Working as a freelance writer often insinuates that a coffee shop is your home away from home. This is no exception for Chelsea Burcz, with whom Levo met at Ninth Street Espresso in Manhattan’s East Village. Chelsea is paving her way in the freelance world writing by for avant-garde publications such as Interview and The Wild. The stories she tells through interviews find their inspiration from her educational background in cinema studies as well as her interests in art and music. As a New Jersey native now living in Brooklyn, Chelsea grew up surfing and continues to hit the Rockaways whenever she gets a chance. Read more about how this “East Coast tomboy meets West Coast surfer” is balancing her freelance schedule, a personal blog, and Surfing USA.
Education: New York University; double major in Journalism and Cinema Studies.
Job description: I’m a freelance writer for a handful of publications, including Interview, The Wild, and mb! by Mercedes Benz. I write about music, fashion, art, film, and culture. On occasion I freelance as a prepress coordinator for Victoria’s Secret.
Before this job I…: I was the Fashion News Editor for Independent Fashion Bloggers, and before that I was the Editorial Director of Guest of a Guest. I’ve interned at Black Frame, worked on documentaries, and managed a surf shop.
What is your secret to managing freelance jobs, a blog, and a personal life: Freelancing can be tough because when you’re offered work, you either have to jump on it or turn it down. You get paid for your output; there’s no taking a “personal day.” On the other hand, I make my own schedule, so I can find time to meet a friend for coffee or a drink during the week.
Office style in a few words: East Coast tomboy meets West Coast surfer.
Style icon: Françoise Sagan—amazing eyebrows.
Staple pieces to splurge on: Living in New York, definitely shoes.
On casual Fridays I wear…: Clogs!
Favorite surf brand: I just found out about this bikini brand, The Seea, designed by these Italian girls living in San Clemente. Super rad.
Thoughts on the rash guard trend: I think neoprene dresses (see Cynthia Rowley) are actually super comfy and slimming—but sweaty. But rash guards, in general, should be left for the ocean.
What bag do you carry to work, and what are the essential items inside? I have a fairly large black suede bag from Zara that I haul everywhere. It wasn’t very expensive so I don’t feel that bad when I spill a little coffee on it. I usually pack it with my Khoi Le makeup bag, Vaseline, hand sanitizer, a book, sunglasses, wallet, fruit, headphones, a pen and notepad, a voice recorder, and sometimes an extra pair of shoes or top, depending on if I’m heading to an event after work. A walking suitcase, really.
Favorite part of your job: Writing! And it’s always been a goal of mine to work with a more flexible schedule and have the ability to choose my projects.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? I think it’s more about storytelling than writing. I love to write, but there are also stories I want to tell through film, photos, etc.
Go-to Spotify playlist: Mix of Solange Knowles, Dev Hynes, T. Rex, HAIM, Fleetwood Mac, Donna Summer, Mac DeMarco, Rodriguez, and Bob Marley—stuff that makes me groove and feel good while working.
Typical weekday lunch: I cook a ton of food on Sunday nights then pack my lunch box during week.
8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: I usually exercise, then cook a big breakfast and read. I try to make a good cup of coffee with my Chemex. I tend to get my best ideas in the morning, so I jot down anything that comes to mind.
Currently reading en route to work: Grace Coddington’s memoir.
Work out regimen: I run over the Williamsburg Bridge and back most mornings. Sometimes I go to yoga.
Free time: In the summer on weekends I go surfing at the Rockaways or the Jersey shore. In the winter I go to museums, flea markets, dinners, concerts, or to parties with friends. I think I want to learn to play the drums next.
Favorite R&R spot: The ocean in the summer, and at the movies in the winter.
Favorite restaurants for…
- Saturday brunch: Saraghina in Bed Stuy
- Dinner date: Bar Pitti in the West Village
Best piece of advice ever received: One time I was waiting tables in New Jersey and I ended up serving MSNBC news anchor Brian Williams. Afterward, Brian and his daughter, Allison Williams, talked to me outside for almost an hour. He basically told me that having a strong passion for what I do is the most important thing to my career.
Role model: My first mentor was Rachelle Hruska MacPherson. She showed me the blogging ropes and pushed me beyond what I thought was possible.
In 10 years: I’ll be running (and writing!) my own publication, most likely digital.
Words of wisdom for young professional women: Women in power are commonly classified as “bitches” (or some other equally lovely word). Don’t be afraid to be hungry and passionate about what you’re doing, and don’t let others dictate who you are as a person. Hustle.
Chelsea is a Levo Mentor: ask her a question about managing time as a freelancer, finding mentors when you work solo, and the quirks of finding balance.
*Say hi to Chelsea on Twitter @chelseaburcz.