You spent your 20s working toward building your dream career, but now that you’re in your 30s, what do you do when you’ve, well, changed your mind? Or maybe you never quite figured it out, and you’re now ready to commit to something you’re passionate about, whether it’s a job, a city, or just a new way of life. To celebrate the career changes that can come at any age, we’re debuting a new series called Second Life. Each month, we’ll hear from women who got over their doubts and fears and made the biggest changes of their lives.
It's hard to remember a time before global street style dominated our Instagram feeds and when we didn't have insider access to our favorite celebrity homes. The only insight we had was from fashion magazines, and there was an excruciating (but highly anticipated) monthlong wait before each issue hit newsstands. Noticing an opportunity, Stephanie Mark answered our voyeuristic prayers by literally opening up the most coveted closets of the world's biggest names (yes, even Oprah) with her website, Coveteur. And thank goodness she did. But while the company is now considered a leading lifestyle destination and media brand, the path to get there wasn't a straight one.
After studying fashion marketing at Parsons, Mark interned with Kate Lanphear (then style director at Elle) before assisting celebrity stylists Leslie Fremar and Annabel Tollman with their A-list clientele (think Michelle Williams, Charlize Theron, and Julianne Moore). Even though this sounds very glamorous, Mark "wasn't happy," and as divine intervention has it, she serendipitously met her now co-founders, Jake Rosenberg while on set for a freelance styling gig. Thus the seeds for Coveteur were planted. Ahead, Mark shares the story behind her career change, the biggest challenges, and the biggest lessons, along with some career gems to kick your motivation into gear.
The one thing I can say about starting your own company is that there is no path.
MYDOMAINE: Tell us about your first career path.
STEPHANIE MARK: Well, I have always wanted to be in fashion—that was non-negotiable. But the industry is pretty large and diverse, so I tried my hand at a few different areas before starting Coveteur: most notably, celebrity and editorial styling.
MD: How did you make the transition from your last career path to launching Coveteur?
SM: I was working in Toronto helping to rebrand the fashion division of a Canadian company. I wasn't happy with my current situation, so I started doing freelance styling on the side. One day on set, a passion project organically began and has continued to grow since our 2011 launch.
MD: Tell us about your current career path/business.
SM: The one thing I can say about starting your own company is that there is no path. A lot of it is being adaptable to change, listening to your gut, as well as keeping an eye out on the market and what is up and coming. Our business is constantly changing and evolving. Coveteur started as a website and has now grown into a full lifestyle media brand.
MD: What have been the biggest challenges in your many careers and why?
SM: When I was working for other people, my biggest challenge was feeling like my ideas weren't being heard because I was the new person in the office or one of the youngest. Having my own business comes with many challenges, but scaling and handing off responsibilities to other people has been a big (but exciting and necessary) challenge for me.
MD: What triggered your need to change this time around?
SM: I knew I needed a change in my career when we decided to start Coveteur because I wasn't being challenged and didn't feel like I was gaining any knowledge or mentorship.
MD: Why is your current path suitable for your personality?
SM: I never thought I would own my own business, but I think my frustration came from seeing people with good ideas being shut down because of corporate hierarchy, which made me realize that having my own business might be a good idea. Plus, I love our amazing Coveteur team; growing altogether and being able to celebrate other people's wins.
MD: What's the most important thing you have learned in making a big change in your career life?
SM: Do not overanalyze it, or else it will never happen. Also, it will be hard and there will be sacrifices, but if it makes you happier and satisfies you, then it is worth it.
MD: How did you move past the fear of change to pursue your passion?
SM: I never really saw it as scary.
MD: What are some mistakes you made along the way that ended up helping your success?
SM: If you can learn from your mistakes, they will all help with your success. A big lesson that I learned was that even if someone seems qualified on paper, you have to make sure they are the right cultural and personality fit for your company, especially if they are coming in on the senior level.
MD: What do you love most about your current role and why?
SM: I love the variety of my role. It sounds cliché, but the adrenaline of running around from meeting to meeting, working late nights, looking for new revenue and business opportunities for the company is something I love, and it keeps me going.
MD: When you look back and reflect on your previous career do you have any regrets? Or are you still really happy with your decision?
SM: I wouldn't have done it any other way. It all lead me right to where I am today.