Taylor: As a virgin interviewer, what advice would you give me when interviewing an individual?
Arianna: It kinda varies. It depends on how the interview is being conducted. Honestly in person it’s a little different than over the phone. On the phone, since you’re not able to read body cues, you don’t know when you’re about to interrupt the person. You want them to keep talking. The longer people talk, the more likely they are going to give you the good stuff. It’s also hard because you don’t want them to think you’re not listening or uninterested. I treat it like I’m talking to a friend I haven’t talked to in long time. I’ll interject and ask questions when I know there’s a pause.
Taylor: At any point during an interview, do you get nervous? You come off as being so cool, calm and collected up on stage. How do you do it?
Arianna: My dad actually gave me my favorite piece of advice. He said, “Memorize the script so you can forget the information.” What he means by that is do your research on their background so you’re so prepared that you don’t have to reference the paper or reference anything because you can listen for the cues that can open up the question that you know is going to be asked down the line. Instead of a very rehearsed “I’m gonna ask you this, then this”. You want it to be light, you want it to be funny. And you want to call the woman who works at Wedding Wire "Pooh Bear". You also want to give the audience what they need. You want to think of the panelist AND the audience. You need to ask questions that you know the audience wants to know answers to, something that can relate to them. For example, instead of asking a CEO how she got there, ask her how she found her manufacturer. I just think of it as me having a conversation with my pals, not in a sense that will make me nervous.
Taylor: How do you make sure to stay on topic during an interview?
Arianna: I think it’s hard, especially for me, because I have been doing this for a long time and have spoken with a lot of women and I also have a lot of advice to give. So knowing when to bite your tongue and to know that your simply there to facilitate the conversation, not specifically the focus of the conversation is really important too. And in terms of on stage, which is different.
Taylor: It sounds like your Dad has had a huge impact on your life. What does your dad do and how has he influenced you?
Arianna: Oh man. I love my dad. I have two sisters. My parents are still together. They have raised three seriously independent women. I think when I look back now on what my parents did and how they made me view things differently, my mom was more… she was the bad cop. My dad was just always encouraging and always my champion and was always telling me I was doing a good job. I’ll give you an example, in high school, I would have to write English papers. I often made them too wordy, too flowery. I would give them to my mom and she would completely mark them up in red ink. I would run to my dad in tears and he would say, “Listen, your mom isn’t right, but your mom isn’t wrong.” He would always say, “Don’t let these red markings get to you. You can still use your voice and you can still be you.” That’s just something that he encouraged in me. He was a banker, which was not creative at all. He worked with numbers and I’m terrible with numbers. I think that because he didn't work in the creative field and has such a creative mind, it was really easy for him and made a lot of sense for him to encourage that and enchant that in his daughters. My sister is an architect, I’m a writer and editor, and my baby sister is a professional ballerina. So whatever they did, it worked.
Taylor: I know you were a contributor for Refinery29 and MyDomaine, where else did you work prior to Create and Cultivate?
Arianna: After graduating from Berkeley with a degree in English, everyone was like, “What are you going to do with that?” My plan was to return to school and get my PhD. My Senior Thesis Professor was like, “Have you ever thought of doing this for a living? Would you ever want to be a English Professor?” Sure, why not. I really love reading. I’m terrible at math so I knew I wouldn’t pass the GRE. So I got the first job that was offered to me fresh after school, it was a really small PR company. I actually got fired from there.
Taylor: What happened? Why were you fired?
Arianna: So, I’m type 1 diabetic and needed health insurance. It was a really small company. I kept asking for weeks. When I realized that’s probably not going to be a possibility, I started looking for another job. They found out and instead of talking it through with me, they just fired me. I didn’t even get fired by the woman who ran the company, her husband fired me.
Taylor: I'm sorry. What a bummer situation. What was after that?
Arianna: Yeah it was situation where I learned a lot from and I don’t have any regret for taking that job. They wanted me to prove that I was a team player and I was trying to show that I am a team player but a team player that needed health insurance. I ended up getting an offer for another PR company a day after I was fired. I didn’t necessarily want to do PR or like PR but I learned how to brand. I learned how to interact with brands. I learned what they wanted and what they needed. I realized this wasn’t the world for me so I started doing a lot of freelance writing after that. I ended up leaving that job and opened up my own vintage store in LA.
Taylor: How fun! Tell me more. How old were you?
