Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I have so many jobs it may make you dizzy (sorry). I’m the City Manager of Toronto Mom Now, an online ‘best of’ shopping, dining and entertainment destination for busy Toronto moms; Senior Editor at Swagg News, the definitive source for hip hop; and a freelance feature writer for Women’s Post. I also run my own PR agency, Melissa Bessey Publicity, working with independent artists from around the world and am a full-time super mom of three. When I’m not working I love to paint, but I’m always working so art has taken a back seat lately.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
When I was at OCAD I took a “Writing for Magazines” course and instantly knew I wanted to work in the publishing industry. I started pitching my photography to local music magazines and got my first gig with Sway Magazine. One day the Editor at Sway called me out of the blue and (knowing my knowledge of music) asked me to interview Sean Kingston last minute; the interview was a great success and opened the door for writing opportunities. Since that time I’ve focused my career on all facets of entertainment and haven’t looked back. Running Toronto Mom Now has been a great way to bridge my personal life with my career so that I can utilize my extensive knowledge as a parent, in my journalism, and in my publishing industry experiences.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I love to talk. There’s just no denying that so the best part of my job is meeting and communicating with lots of people, all the time. The most challenging part of my job(s) is interviewing artists who just have a bad attitude, and sometimes juggling active young children and work can be quite hectic. It takes a lot of patience and carefully thought out communication to get artists to have a positive outlook in order to produce the best content possible.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Five years from now I see myself running Toronto Mom Now remote, writing for the LA Times and travelling the world with my kids – I love day dreaming about being a ‘Ms. Chatelaine’. I also see myself having a great studio space and making time to refocus on my visual art.
What does success look like to you?
My formula for success is simple; to be healthy, wealthy and surrounded by family and friends.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The most memorable experience I have of my career so far was being featured on Season 2 of Bravo series “Behind the Camera,” a show that featured image-makers from around the world. I was chosen as one of only two Canadian image-makers and it was a real honour to be on the series.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
My best advice to young professionals is to make sure you’re passionate about whatever you pursue so that you can work really hard at it without feeling the weight of your job on your shoulders. I subscribe to the motto “work when no one else is working” because you truly have to go the extra mile to get ahead and get noticed in today’s rapid-fire world. I also recommend finding professional mentors along the way because people who have more experience in your field can give you so much invaluable help that will save you time and allow you to avoid common mistakes that they’ve already been through.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I have done a lot of outreach work with the homeless and women’s shelters. No matter how much or how little you have, it is important to remember there are people worse off than you and people who could benefit from the smallest amount of help. My #1 local charity is The Red Door Shelter for women and children who have fled abusive situations and I love partnering with other publications and businesses that support charitable initiatives.
What to you is notable?
To me, the most notable are people who strive to make change. I am inspired by the efforts I see in social justice activists and humanitarians like Nazanin Ashfin-Jam, who has saved children from execution on death row in Iran, to my own daughter who has used art as a medium to talk about social injustices faced by women and girls around the world.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
After using Blackberry, iPhone and Android, I have to say iPhone for the win!