Kristina Rodulfo – Beauty Director at Women’s Health Magazine

Episode 91

My guest, Kristina Rodulfo, is the Beauty Director at Women's Health. Kristina is incredibly ambitious and she has taken the reins of her career as she explores the intersection between beauty and identity. Before working at Women's Health Kristina was on the digital team at Elle, and she was the Senior Beauty Editor. She reported and co-produced the Webby-award nominated documentary *Beat New Drag Queens*. On this show, Kristina talks about the cultural and social elements that go with beauty trends, how she has built her career in beauty journalism, the importance of digital media, and much more.

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Kara Goldin: Hi, everybody. It’s Kara Goldin from Unstoppable, and we’re here today with Kristina Rudolfo, who is the beauty director of Women’s Health, and so much more, and I’m very, very excited to get her opinion on so many things, but for those of you who do not know Kristina, she oversees the beauty coverage across print and online. She’s an expert on product testing and identifying trends in service reporting, and really shines when she’s deep diving into the intersections of beauty and identity. I’ve been following her on social and everything that she’s doing, so she’s definitely an influencer in a different kind of way, somebody that is truly educational, and I love seeing what she’s doing.
Kara Goldin: She was on the digital team at Elle, another one of those amazing, amazing books, and Senior Beauty Editor, where she reported and co-produced the Webby-award nominated documentary Beat New Drag Queens and she has also been a beauty editor at PopSugar, and also has made many different great writing pieces for InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar… so many. I mean, you’re just a stylecaster into the [inaudible 00:01:49].
Kara Goldin: Well, anyway, welcome, welcome, welcome. We’re very excited to have you here and get right into the conversation, so, really excited to have you.
Kristina Rudolf…: Thank you so much for having me. I’m honored to be on this podcast. It is definitely a top [inaudible 00:02:03] for me.
Kara Goldin: Yay, so great! So take us back to the beginning, before Women’s Health, before even any of these publications; who was Kristina in college? What would your friends say about you? What did they think you wanted to do?
Kristina Rudolf…: I think they would say that I am ambitious and stop at nothing, and don’t sleep. I definitely was known to be a little go-getter, and I chose to go to NYU because it would keep me in this city, and I’m from Queens, so I grew up in New York, but I knew that going to NYU would give me an edge on some people who could only intern in the summer, so I made sure from the very first semester of college, when I’m 18 years old, to start working towards this dream of being a magazine editor. That definitely defined my college years, hustling from-
Kara Goldin: How did you do that? I mean, that’s so smart. How did you do that? Did you just reach out to the magazines?
Kristina Rudolf…: A lot of it was just proactively searching every job board there was.
Kara Goldin: So great.
Kristina Rudolf…: This is pre-Instagram, so I’m just hunting on all the websites that are listing different internships, and a lot of it was also people who I knew just from school, which was also a reason why I wanted to go to NYU, is there’s a lot of like-minded people who had internships prior and can introduce you, or connect you to their former supervisor. So, that’s how I was able to get some of my first opportunities, and then from there, it was just impressing the hell out of my editors and, hopefully, having them take me along on their other jobs.
Kara Goldin: That’s so great; really, really smart. Were you always doing beauty?
Kristina Rudolf…: No. I actually wanted to be a fashion editor. That was the big dream. I wanted to be a fashion editor, and that was it for a long time until I worked at InStyle briefly. It was a freelance job; I was laid off from my very first job when I was working at a startup, and in between that time, I found a job working as a fashion writer at InStyle, and when I was there, I was like, “Oh, I don’t think I belong in the fashion space. I don’t think I love it enough.”
Kristina Rudolf…: One piece of advice I always give people is that you should know what you don’t want to do, also, in addition to what you want to do, so when I was there and I saw the passion and fire-
Kara Goldin: I love that.
Kristina Rudolf…: Yeah, I saw the passion and fire of editors who were working in fashion, just so obsessed with… they could name runway looks, like runway look number seven from 1997 at Versace, or something like that, and I was like, “Oh, I don’t think I’m in the same level here.” I think that my interest level just wasn’t there for fashion, even though I had such an appreciation and love for getting dressed in personal style, myself, but personal style was such a different thing from actually wanting to be in the fashion industry and a fashion editor.
