Welcome to Talking Top 10, a recurring series in which we feature the founders, CEOs, creators, and leaders who are shaking up their industries. Ahead, read our Q&A with Abby Silverman, and keep scrolling to shop her Top 10 must-haves.
Abby Silverman is Digital Creative Director at Cosmopolitan, and she’s been in her role for just under three years. Abby oversees all creative execution for the digital and social extensions of the Cosmopolitan brand. This includes all visuals for Cosmopolitan.com and original content creation and shoots across all content verticals from celebrity and fashion to beauty, lifestyle, and beyond. She has built and manages a creative team that operates like an in-house content studio. Each person’s skill set goes far beyond one niche, from photography to design to animation to illustration. In her time at Cosmo, Abby has led two digital redesigns across the Cosmo brand as well as two large-scale office redesigns in under two years. She was part of the ASME winning team for her work on Cosmo's “How To Run for Office Package,” and her work has been featured on shows such as Good Morning America. Prior to joining team Cosmopolitan, Abby worked at W Magazine, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar, Travel + Leisure, and more. Abby is originally from Minnesota and now lives in New York City with her husband. Follow Abby on Instagram for swoon-worthy fashion, beauty, home, and lifestyle inspiration from her day-to-day life, as well as BTS content from her days spent at Cosmo!
February 17, 2020
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Tell us about your background and experience. How did you end up at Cosmo?
I graduated from Drake University in 2012 with a double major in graphic design and creative advertising. During my sophomore year, I interned at Meredith Corporation in the e-commerce marketing and new media department, which led to a summer internship at Fitness Magazine in New York City in 2011. After graduation, I returned to Minneapolis to intern at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, but I was in love with New York and knew I wanted to move back there. The thing is, I had no money to pay for moving expenses, and my parents would not let me go without a job. I applied to so many companies, but no one wanted to hire someone that didn't live in the New York area. Finally, I landed a four-month freelance job at Victoria’s Secret in January 2013. I bought a one-way ticket to New York and, within a week, found an apartment on craigslist. After Victoria’s Secret, I worked at InStyle for 10 months as a junior freelance designer in the creative services department for marketing and sales. I then freelanced for various creative agencies and also spent time working on a freelance basis at W Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Travel + Leisure. In 2014, I was hired as a graphic designer at W Magazine in the creative services department for marketing and sales. I worked my way up to senior designer, and after three years, transitioned into editorial. In June of 2017, I accepted the position of Digital Art Director at Cosmopolitan under the leadership of Amy Odell. This was a pivotal moment in my career—switching to a digital editorial role was the best thing I ever did. Less than a year after starting at Cosmopolitan, Jessica Pels stepped in as the new Digital Director for Cosmopolitan.com (now the Editor-in-chief for all of Cosmopolitan!) and promoted me to Digital Creative Director. I took the photo team under my wing in addition to the design team that I was already managing, and began a full-scale transformation of the digital visual identity of Cosmo, creating a unified visual language across our platforms. This was also the start of an evolution of the brand across all platforms, including the print magazine!
Walk us through your morning routine. What do you do before heading to the office every day?
My morning routine fluctuates depending on my schedule! I’m a true night owl at heart, but when I get into a flow of waking up early, I feel so much more accomplished in my day. I live for a 7 a.m. SoulCycle (@Sydmiller's 7.a.m. class at Union Square on Wednesdays and Fridays will change your life) or Y7 Class. After a good work out, I’ll head back to my apartment and get ready for the day. I’m obsessed with the Nespresso machine my husband and I got for our wedding—I’ll usually make a coffee with oat milk and take a few minutes before showering to check Slack and scan my email for anything urgent. As I get ready, I often FaceTime my mom and my dog (true story) and watch the Today show or listen to podcasts (The Glossy and The Morning Toast are my go-to’s right now).
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Having a job that requires constant creativity can be tough. How do you stay inspired?
I’m always looking for inspiration in everything that I do. In terms of discovery, I find Instagram to be my biggest tool. I love finding new accounts, brands, fashion, interiors, art, and more. I use the saved folder feature to save all my finds into different categories and always reference them when I’m mood-boarding for an upcoming project or shoot. In terms of more tangible inspiration, I find that travel and new experiences open up my mind and push me to think creatively and take different approaches to creating content. Whether it’s taking a trip to a country or city I’ve never been, visiting a new store, or seeing a museum exhibition, I love to continuously stimulate my creative senses however I can!
