“I try to encourage people to focus on the present and the steps necessary to making the next move. Don’t compare yourself to someone else; it’s wasted energy. They have their own story. You need you figure out yours.” – Jana Hoffman
If you’ve patronized any business or attended any event in the month of April, you have already seen her face on the cover of the ever-present Lehigh Valley Style magazine. Just like the Madonna song, people all over the Valley wanted to know “Who’s that girl?” But chances are, you have been familiar with Jana Hoffman for quite some time. As an editor of Lehigh Valley Style, Jana has been an incredible source for keeping the Valley’s young people tuned in and turned on to fashion, events, products and businesses that us hip folk may have otherwise overlooked.
Jana is as kind as she is gorgeous, and being a talented writer and journalist cap off her list of best qualities. Here, she tells us about working at the Valley’s #1 glossy magazine, the behind-the-scenes in the life of a journalist, and what’s it’s like when you start seeing your own face everywhere.
Read on for the INTERVIEW.
You have a very recognizable face – especially to anyone that saw the April cover of Lehigh Valley Style magazine. Please tell us about your awesome job and why even people that don’t know you still “know you”.
It sounds very strange to be called “recognizable!” The attention has been positive and interesting; definitely a change of pace for me because I’m normally the girl behind-the-scenes. Currently, I’m the editorial assistant/junior staff writer/fashion and beauty expert/stylist at Lehigh Valley Style. The April cover was 100 percent unintentional and a complete accident!
My job is incredibly rewarding, fun and has evolved into this super cool position where I get to dabble in many of the different aspects of creating a glossy magazine. I look forward to going into the office. The LVS team is amazing, supportive and fortunately we all get along. The atmosphere is laid back and sometimes pretty silly.
I think people are beginning to “know me” because I’ve sort of made myself known among the community with some of the magazine projects I have worked on in the past, the events I attend and the exposure I have given the magazine especially to a slightly younger crowd. I think I’ve helped LVS reach a market that hasn’t totally been tapped into prior to my starting. Plus, I’m now on B104 every Friday afternoon around 5:40 p.m. with Eric Chase so that certainly helps!
What is your background and experience with writing and journalism?
It’s funny you ask! I’m in the process of moving and stumbled upon my “manuscript” for my children’s book “The Dog That Couldn’t Do Tricks” written when I was about 6 years old, in the first grade. I’ve always excelled at writing. It’s my passion. Growing up I thought of hundreds of other careers that seemed suitable including becoming a marine biologist — sea turtles are so interesting. In high school, I joined the newspaper staff and became an editor. I knew from that moment it wasn’t science that I was supposed to pursue but it was writing that was my true calling.
I graduated in December 2007 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s in Journalism. I have a straight news writing background with a touch of public relations experience.
I’ll never forget my first Journalism course during the second semester of my freshman year with Randy Jesick. I walked into Basic Journalism Skills not knowing the amount of work and effort I would have to put into that degree. The education I received at IUP cannot be replaced. I’m definitely a grammar and punctuation queen now. I love it!
In addition to my LVS position, I do freelance writing and editing for several clients in the Valley and NYC including BettyLife, Metro Beauty Academy, and Laini’s Little Pocket Guide. You can check out my *portfolio for more.
(*Jana’s website linked below)
How did you get your job at Lehigh Valley Style? What initially drew you to the magazine?
I was actually a summer editorial intern at LVS prior to my hiring. The timing was simply perfect so it had a little something to do with luck and being at the right place at the right time. LVS was formerly a bimonthly publication and beginning in January 2008 it went monthly thus my boss was able to hire an assistant.
One sunny afternoon during my internship, I was eating lunch outside at the picnic table with the publishers/owners and they mentioned that Style was adding a new editorial position. Of course, I knew I had to prove myself so I worked my butt off for several weeks before I was asked to interview for the job. I was hired and they actually held the position until I graduated in December (almost an entire 5 months later).
I always imaged that I would graduate and travel Europe before starting a career, but this offer was far too good to pass up. I’m not sure what I would be doing today if I would have said no. Two days after graduation (I actually got stuck in a snow storm!) I officially began my career.
It wasn’t until I was seeking an internship during my junior year that I learned about LVS. I honestly didn’t know it existed! I loved the magazine’s concept of fusing regional content with fashion, home and decor, beauty and more. It seemed fitting. There was a level of care and attention to detail that the other local publications lacked.
You have impeccable style. Have you always been such a fashionista? Do you have early memories of playing dress-up or making your own Barbie clothes?
Why, thank you! No, I’ve not always been a fashionista! I look back and wonder what the heck I was thinking. In high school I began exploring fashion, but I admit I was absolutely the quintessential prepster. I did this whole metamorphosis during college because I was trying to find out who I was. I finally feel comfortable in my skin and have a style that I can identify with.
