Today we’d like to introduce you to Remy Ramirez.
Remy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m an editor and writer – I’ve written for NYLON, BUST, Refinery 29, Nasty Gal, Tidal, among others. I always loved writing, but I never thought I’d do the kind of writing I do today. I got a BA in creative writing from UCSB and went on to complete a master’s in creative writing for poetry at UT Austin. My goal was to become a creative writing professor and teach poetry workshops, but after two years in grad school I realized I loved writing, but I hated academia. It seemed to attract a socially awkward, stuffy, hyper competitive crowd; I had a big personality, emoted easily, and had no patience for anyone who showed up to a party to brag about their publications instead of dance. Plus, the program (I found out after enrolling) was notoriously rife with misogyny, and that proved true over and over in my two years there. One day toward the end of my program, I was waiting in line at a co-op grocery store — totally discouraged and confused about my future — and started leafing through a copy of BUST. It was their DIY fashion issue, and I decided on the spot I would go to fashion school after graduating.
I moved to San Francisco not long after and spent about two years studying design. At the end of my program, I moved to L.A. and started looking for work as an assistant designer, which I naively assumed would be at least moderately easy. It wasn’t. The first year or so after fashion school was rough; I was squatting (with permission) in the house my mom’s boyfriend had put up for sale, and working minimum wage jobs for temp agencies.
One of those jobs was as a customer service rep. for an e-commerce fashion brand. During our training, I met another woman who was also training. She and I both had cheeky fashion blogs, shared a love for vintage, and were a little irreverent in our senses of humor. We hit it off, but within a couple days she’d disappeared from the training. When I asked the rest of the group what had happened to her, they told me she’d gotten a job at Nasty Gal.
I’d never heard of Nasty Gal, but one look at the site and I was in love. I knew instantly that was where I wanted to be, but it felt like such a long shot. I didn’t know anyone in the industry, had no experience and lacked the kind of resolve the company flaunted: I didn’t feel cool. I didn’t feel confident. I felt like I had no experience to speak of and was sleeping on a mattress in my mom’s boyfriend’s empty house for free because I couldn’t afford rent anywhere in L.A. That’s how I felt.
Life went on. I soon left the customer service job, bounced around a bit, and eventually landed an assistant designer position at an eco yoga-gear company. I was ecstatic. They were only paying me a $30k salary (sans benefits), and the gig included a cute commute to Compton and back every day — but the pay was steady, and I finally had the title I wanted.
Literally, two days in, I realized my boss was a crazed narcissist, but I thought I had to keep the position for at least six months, so I could use it on my resume. When he sexually harassed me four months later, I scratched that strategy. That very night, I emailed the friend I’d made almost a year before in customer service training (we’d stayed in touch), told her what had happened, and emphatically explained I’d take literally any job at Nasty Gal — a janitorial position if need be. She emailed back the next day that a production position had just opened up, and a week later, I was signing my contract.
Nasty Gal was a perfect fit for as a company in many ways, but I hated production. No aspect of the work was creative — I felt like I was withering away as a person, sitting under florescent lights day after day, tracking bolts of fabric from China and logging sample due dates. After about a year, a junior fashion copywriter position opened up in the company, and I pounced. It was a demotion in a title, and the work wasn’t glamorous, but I was finally in my element. Writing was my first love, fashion my second. I had married the two.
I started working my way up the ranks and eventually began assisting the content editor in running the Nasty Gal blog. When she left, I was next in line, and for the next two years, I was doing the kind of work I loved: interviewing musicians and artists, pitching stories, top editing junior writers, collaborating with photographers, etc. Around the same time, a colleague recommended me to the executive editor at a Tidal magazine, who later recommended me to an editor at NYLON. Soon enough, I was hustling hard, merging a 9-to-5 with a healthy freelance schedule. It was exhausting but thrilling. I felt like I had made it.
In a twist of fate, it was during this time that I took a road trip through the Southwest, which ended in Sedona. I’d never been before, but as soon as I arrived, miraculous synchronicities started to unfold. When I read tarot for myself in a canyon vortex (like ya do in that part of the world), my cards insisted I leave L.A. and move to Sedona. Rather than being excited, I agonized. It was true that beyond my job, there was really nothing anchoring me to L.A. But my job was great — how could I leave it for a tiny tourist town in the Arizona high desert, comprised overwhelmingly of retirees and restaurants that closed at 8 pm?
The choice was made for me. Two weeks later, the same day Trump’s win over Clinton was confirmed (so you know, a fun day to begin with), the CEO of Nasty Gal called us together to announce they’d filed for bankruptcy. I began planning my exit from Los Angeles just after, and in April ‘17, I moved into a little Sedona cottage with no plan, no friends, and no idea how I was going to make money.
For many reasons, that move was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, though it wasn’t without trials. Professionally, its effect was unexpected. I assumed I’d find a little tourist company and take on their marketing. Instead, clients from New York, L.A., and Chicago started reaching out to me, and I was able to go freelance, working remotely from Arizona. I became the editor of a small magazine out of Venice, subsidized by The Flex Co. — to date, some of the most gratifying work I’ve ever done. I realized I loved being freelance because of the freedom it afforded me in my schedule and the variation in projects I got to work on. Had I stayed in L.A., I would have just taken the next 9 to 5 that came along. That move shifted how I saw my work — it was something I got to handpick in accordance with what excited and moved me.