Kara Goldin: But that’s so important that you learned that about yourself, because one of the things that I always tell people is finding your passion, and even… I have four kids, and I always say that’s my dream, as a parent, is… I mean, I also want kids to be really happy, but I want them to figure out… I mean, fast forward for so many adults I know that have just been on this race, where they’ll work in Wall Street, or they’ll go to Silicon Valley and go work… it sounds great, and then they get there, and then they’re doing the same stuff and they’re just not really passionate about what they’re doing.
Kara Goldin: So, I love, very early, that you… I mean, an internship is the best way to go and test the waters of what you do with your life, right?
Kristina Rudolf…: Right, absolutely.
Kara Goldin: None of it was a waste of time, either. That’s another thing that I say to people. None of it is a waste of time, but especially when you… you have an opportunity to go and see these things before you really even have to get a job, you know what I mean?
Kristina Rudolf…: Yes, yes.
Kara Goldin: Which is so really, really smart.
Kristina Rudolf…: It was a great privilege, and I think what led me to beauty was, when I first started working at Elle, I was an associate editor, so I was a general coverage person. I did everything from celebrity news to fashion news and some beauty, as well, so whenever I would get assigned beauty, I noticed something shift inside of me. I felt really excited and inspired to write those kinds of stories, so I started pitching them more and more, and the more that I pitched, the more I realized, “Okay, I think this is going to be the niche. This is the one that I want to be in.”
Kristina Rudolf…: A lot of my previous editors/mentors, whether they started in fashion or not, ended up in beauty, and a lot of my peers, people that I interned with, ended up in beauty. I was like, “These people are figuring something out. What is it that is drawing everybody to this side of the industry?” As I dipped my toes in the water, I realized I think what really drew me was, at the bottom of everything for me is a passion for storytelling. I love the human connection that comes with reporting and journalism, and when it comes to beauty, I think it’s one of the most universal connectors of people.
Kristina Rudolf…: Everyone from an 80-year-old grandma to a 12-year-old tween can talk about lipstick, or a face cream, or something that they love. It’s just a great way to talk about identity and your values and your style, and it’s a lot more accessible to me than fashion was, because as much as I love this Louis Vuitton look, not sure I could have afforded it when I was 22, but I could buy a lipstick from a designer brand like Dior at Sephora, and I felt like that accessibility was what really inspired me, and wanting to reach a lot of people and help them feel their best.
Kristina Rudolf…: So, the more I did that, the more I realized… it started very young. I have a younger sister, and she was a little bit of my guinea pig. I would fix her hair and get it all tangled up in knots, and I loved braiding, and playing with makeup, and going to the drug store after school in junior high and buying some lip gloss. It was always a common thread throughout my life that, as I started working in the beauty industry, realized it’s been a lifelong thing.
Kara Goldin: It’s so interesting. I think hearing, obviously, when you came in to the industry, there was clearly print editions and digital, and now I feel like it’s merging. I think there’s so many industries where there’s these changes that are going on right now, but obviously, the print industry… what do you think are the key differences that you see for… you’ve worked in print, you’ve worked in digital; what do you think are those key things that people should think about?
Kristina Rudolf…: I think anybody who wants to be a reporter, a journalist, in this time has to be… you have to adapt. You can’t go in with a set mind of wanting to only be a print editor or only wanting to be on a website, because being able to do it all is the best asset you can have.
Kara Goldin: Both.
Kristina Rudolf…: The key differences, I would say, is the pace. Print, you’re planning up to six months in advance, and you kind of have a crystal ball. You’re like, “What’s going to be happening in the world six months from now?” Right now, obviously, who knows?
Kara Goldin: Right. Totally.
Kristina Rudolf…: You’re just using your skills to trend forecasts and to really think about a time that’s not here yet, whereas with digital, it’s like you’re reacting to things in real time. You have to be on top of it, and the pace is so much faster. When I was working more online and in news, it was like something could happen, and five minutes or 10 minutes later, you have to have something up just because of the sheer competition of it, which is harder to measure when it comes to print magazines.
