No job. No connections. Excess ambition. SMU Look magazine’s first art director Sabrina Abbas shows up in New York City after graduation ready to make her name in fashion journalism.
Abbas ended up on SMU Look’s staff by coincidence—the magazine did not even exist when she registered for JOUR 3370: Fashion Journalism in the fall of 2016. She was chosen as artistic director that first semester and moved up to the position of creative director for the next.
This coincidence proved to be a major tool in her pursuit of a fashion journalism career in New York. Her resume landed her freelance assignments on shoots for major publications like Nylon and Teen Vogue before earning a position as an accessories assistant at Harper’s Bazaar. Abbas has just landed a plum job as assistant to the editor in chief of W Magazine. I caught up with Abbas to get the scoop on her journey to success in the Big Apple.
How important was it to you to move to NYC after graduation—do you think it helped you break into the fashion industry?
SA: Oh totally. It was something I had been planning on doing for the last several years of my life. Like I knew the second I graduated that I wanted to move to New York because what you can accomplish there in the same amount of time as what you could accomplish in Dallas in so much greater. And New York and LA are where fashion lives. Once you live there and make those connections and you have successes there, you can go anywhere you want.
Was your experience with SMU Look helpful in landing jobs?
SMU look was the most valuable thing I did at SMU because when I started applying for jobs, whenever I would bring it up, it was something everyone would be impressed by. Not a lot of people can say, “Hey, I made a Magazine!” At my university we did everything—the students did everything, start to finish.
What kind of valuable experiences did you have working for SMU Look?
The first semester we didn’t really know what we were doing…like I had never done a photoshoot before so we had to figure out what are all the parts that go into these shoots. I had some friends who were models so I contacted their modeling agencies. We contacted like FortyFive Ten, Elements and other stores and tried to get them to let us borrow clothes for shoots because we wanted it to be as legitimate of a magazine as we could. So, I got with a makeup artist and a hair stylist and put it together with absolutely zero budget.
What does your new position at W entail?
I currently assist the editor in chief at W Magazine, Stefano Tonchi. My main responsibilities are keeping track of his schedule, arranging meetings and maintaining relationships with high-profile clients and contributors. I also work closely with the executive managing editor, who oversees the magazine’s budget and editorial content. More recently I’ve begun working with W’s digital team to pitch and write stories for the website. I’m loving working at W so far. The environment is incredibly supportive and I have great relationships with my colleagues. No Devil Wears Prada here!
What other positions do you aspire to have?
SA: Well I think ultimately, I would like to be freelance because I am someone who has always wanted to work for myself. Just from SMU Look and freelancing on shoots and stuff I definitely think styling might be the direction I want to move in. Not necessarily for celebrities, but I love musicians. They are a big inspiration for me fashion-wise, and I think it would be super cool dressing people for tours or for music videos or for premiers or something like that. Just because I think they have such big personalities and I could have a lot of fun with it…Right now, I am just getting experience and learning the industry.