We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Dunham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, what do you attribute your success to?
I’d love to be able to say that I’m the best writer or the best editor in the industry, but that would be a lie. There are plenty of creatives out there who are more talented than I am, but what I strive for in my business is building genuine relationships with my clients. I listen to them. I try to understand their needs. I problem-solve. I stay nimble and flexible. I’m upbeat. I’m reliable. I turn in projects ahead of deadlines and I double-check and triple-check for errors and mistakes. I’ve found that this approach keeps clients returning again and again to work with me. They trust me and, more importantly, they trust that I’ll deliver on what I’ve promised.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I count myself lucky that I’ve been able to merge the things that I love — writing, editing, travel, food — into my professional livelihood. I started the path early, poring over publications when I was a teenager to memorize mastheads and learn the nuances of the medium. During my undergraduate and post-graduate studies, I took numerous magazine internships — some paid, some not — and when I graduated with a Master’s in Journalism, I sent earnest cover letters to every opening in the industry, eventually getting hired as an editor at a health magazine in New York. This was the block upon which I built my next professional steps, moving up the editorial ladder and shifting from health content to travel content. Throughout this, the challenges have been many. But I learned this: ask lots of questions, never take it personally if I get turned down for a job, always have my writing get edited, lean on my support network, be gracious about giving others the opportunities I’ve been given, and share with others what I’ve learned from my mistakes and experiences.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love Phoenix. I’m not from here originally, but it’s home. I wouldn’t live anywhere else. Here are a few of my favorite places: Breakfast: The Joy Bus Diner. It’s a little restaurant with a big heart. All proceeds go to their nonprofit of the same name, which delivers chef-crafted meals to house-bound cancer patients. Lunch: Luci’s at the Orchard. It’s my fave spot for an outdoor, casual place to eat. Cocktails: Sit at the bar at Hanny’s and order the Classic Martini. Taproom: Lovecraft. Great vibe, good beer selection, rooftop patio coming soon! Dinner: Durant’s for a get-dressed-up, old-school experience or Glai Baan for the best Thai food in the state. Shopping: Bunky Boutique for jewelry, Phoenix General for gifts, Changing Hands for books, Stinkweeds for records, Hidden Track for wine, Frances for handmade cards, Wright in the Garden for plants and flowers, Twigs and Twine for vintage furniture. Live music: The Rhythm Room. Museum: The Heard. Hangout spot: 32 Shea for daytime, Thunderbird Lounge for nighttime. Hiking: Trail 100 in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve takes you through the heart of the city.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I owe a giant debt of gratitude to my mentors, Katy Spining and Jeff Atwell. They were my editors during my years at Madden Media and they taught me nearly everything I know. I’m also endlessly grateful to Scott Dunn. Not only has he given me some of the most significant professional opportunities of my career, he’s also one of my favorite creative collaborators.