Kristina Rudolf…: I think with print, you have a little bit more room to do a big spread and have a little bit more time to report stories and go in-depth, and online, you can do that, too, but I think that there’s a huge premium placed on being fast and being first.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, I think that that is so right. What do you think… I mean, obviously, you’re in the beauty industry and taking a close look at so many different companies that are going on right now. What do you think is going on in terms of innovation? Do you feel like that has changed for the industry overall? I was just reading this article; I didn’t actually finish it, but it was in a business publication, and Bill Gates was talking about that innovation has slowed in so many industries, and he didn’t actually talk about beauty, but I think it’s fascinating, as factories shut down in different parts of the world at different times… how do you feel like that’s hit beauty, I mean, just from being the recipient of getting products, obviously, and seeing different types of innovation? What’s your gut on that? Do you think it has slowed?
Kristina Rudolf…: I think that it’s slowed in certain categories, like makeup. Obviously, a lot of people are staying home right now, and if I… I got all dolled up for you, but I would usually be in my sweatpants and having no makeup on whatsoever, and just sunscreen because I’m next to a window. But I think that makeup has definitely slowed down, and that part of the industry is kind of recalibrating and trying to appeal to Gen Z, which they’re more into the no-makeup makeup sort of vibe, and also adapting to people who are at home and don’t want a full face.
Kristina Rudolf…: I feel like, for the longest time, the Instagram face of thick eyebrows and big lashes and contouring and highlighting… I feel like that was so popular, and then now it’s all about paring back, so I think that’s one big difference.
Kristina Rudolf…: Then, in the other categories, I think everything is growing, actually. More and more people are invested in skin care because they have the time at home to try all those gadgets, and you can’t see your facialist, at least up until recently in New York; you couldn’t go get a facial.
Kara Goldin: Totally, yeah.
Kristina Rudolf…: You might not even want to just because of the implied risks. I feel like you are so much more inclined to try things at home because we have to stay home, so I have a box of crazy gadgets, and I’m not the average person because I work in this industry, but even my girlfriends who don’t work in this industry are asking me things about microcurrent tools to help firm and lift the face, or high frequency tools to help get rid of acne and all of these… it’s really funny hearing my friends who didn’t use to be into all these gadgets getting into it.
Kara Goldin: They’re into it, yeah. That’s quite funny. What’s the hottest thing that you’ve seen lately that you thought was the most interesting?
Kristina Rudolf…: The most interesting? Hmm. I feel like the facial rollers, they’re not new, but I think that it’s a gateway and it’s an entry point for people to get into facial tools, because you can go really science-y, gadget-y, or you could just do the manual rolling of the face, which honestly feels very calming, and I have an absurd collection of them, and they all do different things.
Kara Goldin: I had heard about those a few years ago from Katie Fields. Do you know who Katie Fields… ?
Kristina Rudolf…: I don’t know her, but…
Kara Goldin: Oh my God, it’s terrible that I’m… well, anyway, they were sort of… Rodan and Fields, from Rodan and Fields, and she’s a dermatologist, and she was sort of the-
Kristina Rudolf…: Oh yeah, of course! Yes, oh my gosh, yeah.
Kara Goldin: Backend of Proactiv, and she was speaking to a group of entrepreneurs and leaders, and I got a chance to meet with her and I asked her that question, and she said this a couple of years ago, and I was like, “Wow!” She was saying the same thing, she was like, “Look, people come into my office. They do Botox, they do all these different things, but at the end of the day, that roller is pretty darned good,” so I don’t know.
Kara Goldin: She also said the same thing that you did, that it was so calming, so that’s very, very interesting that you say that, too. I love gadgets, just overall. I was telling you before we started recording that I’m sitting here in my little office trying all kinds of lights and microphones and cameras and everything.
Kristina Rudolf…: Now is the time. Now is the time to do it.
Kara Goldin: I know, now is the time to do it. That’s super, super great to know.