Arianna: Oh boy, I was like 23 or 24. I’m turning 33 this month. So yeah I had a vintage store and the whole idea of it was self funded. This was kinda before the whole vintage world was exploited so I would travel the country and find stuff for the store. I opened the store to be able to write but I learned the challenges of business there because there’s no way I was going to be able to run a business and write a novel on the side. I was working 12-hour days. I wasn’t paying myself and had two partners. After about a year and a half, I was so tired and so exhausted. It wasn’t what I really wanted to do. They say, like famous entrepreneurs, that when you are starting a business, it needs to be something that you love and that you want to entirely devote your life to. It is like having a child. I tired to turn a passion for vintage clothing and cool clothes into a business. I figured out that I didn't really want to be the boss. The whole time I was freelance writing and I did have some big clients. Some of these clients just really showed me what I deserve and treated me really well.
Taylor: What after the vintage store?
Arianna: I worked for another company after; I think it might’ve closed down. They owned and operated about 30 websites and I was the managing editor and I oversaw all of it, which was insane and that’s actually how I met Jackie.
Taylor: How did you and Jaclyn start working with each other?
Arianna: I pitched to my boss at the time, “So there’s this woman who’s in charge of this thing called Create and Cultivate. She’ll be downtown tonight and I want to go see and check it out.” He wouldn’t pay for it so I emailed Jackie and told her that I wanted to do a piece on her. I waddled in because I was 7 months pregnant at the time. Create and Cultivate was a small office full of about 50-60 women downtown. I interviewed her and put the piece up. We just kept in touch and when C & C was looking for an editorial director, she put something on Facebook. They wanted to build up the content side. I was freelancing and getting tired of it. You know you get tired of chasing down money, chasing down jobs. You’re like; “I’ve been doing this for 10 years, why don’t the jobs just come to me?” So I was like what about me? They always tell you, “Don’t work with or for friends” But at this point, I would’ve considered us more as acquaintances. So I joined the team a little over two years ago.
Taylor: You and Jackie seem like you work extremely close together. Is this true? How do you guys compliment each other? If so, can you tell me how you guys are such a force?
Arianna: Yes, we definitely work closely together. Our photographer actually just made us take pictures that almost looked like engagement photos. We were laughing and staring into each other’s eyes. I was like, “This is so disturbing.” But we definitely compliment each other. We really allow each other to excel in our own strengths. She’ll help me with marketing stuff that I don’t really understand. Or she’ll help make sure that content gets out to as much eyeballs as it can. She’ll send me stuff that she wants to send to clients, asking me to make it sound a little better. Really simple day-to-day things where we really trust the other one and have each other’s back. The concept you always hear, “Find someone who fills in the gap in you. Someone who knows your strengths, but also your weakness.” My weakness is the marketing side. If it were up to me, I would stay behind my computer and write the content. I would never go up on stage. She really pushes me and encourages me to do things like that I’m not comfortable doing. Without her, I wouldn’t have realized that I love being up there and doing those interviews on stage.
Taylor: I realize nothing is typical at Create & Cultivate, but what is a standard day for you as Editor-in-chief? Or you can just tell me what you did today.
Arianna: After a conference is always a little crazy because what people see at the end of a beautiful event, like the photos and the success, the press is sending it all out. But we already knee-deep, planning the next one. So while we are sorting through that, we are trying to get round-up pieces. We are also making sure that the most important information is getting out to people who couldn’t attend the panel. We are also getting round-up videos down and planning out what the panels for the next conference looks like and who’s going to be on the next panel. How do we top ourselves? How can we continue to push the envelope? How do we do better next time? Every time when the conference ends, we always say, “That was the best one yet.” We have a couple of pop-up events still coming up this year. So we can make sure we can give the audience what they want and offer them an event that aren’t paid, that’s the really important part of the business for us. We know that not everyone can afford to go to the conference. We are building out C & C 100, which launched last year and will be happening in January. It is 100 women that cross 10 different categories, who are all killin’ it in their fields. So I’m prepping to do 100 interviews. After all of that, I’m going to go pick up my daughter from school then we’re going to go and make dinner, do her homework then I’ll probably get back on my computer.
Taylor: Thats one heck of a day. As Editor in chief, you’re not just writing; you’re not just editing. You're working with your team; you're sitting down and brainstorming about the next C & C.
Arianna: Yes! I mean it’s so hard because we are such a small team and everyone has a hand on a project. But I would say that the main difference between a junior-level person and senior-level person is that the junior-level person is looking more at the day-to-day side of the business. They are looking at what they need to get done that day or that week. A more senior-level person needs to be looking months and years ahead. We also need to oversee that day-to-day stuff. How do we make sure C and C 100 is a blowout success? How do we make sure our future events are a smashing success? We are also constantly thinking about how we can create more content, new topics, and things that will continue to push the envelope.
Taylor: Your build outs at the Seattle conference were INSANE. Who is responsible for this?
