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Joan Lasker: From Editorial Assistant to Entrepreneur

Her first real job was at Vogue in 1974, as secretary to the marketing director.

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Beauty Inc issue 06/15/2012

“My first real job was at Vogue in 1974, as secretary to the marketing director. Multiple times a day, my boss presented Vogue’s “point of view” for the coming season to department store executives and buyers. In my third week, my boss got the flu. I volunteered to give the presentations. Within the year, I was promoted to editorial credits editor and then beauty editor. (Vera Wang was on the other side of the room, assisting senior fashion director Polly Mellen.) Some lessons learned in my five years there: Arrive early. Stay late. Take chances. Persist.

This story first appeared in the June 15, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

 

I was a beauty editor at Vogue from 1977 to 1979. My first assignment as beauty editor was to report on all the different types of massages. I spent the next two weeks getting massaged. Naturally, I thought I had just landed the greatest job ever. After those two blissful weeks, it was down to business, and I spent the majority of my time attending presentations for product launches and reporting on trends.

 

Forget any stereotypes about what a workplace full of women might be like — there was actually a great level of camaraderie. We were all in our 20s. (The “older” senior editors were between the ages of 30 and 45.)

 

I wore everything that was in fashion. I particularly loved the Vogue shoe closet. After each season was photographed, we were allowed to take a few pairs home. For everything else, we went to all the sample sales and bought the same things, which sometimes made it seem like there was a signature Vogue “uniform.” My favorite collection was YSL’s Russian collection in 1976. Huge swaths of opulent fabric. Full skirts. Fur. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I also liked Halston — elegant and simple.

 

In 1980, I was recruited by L’Oréal to become head of public relations. I had no PR experience, so it was risky, but it led to 16 great years before I retired.

 

L’Oréal gave me a pair of cowboy boots. I put them on and walked into the next chapter in Santa Fe. Gray roots were part of my future. Unglamorous? Sure. Uncommon? Definitely not. I developed a marker
that delivered real hair color for instant root touch-ups. After some trial and error, the TouchBack collection — featuring a marker, brow marker and color shampoos and conditioners — was born.”

 

— As told to WWD.

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