Interviews / Journalists

Balancing the Grind with Gianluca Russo, Fashion Reporter at Teen Vogue

Gianluca Russo is currently working as a fashion reporter at Teen Vogue, and also freelances at publications like Glamour, GQ, InStyle, Refinery29 and more.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

Totally! Day to day, I currently work as a fashion reporter at Teen Vogue, and occasionally freelance for other publications like Glamour, GQ, InStyle, Refinery29 and more.

I also recently launched a monthly column at NYLON called PLUS US that breaks down the systemic discrimination that the plus-size community faces on a daily basis. Additionally, I’m currently working on my first book titled THE POWER OF PLUS which is forthcoming from Chicago Review Press in 2022.

I grew up performing, and that’s really where I developed my deep love for storytelling. I would have never called myself a writer growing up, but I certainly had a deep fascination for the world of fashion, even if I felt like I didn’t have a place in the industry.

When I got to college, I was actually studying law. But within a month, I knew that wasn’t the career for me. I started a blog to stay creative and continue my storytelling passion, and I quickly found that I loved to not only write, but interview people and help tell their stories. Everything happened quickly from there, and that’s how I got my start in journalism.

I freelanced full-time in college while also studying journalism. By junior year, I had started writing a Teen Vogue, and that’s when my career really took off. I’ve been there for three years now and I would never look back.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I’m currently living in Arizona, but I work on New York time, which is three hours ahead of where I’m currently at. So I usually wake up around 7am PST.

I immediately check my email as I usually have a daily news piece I have to write fairly quickly (within an hour) for Teen Vogue. Once I finish that, I take a short break and get ready for the day.

By 9am, I’m in full work mode, answering emails and chasing down editors. I usually spend the mornings doing that and organizing my day. The afternoons, I spend doing interviews and writing.

I write best later in the day — and sometimes very late at night — so I usually leave the later half of my day for that.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes, I work remotely. It certainly has it’s benefits, but there are some negatives I don’t like. I do miss having an office atmosphere, and as someone who works in fashion, I definitely miss the energy and joy that comes from getting dressed for work.

However, I love the flexibility of remote working, and I like that it allows me to work from anywhere, often on my own schedule as long as I’m meeting deadlines.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work-life balance is certainly something I’m still learning, and it’s a struggle. Because I work a lot in the social media space, it’s incredibly difficult to log off and completely disconnect from work.

I certainly try to spend the weekend offline as much as possible to detox. Because I work on New York time, I’m usually done with work by 3pm my time, so I like to spend those few extra hours decompressing and relaxing, whether that’s going outside or reading or watching a new TV show.

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Yes! Mid-quarantine, I began juicing every day, and it’s become a game-changer. I’m not sure I see any health benefits, but I’m a coffee addict, and that certainly started to take it’s toll on me.

So instead, I freshly juice every morning, and it’s usually a 30-minute period where I can just listen to a podcast while doing so. It’s become the way I start every day, and makes me feel ready for work whenever I do so.

I also now try to take a lunch break every day — which I didn’t do before — to go outside and relax for a bit. It’s hard when you work from home to force yourself to take those breaks, but because I’m stuck at home constantly now because of the pandemic, it’s really necessary.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

My all-time favorite book is More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth, the former editor-in-cheif of Teen Vogue and current Project Runway judge. I really believe its a must-read for everyone, regardless of whether or not you work in fashion or the media. It’s truly the most inspiring book I’ve ever read.

I don’t have a single favorite podcast per se, but I usually listen to those that are related to fashion, beauty and entertainment. I’m usually searching to see what latest podcast interviews my favorite influencers and celebrities have done, rather than following one specific podcast.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Google Calendar. I used to be incredibly unorganized, and using that everyday now has made me so much more productive.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Any top model, like Coco Rocha or Ashley Graham. They’re both incredible, and I think it’s so fascinating how these top models manage their work life — which is incredibly demanding — with being mothers.

Also, any essential worker who’s helping us fight the pandemic right out. They’re true heroes, and I’d love to learn more about how they’re staying sane amidst this crazy environment.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. When you’re young and thirsty for experience, it can seem impossible to turn down any opportunity that could potentially advance your career. But you don’t want to burn out, and that certainly happened to me when I graduated college.

Take your time, grow at your own pace, set up solid boundaries, and remember that your journey is just that: yours. Don’t feel pressured to meet unrealistic society deadlines of age that eliminated that work-life balance, because it’s simply not worth it.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.