Kara Goldin: So you’ve worked in lots of different publications, obviously, some great ones… what do you think are kind of the key differences between maybe some that have both print and digital, and ones that are just like a PopSugar, that is just purely digital?
Kristina Rudolf…: Right. So when I was at PopSugar, I would describe it as digital media boot camp, just because I learned so much about analytics and tracking analytics, and strategy, and trying to make things go viral. It was so intense of a pace that I learned everything that I possibly could about digital media there, and it’s such a huge media company. It’s actually insane how many people read the site and how many people you could reach.
Kristina Rudolf…: So I think from that, when I was reporting on beauty there, it was so much more about being in the moment and really, this project is launching, this brand is launching. We would even report on things like beauty bloggers who create a really cool video that has a hack that everybody should know about, so my eyes were on every corner of the beauty industry and the hidden corners, too; I was really looking for everything and trying to be the first to report on that.
Kristina Rudolf…: I would say that the difference from PopSugar to going to Elle, which was also, my role there was only digital; I would say the difference was, it was less about being part of the launch conversation and product reviews and all of that, and more about taking beauty and putting it up against what’s happening in the world today. It’s understanding its cultural significance of a beauty trend, understanding the social significance of a beauty trend, and getting really cerebral with it, which I appreciate it because it’s definitely challenging to always think different layers of beauty and not just go with whatever the surface story is.
Kristina Rudolf…: Now, I would say that working in print and digital, it’s also extremely different, and print is where I’m able to explore things, which is a passion of mine, like psychology and beauty. I wrote a story from the March issue about acne, because I have had acne my whole life, and my skin is behaving now, but I had acne my whole life and there was a period in time when it was really horrible, cystic, hormonal acne, and it was 30 cysts at a time. I felt like I couldn’t walk out the door, and I suspected the reason was because of my mental state at that point. I was in a toxic relationship, and part of me was thinking, “Oh no, this is all just coincidence right now,” but of course, as soon as I broke off the relationship, my skin totally cleared up.
Kristina Rudolf…: That inspired the story where I talk to psychologists and dermatologists and really explored how acne and your mental health can be related. So, doing things like that and having the space to do that in a six-page spread in the magazine is really wonderful, and then putting it online and thinking about, “Okay, well, how could we capture people’s attention with graphics, with images, with personal photos?” In the magazine, my face didn’t show, but in the online version, there was a before and after of me and my skin then, and my skin after it cleared up, and I think it’s all about packaging and thinking how to reach people in different ways. You can’t just copy and paste them and think it’s going to work.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, definitely. I think more and more… I mean, this sort of relates to my industry, my day job of Hint, but what I see going on in retail, in my grocery stores, I mean, is kind of… I think impulse buys have really been affected for the grocery industry, in particular, and so you look at print in grocery stores, and obviously, subscriptions are another way for people to get the paper copies. But you look at print, and I mean, I’ve been working all through the pandemic; we’re an essential product, so we’ve been [crosstalk 00:19:21] the stores, and I took on a route through this whole process, and was actually in there.
Kristina Rudolf…: That’s amazing!
Kara Goldin: That’s why I’ve got my jacket on today.
Kristina Rudolf…: I love that.
Kara Goldin: I’m going back to my roots of starting Hint. But anyway, I mean, the thing that I’ve seen is that the majority of people that are at the cash register are actually Instacart workers.
Kara Goldin: And so, you think about if you order on Instacart, you’re ordering things, and then they print it out and they get a list, and so they’re going into stores, and typically, people aren’t saying, “Oh yeah, add that copy of that magazine,” or that pack of gum. Those are impulse buys that they see somebody on the cover or whatever, and so, like I’ve also said, I think that the digital piece of this industry is becoming more and more important for people, because I think people aren’t going to say, “Oh, I don’t want that magazine anymore.” They are just going to look at it differently and they’re going to find it online, and they’re going to be like, “Oh, I forgot to order it through Instacart.”
Kristina Rudolf…: Totally.
Kara Goldin: Again, I just think at first, it used to be like, “Oh, we’ll put you in the digital version,” and it was kind of like less of a business, and I don’t think that that is the case anymore.
