She may have started her career observing runway shows from a distance, but in the past 10 years, Cosmopolitan.com editor Amy Odell has had a dramatic, up-close impact on the fashion media landscape.
After launching her journalism career as a party reporter for New York Magazine, Odell became the founding blogger of the publication’s fashion blog, The Cut, which today attracts more than 8.8 million unique monthly viewers, according to the site. Four years later, she moved on to BuzzFeed, where she launched two verticals including BuzzFeed Fashion.
Today, she’s the director of all digital content connected to Cosmopolitan (which boasts the largest community of millennial women on the internet; Cosmopolitan.com has 36 million unique monthly visitors, compared to 11 million when Odell took the reins in 2013) — and as such, she has redefined the meaning of Cosmo Girl: She’s smart, she cares about politics and she’s an unapologetic feminist. She certainly isn’t all about sex.
While making a name for herself in the digital world, Odell also managed to write a book: “Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider’s View From Inside the Fashion Industry,” which was released in 2015 and chronicles her rise from her early days in the biz.
As a recent day in her life today reveals, her current position requires long, jam-packed days. Clearly, it’s hard work maintaining front-row status. The following has been slightly edited for clarity.
6:25 a.m. I wake up and get ready for work. Before I leave my house to catch the train, I catch up on the news and answer emails. I usually work out in the morning before work, but I didn’t today since I was up late following the aftermath of the dossier BuzzFeed published about Trump’s unverified entanglements with Russia and Obama’s farewell speech.
In addition to posting the full transcript and answering the burning question of where Sasha was, my amazing executive editor Lori Fradkin, who oversees all of our political coverage, assigned commentary, including a piece by Jill Filipovic on what Obama did and didn’t do for women as president. Meanwhile, we’re also covering the confirmation hearings of Trump’s cabinet picks and squaring away plans for inauguration coverage. We’ll have several reporters on the ground at both the inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington. So political coverage has continued to keep us very busy, months after the election.
9 a.m. I get to work. The office is usually pretty quiet since most writers and editors like to come in after they’ve read the news and filed their lineups from home. The team works so hard to keep the site, our many social channels and our Snapchat Discover editions up and running every single day, so I think it’s important to give them flexibility. The daily lineup of what we’re covering goes out to the entire Cosmopolitan.com team every day at 10 a.m., and I read it daily. We publish so much content across our platforms each day that I couldn’t keep up otherwise.
11 a.m. I pop by the 38th floor of the tower to visit with Michele Promaulayko, who oversees the print publication. Since digital and print properties are run separately at Hearst, it’s important that we stay in touch about what one another are doing. I fill her in on what we’re planning for the inauguration, etc. and she shows me the March issue.
12 p.m. After grabbing a quick bite at Café 57 while I’m in the Tower (Cosmo Digital HQ is in a building next door to the Hearst Tower), I swing by the day’s video shoot. Jason Ikeler, who recently joined Cosmopolitan.com as our head producer, is working with our associate lifestyle editor Danielle Tullo on unicorn-themed food videos today. Cosmo Bites, which Danielle runs, is our fastest growing Facebook page — I think, in part, it’s because everybody eats, but it’s also because we’re distinguishing our content from other food videos on Facebook. Everything we do is extremely girly — we put edible glitter on nearly everything, including cocktails (and we shoot a lot of cocktails). When I arrive at the shoot, Jason is dangling a stuffed unicorn over a colorful martini, so this seems like a very successful day!
1 p.m. I check in with Ashley Mateo, the editor of Redbook’s website. I started overseeing Redbook’s site last year, and it’s been a lot of fun. Ashley has been on staff for less than a year, but she and her team have done a great job with the site; she’s made their beauty, style and relationships content even stronger, while adding political coverage and viral first-person essays. Today, she has a list of great feature ideas to discuss with me – I can’t wait to get some of them published this year.
2:30 p.m. I meet with executive lifestyle editor Helin Jung, senior fitness editor Elizabeth Narins and Danielle to go over food and fitness feature ideas for 2017. Even though so much of what we do involves responding to the news on a second-to-second basis, we are also deeply committed to making time for editors to work on original long-lead features.
3 p.m. I head back over to the tower for the March issue preview. Michele and senior members of the print team present the next issue, and I get the opportunity to fill everyone in on what we’re doing on the website. Today I tell them about recent video successes, our plans for covering the inauguration and Women’s March, and the Escapes package — a collection of articles and videos launching this week about people who’ve escaped their ordinary lives. Our features editor, Emma Barker, oversaw the package and did a fabulous job with it – it has been many months in the making, so we’re excited to put it out into the world.
4 p.m. I have a quick meeting with a member of my design team to work on a presentation my team is giving to the sales group in a few weeks.
4:45 p.m. We have our daily Snapchat review. I meet with the Snapchat animators and editors to provide feedback on the next day’s edition. We publish 17 pieces of content in our Discover editions every single day, which presents a considerable design challenge – we want to keep the snaps fun and fresh, but also ensure the design looks as polished as possible and each edition feels cohesive. This is one of the most fun parts of each day — the team, run by Senior Editor Madeline Haller and Design Director Katja Cho, brings so much humor into their work.
6 p.m. I head out to take a class at Physique 57, since I didn’t go in the morning.
7:15 p.m. Once the class ends, I return to the office for a call with Laura Beck, our weekend editor and a TV writer out in LA. I normally wouldn’t go back to the office, but we’re working on a television project and on a very tight deadline — and we’ve hired Laura, who is hilarious, to be the lead writer. We review a script, and then I head to the train.
8:45 p.m. I finally make it home. I use my train ride to read the papers (usually the New York Times and Washington Post), and review and send feedback on the videos the video team filed that day (they usually file around three, if not more, each day). I usually ride back with my husband, which I love, even if we both usually have to get some work done. I make dinner almost every night (I love to cook!) and he cleans up (I hate to clean!), and we eat together and catch up.
10 p.m. We finally go to bed, and I read on my phone until I feel like I can fall asleep. I’ve developed a terrible habit of obsessively reading the news before bed (which often leads to story ideas, which leads to emails to my team), which probably only makes it harder to sleep. But in this business, it’s hard to ever turn off.