Arianna: It’s engineering, it’s insane. Jackie and Graphic Designer, Chloe, work on a lot of that. Also, my babe and his company do the creative build-out for us. They are called Bagavagabonds. They're a creative agency and a fabrication shop based here in LA.
Taylor: I know you're a voracious reader. Who is your favorite author and why?
Arianna: I don’t have a favorite author. I have favorite passages from certain books. There is a chapter in a book called, “The Tin Drum”. It is set during the war, there’s a little boy named Oscar. There’s this one chapter where the grocer commits suicide and he’s someone who is obsessed with weights and balances, like the way you weigh your groceries. He hangs himself in the basement of his grocery store and does it in a way so when they take him down, it sets off this musical of all the weights and chimes, banging together. So from his death, he created this beautiful orchestra. Moments like these that are dark and haunting but also beautiful and really resonate with me. There’s another passage that I love. It’s pretty dark too. Its from another war time novel by Erich Maria Remarque, called "A Time to Love and A Time To Die". I think that the first two and a half pages of the book are the most beautiful words that have ever been written. It’s about the body being buried under the snow and what happens when the snow melts. It’s harrowing and it’s sad, but there’s also so much beauty in it that you just get immediately pulled into the book. I also love Virginia Woolf. I have read everything she has ever written. I have a secret Virginia Woolf tattoo on my body. The woman was just so ahead of her time. She is a master of words and a master of finding beauty in the small things. I wish she would’ve stuck along longer to give us some more.
Taylor: Do you ever find yourself wanting to freelance and write more dark things? Not just strictly for Create & Cultivate?
Arianna: Absolutely! Jackie and I joke all the time that I’m secretly writing my greatest novel. And I am. I am always writing fiction. I have about 3 novels that I have been working on for about 10 years. However, I love to work and I think what we are doing at C&C is so important. Also, having a daughter and being a mom, I want to do work that I’m proud to go home and show her when she’s old enough. It helps me and makes me a better mom. I don’t know if I’d be the best mom if I were just in my room writing novels right now. I think this job makes me be a better mom. I think the women that I meet though this job help me be a better mom and I have a support system. I don’t think I would have a great support system if I went off and wrote a book. However, I do work on fiction on the side. I know I’ll never give that up and it’ll always be my number one.
Taylor: As a mother and a working woman, how do you manage your time and balance motherhood and business?
Arianna: Honestly, you just have to do it. This is going to sound a little weird, but I think I am fortunate to be a single parent. Her dad is still often in her life. I have more custody that he does so she spends more time with me, but the way that we have it set up is that I have her every weekend. I have her during the week at times too. The time that he has her is when I am like nose-down in my computer, working hard. The set up is really convenient for both of our lives. It is hard being a single parent, a parent, a working mother, a working woman. There’s also something to be done, someone who needs something. At the end of the day, you just come home and figure it out. When you can’t figure it out, you call your support system. I can call my friends whenever and get their help. I definitely do not do it on my own.
Taylor: How do you relieve your stress?
Arianna: I’m really bad at working out and I don’t drink because my diabetes makes me pretty allergic to it. It sucks. If I didn’t have it, I would be downing glasses of wine everyday. I’m really good at sitting in silence and doing nothing. Not necessarily doing nothing. I’m usually thinking of a story or something funny that happened that day. I wouldn’t call it meditation, but I can sit in silence, not looking at my phone, and staring at a wall for a very long time. Usually at the end of that, I feel more relaxed. There are ups and downs, I've had some pretty crazy things happen to me. When I think about day-to-day stress, I just think to myself is my daughter hurt? Is she happy? No? I’m okay. I also think about my child. I’m going to see her in a couple hours when I get off work, so I’m chill.
Taylor: I think a person's perspective on life changes when it throws you curve balls, both the good and the bad. I know children do that to parents, they definitely put things in perspective.
Arianna: Basil is like my human Xanax.
Taylor: Hearing you talk about motherhood and business is a true inspiration. I know watching Basil grow into her own self has to make you happy.
Arianna: It’s the best feeling in the world.
Taylor: Was there anytime while you were pregnant that you were nervous?
Arianna: Oh, everyday. When you first feel a human being moving inside of you, it is the weirdest moment. I think I was watching some horror movie and I felt some weird pokey thing go along my body. 5 minutes of shock, horror, and gagging. Like it is not normal. Like is this thing inside my body about to bust out and kill me?
Taylor: Okay last question. Boss brunch. Would you take Beyoncé or Oprah?
Arianna: I’m going to go with Oprah. I know it’s not as sexy. Oprah, if you’re reading this, you’re very sexy. I think that my career journey and curiosity and quest for information from different people, I would get a lot more from sitting down with Oprah and finding out her little gems. She’s a pioneer and a badass.