Kristina Rudolf…: No.
Kara Goldin: I think those numbers are actually going to go up, only because it’s going to be out of your control because of consumers and sort of their behavior. I don’t know if you’ve thought about this, but it’s something I’ve just really been thinking about even for gum manufacturers or people that really relied on impulse buy and sort of buying their way into this great space within stores.
Kara Goldin: Anyway, it’s sort of a whole other piece of this.
Kristina Rudolf…: No, that’s a great point, though, the whole idea of the importance of digital now. I think that digital is prime real estate, if you’re asking me.
Kara Goldin: Totally. Totally.
Kristina Rudolf…: I know.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, and this will be your new argument when you’re talking to people about where you want to be, because I think it will… I mean, my guess is that, unfortunately, I think it’s going to hit the paper version; it doesn’t mean that it goes away, but I think that the digital version will become that much more important, because I think that the audience numbers will go under, and the really smart publishers… I started my career in publishing, so I think about circulation and subscriptions and stuff, and I think the really smart publishers will actually try and figure out how do they get relationships with Instacart, right?
Kristina Rudolf…: Yeah, that’s really smart.
Kara Goldin: Right? Even if there’s like… here I go, thinking about businesses. Here’s a way to put a beauty column… how many people would want to see a beauty column by Kristina on an Instacart, and you’re recommending so that their cart ends up having… not that you’re really in grocery stores or some of the stuff… some of the stuff, [crosstalk 00:22:27]
Kristina Rudolf…: Well, there’s some great beauty products in grocery stores, actually.
Kara Goldin: Anyway, there you go. I gave Instacart and you the next big business.
Kristina Rudolf…: Love it.
Kara Goldin: Okay, so you have a huge Instagram following. I know there’s this dream for lots of people to have big Insta… but you not only have a big following, you have really great engagement, too. What do you think is the key thing? What do you think about every morning when you’re posting and stuff? How do you think about that platform, in particular, and do you think that there’s other platforms that are really interesting to you, in particular?
Kristina Rudolf…: Sure. Instagram is the main one where I definitely interact with people and readers and followers, and I think that the main thing that I would think about is just authenticity. It can’t be said enough times, just really being true to who I am and sharing all of my weird sides.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, I love it.
Kristina Rudolf…: There’s times at the beginning of the pandemic and lockdown, I started this silly series called Beauty Karaoke, where I literally was karaoke-ing along while doing a beauty tutorial, just because I enjoy singing and it’s funny.
Kara Goldin: I love it. It’s so funny.
Kristina Rudolf…: And then on one of the episodes, I actually had Deborah Lippmann herself come on while she was showing me a nail tutorial, while we were singing old show tunes, and it was wonderful. So, it’s things like that where I just try things, and I just say, “Here’s how I am. I’m going to show up exactly how I show up to my [inaudible 00:24:08] family and my inner circle, and hopefully, it resonates with people.”
Kristina Rudolf…: I think that social media is such a great tool for storytelling and for connecting with like-minded people, and feeling less alone, honestly. I had no idea that this many people would care about anything that I have to say, and it’s a great tool because if I write a story that I worked really hard on, then I have an audience that I could share it with that’s in addition to the audience that the magazine has; so maybe it’s someone who wouldn’t have picked up the magazine and had no idea.
Kristina Rudolf…: So, I think authenticity, and also, at the bottom of it all is really just wanting to help people.
Kara Goldin: I love it.
Kristina Rudolf…: For me, I think about… every time I post something, I’m like, “Is this helping anybody?” Whether it’s a really cool product that I love, or a hack, or the career advice, or just a suggestion for where to go for a weekend trip, or something like that, I feel like just that, “How can I help anybody with this” is a great guide for me.
Kara Goldin: I always feel like even the best kind of people to follow are the ones that almost think about this like a magazine, right?
Kristina Rudolf…: Yes.
Kara Goldin: You’ve got different sections. I mean, you’re talking about your silly side on karaoke, but then you’re talking about travel. People don’t just… I don’t know, I feel like there’s a whole audience missing when you’re just talking about beauty, like in the case of… I’m definitely on Instagram and Facebook and LinkedIn, but Twitter is kind of my jam. I mean, that’s where I’m at, and I always, as a CEO of a company, there’s just not a lot of us on there.
