The Everything Pretty Girls and Some Un-Pretty Apartment Stories
You know what I like? Pretty things. As do Julia Scribner and Venessa Williams, the lovely ladies behind the blog Everything Pretty. In addition to being connoisseurs of the beautiful, they’re also having real-life adventures that are not so far from the fictional adventures of Dawn West, the narrator of Ten Girls to Watch (if you’re just tuning in, that’s my novel. It comes out in July. You should read it!) Like Dawn, both Julia and Venessa are twenty-something transplants to New York City, who also happen to work in publishing, and maybe, just maybe, they’ve had a few misadventures along the way. I sat down with them to hear the tales.
In addition to being bloggers extraordinaire, you both have cool jobs in publishing. How’d that happen?
Julia: After college, I went through a time where there was so much pressure to get a good job, but I was just more of a gypsy than that. I wanted to do what I thought would make me happy, so I tried a lot of things.
I’ve always been obsessed with wedding and events. I thought I was going to be a wedding planner. I’d wanted to do that since I was like ten. But when I graduated college, I fell into working at magazines. I worked at Boston Magazine, and Philadelphia Magazine. After working there for a year, I decided to quit, pick up and move to San Diego. The first day I moved to San Diego I fell in love, with the city and a man, and he ended up getting a job offer in Hawaii, so I picked up again and moved to Hawaii.
Living in Hawaii did not end well. We had a horrible horrible break up, and I jumped on a plane on the 4th of July and moved to New York August 15th. I’ve tried all these things, and when one thing hasn’t worked out, I’ve just kept moving forward.
Venessa: I kind of had the opposite of Julia. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I’m still trying to pursue that. Since forever. Since career day. Since first grade. I always wanted to move to New York too. I got a job after college with Simon & Schuster, and I’ve been here ever since.
How did you two find each other?
Julia: We’re on the same floor. I was so intimidated when I started working here. I didn’t really have a set team, and one day I walked by Venessa’s desk and all I hear is this little whispery voice: “Hey, I like your outfit.” We started chatting and we decided to go to yoga together. I felt like we were like dating for the first couple of months. I knew I wanted to be friends with her, but you know…
Venessa: I’m blushing right now. Ha! But yeah, I told her about the blog that I’d just started, and I just noticed right off the bat that we have similar styles. The blog was hard to do myself, but I was still obsessed with it, and Julia knows the ins and outs of all the digital stuff, and after a little bit, I asked her to join me. We’d go to yoga, and then we’d do a wine and cheese and talk about ideas.
So tell me about your first apartments. How has that gone for you?
Julia: When I lived in Boston I lived in Allston, and I lived in the grungiest apartment ever. I locked myself out of the apartment one time, and to get back in I had to scale the fire escape and punch through my screen.
But living in New York, was the first time I had a random roommate. My worst story — one Saturday night my roommate when out on a date. And then, it’s like 5 o’clock in the morning, and I’m asleep in my bed, and I hear my bedroom door slowly creep open. I was scared out my mind. My gut instinct was just play dead. But I jumped up, and oh my god, it’s her date, standing in the middle of my doorway, naked. I lost it. He’s sleepwalking, and he comes forward and tries to get in my bed. Finally, he comes to and just says, “Oh wrong room,” and turns around and walks out. I really had a heart attack. I mean, terrifying.
Venessa: I’ve lived in the same place since I got here four years ago, and it’s great, but I did have a crazy neighbor. It was this girl, we met me outside the apartment. She’s in her 20s, she’s in PR, she lives right above me and she says let’s exchange numbers so if I’m loud or you’re loud we can call each other. I thought, how nice, my first neighbor in New York reaching out to me.
But then I start getting these calls. Oh my gosh, do you hear those banging noises? she’d say. Most of the time I wasn’t even home. She’d tell me she was worried someone was breaking in or other strange things. Then she starts calling me in the middle of the night. Now I’m starting to get pissed and I’m thinking this girl is crazy, and I start not picking up her phone calls, and then I start getting these nasty texts. And then she starts blaming me for the banging noises.
The next thing that happens, I started getting water leaking through my ceiling. The landlord looks into the pipes and can’t figure it out. This goes on for months and months, until finally they go up into this girl’s apartment and discover she’s been letting her bathtub run over. Just pour over. She’s literally been trying to drown me. So yeah, they evicted her. But how crazy is that?
Have either of you had any great mentors who’ve helped you along the way?
Venessa: My first boss, who now works at Scholastic, her name is Bess Braswell, and I call her for everything. She’s gone from being an associate manger in a cube to being a director, and she’s not even 30 yet. She’s just so smart and she just has common sense. She took the time when I was an assistant to explain everything to me. This is why you do this, this is why you do that. There are a lot of people who don’t actually bother to do that with new people. So now I make sure to do that myself with anyone new. I’m not sure she really volunteered to be my mentor, but I kind of nominated her! It was like, I’m calling you so you’re my mentor. I choose you.
Julia: I’d probably say my brother. He gives me great advice. I’m in the position I am today because of a lot of work advice my brother has given me. Even applying for jobs that I wouldn’t necessarily think I was qualified for, he was the one who told me to just go for it, and how to present myself. It’s been so nice, moving to New York and being closer to him.
Thanks so much, Julia and Venessa, for chatting. And congratulations to Venessa on her wedding last week! You know you want to pop over to Everything Pretty and see all the pictures!