With flexibility in my schedule, I was also finally able to finish the passion project I’d started years before, Tell Us How You Really Feel, in which I interviewed 25 heterosexual men on love, sex, vulnerability, and relationships. In April I launched the site, TellUsHowYouReallyFeelProject.
In July this year, I moved back to L.A. Though leaving Sedona — by far the most beautiful placed I’ve ever lived— proved much harder than I anticipated at the outset, Los Angeles is a hub of opportunity and collaboration. What it lacks in vortexes, it makes up for in creating buzz, diverse thinkers, and really really good food. Like, so good. For me, it’s not a destination per se, because there is no destination. Our lives never stop evolving till we’re dead — only then do we get off the bus. In the meantime, it’s one adventure after another, each with a view incomparably its own.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think the struggles I’ve pretty much covered. In terms of advice for young women, I actually advise away from goal setting. Not outright against it, because I think it can really work for some, but away from it. I think goal setting is great for people who love one thing, know what that one thing is, and don’t want to do anything else. That’s not most people in my experience, and if you’re a multi-hyphenate, multi-talent, or someone who doesn’t fully identify with the societal pressure toward ambition, the push to set goals can feel unnatural.
I also find goal setting to be a behavior born out of the masculine, energetically speaking. The energy of the masculine is narrowly focused, which is supported by our patriarchal culture, and while that can be very helpful in creating success for some, it can be a suppressant for others (especially women). We very rarely teach women to use their intuition in pursuing a career that unfolds organically, and this is because, as a culture, we have no respect for the wisdom of feminine energy. Women are asked to show up with masculine energy in their work and to treat their careers as prehistoric hunters once treated the hunt.
My advice to women who identify with feminine energy is to release any preconceived ideas of what their career should be. Instead of asking yourself what job you want, ask how you want it to feel — do you want it to be busy and exciting, or quiet and calm? Do you want to travel, work closely with a mentor, be able to wear whatever you want every day? What do you want the space to look like — are there lots of windows with sunlight streaming in, or is it dark and cool? What kind of people do you want to work with? Are they fun, supportive, collaborative? What are the talents you want to be using — are you a writer, comedian, fashion designer, visual artist, dancer? Are you open to using all those talents? Some of them? What is the ultimate impact you want to have on the world with the work you do—how do you want other people to feel when they encounter your work? How do you want to feel?
I encourage women to write their answers to these questions in as much detail as possible when building their careers, without naming a job title. There are more opportunities than we can imagine on our own, and we are capable of far more than we give ourselves credit for — especially women, who are taught to doubt and downplay their talents from day one. Goal setting can sell us short and limit our options to the confines of our minds; we operate within the perimeters of specificity rather than in the open realms of possibility. With intention, our intuition naturally guides us toward manifesting that possibility.
More advice: don’t ever let anyone sexually harass you. Report it, get tf out of there, whatever you have to do —but don’t ever feel like you have to silently endure it for the good of your career. In fact, any kind of abuse of power is a waste of your time and energy. You don’t need it. And always negotiate your salary — even if you think you have no right to ask for more, ask for it anyway. Find a mentor who’s an experienced negotiator, and have her give you a play by play. And support other women. Competition is honestly bullshit. Build women up, support their projects, collaborate with them.
Please tell us more.
I write, investigate emotions, and support honesty. Sometimes, that looks like pop culture journalism, interviews with actors, musicians, dancers, etc. that I see as opportunities to understand the underlying emotional motivators in an artist’s creative work and process. Other times, it looks like putting a magazine together, thinking about the kinds of stories we want to tell, what’s exciting, what’s moving to our audience. At other times, it’s about branding a company, creating the tone and voice that will speak most evocatively to their demographic. And still other times, it looks like a project that asks men to get real about their emotions; weekly tarot readings that don’t sugar coat or a mantra deck that gives women permission to feel fucked up over a broken relationship, without condescending to them.
I’m proud of all the work I do, but I especially love the opportunities my work has afforded me to have real conversations with people, bridge gaps in how we connect and inspire audiences to live more genuine lives. Our time on this planet is short, and I personally see no need for pretense while we’re here. Any time I contribute to a project that’s rooted in honest exchanges — whatever the format — I’m proud.
There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
The best way to find a mentor you’ll connect with is to be yourself and ask for help. Sycophantic gestures are a great way to connect with someone who won’t be real with you and/or who operates out of narcissism — not helpful! Being yourself will connect you with the people who get you, like you, and want you to succeed. Be honest with them about your struggles, and proactively call them up with your questions. Also, thank them. Sincerely expressing gratitude is a great way to nurture connections across the board, but especially with mentors who could just as easily not share their time and knowledge with you.
- Website: https://www.behance.net/go2remz0d0c
- Email: RemyTRamirez@gmail.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/remeez/?hl=en
- Other: http://tellushowyoureallyfeelproject.com/
FIXX cover by Julia Hembree