THE EVENT: HFB Meetup with Fashion Journalist Joy Sewing

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Last Thursday, for our April Houston Fashion Bloggers meetup, we met with the talented Joy Sewing.  Joy Sewing is a veteran journalist and is currently the Fashion & Beauty Editor for the Houston Chronicle and she also writes as their online blogger Shop Girl. I have written about Joy a few times on my blog.  Joy has interviewed numerous celebrities and fashion designers from Oscar de la Renta to Beyonce Knowles. Joy has been such an inspiration to me for many reasons and I'm glad that I've been able to interact with her more over this past year. As an African-American female, I'm always inspired by successful women of color.  I'm inspired by MOST successful people, but it's on another level of appreciation when someone looks like me and may better understand the struggles that we go through as African-Americans to make it.  I know it's 2013 but issues still exist, and it was cool to hear about Joy's experiences through her career.

Joy informed us that she has wanted to be a journalist since she was 3 years old. She was one of the youngest editors to move to New York and work at the New York Post, and definitely one of the few African-American editors. Ironically enough Joy hated living in New York, and moved to a location that was more suited for her personality & style.  She obtained a job at a utility company, where she was in charge of the company magazine for employees. It was at this position that Joy went to school for her MBA, as the company paid for her higher degree. 

It wasn't long until Joy found herself back in the newspaper business! "I loved being in the newspaper" Joy stated happily, "I'm a journalist who writes about fashion."  Joy's first fashion story was in 1997 and featured Pro Makeup Artist Sam Fine. Joy enjoys writing about fashion, but more from the organic standpoint.  Instead of asking the typical "What's your inspiration", Joy goes for a story, a background, maybe a childhood memory, etc.  She loves writing a story, but doesn't always get to do that.

Of course we asked the question that was burning a hole on everyone's tongue: "What's up with this animosity between journalists and bloggers?" Joy personally doesn't have a problem with bloggers.  Her first interaction with a blogger was in 2003 when she wrote a story on The Budget Fashionista.  She accounts for the animosity to a lack of respect on both sides.  Some bloggers came into the game with such arrogance and no respect for journalists or photographers and at the same time journalists and photographers really had no idea what a blog & blogging was.  Journalists have worked so hard to get where they are, and now everyone is doing it.  She used a good analogy for me with Engineering..."Imagine someone came in one day with no training or education in engineering and said they were an engineer and could do the same work you do". And the journalists didn't understand that most people who are bloggers are fans, and there was really no discussion between the two groups and that there's room for both.

Joy has no need to hate bloggers or feel threatened by them.  She loves the bloggers in our city and is happy supporter of HFB.  Most of the work that Joy does is not writing, as journalists are taught to research and research she matter the publication.  Joy has written freelance for many magazines, including People, Money, Ebony, & more.  She was quick to add that magazines follow a different code of ethics than newspaper journalists.  She does NOT receive free clothes, etc,  as an editor at Houston Chronicle, which is very different than the world we imagine for all fashion & beauty editors.  While freelancing for People magazine Joy developed a close relationship with the Knowles family.  They had never had an African-American journalist from People before, and this was at the time that no magazine would put them on the cover, even with the popularity that Beyonce & Destiny's Child had achieved. They respected Joy, and she them, and they continue to have a great relationship to this day.

We also asked Joy about her thoughts on the digital age and it's affect on print publications.  "A lot of people want to blame the digital world as a reason print publications aren't thriving they way they used to" Joy said, "That's really not the case, it's more because big advertisers have pulled out".  The Chronicle did go through layoffs about 5 to 6 years ago like many companies and it was a sad and scary time.  They didn't know who would be let go and who would be staying.  A lot of journalists have transitioned into similar careers to evolve with the changing market.  

However, the digital age has affected print in that "print" people are now media personalities. Joy is very private and quiet and now she has to be on social media and be out there more.  Instead of a name under a byline, the city recognizes her when she's out and about. Joy Sewing is now a brand constantly representing herself and the Houston Chronicle. That has been a big change for her.  Print publications also have a heavier online/blogging presence. Almost every print outlet has a site with blogs on the site.  Some are even charging to view online content.  The Wall Street Journal was ahead of the game with charging for all of their contents so they came out of the recession ahead.

We learned so much from Joy! The above recap is only touching on the items talked about.  One thing I took away from my meeting with Joy is that bloggers are NOT journalists.  At the Texas Style Council last year it was mentioned that as bloggers we are like journalists.  I believe even more that that statement is not true.  As a blogger, I would never consider myself a "journalist" in the true sense of the word. I did not go to school for journalism and I have no formal training, and I will NEVER be hired to write for the New York Post.  I do take seriously the information that I pass along to my readers, and try and make sure I have my facts straight about products and events, but other than that I'm no journalist. I think we pull from an array of professions: graphic designers, photographers, writers, etc, but it's just dabbling.  

We ended the meetup with Q&A and going around the room to talking about our individual blogs and blog goals with Joy!

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  1. wow she sounds amazing and very insisteful

    1. She is! I hope everyone gets a chance to know someone like her in their lifetime

  2. Sounds like a great experience and I love the photos.

  3. Thank you for sharing this post! Her story is indeed inspiring X Soraya


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