The term “Sisterhood” doesn’t necessarily have to indicate a blood relation—sometimes we find our most profound connections in others who share the same level of creativity and work ethics. Take for example Anna Gray and Jen Steele: two of the hardest working 20-somethings in NYC, plus they’re both as sweet as candy. They’re no strangers to the fashion world—collectively, they both dabble in styling, editing, writing, modeling, and being general style muses. With help from Anna, Jen launched the site Girls I Know, an online collective of the coolest girls you wish you knew. We took an afternoon to chat with the girls about what makes them so compatible and we ended up with a lesson in professional perseverance.
Photography by Kava Gorna, Interview by Natasha Nunez.
Hi ladies! Please introduce yourselves.
Jen: Hi, I'm Jen Steele. My hometown is Wisconsin Dells, WI and I've lived in NYC for nearly 10 years! Most of the time I work as a stylist, or freelance fashion editor, some of the time as a writer. ‘Girls I Know’ is my favorite and most valuable project.
Anna: Hi! My name is Anna Gray and I mostly grew up in Alexandria, Virginia. I helped Jen launch Girls I Know and I'm the Editor at Homepolish.
Jen: We are both Taurus! This pairing makes for good friends and even better collaborators. Like most Taurus, we're determined, imaginative, also... stubborn and tenacious. I'd be worried if we didn't occasionally clash.
Anna: Our birthdays are actually two days apart so astrologically we're almost identical. Jen, recall the first time you and Anna met. Jen: Anna was dancing around a pool table when I met her. She was picturesque and smart looking. I asked if I could join and her response, "A girl after my own heart!" had me sold.
Anna, what are five things Jen can’t live without?
Anna: Jen can't live without her cat Tomato, Frank (the restaurant), a good pair of sunglasses, an annual trip to a faraway beach and her girls.
Jen, tell me more about Girls I Know and collaborating with Anna. Why is the project limited to an online platform- do you ever see a transition into print?
Jen: I don't like limits, and I pretend they don't exist, but they do. Girls I Know was initially meant to be a book! I was told 'no, not now' by an influential agency so I built the website to start and I'm very glad I did. Next month we are self-publishing a small zine called "hi girl" and then in the next year, a comprehensive book.
What makes a successful meeting?
Anna: The best meetings happen with communicative people that have amazing ideas. I always dedicate brainpower to the things I want to discuss in a meeting space well before the conversation is due to start.
Name a few muses that inspired the conceptualization of Girls I Know?
Jen: Atoosa Rubenstein, Helen Gurley Brown, Beyoncé, Gloria Steinem, Joan Didion, Chelsea Schuchman, My grandmother, Mary.... Anna, who else?!
Anna: All the women in our lives that have inspired us to ask questions and do it differently.
You both are planning a cozy dinner, as the leaves start to fall and summer becomes a sweet memory. Who are your dream attendees?
Anna: Definitely a few GIK girls like Atoosa and Michelle. Zadie Smith, Pheobe Philo, Oscar Wilde, Steve Coogan and Michelle Obama would make for the greatest dinner party company of all time.
Anna, describe Jen’s personal style.
Anna: Jen is really good at wearing whatever she wants. The other day she looked like she walked off the set of The Craft with a black choker and leather boots. Sometimes she wears denim cut-offs, sometimes she wears dresses - always looks cool and nonplussed.
Jen, what characteristics do you find Anna’s posses that creates such harmonious synergy when you work together?
Jen: Anna is patient and charismatic. I am interested in her intellectual curiosity and effervescent attitude, I think many others are also - so when she sets out to write a story or conduct an interview there is a certain vibe of excitement surrounding the work. This I dig. When we set out to produce a story or concept, it's easy to visualize the end result.
What’s up next for Girls I Know?
Jen: The zine and a party! You have to come!
Fill in the blank:
Jen: Girls are now.
Anna: A good friend will always tell you the truth.
Jen: Anna is fly.