First Mover: SuChin Pak

The former MTV News correspondent brings her digital chops and love of fashion to DailyCandy

Why go to DailyCandy from MTV?
It kind of intersected with a lot of the stuff I was really already doing, starting with Hester Street Fair, curating that. So my world was already in the language of DailyCandy in a way: what kinds of trends people are interested in. DailyCandy is an intersection of a lot of interesting points. It’s the TV stuff and the reporting I’ve been doing for years. It’s moving to digital, which is something that I have been transitioning to in the last couple of years. It’s one of those first days on the job where you don’t actually have to do the homework.

How do you describe DailyCandy to the uninitiated?
Its core mission is covering fashion, food and fun, and really making sure that readers get that first. Sort of like the really cool friend that knows all about everything and then helps you discover it. We’re working on a really interesting video series online to contextualize trends: the food, the fashion and all of that. It could be a segment on the Today show or E!.

Is this a step down from MTV?
When I was at MTV doing news, we were simultaneously thinking about doing webcasts and that sort of thing. So it’s all been very much in the language in the last 5-10 years. And certainly in the last couple of years it has accelerated, but it doesn’t feel smaller. It feels more creative, whereas TV to me still feels really big, but it also feels a bit slow. This allows me take more chances.

Are you still going to run the Hester Street Fair in New York?
Oh yeah. I’m still doing the same fair. We just closed for the season and we’ll be back up again in spring, and I think there could be a lot of overlap between what DailyCandy does and what I do on a very, very small scale. The Hester Street Fair is kind of like a tiny baby DailyCandy market every week, in the Lower East Side.

The line between fashion journalism and advertorial can get kind of blurry. Does that matter?
I think it does matter. Once you lose that credibility with your audience, nothing you say, with an advertiser or not, is ever believed. To me that line is very clear because it’s in my gut. If I believe in something, I don’t really care who’s paying the bill.

Is there something that you’re being relentlessly pitched?
I have not gotten the relentless pitching yet. I always end up in the studio of some tiny little designer in the Lower East Side, and I can’t believe the talent. I’m like, if I could just figure out a way to get a bigger platform for them. I’m like, you’re going to be huge. I’m always a champion of that really small startup kid. I don’t know if it’s like this immigrant mentality that I’ve grown up with.

How did that immigrant upbringing influence your career?
I think that constant sell and that constant proving of oneself. Also, it’s really hard for me to imagine working for anyone. My parents are small business owners, and the Korean community, like a lot immigrant communities, is very much owner driven. I think when I started out people were like, “Oh, you want to be Connie Chung.” You know, sit behind a news desk, and I just never imagined that. So I was like if that’s the only option, then I want out. I’ve been doing my own thing I think for quite a while.

Did you have any on-air role models when you were young?
I didn’t. Growing up the only Asian face I saw on air was Connie Chung or extras on M*A*S*H. That was it. You could either be Chinese delivery guy No. 4 or maybe one day read the news. So I never imagined my life or a career in TV, and I still have a hard time doing that. I don’t really think that’s been sort of the bread and butter, but things are transforming in a way that is comfortable for me and I’m moving a little bit outside of the TV box because I never really imagined my whole life being in that box. I did MTV so long because it’s been really hard to find a place that has been able to keep my interests where I can do more than one beat.