Meet Lauren Caruso

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Lauren is a writer, editor, and digital consultant living in New York City’s Lower East Side. She spends her days at the helm of The Zoe Report, where she manages the site’s six fantastic editors, and spends her weekends finding new brunch spots, discovering new stores, and searching for white walls to use as a background for the ‘gram.
 
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Nomia Leather Zip-Up   ; Vintage Cream Turtleneck; Zara Leggings

Nomia Leather Zip-Up; Vintage Cream Turtleneck; Zara Leggings

ON HER MORNING ROUTINE

No matter how hard I try or early I wake up, I’m always rushed. I wake up by 7 AM, shower, and spend a few minutes using NuFace. It’s the only time in the morning that I’m not checking my phone. It’s the closest I get to meditating, which I’m truly awful at. My hair and makeup take 15 minutes, and unless I’ve pre-planned my outfit, deciding what to wear takes up the bulk of my morning. I usually try half a dozen combinations before landing on one I feel best in. I take a probiotic (Care/of and Thrive) and head out the door, often to a work meeting or for coffee with my best friend. We take each other’s Instagram photos a few times per week.

on the beginning of her writing career

I grew up in central New Jersey, and basically threw a fit when my parents told me I had no choice but to go to Rutgers. As someone with no student debt now, I’m not as mad. I was pre-med, but couldn’t stomach the cadaver lab and switched to journalism. I spent much of high school and college tutoring classmates in writing, so the jump made sense.

I was lucky enough to graduate during the Great Recession. I had three part-time jobs that added up to about 50 hours per week in addition to school, so graduating felt like a break. In addition to waitressing, bartending, and working as a receptionist at a cheese factory, I took on a few writing jobs, including one as the fashion editor of a now-defunct site for millenials. It paid $1600/month before taxes and I had to commute from New Jersey, but I was getting paid to write. As someone who grew up lower-middle class, I was happy I made it.

on her lessons learned while working in editorial

I think there’s this perception that we just go to appointments and play with clothes and makeup all day. That’s really detrimental to anyone who hasn’t taken the time to hone necessary skills like writing, editing, communication, developing and fostering a taste level, and accepting feedback. It’s hard work, and it’s incredibly strategic. I’d really recommend an internship, even after graduation. Lastly, for the love of all things holy, don’t have an ego.

Trench, Yang Li Men ; T-Shirt, Vintage ; Choker, Vintage YSL ; Pants, Sonia Rykiel
I’ve worked with Alyssa more than I have with anyone else. We have similar creative processes, though she’ll be the first to admit that I’m more organized. When we started working together on our Instagrams, her following was growing a lot quicker than mine, so I took on the logistics. That’s why I’m so well-versed in contracts and negotiations. For years, I’ve been doing it for the both of us. I help her fight for what she’s worth while working with her on cool stuff. We have points of view that compliment each other, and there’s never been a sense of competition or difference in creative opinion. We had one fight back in 2016 over a brand’s involvement in something, and I think it was over in five minutes. You just click with some people, you know?
— on collaborating with her best friend, alyssa coscarelli

on her origin story as a fashion writer

I wouldn’t say there was a defining moment, but when I was in high school and my friends’ parents were asking me to help their kids with college essays for a small fee, I realized I must have a talent and it could be worth something. After a few low-level editorial assistant gigs (which were glorified internships), I interviewed for another EA position at Refinery29. It was my dream job, and all three rounds of interviews went so well. When I didn’t get the job, I was crushed. Six months later, Neha Gandhi offered me a more mid-level gig. Apparently I impressed both Neha and Christene Barberich, R29’s EIC, and they wanted me to contribute. I rose pretty quickly, moving from a market editor role to owning the Contributor Network. I got to hire my own team which is how I met my now-best friend, Alyssa Coscarelli. After three years, I left to work with Linda Wells at Allure, because when Linda calls, you answer. For a couple years, I jumped around a bit, working on the brand side at Bandier, but ultimately made it back to editorial at TZR. It was acquired by Bustle in early 2018, and they brought me on to completely reimagine and relaunch the brand with a team of my own choosing. I have exactly zero regrets and love both the team and the site!

on working as an online influencer

I work with a ton of brands on Instagram mostly in the fashion space. Sometimes I work with them on larger activations to help tell their stories, and other times I’m consulting behind the scenes to help conceptualize those stories. There are times where I’m working with these brands on a one-off post to promote them or their products. I learned a lot from trial and error, as well as having experience both on the influencer and brand side. There’s a ton of back-and-forth, and it’s almost never as easy as someone asking for your rate, and then simply obliging. It’s also been super helpful to have someone to bounce things off of, which I recommend everyone in this space have.

