Stephanie Rotz; @stephanierotz; Toronto
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I’m the publisher and co-founder of Sophomore magazine, alongside my partner Jeanine Brito. I was formerly the editor, but I pivoted to the role of publisher to be able to focus on the big picture. Ultimately, my goal in life is to change people’s perspectives on gender and fashion, through Sophomore magazine and other academic pursuits. (Vote Stephanie for professor 2018).
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to Ryerson University and studied fashion communication. This fall, I started a master’s degree in gender, feminist and women’s studies at York University.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
During my undergrad I interned for Shopgirls, a Toronto store that showcases Canadian-designed women’s clothes and accessories. The owner, Michelle Germain, is one of my ultimate role models. I kept working there throughout university and took over as online store manager when I graduated.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
It hasn’t happened yet.
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
One of the best moments so far was DJing our birthday party, “HBD Sophomore,” at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, where I met Sophomore readers other than my mom!
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
Last year I applied to the University of Toronto for its gender studies program and didn’t get in. It crushed me. What felt like a misstep at the time turned out to be a classic lesson in perserverance. After re-evaluating where I fit as an academic, and re-evaluating my plan, I applied to a different round of schools. Look mom, no hands!
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Try and be aware of the different systems of oppression working against you, so you can best arm yourself with how to operate within a patriarchy in the workplace. If you can spot the signals and barriers working against you, it will 100 percent piss you off but also allow you to start reflecting on your interactions and how to use your communication skills to your best advantage.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
I really hate it when people use my age as a piece of advice. “Take time off! Travel! You’re so young! You have all the time in the world!” I knew that the first five years of my career were going to be formative.
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
Between job insecurity, competition and a general oversupply of workers, creative jobs create a hustle-all-the-time lifestyle. Within that world, fashion relies on women but escalates men through the ranks. Dr. Allyson Stokes calls this the glass escalator effect.
But it’s important to acknowledge that my Sophomore partner Jeanine and I are white, cis-het, thin, able-bodied women who come from middle-class backgrounds. A lot of those identity categories are why we were even able to start something like Sophomore.
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle/day job for extra cash? If so, what is it?
Outside of Sophomore I have a full-time job that pays the rent.
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
I’ve worked in four different roles at Ryerson University over the past three years—from research-based jobs to marketing and communications. I haven’t encountered many negative stereotypes because my work environment is open-minded and understands the millennial struggle to find permanent work.
Photographer, Nathan Cyprys; stylist, Corey Ng, P1M; hair, Cia Mandarello, P1M; makeup: Vanessa Jarman, P1M.