Welcome to a new(ish) column we’re introducing at Fat Girl Food Squad called Kickin’ Ass and Takin’ Names. This column is going to ask women who we thinking kick-ass and take names in business (all types of business) and how they got there! If you have someone you think we should profile, comment below! We would love to hear your suggestions!
This week we’re featuring Lora Grady, who runs the amazing body-positive blog, P.S. You’re Beautiful and who we’re throwing our first Self-Care Sunday event in March (more details to come about that in the coming weeks). Read more about Lora below and why we think she kicks-ass and takes names!
(1) Who are you and what do you do?
Lora Grady, 27. Associate editor at a national women’s magazine and founder of P.S. You’re Beautiful
(2) How long have you been in this business for?
I graduated in 2009, interned at the magazine later that year, became an assistant editor in 2010 and was made associate editor this fall. I launched P.S. You’re Beautiful in April 2014.
(3) What do you find that women who lead all have in common?
Having the confidence to speak up is key, but more important than that is a willingness to listen—to members of their team, to readers, to clients. Being confident enough to take others’ thoughts and criticisms into account without taking it personally is a sign of a true boss.
(4) People often wonder about the differences between men and women lead. What are your thoughts on that?
In my experience, especially working for a women’s magazine, women tend to have more empathy. I’ve had many discussions about emotions at work with other women and because we were able to be so honest, we resolved our issues much quicker. I also think that women are more likely to be willing to listen (see question 3).
(5) How have your overcome gender roadblocks in your career?
To be honest, I haven’t had to overcome gender roadblocks in my career so far. I work for a magazine that’s been run by strong women for decades and that tradition continues. There’s a pretty incredible support system in our office.
When I went to school, I worked for a feminist magazine, McClung’s, as the co-editor in chief. A few times I walked by groups of students trashing the magazine, and trashing the idea of feminism entirely, in 2009. Five years later, I’m still hearing the same thing. But the conversation has since moved to a public arena, and that’s awesome—we should be discussing what feminism really means for our generation.
(6) Have you ever had any surprising moments in your career that stemmed from the fact that you’re a woman?
Hmmm… The first thing that comes to mind is an awkward encounter I had by the elevators in the office one time. I had my passcard in my back pocket and my hands were full, so I booty-bumped the censor to open the door. Then, from behind me, I heard, “Nice…” I turned around to see a middle-aged male employee staring at me and smiling. My coworker and I were so grossed out that we rushed through the door and didn’t look back. Today, I would probably tell him off. That’s the most blatant form of sexism I’ve experienced at work and sadly, I count myself lucky considering the current climate.
(7) What is your advice to women who was to kick ass and take names in business?
Don’t be so hard on yourself! A lot of talented, successful women I know tend to downplay their skills (myself included). Learn your strengths and play them up when the time comes to promote yourself. If you want something, you have to ask for it. And don’t ever let anyone discourage you from doing what you want to do. You’ve got this.
(8) Who are some of your role models?
My grandmothers are my biggest role models. My mom’s mom started working when she was 15, and then after she got married, she worked from the time my mom was three until she retired. My dad’s mom worked her whole life, too. She got married at 18, took on a full-time job with Bell and never missed a day of work other, except for when she was in labour. They had to support their families. I can’t imagine the kind of sexism they faced. My Grandma Gladys told me stories about what it was like to work with all men and how she was constantly talked down to, but she demanded respect through standing up for herself. Neither of my grandmothers had the easiest lives, but they worked their asses off and raised some pretty incredible families.
I’ve also been incredibly lucky to work with some very talented journalists through my job. Megan Griffith-Greene was my mentor when I started my career. She taught me the principles of proper research and the importance of getting the details right. I also received a bit of mentoring from Rachel Giese, an incredibly talented Toronto journalist, when I was an intern. She took the time to walk me through every edit on one of my first stories that was published in print and I was so grateful for that.
Gabi Fresh, Nadia Abhoulson and Tess Munster are also amazing women. They helped me learn to embrace my body as it is and were part of the inspiration for PSYB.
(9) What are some of the shining moments you’ve had with your business?
In my publishing career, my biggest moment so far was having this piece about rocking my first plus-size bikini published online one summer. I’d written a few features before, but nothing ever received this kind of reaction. Women started reaching out to me through the website and social media to tell me how much they could relate to my story and how I inspired them to rock their own bikinis.
That’s what moved me to launch P.S. You’re Beautiful. I wanted to open the discussion so we could continue to focus on body positivity in all areas of our lives—from our jobs to pop culture to personal stories that changed us somehow.
Reaching 2,000 likes on Facebook this summer was also a huge moment. Every now and then, I browse through the “likes” and it’s incredibly inspiring to see high school students in Alberta and businesswomen on the east coast relating to the same content.
(10) Where would you like to be five years from now?
I want PSYB to become a larger online destination and possibly even a print magazine (yes, I still believe print will be around in five years. Call me a dreamer). I’d love to travel across the country hosting conferences and other events that would bring body-positve writers and bloggers together. I want to continue to be a part of this movement.
(11) What does a typical day look like for you?
Wake up to “Shake It Off,” hit the snooze button 10 to 15 times, watch Friends while I have my coffee and check PSYB emails. See what’s going on on social media. Then I head to work where any given day could bring pitch meetings, fact checking features, writing articles for print and online, editing, training new interns, attending press events. In the evenings, I try to get out to check out new places with friends (pretty obsessed with Rhum Korner and Patois right now), but most weeknights find me on the couch watching Naked and Afraid or Master Chef.
(12) What was your first job out of school
My very first job ever was when I was in grade 9, and it was a 14-year-old’s dream. I worked at a Beauty Supply Outlet in Courtice, Ont. I got a discount, which meant that most of my paycheque went to sweet-smelling conditioners, but it was an awesome first gig. I’ve also worked as a cook and delivery girl for a small pizza shop, as a clothes sorter for a dry cleaner and as a sales associate at a few different clothing stores. After university, I did an internship with MastheadOnline and then landed a 5-month paid internship at Chatelaine.
(13) What are the 3 skills required to do your job well?
Passion. If you’re not passionate about what you do, you’re not going to give it 100 percent and it will come through in your work.
Focus. One of my main duties at the magazine is to make sure every story published is error-free, which means zeroing in on minute details to determine accuracy.
Time management. My job is all about deadlines and if I don’t hit mine, it creates a domino effect that slows down the whole production process. I keep multiple to-do lists for both the magazine and the website.
(14) What do you love most about your career?
Meeting amazing women. Over the past five years at the magazine, I’ve had the pleasure of working with incredibly talented writers, editors, designers, stylists and cooks. I feel lucky to have been able to learn from so many of them. I’m inspired by my coworkers every day.
I’ve also met some very inspiring women through P.S. You’re Beautiful: Fat Girl Food Squad, Ursa Major +, Jill Andrew and Aisha Fairclough of Fat in the City. I’m so happy to have made these connections in my own city. That’s so important—to create a network of like-minded women. Because when we get together, we can shut it down.
The other thing I love about PSYB is the opportunity it presented to do a project with my best friend, Amanda, who designed and hosts my site. When it first launched, we’d sit together on our laptops in her kitchen, drinking coffee, listening to Bey and cranking out work. I remember turning to her and thinking, “This is so ideal.” She’s been so supportive—PSYB wouldn’t be what it is without her.
(15) If you could try a different career, what would it be and why?
Rock star. I live vicariously through my brother, Matt, a recording engineer/producer/singer/guitar player/all-around-annoyingly-talented guy, and my good friend Jessica, a ridiculously talented singer and guitar player. I make her listen to my serenades via Snapchat every day—she’s very supportive.