Kristin Koch Kennedy
Editor-In-Chief, Seventeen Magazine

With successful stints at Glamour, Vanity Fair, and The Knot, you’re now the Editor-In-Chief of Seventeen Magazine. How has your shopping behavior and approach to fashion changed as you've moved through these different roles? 

When I started out in magazines, I had just moved to New York and was trying to figure out my style while on an assistant budget. My style was a little all over the place as I figured out where to save and invest and what trends worked for me. I was always inspired by the chic editors I worked with and tried to recreate their looks with more affordable pieces from H&M, Zara, eBay and sample sale scores. 

Over the years, I’ve become smarter about shopping, especially as I’ve grown more comfortable in my own fashion sense and taste. I still love to try out new trends, but I won’t wear something that doesn’t work for me or my lifestyle as a busy working mom. Now, I am much more disciplined in my shopping and approach to dressing. I try to focus on quality pieces that will stand the test of time. 

While my office dress code is more casual, as my career has evolved and I’ve grown from editor to executive, I definitely dress up for work more. A lot of my days are spent in meetings with executives, clients, and brands and representing the brand at events and media appearances, so it’s important to me that I look and feel put-together. But with little kids at home and rushed mornings and commutes, I don’t have much time to figure out what to wear in the morning or to put together complicated outfits, so I rely on my own form of uniform dressing: a dress, some sort of heels, and a good jacket or sweater because I’m always cold. 

Seventeen caters to a female teenage audience. Now married, with your third baby on the way, what advice would you impart to your adolescent self?

Don’t stress so much about the future and enjoy the stage of life you’re in. When I was younger I was always worried about what’s next and that I wouldn’t achieve my personal and professional goals, and I missed out on some of the enjoyment of the moment I was in. I wish I had trusted that it would all work out in the way it was meant to. 

I would also tell my younger self to know your worth and don’t accept anything less. It’s easy to let someone else or external forces define your worth, whether that’s a relationship or a job or the compensation your company tells you they can offer. You need to know your value in order to fight for what you deserve and to develop healthy relationships and a career you enjoy. 

You’re the Founder and President of Hearst’s Parent Group. What need were you trying to address within the organization? Can you speak to how this community of parents has supported one another – professionally and personally?

When I had my son, James, I didn’t know a lot of other new parents at work and I found the transition back to the office difficult at first. Of course just leaving James was really hard, but there were also logistical things I wish I had someone to ask like where to go to pump and how to make the whole process of pumping at work easier, how to navigate the parental leave paperwork, etc.. I saw the need for a group to help support our working parents and make balancing work and parenthood easier. And honestly, I also wanted a place where I could drop funny parenting memes or cute baby pics without annoying everyone. 

This group has also been a great way to advocate for the needs of working parents at the company. I was honored to be part of the committee that worked on updating the company’s parental leave policy to better support our employees and feel grateful to head up an organization that can help make our company an even better place to work. 

How did you meet your spouse?

We met in the Hamptons during the summer. We were both dating other people at the time but stayed friends for a couple years before we started dating.

Have you always been maternal or did the desire to create a family present itself after you met your husband?

As anyone who has known me for a while will tell you, I’ve wanted kids and a big family ever since I can remember. I used to love playing with dolls and later babysitting and knew that I wanted a big family. When I was dating my now husband, I didn’t think about starting a family. I was busy focusing on my career and enjoying living in NYC and knew I wasn’t ready for kids, but not long after we got married, I suddenly felt ready. Luckily, my husband was on the same page. If I could have a million kids, I probably would, but I feel so grateful to have two healthy, happy babies and one more on the way.

What do you find the most difficult about building your career while raising a family? The most rewarding?

The hardest part is always feeling torn in a million directions. I feel so much guilt about not always being as present as I’d like to be at home and not being able to pick the kids up from school every day or put them down for every nap. I know how fleeting this time is and it’s hard to have to miss out on some of it. At the same time, I love what I do and worked so hard to have my dream job — I want to give it my all while also having time for my passion project, my blog, Closetful of Clothes, which helps fill my cup. But now that I have kids, I can’t just focus on work all the time. Sometimes I just have to say no to certain things or accept that things won’t be as perfect as I’d like because I can’t work all the time anymore. My family needs me too and there are only so many hours in the day.

The most rewarding part for me is watching how motherhood has helped my career. It’s made me more efficient, decisive, and confident, and a stronger leader. And being a working mom has forced me to really prioritize and make the most of the time I have with my kids. I cherish our mornings, evenings and weekends together and try to make every minute count. I hope that one day they can appreciate that I’m doing all of this for them, and that I can model the importance of working hard and following your passions. 

The majority of women we feature on In Her Words are first-time mothers. How has your outlook on motherhood shifted now that you’re expecting your third child? Have you eased expectations of yourself?

Definitely. I found myself stressing out so much more about every little thing with our first, our son James. With our second, our daughter Charlotte, I have more perspective. I know that everything really is a phase and won’t last forever — that even though they are hard, most of these phases are totally normal. That perspective is invaluable when you have a teething baby who won’t sleep or a tantruming two-year-old who is throwing fits over every little thing. Plus, I’m just so much more busy and tired, that I don’t have time to obsess over everything like I did when we first had James. I am much more aware of how fast all these moments go and how special they are, so I’m better able to enjoy them, even the hard parts.  With that said, I definitely still beat myself up over not being a good enough mom all the time. I have less time to dwell on it, but I don’t know that it ever goes away completely. 

Are there beloved pieces in your wardrobe that you wore during your first and second pregnancies that you’ve recycled this time around? 

I have held onto the same maternity jeans for all my pregnancies, which has been incredible this time around because I have been pregnant mostly in the winter and really needed them. I also got some great pregnancy t-shirts from ASOS that I’ve recycled through all my pregnancies - they are great for layering. I was lucky enough to get some cute pieces from Frances Hart when I was pregnant with Charlotte that I have used quite a bit during this pregnancy. They’re timeless and fit so well that I find myself reaching for them frequently.

Shop Kristin's Look: Smocked Cotton Dress