Kara Goldin: It’s actually really, really fascinating to me, and we have a-
Kristina Rudolf…: Twitter is intimidating to people.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, and it’s interesting because I’ve got people… we’ve definitely got an audience for Hint, my product, but what I find is that platform, in particular, I feel like people really expect you, if you’re showing up, to kind of engage in the conversations, you act human. When somebody says something nice, you say, “Thank you.” I mean, I’ve had issues with my computer through this where I’ll be on Spotify and I’ll be on YouTube, and then all of a sudden, I have no volume coming out of my machine. Do you know how to fix that problem?
Kara Goldin: I didn’t, and I went to Twitter. I asked my tech guy, I asked my husband who thinks he really knows technology, and nobody knew, and then finally, I went onto Twitter, and in 10 seconds, I actually had somebody who said, “Go into your mainframe and do this,” and I’m like, “How do I go into my mainframe?” Then, of course, I’m like, “Is this a Russian hacker who is in there telling me to do this? What am I doing?” Then, I was like, “Oh my God!” Then, I was like, “Let me send you a case of Hint,” and again, all these people came in and they were like, “That’s so cool.”
Kara Goldin: Then, I had people from Apple who were actually like, “Oh, we’re really interested. Why was this happening?,” because it was on my computer and everything. Anyway, I think it’s really interesting, what it showed was that even as a CEO of a company, I’ve got computer problems, too, or I’ve got kids in college and one of my sons had to come home from college; he, sadly, had mono, and so of course, I was totally worried about COVID. I was like, “COVID, COVID, COVID,” and then all of a sudden he gets mono and he’s really getting really sick.
Kristina Rudolf…: Oh no.
Kara Goldin: Right? And the great news is that, all these classes now are virtual, in addition. The ones that are actually meeting in person are also virtual, so I was like, “Eh, it could be worse.” Again, showing my real side of… pretty much anyone who follows me knows she’s got a kid in college that had to come home; she’s got a book; she’s got a company; she’s got… all due offers of Hint, but that’s not really what I talk about. I really talk about me as trying to lead during this crazy time.
Kara Goldin: Anyway, I just think it’s, no matter what, bringing your authentic self… I always share with people, it’s just, no matter what the platform is, they’re all a little bit different, but I think you don’t, just because you’re a beauty editor, have to do beauty once you get this audience.
Kristina Rudolf…: Yes.
Kara Goldin: That brings them in maybe, but then all of a sudden, they’re interested in what else you do and what else you think about. So anyway, I think that’s really cool. You’re setting a great example.
Kristina Rudolf…: Yeah, I totally believe that. Oh, thank you. I think relatability is the most important thing. The people that I most enjoy following are the ones who are vulnerable and show up and share their life, and it’s honestly a scary thing. We have to acknowledge it’s scary to have people, random strangers from all over the world, just tuning into your life, but I think that when you open yourself up to that, you can be rewarded with an amazing community, which for influencer influencers means that you can leverage that into a whole business, but for me, it means that I can do a call out and get amazing ideas for a new story that I want to write.
Kara Goldin: I love it.
Kara Goldin: So, The HustleAndGlowup on Instagram, how did that come about?
Kristina Rudolf…: It came about a year ago when I started my job, because it was one of those moments where I wanted to announce that I have a new job so that people would know, and I didn’t want to just do a post where I was like, “Oh hey, everyone, I have a new job,” which didn’t share exactly what it meant to me to become a beauty director at a major national magazine, which was the dream; it’s been the dream since I was 14.
Kristina Rudolf…: So I reflected on that and decided to write this kind of caption that was almost like poetry, writing about all the things that I did to lead up to this point, whether it was steaming clothes or fetching coffee, and staying in the office when the lights turn off, and all of those things; things that people don’t see, because people see a very glamorous side of being a beauty editor, which is you, pre-pandemic, getting facials and massages every day, and blowouts and manicures, and all of those fun things.
