Our best friends are great. Our mothers are saints. Our sisters, co-workers and neighbors are amazing, interesting, wonderful women. We believe “everyday” women are worth celebrating, and BE. Magazine is all about creating a platform to celebrate everyday excellence, where ladies can revel in the greatness of their peers.
Ann Kaiser is one of these women worth celebrating. She is a best friend, a sister and a co-worker (in the interest of full disclosure, she happens to be one of my best friends), a woman who encourages and inspires the people around her.
Ann is continually looking for the next thing, moving forward while taking a moment to appreciate where she is. She doesn’t shy away from challenges, in fact, she might even subconsciously seek them out.
She decided she wanted to work in magazines as a writer and editor, so she did. Almost two years ago, she decided it was time to leave home and move to New York City. Within months, Ann had an apartment on the Upper East Side and had cultivated an enviable and diverse social circle, friends with whom she goes to events and tries new things and sometimes even convinces to go surfing with her on Rockaway Beach. But whatever she’s doing, Ann never forgets to be a wonderful friend to her loved ones, to ask about their job interviews and dates, and remind them to remember that attitude is key and happiness is what you make of it. And she does it all with her own flare and personal style.
We met up a couple of weeks ago at New York City’s Sweet Revenge to eat cupcakes and drink wine, mostly, but also to talk about her career, a new personal project she’s started and the things in life she’s most proud of.
Tell us about your day job–what do you do and how did you get there? At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to work in magazines?
I work at a shelter magazine based in Connecticut (“shelter” meaning home-related). I interview designers and architects and write stories on homes. Sometimes I get to help out at photo shoots and go to events like store openings and trade shows. It’s fun!
How I got there was a bit of chance. I have always loved writing, and had worked on the student newspapers in high school and college, so going into some type of writing job seemed like a natural fit. I think it was working on my college paper–staying up late to edit the night before the paper went to the printer, feeling that camaraderie and excitement about words and editing–when I really knew I wanted to work in publishing. Right after college, I got an internship at a local shelter magazine, and when the editor above me left, I moved up into her spot. From there, I went to my current job. I do think it’s being in the right place at the right time–but you have to put yourself there.
What has been your career high point so far?
I think the high point was getting (and succeeding in) the job I have now. I was under-qualified in some ways, but I applied anyway, and I have been able to grow into the role. It was a little bit baptism by fire, but I like to problem-solve and tinker with things and figure them out, and I have been able to do that in this job. I always want to be getting better and try new things and see how the whole business runs together, and I still ask a lot of questions–and to new challenges, I almost always say “yes.”
You moved to New York year and a half ago. What has been the hardest part of being on your own?
Just managing everything. I have some really supportive people in my life, but in the end, I am responsible for everything, and balancing that–just being an adult, I guess–can be stressful. I have to say, I am quite lucky overall, but working and living in New York and trying to cook dinner and write and read and see friends and also save some time to do nothing–sometimes it’s hard to keep a handle on it all.
What has been the biggest surprise about adulthood?
Maybe it’s just because I live in New York–but how much everything costs! If anyone reading this is living at home, save everything you can–because you will want to take a weekend trip a year from now, and you will want to be in your friend’s wedding, and you will be so happy you saved. Having a little bit stashed away gives you freedom to make different decisions, and I wish I’d saved more!
Also, how much you really do become like your mother.
What part of your life are you most proud of?
I’m very proud that I am “making it on my own” and supporting myself. That’s a defining thing for me. I don’t always feel like I have it together, there are places I can improve, but doing it myself–I think it’s important to know that you can. But the most important thing in life, to me, is people. I got a pretty good family for free, but I am very happy to have collected a group of friends that I can count on, that I trust and admire for all different reasons.
Tell us a bit about your blog–why did you decide to start it when you did?
This is actually my third go at it–but it is the first one that’s really honest. And I suppose I did it because I needed to. At work, I am writing about beautiful homes most of the time, and I really enjoy that. But I had always loved sort of personal essay-writing in college, and I had gotten away from that, and I missed it. That quote from Joan Didion, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down,” that is true of me, too. I was feeling a bit lost, and I needed to figure things out, and do something I really enjoyed.
What is the biggest challenge with blogging?
The biggest challenge was getting over the fact that my very private thoughts would be public, for anyone to access. You expose yourself when you write anything personal, but that is always the kind of writing that I have loved and connected to the most. I think a lot of people, especially people my age, can relate to what I am thinking and feeling–because my experiences are not that unique. My favorite part is just the writing–I love to write. And when people drop me a note to say, “Me too,” that is really nice. I don’t have the type of job that is going to change the world in any significant way, you know? So if being honest about my own anxieties and insecurities makes someone else feel a little better about theirs, I feel good about it. Putting it all out there has made me a care less about what other people might think, too.
What is your favorite post so far?
What is your favorite way to unwind?
I started surfing this summer, and I find the whole process kind of meditative. You have to leave your technology on land, the scenery is beautiful, and you can’t think of anything but not-drowning (eventually, it will be catching the wave–but right now, it is mostly not-drowning). It makes you slow down: You cannot fight the waves, you just have to go with it. You aren’t in control, you’re just a reactor. I’m really looking forward to getting back out there–I hope I can by the end of this month!
Where would you go on your dream trip?
I really want to see South Africa, and do some game drives. I almost studied abroad there, and have wanted to go back ever since.
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten or what motto do you live by?
Career-wise, “Always take the meeting.”
But in life, what I have figured out is, no one knows what they’re doing. Trust your gut. Say yes. And, as was written over the counter at a college pizza parlor, “Love is it.”
Who would play you in the movie version of your life?
Well, Patty Duke is too old now–but people occasionally tell me I look like her! (They told my mom too.) Maybe Claire Danes? Kate Winslet? Somebody with at least a little moxie!
Now you tell us—who in your life do you believe is a woman worth celebrating?