Name: Geneva S. Thomas
City: New York City
Job: TV personality; founder and editor of Jawbreaker.nyc
How she got there: From working as a press associate at TopShop to a contributor at AOL, Huffington Post, NBC, and Vogue Italia, Thomas has always prided herself on being a hardworking culture sponge (she’s even lived in South Africa and Edinburgh). And when the 31-year-old hit the spotlight as a cast member on Bravo’s Blood, Sweat & Heels, instead of resting on her laurels, she rolled up her sleeves once more, building a mobile news site for Millennial women, Jawbreaker.nyc, and consulting for InStyle magazine.
Levo: Why does this outfit make you feel powerful?
Geneva S. Thomas: I’m a curvy girl, so I live for a dress that compliments my hour-glass shape—I think DVF wrap dresses are the most timeless power look for women. And I’m big on wearing fam jewels! I grabbed this chain necklace from my mom and turned it into a bracelet. These are Brian Atwood shoes—easily within my top three favorites when it comes to heels that create a balance of sexy and polished.
How do you hit the right note of personality and respectability?
GST: It’s all about owning your power as a woman, and not being afraid to commit to your personal style philosophy wherever you’re going—from a client meeting to a first date. I pledge allegiance to a bold red lip, sexy heels, and a fit that can give me some curve-appeal. The balance of sexy and sophisticated is in my essence as a Black woman, and I’m very unapologetic about that.
What can women get from your mobile news platform, Jawbreaker, that they can’t get anywhere else?
GT: Jawbreaker covers pop culture and style, but what separates our content is our take on sex and dating. We’re informed by moving the conversational needle on sex from a place of shame to a place of celebration and empowerment. Our range can go anywhere from shocking confession stories, tips on fab places to stash your condoms, how to look effortless in the morning after sex, and news about the latest dating apps, tampon startups, and innovative sex toys. No one else is giving Millennial women of color this kind of content. Ultimately we want to celebrate women under 40 with eye-level news and commentary, and also with exciting events and experiences.
Fashion Week is alive and well in NYC. What does your schedule look like?
GT: Whew! It can get intense. My calendar can include an average of five to seven events per day, including everything from showroom visits, runway shows, presentations, and parties. A show like Nicholas K. can start as early as 9 a.m., and then in the same day, another designer may have an after-party at Empire Hotel or Stone Rose and you’re calling an Uber from a rooftop at 3 a.m. It’s a lot. But I’ve covered the shows for nearly 10 years, so now, it’s all about optimizing my time for what really matters for the Jawbreaker reader.
To save time, do you plan your outfits in advance?
GT: That kind of thing is always on my vision board or in my head. When I roll out of bed at 6 a.m., I go to my rack and stand there for a second as I’m yawning and thinking how I should be more organized. I end up grabbing whatever moves me and it just works!
Do you wear anything special that grounds you or has sentimental value?
GT: I have a lot of my grandmother’s jewelry. She passed this past March, and she was the most stylish and elegant woman I’ve ever known. She loved big, statement costume jewelry—arm cuffs, broaches, etc. I wear most of it and also place them around my studio as art. And I have a lot of my mother’s silk scarves. There’s a Chanel one that I love. I tie it on my handbags or around my neck or even wear it as a cuff.
Your signature red lip is timeless. What are your go-to beauty products?
GT: My trademark red is MAC Ruby Woo, because what else? It just works! I believe in dry shampoo and keeping a baby flatiron in my handbag. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic antioxidant is the most powerful facial serum on the market—it’s sensitive but performs extremely well as a daily moisturizer and protectant from sun damage. One of my makeup artists recently put me on Eve Pearl’s Invisible Powderless Powder. It’s the most genius thing ever! You use it press powder style with a Beauty Blender and it mattes your face out and keeps the oil in check. I think every girl walking on this earth should carry that.
Best advice your mom or female mentor ever gave you about style?
GT: My mother still dresses me over the phone—or at least she thinks she does! She’s not happy if she doesn’t know what I’m wearing in advance for anything major or where my picture will be taken. Funny enough, her favorite line is: Pre-plan your outfit! My mom sets out her clothes every day on a wardrobe table, steams it in advance, and even places it with matching accessories. Of course, I’m the total opposite. But she’s pleased with this DVF moment.
What advice do you have for young women to stay resilient and successful in the fast-paced world of media?
GT: Work first, brand later. So many 20-somethings want to have the presentation of a brand, the viral moment, loads of IG followers, but with no actual titles or resume. I’m interested in a sustainable career, not a moment. Be committed to the real work of this industry. It’s also critical to celebrate and lift your peers. That girl standing next to you could be the one to hire you in five years, or could be the one contact at a major brand whose sponsor dollars you need. It’s a tiny planet and relationships are everything.
Exactly. Any advice for aspiring journalists when it comes to style?
GT: I think a lot of girls now covering style and entertainment think the look means more than the work. It’s like, “Sis, I love your Stevie-Nicks-meets-street-style interpretation, but I need you to be on time at the office and be certain you’re in front of the story before it drops.” My advice is simply to be excellent in your work first.
Many people think they know Geneva because of your reality television show, “Blood, Sweat & Heels,” but what don’t they know?
GT: The rumors and the gossip are staggering and also hilarious. The fact is you’re watching a young Black woman in the toughest city building herself brick-by-brick without a man’s coin. I’m growing and trying to figure it out just like the next girl. Some viewers think that we’re supposed to be rich and wear bandage dresses and Louboutins every day. But the New York hustle for 30-somethings doesn’t look like that, not every day. Our days are spent working and building.
Lastly, do you have a motto or mantra for success?
GT: Power forward. We’re all either coming out of a storm or living in one. Best you can do is power forward.
Photos: Sam Teich / Levo