What’s been your favorite project since becoming Cosmo’s Digital Creative Director?
It’s so hard to pick a favorite because I’ve had the privilege of working with so many amazing people and on such a diverse range of cool projects since I’ve been at Cosmo. As a huge Euphoria fan, I loved shooting with Hunter Schafer, who plays Jules— she was such an angel and so fun on set. We also did a big shoot and story with Madeline Brewer, who plays Janine in The Handmaid’s Tale. We spent the day at Lyndhurst Mansion, and it was epic! Overall, I love working on shoots from concept to production to execution—I find it’s where I can be the most creative. I especially love working on big fashion and beauty shoots, because there is so much room for creativity and collaboration across teams, and the final product is always so rewarding. Since we are now integrated with print, the content we’re producing for digital-first stories almost always runs in the magazine, which I love to see! Lastly, I’ve headed two site redesigns in under three years. Seeing the digital extension of our brand visually flourish has been incredible (shout out to my very amazing and talented team!!!).
What’s your advice for someone who’s looking to pursue a career similar to yours?
You have to be proactive in your own career growth by being assertive in seeking out the opportunities you’re interested in. Early on in my career, when I was a junior freelance designer at InStyle and my contract was ending, I literally opened up the masthead of every magazine and emailed the creative directors from each brand. I actually booked a ton of meetings and work from doing that, which also led me to eventually land my job at W Magazine. If you’re willing to hustle and go above and beyond in your job and for yourself, you will open endless doors. Lastly, always be nice to everyone and stay open to learning new skills. Even if you don’t know how to do something, say yes and figure it out as you go! This sounds silly, but truly fake it ‘til you make it! Ignore any self-doubt, and if a job or opportunity scares you, that is a GOOD thing—go for it!
Who’s been your biggest mentor throughout your career journey?
I haven’t had one mentor specifically in my career journey. What I’ve done instead, in a way, is self-mentor. I’ve had so many different kinds of bosses, all with different approaches to management, leadership, and how they inspire their employees. I’ve learned so much from each and every one of my bosses, whether I thought they were great or not so great. From my POV, it’s actually good to experience not having a good boss because you learn and understand how you’d do things differently as a manager. On the flip side, it’s also extremely beneficial to work for someone that values and believes in you because it gives you the confidence to flourish in the workplace!
Your whole day was just canceled and your schedule is wide open. What do you do? Give us your dream itinerary.
I’d probably start with a SoulCycle class! Then maybe slip in some self-care with a pedicure and a facial (I’ve been dying to get a facial at Rescue Spa—it’s right around the corner from my apartment). I would, of course, grab brunch with friends. A few of my favorite places right now are the new Pastis, The RH Rooftop, Studio, Jeffery’s Grocery, and abcV. Then I would head over to the new museum of photography that just opened, Fotografiska. It’s at the top of my list to check out! I would end the day grabbing dinner with my husband. We love the tacos and spicy margaritas at Empellon Taqueria in the village!
What are your favorite spots in NYC?
I love the Freehand Hotel for both of their restaurants (Studio and Simon and The Whale) and their fabulous rooftop (The Broken Shaker), ChaCha Matcha, Upland, Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel, ABC Carpet and Home, Public Hotel, MoMA, Milk Bar, and I always love wandering around SoHo and West Village on the weekends.
What’s your favorite way to wind down after a long workday? Do you have any regular self-care rituals?
I’m guilty of a good ole’ fashion reality TV binge. My brain is so stimulated all day long at work, I love coming home and throwing on a show that I don’t have to think about! Some of my favorites are The Bachelor, Siesta Key, Vanderpump Rules, Project Runway, Dance Moms, and Real Housewives. I promise I watch good TV, too.
What excites you when you wake up in the morning? What’s next for your career?
This may sound cliché, but it truly excites me thinking about the dream life I have built for myself in NYC! Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind myself that it's real! I’m truly grateful for my health, my amazing husband, family, friends, and the fact that my job allows me to exercise my strengths and push my creativity each day as a visual storyteller at one of the most iconic brands in women’s media. I’m lucky that I get to work at a brand that doesn’t make going to work feel like a job. Cosmo is truly the most fun place I’ve ever worked in my life! In terms of next steps, I could see myself eventually being the creative director of a brand in the fashion or beauty space. I would also love to start my own company. I have a few ideas and concepts I’ve been toying with, but more to come on that.
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