Reflections Upon a Mentor’s Passing
As someone who has run their own business for going on 15 years, I am well aware of the importance and the value of mentors along the way. While many think of mentoring as something useful for a fledgling business or startup, at Cronin Creative we know from experience that having that objective, expert counsel can make a big difference in navigating the ups and downs of business ownership at every stage.
This week I was sad to learn of the passing of Beverly Russell, my first mentor and someone who was instrumental in my early career. A former Editor-in-Chief at Interiors magazine in New York. Beverly brought me on board straight out of Parsons School of Design, my first post-college job. I was quickly a part of a dynamic team of talented editors and designers at one of the premier magazines for commercial interior design and architecture.
The New York Times ran a lovely obituary for Beverly that detailed her impressive career and acknowledged her as a major player in advancing the careers of women in the 1980s. She certainly did that for me, although she was never one of those gentle, take-you-by-the-hand teachers. No, Ms. Russell was more like the swim instructor who picked you up and threw you into the deep end. If you ran into real trouble, she was there to pull you out. Fortunately, I never needed rescuing.
At times, Beverly terrified me with the opportunities she offered, but I eventually became comfortable working alongside creative heroes including Pentagram founding partner Colin Forbes and celebrity photographer Mark Seliger. She sent me abroad on challenging assignments and eventually tapped me as Art Director of Interiors. She may not have been warm and fuzzy, but Beverly Russell was one hell of a mentor.
All the mentors I’ve been lucky enough to work with over the course of my career had their own unique style. Some offered a traditional mix of instruction and advice. With others it was just their faith in my ability to take on a new challenge and the implicit understanding that they’d have my back if need be. Looking back, that’s exactly what Beverly Russell did for me. I’ve attached that New York Times article for those interested in learning more about an amazing and influential woman.