Brock Collection Pants   ; Mijong Park Top

Brock Collection Pants; Mijong Park Top

I like to shoot in direct sunlight on a neutral background, which became my signature. For backdrops, I prefer less busy to allow the clothes to shine. I usually have my photographer (which, nine times out of ten, is Alyssa) shoot from below so I look taller. I’m only 5’2” and need every inch I can get! We usually lower the exposure and err on the side of darkness, as to not blow anything out. In post, which I use VSCO for, I play with exposure, contrast, and saturation. I use Facetune if I need to completely replace a background, or, if we’re being honest, to blur out a zit. I almost always pose from my left side, which is my “good” side. I hated photos of myself until I figured this out.
— on her favorite apps and photography tips
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Everlane Wide-Leg Pants   , 7115 by Szeki Chunky Grey Turtleneck

Everlane Wide-Leg Pants, 7115 by Szeki Chunky Grey Turtleneck

on her self-care routines and creative pursuits

Basically all my skincare routines, the masks, the treatments, the calculated layers of products, they’re all for me. I’m also looking to write a children’s book about my stuffed animal Fluffy and still searching for an illustrator for it.

on her style and shopping habits

I’m such an emotional dresser, so even though I try to plan my looks, or save outfits on Instagram and recreate them with a few different styling cues, I get frustrated sometimes. When that happens, I usually try to think about which piece I want to highlight, and start over from there.

I shop online quite a bit at places like Need Supply, Garmentory, Either And, and The Dreslyn, but I love a brick-and-mortar. In NYC, The Frankie Shop, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, The Line, and The Break in Williamsburg are favorites. I’m a trend-curious minimalist, so I look for pieces that reflect that.

on her haircare

My hair is thin, limp, generally lifeless, so I rely on a cocktail of products to make it look full. I start with a volumizing shampoo from Sachajuan Ocean Mist, Oribe, or R+Co whose Dallas Thickening Shampoo is amazing. It’s important to note that no volumizing shampoo will ever change your hair. A good shampoo is a primer for the products you’re going to apply when you’re out of the shower. I start with IGK Down & Out, a foam-spray that makes your hair feel like second-day hair without the grease. I spritz in R+Co Trophy Shine and Texture Spray and Ouai Leave-In Conditioner, then blow-dry upside-down until my roots are dry. I puff in a few pumps of IGK 30,000 Feet Volume Powder, then twist it back so it forms a bit of a wave while it dries. I also recommend Oribe Crème for Style and Ouai Volume Spray.

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This seems so silly, but I truly love shopping, not just acquiring new stuff but physically going into a space, seeing how it’s merchandised, the arrangement, presentation, and then letting myself think on it. Sometimes a room or a space will be so poorly organized that it forces me to look within my own space or wardrobe to see what I can be doing differently. Ever so often, I’ll see someone wearing an outfit I like, but I’ll restyle it. Those bursts of editing feed my creativity.
— on what keeps her inspired and motivated
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on her beauty routine

In the morning, I use Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, shower, then mist on Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist. I’ll use Caudalie or Mario Badescu if I have an extra, otherwise I leave them at work. I usually use a lactic acid (Biologique P50 Lotion) which has an apparent reputation. Then I grab a moisturizer (Peter Thomas Roth), and finish with Dermalogica Pure Light SPF 50. There’s really no point in taking care of your skin if you’re not going to wear sunscreen. For breakouts, I dab on Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion or Glossier Zit Stick. I don’t like foundation, but I love It Cosmetics CC Cream. I finish with NARS Creamy Radiant Concealer, a bit of RMS Blush, and whatever mascara is in my drawer. I also recommend Avene Thermal Spring Water, Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 8 AHA Lotion, Glossier Wowder, and Benefit Roller Lash Mascara.

lauren’s favorite books

South and West by Joan Didion, When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris, Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson, Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

lauren’s favorite places IN new york city

My friend Cyndi’s nail salon-cum-cafe, Chillhouse, is two blocks away, so I’m there at least twice a week. I also love Adventure Cafe, Two Hands, and L’Estudio for coffee on the weekends. I prefer smaller flower shops, but my friend Pop Up Florist is my official supplier. I get my hair done exclusively by Erickson at Bumble and bumble. I workout at SLT on Crosby Street. I spend way more time sifting through vintage on Instagram than IRL, but when I do, it’s at The Break in Williamsburg.

Pixie Market Leather Coat, Need Supply Pants, Zara Boots

Pixie Market Leather Coat, Need Supply Pants, Zara Boots