(NEW YORK) After holding digital director gigs first at Marie Claire and most recently at Cosmopolitan, Abby Gardner left the house of Hearst earlier this month, concurrent with a big Elle departure on the very same day. A pre-NYFW morsel of drama, to say the least! Her next move is a reunion of sorts: Gardner is now the acting fashion and beauty director at xoJane, working once again with Jane Pratt, who was the big boss at Gardner’s very first gig in the biz at the erstwhile Jane. Gardner filled us in on her new role as acting fashion and beauty director at the site, and her boss (take two!), Pratt added her two cents as well.
BY ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV
FIRST UP! Abby Gardner On Returning To Pratt’s Posse…
What appealed to you about xoJane?
Ever since I worked at Jane years ago, Jane and I have always been in touch. We really wanted to find a way to work together again. Finally, at last, the timing was perfect.
Should we expect any major changes to xoJane when you get on board?
The site has such an amazing, engaged community of readers. They’re already so passionate about everything on the site. I may bring in more aspirational fashion and beauty, but through the very unique xoJane lens.
How long a gig will this probably be?
I mean, we’re just looking at the next few months. That’s what I’m really focused on right now.
What was it like working with Jane back at Jane?
It was really my first job working in the industry—it was probably one of the best places you could start your career. It was such an amazing atmosphere: everyone could shout out during meetings and express their ideas. We laughed so much, too—the magazine’s staff became like a family. All of us used to go out together and hit the town. Jane actually introduced me to my first New York City boyfriend, too.
Do you ever miss working at a print?
I love magazines and I always will, but I really love digital! I love the immediacy of it. I love how quickly you can get a story out there—and how quickly you can see the world react.
Will you be getting all confessional “it happened to me” at xoJane?
I love writing in first person and I’m not afraid to share my personal stories. I actually do some of my best work writing in first person—and that’s what people do in their own personal social media. xoJane is a great place to share my personal voice.
Is there anything that will stay off limits and that we will probably never read you writing about?
Never say never! I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it…
You’re coming off of two back-to-back Hearst gigs at Marie Claire and Cosmo. How does it feel to leave the corporate glossy scene?
Every company has their own corporate personality…but the energy in the xoJane office is fantastic. I feel like there’s so much creativity. I’m really happy to be here! It’s an exciting place to take the next step in my career.
Might Cat Marnell re-enter the xoJane fold?
I have a lot of exciting things planned for beauty, but that is not something I’ve have had any discussions about.
Given that you’re now at xoJane…what’s your email sign-off?
My signature is “xA.”
You’re a pretty hardcore Soul Cycle fangirl. Any plans to get Jane hooked?
Actually, Jane and I both go there! We’ve even run into each other there by accident.
Everyone was talking when you and Amina Akhar, formerly of Elle, departed the Hearst Tower on the same day. Thoughts on the flurry of attention that resulted?
I think that the media does what the media does. I was already looking forward to my next thing. My focus was really just on being excited about my future.
PART DEUX! Jane Pratt Weighs In…
Why bring Abby on board at xoJane?
I’ve been bugging Abby to get involved with xoJane before I even knew that it would be called xoJane. We never lost touch, even though it has been many years since we have worked together. As I was putting xoJane together, I was thinking Abby would be perfect to get involved. I kept thinking of her, but the timing was just never right.
What is she going to be doing exactly?
She will be overseeing the ramping up of our beauty and fashion articles, working really closely with me in the process. Readers have been clamoring for more! Whenever xoJane posts on fashion or beauty, the posts get tremendous traction, traffic and comments, and these results are telling xoJane’s editors there’s a need to do more of that, which is where Abby comes in.
Why were you so eager to get Abby involved with xoJane?
She really just has everything all in one package—and she has a tremendous personality and is very warm and engaging. I ask people to be very candid and revealing about their own lives, so in Abby’s case, both for herself and the contributors that she brings in, it’s expected that they’ll all be revealing. It isn’t uncommon to get a few thousand comments on a post at xoJane, so it’s important that the people here are all personalities, and are willing to interact day in and day out. Abby is someone that you want to engage with!
How’s xoJane doing nowadays?
We’re now at 3.5 million unique individual visitors, who are all very engaged. On average they spend around 5 minutes on the site, which is way longer than industry average. xoJane already covers relationships very well; the three main focal points we’re going to be growing are fashion, media and entertainment.
Since Abby was most recently at Cosmo, do you plan to have her write sexy stuff for xoJane?
I am actually not really interested in her doing the sex part, which she’s done in the past. I want to tap into her knowledge and experiences of fashion and beauty.
Have you been in touch with Brandon Holley since she left Lucky?
I actually have not. She and I are not really in touch in general. I have seen her a few times at fashion shows, but that’s it.