Kristina Rudolf…: I wanted to share that little behind the scenes, and it resonated so much with people, and I was getting messages from a lot of college students who were studying journalism or communications and really interested in working in media, so I would get so many questions of, “Thank you for sharing your experiences. Do you have advice?” I was like, “Okay, well, how could I put this all together?” Once in a while, I’ll post something that has to do with career advice, and it’s not a regular cadence or anything, but just whenever the inspiration strikes me… if I’m working on something and I think, “Oh, this reminds me of when I was working as a social media person at a photo studio, and all those kinds of lessons that I learned along the way and want to share,” because I feel like there’s no point for me to be just successful, period.
Kristina Rudolf…: I need to help people and bring them along with me and share whatever knowledge I’ve gained over the years, because I actually, coming up… I’m a Filipino woman. I feel like I didn’t feel very reflected in magazines… literally, in magazines, that what I was most interested in was the behind the scenes, the masthead, and who was on the masthead. I used to pore over those names on the masthead, dreaming that mine would be there, and every time I looked up people, they didn’t look like me. I was just thinking like, “How do I get in these rooms and how do I get here?” With a lot of hard work, I worked my way up and got to have a seat at the table, but to me, it wasn’t enough for me to be there alone. I needed to bring other Filipino young women and Asian young women and other women of color.
Kristina Rudolf…: Every time I had an opportunity to hire people, I would do that. I would make sure that it was someone who didn’t have that easy pathway up because there’s a lack of mentorship.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, definitely. Well, I also love that you didn’t allow that to stop you, because I think that that’s the biggest… I mean, whether you’re Filipino or whether you’re a woman, or whatever the block is in front of you… I think these blocks are real, don’t misunderstand that, but I also feel like there’s so many examples like you, like me, who talk about, through stories, really how these things change, and supporting people that are really working their way up. What really, I think, people need to figure out is that we’re not asking you to go and do something that is horrible, or work for unkind people, or anything like that, but I think it’s just… you probably had to knock on a lot more doors or send a lot more emails. I don’t know, maybe-
Kristina Rudolf…: I just remember, the only reason why I was able to compete with people was because I grew up in Queens and I could commute into the city an hour and a half. This was the time of unpaid internships when I was coming up, so in order to take an unpaid internship, you have to afford to live without money, so you need to have a support system, and I couldn’t have afforded that if I didn’t live in Queens and could take an F train over to Midtown where I was interning with people whose parents were paying for their dorm over summer while they were doing an unpaid internship.
Kristina Rudolf…: So, there was a lot of that. You see a lot of people coming up who have a lot of support that you don’t have, and the easy thing is to be resentful and be like, “Ugh, I’m working so much harder. It’s so much tougher for me.” But I think what I did was just put on blinders and just focus on what I can do to move on up and not what advantages or disadvantages I have.
Kara Goldin: It’s so funny, you made me think of a really funny story. My first job was at Time Magazine, and I don’t know if I mentioned this to you, but I have a new book coming out in three weeks.
Kristina Rudolf…: I saw! So exciting!
Kara Goldin: Yeah, really exciting. Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters, and I felt like by telling my story all the way… it starts a little bit in childhood, so it’s a little bit autobiography, but it’s also definitely business of the building of Hint, which is now the largest non-alcoholic beverage company in the country that doesn’t have a relationship with Coke, Pepsi, or Dr. Pepper/Snapple. So many people said, “This isn’t going to happen,” and it has. I mean, there’s just a lot of stuff in there. If you want to be a beverage executive, it’s a great book. If you want to be an entrepreneur or a female entrepreneur, whatever…
Kara Goldin: But one of the stories that… actually, I had too much content and it ended up getting cut.
Kristina Rudolf…: That’s a good thing, though.
Kara Goldin: One of my favorite stories was when we ended up… and there’s a pre-story to this, which I won’t get into, but we got into Amazon, into their grocery business. 55% of our business is direct to consumer, and the person who was running the Amazon grocery that reached out to us actually had worked not… I didn’t work for him or even next to him, but he worked at Time and worked on the same floor. He knew me, and he told me this, he was like, “I remember that your work ethic… you were always such a hard worker.”
