Boardman grad lives her dream in New York City
Kratofil serves as style editor
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of Saturday profiles of area residents and their stories. To suggest a profile, contact features editor Burton Cole at email@example.com.
Colleen Kratofil said from the time she was a teenager, she had “this crazy dream to move to New York and work at a magazine.”
The 2010 Boardman High School graduate is living that dream as the style editor for People magazine, a position she has held since 2019. She has worked for the magazine for about six years in various positions.
Her day-to-day responsibilities include running the Style section of People.com by assigning, editing and publishing stories, and monitoring the website’s traffic and news flow daily. She coordinates and conducts celebrity interviews, writes stories for the digital and print editions, and attends events (nowadays, virtually) for fashion and beauty brands.
Kratofil, 27, is the daughter of Donald and Mary Kratofil of Boardman, who Colleen said have been her biggest supporters.
“As hard and difficult and improbable as my goal to work at a magazine was, they never deterred me from pursuing it. They encouraged me all the way and are still my biggest fans today,” Kratofil said. “My dad reads every article I write as soon as it publishes on the site. They always taught me that if I want something, I need to work hard to achieve it. So that’s always been how I approach anything in life.”
She has two younger siblings, Donny, 25, and Kelly, 23.
Kratofil, who atended West Boulevard Elementary School and Boardman Center Middle School, was an Irish step dancer for 13 years, starting when she was 4.
“I loved my years dancing and competed at regional, national and world level competitions,” she said.
She also was on the track and field and cross country teams in seventh and eighth grades, and on both varsity teams all four years of high school.
“All of the activities I was involved in, and all of the dance teachers and running coaches I’ve had, instilled a very strong work ethic in me that carried over into anything else I did in life,” Kratofil said.
She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University in 2014. She said she ran track and field for two years at OU, but the self-proclaimed “geek” said she spent most of her time studying and focusing on learning as much as she could and getting as much experience in the journalism field as possible.
“I was a writer, then became an editor, for the campus fashion magazine, Thread (as the front-of-book “Seams” editor). And I took remote internships throughout college, then freelance writing gigs, then eventually landed a paid internship the summer before my senior year at the lifestyle website, iVillage.com, which is no longer around, but it was part of the NBC Universal company,” Kratofil said.
“I lived and worked in NYC that summer and loved every minute of it. I loved the excitement and energy the city had and knew, without a doubt, that I would be back as soon as I graduated from OU.”
Kratofil said she was always interested in fashion and celebrity culture, noting it all started when there was a magazine drive in middle school.
“I subscribed to so many teen magazines (Teen People, Teen Vogue, Seventeen) and my obsession with learning about celebrities and learning about fashion began. I eventually ‘graduated’ to being a loyal reader of Vogue, Vanity Fair, Allure, Elle. I would devour every article — and read every last fashion credit — whether the topic of the story interested me or not because the process of writing and creating a magazine intrigued me so much.”
She said there was never a question that she would work at a magazine and there was never a question she would move to New York City.
“Most major magazine publishers are headquartered in New York, so if I wanted to work in magazines, I had to go there. It was a win-win for me,” Kratofil said.
After graduating from OU, Kratofil said she spent the month of May applying “like crazy” to any job opportunity she found in the magazine or digital space. Her first job was a freelance opportunity at InStyle.com as a digital producer.
“At the time, they told me they only needed me for a few months to help out for someone on leave, but that was enough for me. I took it and learned as much as I could in that position,” Kratofil said. “Once that ended, I was back at it, applying like crazy until I got a call from Time Inc., which at the time owned InStyle and People. I ended up getting the job in August 2014, and after three or four months, a writing opportunity opened up on the style team and I applied, and got it.”
After she landed a job as a Style writer-reporter, which she did for three-and-a-half years, she wrote an average of five digital stories for the website every day. She also wrote stories for the print magazine, including feature articles.
“I’ve gotten to report at events like Coachella and fashion week, interview personal heroes of mine like Jane Fonda and Katie Couric, write profiles on groundbreaking designers like Halston and Alexander McQueen for People print features. Some of the other celebrities I’ve interviewed include Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood, Heidi Klum, Susan Lucci, Snoop Dog, Brooke Shields, Candice Bergen, Aaron Rodgers, Sheryl Crow, Jane Seymour, Vanessa Williams and just about every ‘Real Housewife’ from the Bravo franchises,” Kratofil said.
She said it felt strange at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to be covering celebrity style and beauty, but the industry was actually at the forefront of COVID-19 relief efforts with designers pivoting to make masks for essential workers and beauty brands creating hand sanitizer.
“Those were important stories we had to continue to tell. We also had to keep delivering stories of service, like how to safely visit the nail salon or how to dye hair at home, because being happy with how you look affects how you feel, and that’s all still important for our readers, even amid the pandemic,” Kratofil said.
“Even amidst the pandemic, which took the life of a very close friend of mine and completely changed the city, I still enjoy living in (and now remotely working from) Brooklyn. I want to keep rising in the field and continue to tell interesting and compelling stories from celebrities and change-makers,” she said.