Joe Zee, a fashion stylist and creative director of Elle magazine, came to the Academy of Art University on September 22nd, for a special interview with the fashion students telling the students why he left Elle magazine for Yahoo and gave the students some of his background before working for Elle magazine.
Before Joe Zee used worked for Elle magazine, he would choose to write stories from the things he would see from the streets that appeared in front of his eyes, and 8 million people would buy the Elle magazine and read his stories from there on. Then as Yahoo approached Zee asking him to work for them, but Yahoo told him 800 million people read their stories and news line per day—Zee was appalled when he heard that.
Before becoming a stylist and working for Elle, at the age of 22, Zee went to school at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York to focus on fashion. While studying at FIT, Zee interned at fashion magazines where he would return clothes in a shopping cart for the fashion stylists after they have done their editorial photo shoots.
Joe Zee explained, “when you’re seeking something now you got to keep calling or else you would be stuck in the same position.” He added on, “You never asked, you’ll never know.” Joe told the students not to wait for an opportunity to come around, because you never know when it will happen. “If you’re starving and you have a phone, and you want a pizza, does it just come? Or do you actually have to pick up the phone and call them? You have to take that chance and give someone a call.” Zee said with his tone rising, his face was not mad, but was hinting students how to succeed.
“I would return clothes for the stylists and I would come downstairs and talk to the receptionist, some people would tell me ‘oh my god, that sounds awful!’ but I loved it at that time! I think I loved it that time because I got to go to the showroom, I got to look at the clothes, I got to go see people—and by that I meant the receptionist, and that time I would be so excited to do these things.” Joe Zee said enthusiastically to Simon Urgulass, the fashion executive director of Academy of Art University.
“Everything around you is a story, and I like that.” Zee explained energetically. At Yahoo, Zee will serve as editor in chief and executive creative officer of Yahoo fashion, as well as editor of its beauty site. Zee will be missed at Elle magazine, as Elle said to WWD, but he is moving forward with his career and finding somewhere better with more readers to read his stories
Although Joe is finally moving onto a better career, his last Elle editor in Chief Robbie Myers told WWD “It’s a big loss to see Joe leave, I’ve worked with Joe for seven years. But it will be a perfect job for him.” Myers added on complimenting Joe, “Joe is a singular person. His talents are specific to his background. There is nobody else like Joe—we’re never going to find another Joe. You don’t look to hire that exact same person again.”