- Elaine Welteroth is a journalist, social media personality, author, and a judge on Bravo’s “Project Runway.”
- Before she joined “Project Runway,” Welteroth was the editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue – the fashion and beauty magazine owned by Condé Nast.
- Welteroth’s promotion to the publication’s highest executive ranks in 2017 made her, at the time, only the second black editor-in-chief in Condé Nast’s 107-year history.
- In addition, the promotion made 29-year-old Welteroth the youngest EIC in company history.
- In 2018, she left Condé Nast and a year later, published her memoir,“More Than Enough,” which recounts her journey to the top of the editorial industry.
- According to the book, here are five ways she was able to quickly rise through the ranks.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
At 29, Elaine Welteroth became not just the youngest Editor-in-Chief in Condé Nast’s 107-year-old history, but also only the second black person to ever hold an EIC title at the company.
Her promotion was praised throughout media circles as being a step forward in the publishing industry, and marked a new era in media representation. She is credited with transforming Teen Vogue into a political and social outlet, noted for its inclusivity with editorials that highlighted a diverse array of voices.
However, Welteroth makes it known in her 2019 memoir, “More than Enough,” that her road to the top was not a glamorous one, and that at nearly every turn, there was a struggle. In fact, she writes, even after she had reached the top, there was still much fighting to be done.
“Women aren’t taught to get comfortable with making people uncomfortable,” she wrote in her book.
Thus the title of her memoir, “More than Enough”, is supposed to speak to those who have always felt like the underdogs – reminding each and every person that they are “more than enough” for the world in which they live, and “more than enough” to qualify for any dream they want to chase.
At the same time, “more than enough” is what Welteroth gave as she climbed through the editorial ranks, starting from her small city of Newark, California all the way to the big leagues in New York. It’s the type of career trajectory that serves to inspire, producing a memoir unlike the rest.
Keep reading to find out five ways Welteroth was able to quickly rise through the ranks of the editorial industry.
Welteroth didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
5. Giving ‘more than enough’
Welteroth started off as an editorial intern at Ebony magazine.
At the time, Ebony was a small company with fewer resources than the “mainstream” publications. Welteroth took this to her advantage and began pick up more projects to help Ebony make up for the fact that they were severly understaffed.
In doing this, she acquired skills early on that allowed her to thrive once she left the magazine.
Later, she assumed the role of production assistant and then, at the age of 22, she was formally promoted to beauty and style editor.
“There is hustle and there is flow,” she wrote in her book. “And you cannot successfully achieve one without the other.”
4. Taking risks
Once Welteroth left Ebony, she knew the jump from a traditional black magazine to other publications was going to be hard.
She wrote that on her journey to find a new job, hiring managers would often tell her that she was “overqualified” for the position.
“My fears of being pigeonholed in Black media were being legitimized with every closed door,” she wrote. “But I kept knocking anyway, pulling all-nighters on edit tests and hustling even harder at work to beef up my clip book – producing up to twenty-five pages an issue.”
Eventually, with intense networking and a clip book, she was offered a position at Glamour magazine as a beauty writer and editor. This position allowed her to enter the Condé Nast realm. Condé Nast is one of the most prestigious mass media companies in the world, and own publications such as Glamour, Teen Vogue, and Vogue.
3. Learning from past mistakes
At one of her first major photoshoots for Teen Vogue, Welteroth quickly learned that in the age of the internet, images often speak louder than words.
She published a magazine spread about black natural hair meant to reflect the diversity of black hair, only to accidentally exclude dark-skinned black girls. The spread caused controversy and revived debates about colorism in the magazine industry. But rather than hide from the controversy, Welteroth took it head on.
She posted an op-ed on Teen Vogue’s website stating:
“I will be the first to say that the industry still has a long way to go in addressing the deep need for more affirming messages…. As one of the few Black beauty editors, it is a responsibility that I do not take lightly,” she said.
Later in her book she also wrote, “As writers, as magazine editors, as people with public platforms, we are the cultural agenda setters. We signal with our editorial decisions what the priorities are.”
2. Speaking to be heard
When she was promoted to editor-in-chief, Welteroth was initially told she would have to split her responsibilities and salary with two other people. She wrote this was something she would “fall on her sword” for, so she requested to at least be paid with “dignity.”
“Women are taught to work hard and to play by the rules. We are taught to never overstep, to stay in our lane, to keep our head down, to go with the flow, to never be too loud or disagreeable. Not to be bossy. Not to be pushy. We are not encouraged to know our worth, let alone demand it,” she wrote. “Women aren’t taught to get comfortable with making people uncomfortable.”
1. Never standing down
After less than two years, Welteroth became known as the driving force behind Teen Vogue’s transition into a political and inclusive publication. Her fearlessness was driven by her mantra to just “do it anyway” and, as result, she ended up making big changes in the publishing industry.
“In order to change the stories,” she wrote in her book. “You must first change the storytellers.”
Welteroth said she always believed that her purpose was greater than her fear, so when it was time for her to finally leave Teen Vogue and venture into the unknown, she said was ready for what was to come next.
In the end, she didn’t stand down; she stood up, and walked.
“My mission at Teen Vogue was to make young people whose voices had been marginalised feel seen, centered, and celebrated,” she wrote in her book. “I did what I came to do. I had done enough. I was enough. And I was ready for more.”
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