I guess I sort of fell into the whole fashion thing. I love the fast-paced industry. It’s ever-evolving! I definitely played dress up when I was little. I remember always wanting to wear my mom’s pointy-toed heels.
Tell us about modeling. Do you do jobs for local businesses, or magazines, etc? Do you usually work with local photographers and stylists?
Modeling is another thing that I just fell into. I was scouted during my sophomore year of high school, but I never went to the agency’s interview in Philly. In fact, I’ve never taken a class. I guess it just comes naturally.
Locally, I’m represented by Image International in Allentown. I’ve had the pleasure of shooting with some of the best local photographers. Most recently, I’ve done work for Loose Threads Boutique. As hard as it might be to believe, modeling is work. However, it’s incredibly fun to play dress up and step out of the norm for awhile.
A few months ago I was in a model search for the clothing company Original Penguin. I didn’t win, but the support and response from my family, friends and total strangers was overwhelming. Soon you can see my face on the cover of Image’s spring/summer edition of “Look” magazine. It’s so weird! (By weird I mean cool, but weird because I never imagined any of this happening!) It’s good to know how to react in front of and behind the camera.
I love your articles because they highlight the great shops, events and style scenes of the Valley. What do you love about this area, and how is it different than a city?
I have never loved the Lehigh Valley more than I do currently! Working at LVS has opened my eyes to amazing people, places and things. This is the first time in my 24 years of living here that I finally feel at home. I have seen first-hand how the Valley has grown and flourished. The community support is fantastic. Networking is phenomenal. There are people who genuinely want to see you succeed. The Valley is the best of so many worlds and the city, mountains, beaches, and lakes are just a hop, skip and a jump away. I’m still discovering!
I have to credit the people I’ve met since returning home from college, too. I have some truly great friends who have made the transition from college to professional unbelievably easy. I felt like a stranger when I moved home. Not anymore!
What’s a “typical day” like? I imagine your days are always different, but give us an idea.
HA! There is never a typical day! LVS basically works on a three-week production cycle. We are always busy and there is always something happening. I do the Monday-Friday, 9-5 thing and then some. There’s never a day that I’m not writing something for an upcoming issue. For those of you who are wondering, yes, it’s me who updates our social media sites. The secret is revealed! I answer A LOT of e-mails during the day. Needless to say, I’ve become a stellar typist!
Sometimes I’m proofing design layouts and editing every little thing that you read on the pages of every issue. I interact with public relations people from all over the country to acquire products, images and information. I work closely with our interns, which is great because I was in their shoes. At least once a week my boss and I are brainstorming upcoming stories and planning the editorial calendar. The editorial department works about three months in advance prior to each issue, but we plan our feature stories nearly 6 months to a year ahead of time. Then there are the days when I’m on location at a shoot. My favorite! It takes days to plan one of them. Sometimes weeks! The outcome is so rewarding and worth the sweat and effort.
What do you like to do on a day off?
Sometimes I feel like I never have a day off! In fact, I took a vacation day last Friday and I still checked my e-mail (that’s the beauty/beast of having a laptop!).
On my days off I seriously love to sleep! It can become exhausting running around from work to event to another event then back to work again and trying to maintain a personal life. I use my time for reading, too; sometimes with a glass of wine. You can also find me down on Bethlehem’s South Side visiting and shopping at the retailers on 3rd and 4th. I enjoy unwinding at Sette Luna in Easton. From time to time I’ll set up shop at Wired Cafe and catch up on some of my freelance work. My boyfriend Mike Emery rides motox so I support him at his races and we camp. I love thrifting and going to flea markets. I’m moving to the South Side in about a week so I can’t wait to get a library card and to walk/bike the tow path.
This summer I am determined to take a real vacation. I want to leave my computer behind!
This sets you up to sound like a mushball, but do you have any advice for readers about following their dreams?
Oh, I’m all about being a mushball! It’s never too late to find your calling and to work toward achieving a goal. Persistence becomes important. Finding what truly makes you happy is key. I try to encourage people to focus on the present and the steps necessary to making the next move. Don’t compare yourself to someone else; it’s wasted energy. They have their own story. You need you figure out yours. I am so fortunate for the opportunities I have seized and the doors that have opened through this job and through the people I have met.
What’s in store for the future?
I knew this question was coming! I truly have no idea. I aspire to live and work in New York City in the very near future. But, who knows, maybe I will move to the West Coast or buy a house in the Valley. I hope to continue writing. Styling fashion shoots has become a new creative way to express myself so perhaps that’s in the stars. I’m just taking it one day at a time!
You can find Lehigh Valley Style magazine practically everywhere! Or you can subscribe at 12 issues for only $12! You know we love a good deal.
To get the latest news and updates on Lehigh Valley Style magazine and contests, events, and Style Insider Happy Hours, follow them (and Jana!) on FACEBOOK: LV Style is my Facebook Friend
Learn more about Jana and her writing career at her WEBSITE: Jana is a Journalist