Taylor Fogarty pursued fashion and writing on her gap year. During her Launch Phase she interned at a fashion boutique, apprenticed under a fashion designer, and started writing a blog. During her internship her blog soared in popularity, garnering over 1,000,000 views. She currently works as a community manager in NYC, and is hard at work writing her first book.
Taylor Fogarty was a Fellow during UnCollege’s Winter 2014 Gap Year, a year-long program which helps students take control of their education. During Gap Year, Taylor traveled to Spain and participated in multiple enriching internships in the fashion industry. Here she talks to us about her new life in New York, and the changes she’s made in the past year and a half.
What does your life look like right now?
I live in Brooklyn, and I work full-time at a startup in downtown Manhattan calledZomato that helps you find good restaurants where you live. I’m their community manager, so I do event planning, blogger outreach, social media… a little of everything. They recently sent me out for a business trip to Toronto, which was really cool. Zomato just launched in New York (they’re based in India), so we have a small team here and there’s a nice startup vibe. At first I’d been worried about getting sucked into the corporate world, but it’s nothing like that.
What have been some other big changes in your life post-UnCollege?
I’d say that coming out was the biggest thing, but in general I feel like a totally new person. In hindsight, what UnCollege helped me with was being okay in my own skin. Gap Year was a pretty uncomfortable time for me, in the sense that everything was so new and scary. But it made me look into myself and find my own strength. It made me grow up a lot.
What sorts of things have you been learning in the past year and a half?
Mostly I’ve been focused on how to become a better writer. I get to learn about writing through my job, which is convenient, because I meet with food bloggers every day. I read a lot of blogs, and try to stay up to date with current issues, especially women’s issues and the 2016 election.
What is it like living in New York?
Living in New York is amazing. It’s like everyone I meet just has this amazing network. Before, when I was nannying and networking, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. The woman I was working for had this amazing connection at Bloomingdale’s and was totally willing to introduce me. Then I had this weird connection with a style director of the New York Times, who gave me a tour of their offices and pointed people to my blog. Everyone knows somebody, and there are opportunities everywhere.
Outside of work, what have you been up to?
Generally, I’m trying to wake up early and go to the gym. I’ve also recently started taking a marketing class on Coursera, so I can follow along with the jargon at the office. I’m still blogging, once or twice a week.
Recently I’ve also started volunteering with an organization that helps women who have been victims of sex trafficking. I spend time at the safe house with the seven women who live there, and just try to make them feel comfortable. We paint, we cook, we do normal things together and it’s a really rewarding experience. There’s a slight language barrier because the women are largely foreign nationals, but it’s really rewarding. I’ve grown into a feminist in the past few years, and I’m glad to have a way to help.
Yeah, you write a lot about feminism on your blog these days! Can you tell me more about that?
I do! When I started out writing, my blog was mainly about fashion; at the time I was doing a few internships in San Francisco with fashion-related organizations. I still think fashion is interesting - and of course, I still love shopping - but I guess after writing about it for a while I realized that it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I couldn’t see myself dedicating my life to it.
At the time, the feminist part of me hadn’t developed yet, but as I learned and traveled and read, I slowly became more aware of women’s issues. Writing about this gives me more satisfaction as a writer, and is allowing me to write things that are more personal and that (I hope) make a difference. My blog has helped me take this journey, actually, by giving me an outlet to articulate on my ideas.
What has it been like to share very personal things on your blog? That’s not an easy thing to do.
It’s been really therapeutic. I came out on my blog a few months ago, and 99% of the people who read my post and reached out to me were so supportive. It was overwhelming. But the piece I wrote doesn’t actually reflect how nerve-wracking it was to post it, even though online I was very positive. I had it written for months before I was ready to share it, and when I did, I was on my phone all day wondering how others were responding. And the response was really good. I had friends text me with awesome support, as well as notes from anonymous readers.
Have you kept in touch with other fellows?
I have! Because of a crazy, weird coincidence, I actually live with Anna, a fellow in the cohort before me. We had another fellow named Zelia stay with us just last week, when she came to New York. And all of us keep in touch on Facebook. I feel more than comfortable reaching out to others and saying hello when I’m in the area, and I hope that others are too.
Okay, final thing. Do you have any recommendations for the UnCollege community? These can be book recommendations, podcast recommendations, life recommendations, etc.
Yes, of course! Things I like: Radio Cherry Bombe’s Podcast, which is based in Brooklyn and features women who work in the food industry. I also liked Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, and Bitch Media’s podcast and blog.
And I guess the life recommendation I’d make is to aim to feel comfortable with yourself and confident in who you are. This makes a huge difference in how you feel when you’re making major decisions like dropping out of college.