Writing her way to the top

Vicki Hogarth wasn’t always known as the senior editor of Strut Magazine. Ten-hour work shifts and eating nothing but cheap noodles were just a few of the challenges she had to overcome to settle where she is today.

“There have been so many obstacles,” says 28-year-old Hogarth. “I remember going through weeks of eating nothing but Ramen noodles because my initial salary was barely enough to scrape by.”

Hogarth recalls that when she joined the Strut team, she worked over 50 hours a week. Because she was still finishing up university, Hogarth was asked to work for free and she instantly agreed – she didn’t have family connections to make things any easier.

“It was the only way to do it,” says Hogarth, who didn’t realize then the kind of gig she had landed.

The new position would have her travelling to New York, L.A. and even Cuba in pursuit of celebrities and fashion shows – all of this happening only a couple of months after being hired.

“I had heard rumours that a new national magazine called Strut was going to be launching in Montréal,” says Hogarth. “I had planned to move to Toronto but didn’t have enough money to get there, so I decided to look into this new magazine.”

She tracked down the owners of the publication and quickly applied for an internship. Hogarth didn’t hear from them right away but being the persistent gal she is, she showed up at their offices with a resumé and cover letter in hand. She wanted to make a clear point that she was serious about the job.

When Strut launched their first issue, Hogarth was asked for her fresh opinion. She came to Montréal to critique the entire magazine in front of the publishing director, editor-in-chief, and art director.

It was that meeting that secured her spot at Strut. But after a while of working for free, Hogarth started looking for other jobs. Strut then offered her the position of associate editor and she’s been there ever since.

“I did my first cover story only nine months after starting at the magazine,” she says. Hogarth has written around 70 per cent of the cover stories to date for the magazine.

“I think if I had gone anywhere else, I’d still be making coffee!”

She felt comfortable staying at Strut because it was an independent publication with a lot of creative freedom, catering to both men and women. She has received many offers from other magazines inviting her to join their editorial boards since starting out at Strut.

Unlike many aspiring journalists today, Hogarth never got a degree in journalism. Instead she went to McGill for the honours program in English literature for her undergrad studies and stayed there to do a master’s degree as well.

“I only ever wanted to be a writer or editor, specifically for a magazine, so I didn’t feel compelled to study journalism,” says Hogarth. She considered the fact that so many journalism programs concentrate heavily on TV, newspapers and radio.

“It was a tough decision, but in the end I’m happy with what I studied.”

She says this didn’t hold her back from entering journalism in pursuit of a career.

“If anything, it helped me think outside the box.”

By this point, Hogarth has already accomplished much more than most journalists have dreamed of achieving in their entire careers. But it didn’t all come without the usual stumbles that precede any kind of success.

Strut, which is an independent publication, posed various challenges for its senior editor. Hogarth and her team’s salaries never even came close to those of corporate and trade magazines. oJ

“I freelance often when I need to finance a vacation or a new couch.”

She needs to constantly keep reminding herself of the perks and positive aspects that come along with her work.

“I am fortunate that I work with people who view these struggles as challenges instead,” she says. “The last five years have been so special, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Strut was defined by the people who launched it in the first place. Hogarth says she’s proud to have helped shape a national magazine, that didn’t need any kind of formulas during its production.

“I love my job all the more for that.”

But she doesn’t plan on staying at Strut forever – “I hear they try to put you out to pasture at Chatelaine at age 35,” she jokes.

She continues writing for other magazines and newspapers from time to time keep her portfolio updated.

“It’s important to diversify your portfolio because you never know in this industry – due to magazines folding and the staff turnovers – when you’re going to need another job,” she says. “You need to show in your portfolio that you can change your style.”

So while we’re leafing through the pages of Strut and catching up on the latest gossip and trends, Hogarth is halfway around the world to find the next big thing and put it into writing for us.