Feb 12, 2018
30 Under 30, Class of ’18: Sam Escobar, Deputy Digital Editor of Allure Magazine
Most Likely To: Smile at a dog on the sidewalk rather than their owner
Favorite Quote: “Heart leaking something so strong, they can smell it in the street.” – Marty McConnell
Sam Escobar is the current deputy digital editor of Allure magazine. Previously holding roles as an editor at Bustle and Good Housekeeping, Sam has been both published and profiled by a smattering of publications, including Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Urban Outfitters, and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. In 2015, Sam made the decision to publicly talk and write about their non-binary gender identity. Their way of shedding light on the private conversations that had been going on for some time before. And while many would see Sam’s willingness to open up about themselves as a “coming out,” I like to borrow language from writer, Darnell L. Moore, who refers to the act as a “letting in.” Whereas “coming out” oftentimes suggests others wanting to know, which can often become a plunder of sorts; the latter focuses on the agency of the person sharing the information. So while Sam’s work at Allure concerns itself with the way we present ourselves to the world; Sam’s life seems to be a meditation about how we understand ourselves in this world—even when no one else does.
What is your earliest memory associated with what you do now?
I remember writing a story about Santa Claus having to miss Christmas one year due to a terrible cold. I can’t remember if he wound up actually finishing up his Christmas run, but I think Mrs. Claus, and all the reindeer, wound up picking up his route.
When did your occupation become real to you?
About 7 months after I left college, I spontaneously moved to Portland, Oregon. After quitting my nighttime job as a telemarketer, I started writing seven days per week at 5:30 a.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. on weekends—I worked New York City hours, since that was where the website I wrote for was based.
I wrote 6-12 articles per day because I needed the money, but I always felt like I was still just doing something fun that paid for me to go to happy hour on a regular basis with my newfound friends in PDX. And then I moved here. Suddenly I was actually in meetings and going to events and staring at analytics every single day rather than writing news blogs in my underwear. It was overwhelming, but the first time I received a report that our site had had its best month ever, it all felt very real. Frightening, loud, and real, and I loved it!
How does Brooklyn/your neighborhood particularly inform your work?
Having lived in Brooklyn for just a few years, I am very aware of how it has greatly changed since several years before I’ve arrived. I try to stay conscious of that in my habits and watch the New York City/Brooklyn news regularly, which has encouraged and enabled me to learn a lot more about local politics than I did before—and that’s more important to stay conscious of now than ever, given the current political climate.
What do you feel is most challenging about being where you are now?
Media is, in many ways, a terrifying industry because of how uncertain its future is. I honestly think that is the scariest part, and it creates a climate where people feel they need to be competitive or hypercritical of others’ work, rather than supportive of other editors, writers, and publications.
Also, the regular feeling that I am the only person who deserves to have imposter syndrome. That one’s fun, too.
What’s most rewarding?
I get to work with highly talented editors, writers, social media managers, and other folks each day, which genuinely allows me to learn new things about editorial/digital content each day.
5 spots in Brooklyn people should know about?
- Cantina Royal — My favorite restaurant in Williamsburg. It has incredibly good Mexican food, beautiful artwork, and extremely friendly staff.
- House of Yes — A venue in Bushwick, where I perform every few months—reading my poetry (both privately and publicly) with the Poetry Society of New York. I’m a huge fan of the place—and, fun fact, it has the absolute best bathrooms for selfies. See for yourself.
- Blind Barber — I’m biased because a friend of mine bartends there, but I can honestly say it has my favorite grilled cheeses and cocktails in Brooklyn.
- Happyfun Hideaway — One of my favorite LGBTQ+- welcoming bars and has absolutely wonderful deals on drinks.
- Bunker — The Vietnamese restaurant in Ridgewood — I just realized you didn’t ask for entirely restaurants/bars, but I can’t help it: I’m really obsessed with food!
What’s your most significant accomplishment to date?
I am very fortunate to have experienced a few articles that went viral and were well-received by some other survivors and non—binary people, who have reached out and said kind words. Because I am much more of an editor and wouldn’t necessarily think of myself as a career writer, I feel like the best feelings I’ve had about my own work are actually times when people on my team have complimented my managerial skills and leadership.
A few months after I arrived at Allure, for instance, I was having a one-on-one meeting with an editor I manage. She told me that she felt I had facilitated and enabled her to do work she was really proud of, which may have been the best feeling I’ve experienced in my career. It felt like I was actually good at my job.
Who/what inspires you?
My mother. She is a librarian. She is also unbelievably kind, which I try to hold dear.
Thinking about the future, where do you see yourself in the next 30 years?
58 years old and living on a ranch with several cats and chickens. Maybe I’ll still be an editor, maybe not. At the very least, I hope I have both the skepticism and the optimism I currently possess towards the world.
What’s next for you?
Our team as a whole is working on some wonderful projects, videos, and packages for 2018 that, while I can’t discuss the details of them, already feel extremely proud of. Our team is full of sharp, talented, compassionate, and truthful folks who want to continue expanding the expectations people have of a beauty publication.
On a personal level, though, I just want to be kind to myself this year. That alone is quite an undertaking most of the time.
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