How I Became Editor Of FashionBeans

Luke Todd

Luke Todd being interviewed at a Sennheiser photo shoot in Berlin

At just 22, Luke Todd has already made rapid progress in his journalism career by being appointed editor of a leading men’s fashion website. He spills the beans on his journey…

I began my career path around five years ago when I finished giving every educator I came into contact with high blood pressure. I found school quite frustrating – it always got in the way of getting attention. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, just that I wanted recognition for doing it.

While I sat trying to figure out my future, I found myself constantly flicking through magazines. Then I realised that THEY were my thing. Towards the end of my sixth form career I was skipping classes and getting an hour-long train into London to intern at FRONT Magazine.

Having finally found my calling, I came up against the next hurdle — acknowledging the harsh reality that it might be too late for me. With only two A-levels under my belt, no university would touch me. So I took a year out and spent it making money as a builder’s labourer (a fact that still amuses everyone I meet to this day). I decided I would use this time to get some work experience in journalism under my belt and try again the following year.

I saw an advert on FashionBeans, which was at that time my now-Editor-in-Chief’s personal blog. He was looking for someone to come on and help with content. I applied and was one of the first to join the team – unpaid, but I didn’t mind.

When it came round to applying for university for the second time, it was déjà vu. No university would touch me with only two A-levels. Fortunately, things went my way when the University of Lincoln’s School of Journalism offered me the chance to study a foundation degree in community journalism, with the opportunity to prove myself and move up to the full BA programme. It’s an offer I was, and am to this day, eternally grateful for.

I did indeed progress to the BA programme and managed to graduate with first class honours. I met inspirational tutors who became inspirational friends, and made inspirational friends who are now also inspirational contacts. If it hadn’t been for the truly amazing (now Head of School) Deborah Wilson giving me that one chance, who knows where I’d be with my two A-levels now.

Not long after leaving I applied for a job at ShortList Magazine. I remember spending two days creating the best portfolio of work I could and making sure it was perfect before sending directly to the desk of an Editor there. 

I didn’t get the job but they did get in touch to ask if I would like to come in and help out with MODE, which is the magazine’s bi-annual style publication. I jumped at the chance to be associated with such a name. Within three months I was made Fashion & Grooming Coordinator, working across both the ShortList and ShortList MODE titles.

I’ll be honest though – I never thought I’d end up in fashion. I love clothes, I love the heritage of menswear and I love that we live in the home of Savile Row and the three-piece suit – but I don’t live for reviewing every collection or watching every show. I also love writing in a news tone but don’t want to report on the latest councillor’s meeting. So I found a happy medium: menswear-focused stories with a strong news tone.

So what’s my advice for making it? It is a tough industry to crack – but so are many others. My first tip for making it in fashion would be the same as if you asked me how to make it in the B2B magazine industry or the building game or as a taxidermist: Be polite, work relentlessly hard and do even the smallest job very well.

It’s also important not to let the rejection (or even lack of response) get you down. Just move on to the next thing. Knock on enough doors and one will open, or knock on the same one enough that the person on the other side gets annoyed and lets you in.

Learning to live on a few hours sleep is also a useful trait. All those late (sometimes non-existent) nights in the library writing a dissertation don’t go away if you really love what you do. They just translate into late (sometimes non-existent) nights in the office editing copy or setting up stories.

For some people, journalism at university can do more than teach you how to order facts, present quotes or send off a freedom of information request. It can show you how to open up, step out of your comfort zone and talk to people — it’s how all the best opportunities present themselves.

Luke Todd is the editor of one of the UK’s leading online style guides for men, FashionBeans. You can follow Luke on Twitter @LukeToddUK

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