Kara Goldin: Again, I always say to people, it’s less about who you worked for and if they worked in your group; it’s really about… people watch around; if there’s a job at another magazine, and you may not have worked with these people, but they watch what you do, not in a creepy way, but good and bad, right, or even how you leave companies, right? They may not know the whole story, but how you actually closed it up, right? Did you actually make sure that some of your co-workers were not having to work extra hours in order to make up for your stuff that you just left on the table? You know what I mean? I think that kind of stuff…
Kristina Rudolf…: Yes.
Kara Goldin: So he was like, “Not only did I think you were a hard worker, but you were so authentic,” and I was like, “Oh, what do you mean?” He said, “I remember that there would be these lunches where we would order in lunch for the executives and managers.” I started out as an executive assistant, and I would tell these people, I was like… the first couple of times that they would order lunch and they would have leftover sandwiches, I was like, “Oh my God, this is so good. Do you mind if I take a few home for dinner?” They were like, “No, no, not at all.”
Kara Goldin: So then, I got to a point, I got really confident and comfortable and I would say, “Oh, by the way, order extra turkey sandwiches and then I’ll take them home.” So then, they were like, “Do you want anything else? We’re ordering lunch. Do you want a couple more sandwiches?” Again, I’m making 20-something thousand dollars a year in New York City! I’m trying to pay rent and all of the stuff, and so some of the people that I worked with that were the same age would say, “Aren’t you embarrassed to take sandwiches?” I was like, “Are you kidding?” This is a publisher! He knows how much money I make. I mean, you get it now.
Kristina Rudolf…: Oh my God, I totally understand this!
Kara Goldin: I’m this poor starving peon who is working, and I’m like, “Wait, I’m sorry. Do you not understand?” They all know how much you make as an entry-level role.
Kara Goldin: But 20 years later, somebody who is working at Amazon that is making decisions about me and my company is still laughing about that in a very positive way. He was like, “I loved it. I would be like, ‘Order more sandwiches for Kara because she’s getting a picnic together with her girlfriends in Central Park tonight. We have to make sure she has enough food, otherwise you guys are going to waste away.” Again, it was, bringing your authentic self, I think, is something that, nobody told me that in school. I just didn’t want to work somewhere where I wasn’t really able to be myself.
Kristina Rudolf…: Right, right.
Kara Goldin: I’m sure you’ve got stories like that, as well, but those are the type of stories that I really want to share with people.
Kristina Rudolf…: It’s real. It’s so real.
Kara Goldin: And that’s what you’re doing on Instagram that I think is great, and you’re writing, and et cetera. So, anyway, I just thought I would share that little story with you.
Kara Goldin: So what makes you unstoppable?
Kristina Rudolf…: What makes me unstoppable? Oh man, the big question. I think what makes me unstoppable is my undying self-belief. Of course, everyone has insecurity sometimes, but I just truly believe in my talent and my knowledge and what I can bring to the table, that I can walk into rooms very confidently, knowing that I know who I am, and you’ll want to know me, too.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, I love that. That’s such a great answer.
Kara Goldin: So, where’s the best place for people to find you? Instagram?
Kristina Rudolf…: Instagram is probably the best place where I will actually answer you. It’s @kristinarodulfo, my name.
Kara Goldin: That’s what I was going to say, so that’s awesome, and it’s such a great site.
Kara Goldin: Well, thank you so much, Kristina, and everybody, give Kristina a great thumbs up on her podcast, and definitely subscribe. Our recordings are twice a week now on Mondays and Wednesdays, and very, very exciting; we’re having all kinds of amazing, amazing people that are not just entrepreneurs, but really disrupting their industry and doing really, really cool stuff, and also really nice people… real people.
Kristina Rudolf…: Kara, thank you so much.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, thank you!
Kristina Rudolf…: I am super honored to be on this podcast, and I just appreciate… this was such a wonderful conversation, and I just love the authenticity that was showing through.
Kara Goldin: I love it. Well, thanks, everybody!