Alice Bell, a 26-year-old Central Saint Martins graduate, left her dream job at American Vogue in January to pursue a full-time career in astrology. Now she’s juggling readings at stores like New York’s Morgan Lane with writing astrology-themed pieces for Vogue Australia, selling chart readings and astro-stereotype merchandise on her site Stalk. Here she tells Refinery29 about changing her career...
"I went to graduate school and completed a master's in fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins in London, specifically so I could get a job at Vogue. It was always my dream to work there. After my graduate degree, when I moved back to New York in January 2017, I saw a job opening online for a jewellery assistant at Vogue. I emailed and didn’t expect to hear back. I went to interview for that but it had already been taken. Then, a position at Vogue.com opened up to be on the fashion team for the digital part of the magazine. And that’s where I started.
I assisted the digital creative director, I did a lot of her scheduling and all of that stuff. If there was a video shoot going on, I was finding brands to call in, sometimes assisting on set, and I would write shopping stories for the website too. Things like "Best sweaters to buy under $250". I started to make them more astrology-themed as I got more into astrology, like "What to buy during Leo season".
At first, I loved saying that I worked there, I loved walking in every day, I was obsessed with it. And then as my interests shifted, which began a year into the job, I became more interested in astrology, I wanted to help people more and I felt I wasn’t getting that with my job. It felt like I was putting in so much work and it was all for nothing.
I was at Vogue for exactly two years. Over that time I did get more responsibility, but there was no room for promotion there, I had to leave to grow.
I had been seeing this therapist for about three years and she was the one who introduced me to my birth chart (the personalised chart that shows where the planets were at the moment you were born). I was depressed about all this guy drama and she was like, 'Let’s look at your chart,' and then she said it all made sense. I have always been super dramatic, very extreme emotions, so studying my birth chart helped me to realise why I was like that.
There’s a lot of water influence in my chart. Even though I’m an Aquarius, I have so much Pisces and Scorpio influence, which gives a more obsessive personality, a lot of emotional highs and lows and there isn’t a strong filter on who I let into my life. Now, I don’t put up with the same stuff. I don’t even care about dating anymore because I am happy to be alone and I feel like if the universe wants me to be in a relationship, it will send me someone that fits my personality.
At first [astrology] started out as a distraction. I was growing bored at my job so I would sit at my desk all day and see how my coworkers got along based on their birth charts, it was really entertaining. And then I came back from vacation in August and I noticed in my Insta stories that whenever I posted about astrology stuff, they got such a high response rate. So I thought, 'I need to post more about this, people are really interested in it'.
I posted [on Instagram] asking who wanted their birth chart read and I had 100 responses within a day or two. So I decided to charge as I didn’t have the time to do that many charts. I started with that Instagram waitlist and then while I worked through that, I was creating the website with my friend Christina. She and I designed the whole website and then we launched at the end of November 2018. The first day of launching, I made triple my week’s salary at Vogue in two hours. So I was like, 'I need to quit'.
I think [my coworkers] saw it coming because I had been checked out the last five months at Vogue. All I did was show up, do astrology and leave. They were waiting for me to quit. My parents were supportive, they didn’t understand it at first, but now they do. I haven’t gotten any hate reactions, everything has been positive.
I wanted to see if the momentum would keep up, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger. So after two months, I gave in my notice, and straightaway even more opportunities came in, which made me believe I was on the right path. I love only having to answer to myself but it is so much work. I get a new email every day and balancing what work is necessary with what work is not is what I’m going to have to learn how to do, because it is 24/7 – I never even take a weekend. Right now, I make double what I was making at Vogue. I probably make about £1,520-£2,280 a month from chart orders, then £1,140 a month from freelance writing gigs and then maybe £340 or £380 a month from events. So I am making at least £3,040 a month, whereas at Vogue I think I made around £1,747 a month. I feel like people think I am not making any money at all through astrology – and my parents do not support me [financially] at all. Right before I left, my bosses were like, 'I hope you have enough saved up! Your parents must be helping you out.' No, I pay all my rent, I do it all myself.
People who don’t work within the fashion industry were like, 'Why would you leave a company like that? It’s amazing, why would you leave that?' Whereas people who work in fashion understand how hard it is and how little you get in return so they were like, 'Go for it'.
I still wake up pretty early, I don’t get to sleep in. I usually do a couple of chart orders off the bat because I have to do them every day just to keep up, and then depending on whether I have freelance articles to do that week, I dedicate most of the day to writing those and then other projects like events are mostly on the weekends. Events are pretty draining because I have to read the charts of at least 25 or 30 people within two hours, so it’s like taking on the energy of all those people. When people don’t know their exact time of birth, it’s hard to give them anything to work with. I can tell them what planets are in their signs but that’s it. It helps if the person gives me reassurance that I am saying stuff that resonates; if they keep a poker face, then it’s like, 'Am I completely off here?'
[When reading charts] I never say stuff is definite. Astrology shows the energy that is there to make stuff happen but it can’t determine your life. I never tell someone that they are definitely going to break up with their boyfriend, because maybe the relationship will just undergo a period of stress, and they don’t break up. You always have to use words like 'may' or 'could' or 'probably' because astrology isn’t going to interpret it for sure. And there are tons of interpretations of what stuff means – one thing could mean something for one person and could mean something completely different for another person. I gave my friend Christina her Solar Return chart for her birthday present and I said, 'It looks like you are going to get engaged this year.' Three days later she texted me with a picture of a ring on her finger and she was like, 'You were right!' Her boyfriend was so mad, he said, 'Alice can predict the future.'