San Francisco’s very own Calgary Avansino started out at British Vogue thirteen years ago as an intern. Over the last decade, she worked her way up from editor Alexandra Shulman’s assistant to Executive Fashion Director. Now, Avansino is striking out on her own, stepping down from her full-time position to be a Contributing Editor. Penning Vogue’s Weekly Wellness blog and focusing on her soon-to-launch healthy-lifestyle website, Avansino is quickly becoming one of London’s leading wellness experts. On a trip back to her native state, Avansino welcomed Rue into her parents’ beautiful San Francisco home.
How did you end up working at British Vogue?
When my husband and I moved to London I was 24 and I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take my career but when I got a three week internship at British Vogue that sounded exciting and I gave it a shot. I worked really hard and tried to help in every way I possibly could which paid off and I soon got my first permanent position as the editor’s assistant. And that’s where it all started – 13 years later and I’m still a British Vogue girl.
What was the evolution of your role at Vogue?
I started as the editor’s assistant, which was the most amazing opportunity to learn about every aspect of the magazine from the person running it all. I did that for two and half years and then moved to the beauty department where I became Beauty Assistant and then a year later Wellbeing Editor. My next job was a big leap over to the fashion department where I became Executive Fashion Editor and then Executive Fashion Director. I spent 5 years in those positions and then added Digital Project Director to my fashion title and started to work on the digital side of our business too. In the meantime I had two beautiful children and had time off at two points in my career to enjoy those first months of motherhood. Then last year I made the big decision to change my direction a bit. I wanted to allow myself more time to start my own business and have more flexibility when it came to my kids so I stepped down from my full time position and became a Contributing Editor which has turned out to be the perfect balance.
You’ve mentioned that you’ve always loved fashion but nutrition is your true passion. Tell us more about that.
I would say they are the two parallel lines that run throughout my career and my life. I love clothes, I love fashion and I love magazines, but talking about food, fitness, health and wellbeing is what makes my heart beat faster for sure. I believe passionately that what you put in your body matters—you can’t expect to feel vibrant and look glowing if you aren’t fueling your body and your spirit with nutrient-dense, energy filled foods. I believe in the power of real foods and whole foods. We need to eat a lot more plants, a lot more green stuff and a lot less processed, sugary food. We have the ability to change the way we look and the way we feel if we start to nourish ourselves with positive foods and positive movement.
What are you working on and what is next?
So much is happening at the moment that I don’t quite know what to work on first when I sit down at my desk but it’s all great and super exciting. My video-based website will be launching this month which will be a great resource for people looking to make positive lifestyle choices. I want to inspire people to give “healthy” a try and show them just how easy and delicious it can be. It will also have lots of easy, quick recipes, resources and interviews with inspiring female “well-beings”. I am also working on a line of nutritious, tasty snacks so you can carry around goodness with you all the time – no more excuses when snack cravings hit. And if all my dreams come true there will be news of a book and a TV show released soon too.
How do you maintain a busy career and keep your family eating healthy at the same time?
Ask any working mom how they maintain a busy career and a healthy family and I guarantee no one will feel they have the magic answer! It’s a juggling act for sure and I find the best way is to pick the things that are most important to you and focus on them. You can’t do everything and be everything to everyone all the time. That’s a recipe for burnout and guilt—no one wants that! I’m naturally a very high-energy person who loves to multitask but actually my focus now is on slowing down and trying to do one thing at a time. Being present in whatever I am doing at that moment and forget about being efficient.
What my family eats is incredibly important to me so I give that a lot of my attention. I want my children to understand what healthy means, what it does to your body and how nutritious food fuels you. I also want them to love cooking and food as much as I do so I always try to make it positive, having them help me in the kitchen and make delicious food that is good for them and provides energy too. I try to fill my house with nutritionally dense foods that taste fantastic. I don’t bring things into the kitchen that I will end up having a battle about. If you don’t want your kids to eat something and you don’t want to eat something don’t buy it! Also learning how to prep ahead on Sundays (chopping and washing veggies), stocking my pantry and filling my freezer with healthy options is something that makes life a lot easier when you are strapped for time.
How did your own upbringing lead you to your interest in health and nutrition?
I was raised vegetarian by very health conscious parents who taught me from an early age that food can be powerful fuel both physically and emotionally if you choose the right things to put in your body. So it’s something that has always been a part of my life in one way or another but I would say in the past ten years I have really found my ideal lifestyle: plant-based, full of good grains and good fats, low in sugar, wheat and gluten, but always flexitarian so when I crave eggs I have them. It’s so important to listen to what your body needs.
OUTFIT CREDITS: 1. J Crew polka dot tee, Stella McCartney skirt, Giuseppe Zanotti heels // 2. Bimba Y Lola matching floral suit, Miu Miu heels // 3. Margiella top, blue Preen skirt, vintage Miu Miu heels // 4. Frame Denim jeans, BLK DNM shirt