what’s that and I told them don’t worry about it, haha. Getting my full time position and seeing my name on the masthead for the first time kind of brought all of the struggling with my parents to believe in what I was doing. Like wow, finally I did it.
What’s a day in the life like for someone who’s never even been to Vogue? How’s your day like?
It differs every day and I know that’s everyone’s response but it really just differs. I go to work, I come in and make sure everything is in line for my boss first, her schedule, all of her appointments, going through her emails and making sure everything is in line. Then I focus on any requests I have, make sure I do follow-ups on those requests for the clothing and really just back and forth with PR and keeping in touch with other people and setting up appointments. It’s all over the place. It’s one crazy machine that is just really fun to be in. It’s just keeping afloat and making sure everyone is. Also, helping others if other editor needs help with their requests, I’m there and I’ll help.
How do you balance your work life now?
It’s great for me, I just make the time for what I need. I work out four to five times a week. I go into work around 8:30, 9 o’clock so I’ll usually go after work. We get to go to events and its interesting because that’s how you build relationships with PR and going to these market appointments and such.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Who knows? Haha. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you. Right now I’m just so happy in my current position that I’m just really focusing on getting the most out of what I’m doing currently and seeing what it will lead me to.I’m excited to take the next steps but also I’m not so much searching out to see what it will be. I’m more so taking it in now and whatever will lead me to it, I know it’s going to be good.
What motivates you right now?
The people who surround me, my friends, my family and also my coworkers. I feel like I’m surrounded by so many talented people and even in my friend group, everyone is so driven. Also just living in the city too, it’s kind of crazy because you kind of feel like you always need to be doing something. My own drive to continue to be better than what I am currently. I feel like I’m my own competition. I want to continue to compete with myself, that’s kind of how I look at it.
What do you feel so far has been your biggest accomplishment?
It’s so hard but I would have to say finding myself. Kind of getting in tune with who I am and in tune with what I want from my daily life, from my friends, how I want to have people gravitate toward me with my own energy in that sense. In the recent five months, I’ve honed in on who I am and I’ve been very happy. Maybe it’s not an accomplishment to someone else but to me it is.
It’s interesting because I feel like a lot of people now who are trying to break into that industry a lot of them are putting their focus on social media. What is the importance of having work or school experience versus having a social media presence?
At the end of the day, social media can’t tell you exactly how to be on set, what to do when you’re on set or what you need and what kit you need to get, or all of the little things that go into being an assistant and such. I think it’s great to have a social media presence but I don’t think you necessarily need it or something that you need to get a job in the editorial industry.
So what is a fashion market assistant for someone who doesn’t know?
I know where it gets confusing when people say fashion market assistant because people think it’s marketing but it’s not that. It’s literally just the market as in the clothes. It’s difficult to explain it even more because it’s literally just that, haha. For instance, If we’re looking for a camel jacket, we as market editors ask ourselves, “Who would have a camel coat?” And from there we do our research on sites such as Vogue.com and Tagwalk. Once we find what we're looking for, we request it, see what the available options are and then have it come into the office to show the stylist. They may like it, they may not.
Okay so we have a few fireball questions so just go with it – Your job in two words?
What’s a work day like for you?
Ups and downs and just crazy. I don’t know, I’m so bad at this. I feel the pressure; I feel like I’m on an MTV show, haha. It’s full of ups and downs and little surprises.
What’s the best part of your job?
Who inspires you?
A closet must-have?
There’s so many, haha. My current closet must-have is a really great sneaker.
What sneaker do you love the most right now?
I am literally wearing them, they’re my Yeezy 500s.
A beauty product you can’t live without?
The Laneige lip sleeping mask.
Advice you have for other girl bosses who want to pursue your field?
Stay active. Continue to compete with yourself. Just work hard and go after what you want to do. Don’t think about what anyone else is doing.
What gems or advice do you have for success?
Always ask questions. Expect the unexpected. If you’re working under someone, try to make it easier for them. Stay hungry for success and stay excited because if you’re not excited, then you’re not going to get to where you want to be.
By: Nana Agyemang