Meet Locke Hughes, 27, a Senior Editor at Greatist.com living in Manhattan. We picked her brain on how she turned her passion for health, fitness and journalism into a successful and fulfilling career.
Maddie: What’s your day job and your responsibilities there?
Locke: I’m a senior editor at Greatist.com. We’re a health and wellness startup on a mission to help people think about health in a different way—namely, that healthy equals happy (no six-pack required). Our content is science-backed, expert-approved, and totally down-to-earth. You won’t find any talk about cleanses, crash diets, or soul-destroying workouts here (unless it’s to say how crazy they are). On a typical day, you’ll find me pitching new story ideas, assigning articles to freelancers, top editing articles, overseeing fitness photo shoots, and writing (the fun part!).
M: Tell me a little bit about your career trajectory. How did you end up as a Senior Editor at Greatist?
L: It’s probably a familiar story. After graduating from the University of Virginia with an English degree in 2010, I came to NYC, spent a month job searching while sleeping on a friend’s couch before I found a freelance position at O, The Oprah Magazine (and an apartment). Then I took another freelance role at Seventeen, and finally a legit job as an assistant to the editor-in-chief at Woman’s Day Magazine. After that (people move around a lot in the publishing world!) I moved to Shape to be an online assistant editor, where I eventually became the senior social media editor. Last year, my former boss from Shape approached me about coming to Greatist, where I am now. Moral of that story: Meet with anyone and everyone! I originally connected with my now-boss five years ago when I bought her a coffee when I first moved to NYC. I stayed in touch, and eventually she helped me get my job at Shape, then ended up hiring me at Greatist! You never know where a cup of coffee may take you.
M: What made you want to work in the field of health and wellness journalism? What about health and wellness inspires you?
L: Looking back, I’ve always loved being active (even if I never made a varsity team in high school…). A few years ago, when I realized I was spending all my free time reading food blogs and trying new workouts, I figured I may as well write about it! I can’t say I had any major “a ha” moment when it comes to health, but I love learning about people who have. My favorite articles have been about people who have overcame serious health conditions through diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes that really changed their life.
Overall, I think health and wellness are topics that are more important than ever today. Our generation is probably more health-conscious than in the past, but we’re also more anxious, depressed and stressed than our parents’ generation. It’s kind of a conundrum: There’s no doubt the health and wellness industry is booming, but actually making those changes is hard. That’s what I love about Greatist: We take a 360-degree approach to health: It’s not just exercise, it’s not just eating right, but it’s the whole picture—relationships, mental health, and emotional health and all that. So if through my work I can help encourage just one person to make one healthy change in their day-to-day life, that’s amazing.
M: What’s the biggest difference between working for a print versus online publication?
L: It was a big leap from Woman’s Day to Shape.com, and an even bigger leap from Shape.com to Greatist, which is a true startup in every sense of the word. (Amazing perks, free food, and cool office space included!) The main differences are definitely what you’d expect. Working online, you get the immediate gratification of seeing your work published right after you write it, you can interact with readers through social media, and you can jump on timely topics. However, in print, there can be more long-term strategic planning, more collaboration on big stories and projects, and plenty of time for researching and fact-checking for accuracy. At a startup like Greatist, the structure is even a little more loose—the lack of deadlines and set hours (and no vacation policy!) can throw some people off. But it’s also a godsend if you can discipline yourself to get your work done while enjoying all the flexibility and perks of start-up life.
M: What do you love most about living in New York City?
L: The brilliant, inspiring, and (surprisingly) kind people, the career opportunities, and the convenience of being able to walk anywhere. And everything about the West Village.
M: What is the biggest challenge that you face:
1) in your career?
L: Getting complacent. I know I should always be meeting new people, learning, and thinking harder about ways to work better, but it’s easy to just trudge along. I think it’s key to always set new goals and constantly be trying to improve, whether or not you’re actively job searching.
2) living in New York?
L: This is a big one: I miss being able to get outdoors easily! Central Park just doesn’t cut it. And finally, after 5 years here, I miss having a car!
M: What is your favorite workout/way to stay fit in the city?
L: So many! I get to check out a lot of cool classes for free because of my job, but right now I’m really into indoor cycling classes at Equinox or Swerve Fitness. And there’s nothing like a long run down the Westside Highway.
M: Who is your biggest inspiration?
L:My mom. She’s strong, smart, and always has the best advice.
M: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
L:My usual go-to: Fage Greek yogurt, berries, and KIND peanut butter granola.