Source: Violet Lemay
It’s a new soundtrack
I could dance to this beat
The lights are so bright
But they never blind me
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
– Taylor Swift
This soundtrack played throughout my head as I anxiously sat on a Megabus from Albany to 7th Ave this past Tuesday. I, Emma LeMay, a freshly turned eighteen year old from rural Vermont was given the amazing opportunity to go to the city on a late July afternoon and meet with the Chief Revenue Officer of Allure Magazine, Agnes Chapski. Casual.
Thinking about it now, I have to pinch myself to believe this day happened. Not everyone gets to go to the World Trade Center and tour the office of a highly acclaimed Condé Nast magazine and certainly not every eighteen year old gets this chance to! Agnes and I connected during the winter of my senior year. Somehow I discovered her position at Allure and came to the conclusion that she was on the board at Emma Willard. I reached out to my head of school, Sue Groesbeck, and asked her if there was any way I could get in touch with Agnes. Publishing and editorial is something I hope to have experience in some day, and it would be useful to talk to someone in the field. Who better than an Emma Girl?!
It took me a long time to figure out that a Chief Revenue Officer is a highly prestigious for role in any company. They are the head honchos in the advertising/sales/marketing department. I was of course elated when Sue told me that Agnes would like to talk to me. There was a board meeting in February and a board of trustee and student dinner later that night, and Agnes and I set up a chat in the admission suite before dinner. She dressed as you would expect a CRO to dress, and she was very kind and easy to talk to. I asked her what her work was like, how she got there, her advice, etc… We sat at the same dinner table together, and I clearly remember hanging up our coats when she told me, “This summer why don’t you come down and visit the office? You can meet my team.”
Flash forward seven months and an Emma Willard diploma later, and I found myself on the 31st floor of the World Trade Center sitting across from Agnes Chapski in her very own office. Before I go into further detail about our visit, allow me to rewind.
My dad came to the city with me. It was fun to have some father-daughter time, even though I had my own schedule downtown shortly after we arrived. We were in Boston just last week, so it was interesting comparing the two cities. They both have their distinct features and characteristics, but I have to say, no city speaks to me more than New York. New York has a certain buzz to it that no other city I’ve set foot in matches. I find myself casted by its magic every time I am there even if that does seem artificial.
We got off the bus around 1:30 PM and hopped right on a train to downtown. We got off at Franklin St. (thank you, iPhone) and walked a short 0.1 miles to Two Hands Restaurant & Bar for lunch. My friend Kayla and I stayed at a hotel very close to this restaurant in February. However, the restaurant was not open to customers yet. We went to the Two Hands Café on Mott St. instead in February, and I’ve wanted to go to the restaurant since. My dad and I had no wait, and we were seated snuggly between two tiny tables. The restaurant had a clean and simple design– white with blue accents. I ordered a beet cured salmon bowl, and my dad got an iced latte brassicas bowl. Both of our meals were delicious! The food from Two Hands is so Instagram worthy.
After lunch, we had half an hour to stroll around the World Trade Center Memorial. It was a lot more crowded than it was in February, but it was nice to be there again. 9/11 will always be part of our country’s history and heartbreak. Around 3 PM, we walked to the World Financial Center where I met Heather Wells, an Emma Willard and Marist alum, for iced tea at the Financier Patisserie on the second floor. She was extremely friendly and excited to meet me and talk about our high school alma mater and my soon to be college alma mater. It’s so fascinating talking to a complete stranger but having something so special in common. Heather made me feel confident in my decision to attend Marist and reminded me to stay connected with Emma Willard like she has by being on the alumni council. We took a selfie and sent it to the director of alumnae relations at Emma Willard. I found Heather on Emma Willard’s alumni app, and according to Heather, people on the committee raved about my immediate networking after installing the app a few months ago.
Heather had to return to work around 4 PM, so I found my dad and freshened up in the bathroom before my next appointment. He was super stoked about seeing Henry Kissinger right outside the World Financial Center. I didn’t know who he was, but fear not: my dad filled me in.
We arrived in front of the World Trade Center at 4:10 PM. Now was not the time to be late. I told the doorman that I had a meeting with Agnes Chapski, and he gave me instructions to get where I needed to be. I found myself walking down the hallway listening to the echo of heels and dress shoes on the spotless, white tile floor. I came to the last desk that had “Condé Nast” branded behind it. I told the person working that I had a 4:30 appointment with Agnes Chapski of Allure. He took my ID, called up at the office, printed me a visitor’s pass, and moved my bags through a scanner. I nervously made my way to the elevator and struggled getting to the 31st floor because I didn’t realize the elevators were pre-programmed (#millenialprobs). Once the elevator dinged, I stepped out and saw glass doors etched with “Allure” on them.
A man with red Nike Free Airs, gray skinny jeans, and a black shirt warmly greeted me. He introduced himself as Vincent and Agnes’ assistant. We guided me through the office as I soaked in every sight, smell, and noise. I entered Agnes’ office, and it was exactly what you could expect: glass windows, a table with white flowers placed perfectly in the center, a spotless desk, a large desktop, unique artwork on the walls, and an elegantly dressed CRO. Agnes turned around from her computer and welcomed me with a smile and a hug. It was a total Devil Wears Prada moment (well, experience), but Agnes is certainly not the Devil (even if she does wear Prada).
We talked about our summers, Emma Willard School, the business she is in. She showed me around the new site that Allure had launched earlier that day. She asked me about Florence and talked about how she would be in Milan, London, and Paris for Fashion Week. As I intently listened to her, I also sipped on the bottle of Fiji water that Vincent gave me.
Agnes gave me a tour of the office; I got to see the business side and the editorial side. We stopped in the beauty room. I admired the editors working in a room with clothes and shoes for photo shoots. I also got to meet some other Allure workers (a bookings editor, beauty editor, and copy editor) in addition to passing by the Editor in Chief’s office. It was unbelievable. The funniest moment of the tour was when the bookings director said, “I just want to tell these girls [the ones who appear on the magazine covers and in the magazine], ‘Eat a damn sandwich!'” It had both Agnes and me laughing.
We chatted some more after the tour (she gave me some quality advice) before she had to run to a dinner with a client. I didn’t leave empty handed; Agnes gave me a bag full of goodies (this month’s issue and beauty products). It was incredibly nice and generous that she took almost an hour and a half out of her day to meet with me and show me around. I never knew that I would be networking could result in something like this so soon!
Whether or not I am in that office again as an employee or visitor, I am 100% satisfied. I witnessed a work place that I have dreamed about working in. And that dream still lives– a dream to work somewhere like there at some point in my life. Like Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” I’m a strong believer in that.
After my eventful visit, I went to Starbucks by myself and took the Path from OWT to Newark alone. I loved being free and independent in the city, something I have dreamt about for a long time. It was a memorable day in Manhattan, and I’m so glad I got to share it with my dad then my aunt, uncle, and cousin later. Manhattan never seems to disappoint. xo ~e.