Growing Up with a Parent in Your Dream Industry

As a child I always dreamed of being a multitude of different things. From wanting to become a dancer, a fashion designer, and even a baker specializing in cupcakes, I had a wide range of hopes and dreams that got me excited for my future. As I matured and learned more about myself, I realized that maybe what I was meant to pursue had been in front of me the entire time. 

It didn’t all truly click until I was finding ways to entertain myself one summer day while at my mother Patricia Reynoso’s job at Lancôme headquarters in New York City. As my 12-year old self set up camp underneath her desk, sketching potential product ideas with colored pencils and crayons, I realized that I felt very content being surrounded by all things beauty. Being able to see my mother thrive in her work in the beauty industry and witness the gratification that she gets from it was a first hand example that it’s possible to love what you do. Being a first generation American from a poor background, my mother was the purest example of visualizing success and chasing it—no matter what. 

IMG Source: Grace Reynoso

For this story, I decided to conduct a FaceTime interview with my mother to discuss her career and what she has learned from it. Before calling her, I got comfortable at my dorm room desk and tried to record her story to the best of my ability. 

It all started during my mom’s freshman year at Hunter College in New York City, when she accepted a job as a secretary at an advertising agency. My mom initially went in with minor expectations. “My main objective was just to make money,” she recalls, but little did she know that she had passions she was yet to discover. She soon realized that she was meant to aim higher. 

“All of my coworkers were significantly older, while I was only 19. They loved watching soap operas in the break room, while I wanted to discuss my career goals,” she recalls. She still wasn’t aware of what she wanted to do, but one thing she did know about herself was that she too ambitious to stay there forever. 

“I had always been curious and not embarrassed to talk to strangers ”my mother says thoughtfully. She believes that these traits are what really opened doors for her in the industry. Eventually she was promoted to a higher status at the advertising agency and now had the job of meeting with the sales reps of magazines to discuss advertising deals. 

“After every meeting I would ask the reps if they knew the beauty editors of their magazines,” she says. “Sometimes they wouldn’t, but sometimes they would, and I was able to arrange some meetings with some of them.” Around the same time she had dropped out of Hunter College, and through one of the beauty editor’s advice, decided to apply for night classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, which she got accepted to. This choice essentially helped kick-start her career.

 My mom would work at the agency during the day and attend classes at night, where she would ask her professor tons of questions regarding the fashion and beauty industry. The night of her first class, she approached her professor and asked her about potential job openings at the professor’s day job at Children’s Business. Through this professor, my mom ended up landing her first job in the industry, as Assistant Editor, at that same magazine. My mother has always had a passion for writing and editing, so Children’s Business seemed like a great fit, and only created more opportunity through the work that she did there. 

IMG Source: Grace Reynoso

Throughout my mother’s career she has had various positions. She landed her first fashion editorial job at Women's Wear Daily Magazine (WWD), and moved to beauty at W Magazine as its Senior Beauty Editor. After a few years, Ladies' Home Journal approached her to be its Beauty Director. 

An interesting new role as Assistant Vice President at Lancôme came next. After missing editorial, she decided to accept the Editor role at Condé Nast's Glam Belleza Latina. And today, my mother is the Digital Director of Local & Cultural Relevancy at The Estée Lauder Companies. Her Latina background, combined with her knowledge of the industry, is now helping those prestige brands better understand how they can cater to the cultural market, and that is something that I truly admire.  

She also had to deal with the emergence of digital content and social media in the midst of her career. The abrupt extinction of many magazines was a difficult time for the print industry, and being multifaceted in your skills was the only way to stay relevant. 

To wrap up our FaceTime interview, I concluded by asking for her greatest piece of advice that she would give to anyone wanting to emerge in the Fashion/Beauty industry. She sighed in consideration, then thoughtfully noted, “There used to be a time in the industry where you could be good at one thing. Today, you cannot be good at just one thing. You have to have your hand within everything in your industry, since things can change so fast.”  

Although I may be biased, I am inspired by what my mother has been able to do. She was able to conform with the fast-moving digital times (despite having a print background) all the while commuting from New Jersey to the city every day, raising my twin brother and I, and tending a household. My mother was able to show us how having drive and being confident can get you far no matter where you come from. IMG Source: Grace Reynoso