#THATSWHATSHESAID: CAITLIN ABBER, WOMEN'S HEALTH | UNINTERRUPTED
I recently had the pleasure of attending the Lady Project Summit in Providence, Rhode Island - imagine a super chic summer camp for adults, with the perfect New England backdrop, and killer speakers (or, camp counselors?).
It was a great weekend, spent off the clock with fellow LP staff, and in the company of new friends. One of the ladies I crossed paths with out of town, happened to be another from NYC. After chatting a bit at the kick-off party, I knew that I wanted to have her on my site.
Not only is Caitlin Abber a Senior Editor at Women's Health, she also boldly launched their podcast, "Uninterrupted". The new channel for the popular publication tackles everything from gender equality to relationships, delving into wellness issues beyond fitness.
Definitely news that you can use.
Q1: What was your first job?
I was waiting tables at Friendly’s when I was 17, but my first job out of college was as a front desk receptionist at a Planned Parenthood in Boston.
Q2: What would you consider your big break?
My big break is the embodiment of that expression, “a rising tide lifts all ships.”
For about a year I was the associate editor of a now defunct blog at MTV called MTV Act. The managing editor at the time—who is this incredible woman I am still very close with—landed a big job at another media company, and after she left I acted as the interim managing editor for the site. I handled the daily editorial strategy of the blog, including managing a team of very talented freelance writers, and posting all the content. It was a lot, but I loved it.
When MTV Act was absorbed into MTV News, I became the Issues Beat Lead, and I was in charge of all the political and social issues content for the site. The way things work at big media companies, I doubt that opportunity would have availed itself to me had my former editor never left. I was sad to see her go, but I know she loved watching me kick ass at her old job.
Q3: Most meaningful project thus far?
I’m currently the producer and host of a podcast for Women’s Health, called Uninterrupted. We invite all sorts of different women to come on the show and talk about the issues that matter most to them. I love having these conversations with women, and it's so important to me not only to elevate different voices, but to spread the message that every woman’s story is important.
I also want to throwback to one of my last projects at MTV, which was “It’s Our Prom: A Night to De-Gender.” The idea came to me after hearing countless stories of LGBTQ and gender non-conforming high school kids who were told they couldn’t go to prom in the clothes they prefer or the gender they identify as. I wanted to create something beautiful for these kids that showed them that not only are they glamorous and worthy of celebration just the way they are, but also that there are happy and confident adults who are living their lives without apology and celebrating alongside them.
Q4: Self-talk motto for staying motivated?
I hate hearing the word “no,” so my motto is probably something like, “why not?”
Q5: Rituals that you swear by to maintain balance with a busy schedule?
I recently decided that I could only make one after-work date a week. I like being home with my husband and pets (two cats and a dog), more than I like being pretty much anywhere else (or with anyone else) in the entire world. So why deny myself that?
Knowing that I can only say yes to one after-work thing a week helps me create boundaries, save money, and keeps me focused and energized while I am at work.
Q6: If you had to define your work style in one word, what would it be?
Efficient. I hate wasting time. Like I am an asshole at meetings, always trying to move things along faster.
Q7: If you weren't doing this, what do you think your backup career choice would be?
Something that involves being surrounded by animals all the time, every day.
Q8: What's next?
I am so excited to see where we go with Uninterrupted. We have some really exciting women coming up on the show in the next few months, and with the election cycle heating up, I am sure we will never run out of things to talk about.
I’m also hoping to start working on a book I’ve been mulling over for years. It’s probably time to take that baby off the back burner and see what I can do with it.
Q9: What would you tell yourself 10 years ago that you've learned the hard (or not so easy) way since? (Job, relationships, health, etc.)
My twenties are kind of a blur. I think it’s important for me to be honest about that. I was really into my social life—going out, dating, hangover brunches. I didn’t think the career I had now was possible for me, even though, in one way or another (blogging, reading, making connections), I was working towards it every day. But it all didn’t come together until four or five years ago, when I didn’t want to/couldn’t go out as much (I can’t write when I’m hungover!) and I started getting really into my work.
Society puts so much pressure on women to speed through their early adulthoods, to get the partner, the job, and all the responsibilities that come with those things. But I am happy I just lived a little. I have no regrets. So I think I would give myself a thumbs up and a wink—everything will be okay. I think I needed to hear that more often back then.
Q10: Non-work related: What are your top 5 spots in NYC?
I’ve been living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for about five years, and like most New Yorkers, I hardly leave my neighborhood on the weekends. So, please enjoy taking the G train to most of these spots...
1. Ovenly - My husband is a therapist and career manager at an amazing nonprofit in Harlem called Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO). GOSO works with young men (ages 16-24) who have been involved with the criminal justice system and finds them internships, jobs, housing, and more. This is relevant because not only is Ovenly the best bakery in the city (their salted caramel brownies are my favorite), but they also employ a lot of the young men from my husband’s program, so I always feel great supporting them. Also, Ovenly is owned and operated by two incredible women, Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga.
2. While you’re at Ovenly, you might as well swing by River Styx right next door. I am something of a nachos aficionado, and theirs are by far the best.
3. We have a balcony on our apartment, and I love to fill it with plants in the spring. I usually stop by Sprout once or twice a month to see what they’re up to.
4. I grab a coffee at the Cafe Grumpy in Grand Central Station almost every morning. This isn’t like some secret NYC hotspot, but it’s special to me because it’s part of my routine and everyone is nice and they play great music.
5. Duh, my apartment. Over the past few years I’ve started to understand the importance of having a home you actually look forward to coming home to. I’ve filled it with thing I love—lots of plants, an aromatherapy diffuser, all the cable channels, and too many pillows. I’ve become one of those people who likes to have folks over more than I like to go out. But, as I said earlier, I used to go out a lot, so I’m good.