“Don’t sublet from a 60 year-old Buddhist Acupuncturist you found on Craigslist.” (And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You) -Kelly Cutrone

While that’s really good advice, it wasn’t the best advice that Kelly Cutrone gave tonight.

Just a few hours ago, I attended Kelly Cutrone’s book signing for her first book, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You at Barnes & Noble in Lincoln Center. While I was excited to meet Kelly, since she is my idol, I’m also very excited to read the book. Kell had promised us via Twitter that there would be a reading and a signing. (And that her 7 year-old daughter, Ava, would be there; that she would be dressed in all black; and surrounded by interns, all of which she was.)

Unfortunately, idiot me, had to get locked out of my apartment just as I was trying to leave early so I could get a seat. Since I wasn’t going to be back in time for my RA to let me in at 9pm, I waited until almost 7 (when the signing started!) for my roommate to come back so I could get my keys and unfortunately couldn’t get into the main room where Kelly was speaking. Thankfully, they had monitors on and speakers so that we could hear and see what the “Queen of Mean” had to say.

Kelly during Q&A

Instead of a reading, Kelly decided to have a Q&A, which was far more intelligible since we were all buying the book and going to read it anyways. The questions were mostly from people looking for jobs/internships with People’s Revolution, or with questions on how to break into the fashion industry. In addition, one of Cutrone’s current interns asked how she could move up in her job, which was a major eye roll for everyone, but Kelly graciously answered all the questions and provided the best advice she possibly could.

Kelly spoke about finding a mentor, reaching out for people and being “real,” a word she used several times. She told us “New York is like a tribe and most of the people who came here did not come with a silver spoon; they all started somewhere. You have to reach out to people, be real. Someone helped them once, so someone will help you.” She also spoke about being humble and remembering where you came from. She told us how she used to work at  Big Boy, wore a donut in her hair (apparently it makes a chignon) and had to wear brown. (I can’t even imagine how dreadful that must have been!) To all the fashion-hungry fans who complained they couldn’t find work Cutrone said “get a job, be a bartender like every other kid in New York, don’t live off your parents money. I’ve seen lots of kids whose parents just cut them off like that and they come in crying ‘What am I gonna do?!'”

In addition, Cutrone provided advice about how to make yourself standout. A girl I stood with in line told Kelly she had applied for tons of jobs by email and wasn’t getting responses. Kelly told us to be proactive, “make a phone call, show up in person. You’re a human. You’re not a human in an email.” Unfortunately, this is something my own mother has told me for years, but since Kelly Cutrone said it, I think I’ll take the advice now.

In real-life, Kell’s not as mean as she plays on TV and now that the secret was out, she begged us to still watch new her show (my definition of the best depiction of what the fashion industry is really like) Kell on Earth (Monday, 10pm on Bravo). Kelly lovingly refers to her assistant Andrew as her “son” and as we’ve all seen on The City (MTV, not currently airing, a new season is being filmed) Whitney and Roxy often refer to Kelly as their “mother”. Believe it or not, I felt like Kelly was my “other mother” in that hour she talked and in the 5 minutes I spent with her. She was genuine, caring, helpful and actually listened to what you had to say. She even answered individual questions, dished advice and took time to talk with people as they came through the line to get their books signed, despite the Q&A being long over. The girl behind me in line was a model who hadn’t yet found work for NYFW (which starts next week, by the way) and told Kelly that she was looking for work. Kelly graciously explained that they don’t do casting, but told her to find Andrew and that they’d get her into a show! (Yeah, I’m jealous)

Kelly Cutrone and I chatting

When it came to my turn to talk to Kelly, I introduced myself and from my non-New York accent, she asked where I was from. I told her I had no questions and that I wasn’t coming to beg for an internship, but just to tell her that I loved her and that she was my idol. I got huge “aww”s out of her, her interns, and everyone else standing around. We chatted for a few minutes and talked about how Ava (her extremely intelligent and hilarious 7-year-old daughter) stole the show on last night’s episode of Kell on Earth with, “I don’t wanna dress up for the 3rd row! I wanna sit in the 1st row. It’s not fair!”  Kelly then came around the table to take a picture with me, (Something she didn’t do for everyone, so I felt special!) hugged me, said it was nice to meet me and wished me good luck!

Sometimes the best advice is the advice you get from a stranger. (Even though, as I mentioned before, I felt like I’d known her forever, like she was my own mom!) And sometimes that stranger will reiterate things that your own mom has told you before.

So while, “don’t sublet from a 60 year-old Buddhist acupuncturist you found on Craigslist,” is very good advice, “Don’t live in a studio apartment that costs $1600 a month unless you make $50,000 a year. Be realistic,” is better advice, and is something that your own mom would tell you, but that you might not listen to.

While I probably won’t go into fashion these days, (but will always love it) I have discovered that I love PR work and Kelly will always be my idol.  I also determined that while I work well with others, I quit my internship this week because I wanted to slap my boss every time she asked me to do something, which Kelly told us means we should own our own business and be the boss. Since I’ve had trouble finding an applicable internship, I should probably humble myself, and although I won’t work at a Big Boi, I may wait tables, or “be a bartender, like every other kid in New York.” In the meantime, I’ll help my friend with PR for his website Current Hip Hop, not only because I want him to be successful, but also because it’s good experience for me and I basically get to work for myself. I’ll also continue to keep up this blog, which is good writing experience and also allows me to be the boss.

Kelly wrote, "Dear Erika, WITCH WOMAN IN TOTAL CONTROL OF HERSELF! No 3rd row! Love, Kelly" (Meredith Bryan, who helped write the book signed on the side)

Who knows, I may even stop in with a resume at People’s Revolution. Since I respect her so, Kell’s the boss I would [maybe] think about slapping (probably how Roxy feels), but would know I could go to for anything.

In fact, I think the “Queen of Mean” and I could work well together and I still have a lot to learn.

xo, Erika

(P.S. I’ll never sit in the 3rd row, only the 1st and 2nd. I promise Kell!)

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