Adult-ing with Former Mountie and Editor at Etsy

How someone’s conviction and determination can go a long way


He’s perfect. He’s beautiful. He looks like Linda Evangelista, and he’s the senior editor of content and marketing at Etsy. He is Shadi Jurdi, a former Mt. SAC student and editor-in-chief of Substance Magazine, who had little direction but carried a handful of aspirations with a side of attitude.

From the roaring streets of Brooklyn to the echoing halls of Mt. SAC, Jurdi has been turning heads with his impeccable style. Like his style, his gift for writing is just as luminescent as his charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.

“I just thought it was magic gold stuff,” said Toni Albertson, professor of journalism and adviser of the student media at Mt SAC, as she described Jurdi’s written piece, “A Moment in New York,” that he shared with her moments before he would submit it to Etsy and eventually get the job.

Prior to becoming a senior editor of Etsy and even before his journalism days at Mt. SAC, Jurdi discovered his writing skills in his final year of high school by an English teacher.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do with that,” Jurdi said. “But I knew it was something that I was interested in that I was actually good at and that I wanted to explore.”

After finishing his senior year, Jurdi enrolled at Mt. SAC and he met Albertson while attending a beginning newswriting course taught by Rosa Santana, a part-time journalism instructor. Albertson came into Santana’s Journalism 101 class holding stacks of the campus magazine, “Substance,” and print newspaper, “The Mountaineer,” in hopes of recruiting more aspiring writers for the publication. Jurdi was intrigued during Albertson’s visit and eventually enrolled in her course.

“So then I took her class and that’s when everything sort of changed from there,” Jurdi said.

The experience in the newsroom allowed Jurdi to perfect his gift of writing. After he learned the basics of newswriting, what he described as formulas, he found a specific interest in journalism where he could add his own voice and creativity.

“I started doing op-ed and profiles and more human-interest pieces and I was like, ‘this is really interesting’, and I really enjoy doing this,” he said.

Once Jurdi was exposed to the wonders of journalism, he was open to the possibilities of where it would eventually take him. Regarding his legacy in the newsroom, Jurdi continued to excel in writing and eventually became the editor-in-chief of “Substance.”

After being in the newsroom for some time, he met his friend of roughly nine years, Brigette Lugo, a former editor-in-chief of Substance Magazine, managing editor of SAC.Media, and creator of the bilingual multimedia platform, “Somos.”

Lugo said Jurdi’s stylish attire intimidated her, along with his many tattoos and his quick, yet subtle humor.

“When you talk to Shadi, it’s effortless,” Lugo said. “He has this way about him that at first you think he’s monotone, but he’s just too fucking cool for anyone.”

Lugo’s perceptions, however, soon changed once the two began to spend more time together in and out of the newsroom. She saw what was behind Jurdi’s intimidating exterior.

“When you get to know him, he’s hilarious,” Lugo said. “He’s smart as fuck. He’s well rounded in like the queer art scene, and I’ve learned a lot from him.”

When Lugo began to recall her memories with Jurdi, her face instantly lit up, and she was all smiles.

You constantly hear stories of Jurdi that bring out smiles, and sometimes tears in people.

When Albertson was asked about Jurdi, she recalled moments in the newsroom where everyone felt that they had to dress up because they knew they’d be getting critiqued by Jurdi.

“He would walk in and say exactly what he felt. You know like, ‘where did you get that outfit…off a bag lady?'” Albertson said.

Outside the newsroom, Albertson also recalled moments when she was on a sabbatical living in New York. By that time Jurdi was in New York as well, and the two would go out and reenact scenes from HBO’s “Sex and the City.” She later mentioned during her time in New York she would put in more effort into her overall ensembles.

“When I moved to New York, I felt that I had to up it a bit [her outfits and overall style]. Shadi just has style, class and grace,” Albertson said. “Aside from that, though, we became close friends. Still are,” she said.

During his time in the newsroom, Jurdi traveled to a national journalism conference in New York and it was on that trip that he inevitably fell in love with the city.

His love of New York stemmed from romanticizing the wondrous city at an early age. His perceptions still have not changed.

“I just completely fell in love,” Jurdi said. “It was everything that I’d thought it’d be and more. I was completely taken by the city. I was like, ‘OH MY GOD, I belong here, and this is where I have to be.'”

After the trip, Jurdi was determined to return to New York. He began researching universities to find a way to eventually transfer. But instead of following the traditional route of transferring to a four-year university out of community college, he took a different path because he is not traditional, nor ordinary.

“A lot of it is just in my personality,” he said. “I’m very determined in getting what I want and, at the time, I knew that I wanted to live here [in New York].”

The following year, Jurdi went to the same journalism conference, but he went with a different mindset. He explained that he arrived in New York a couple of days before the conference and stayed alone in Chelsea.

“I was just like, ‘I’m going to try to pretend that I live here and see what it’s like,’ and I was looking at it with a lens of, could I live here? What would it be like?” he said.

At the time, Jurdi was working at a local Apple store and he figured one way to make it to New York was to transfer to an Apple store in the New York City. He would have a job with a somewhat stable income.

“For me, there was no waiting,” Jurdi said. “It was now or never. There’s a window for me to do this. There’s nothing holding me back, except not having a degree, but who cares. I can always go back to school if I wanted to, but the time to do this is now.”

Jurdi had conviction. He knew what he wanted and he was going to find a way to get to New York City. He wasn’t going to let his education halt or slow him down.

Finally, Jurdi made his way to the magical city of New York. Of course, the first week wasn’t so magical. He felt isolated and soon began to second guess his decision to move.

“The first week that I was here it was a complete nightmare,” he said. “Every day I was riddled with anxiety.”

He didn’t know anyone in New York and often asked himself if he made the the overall right decision. He wasn’t making enough money and missed the  comforts of home.

After the first week, however, Jurdi snapped himself out of it. Rooted in his convictions and determination, he created a strong foundation in New York, filled with new friends and colleagues, just as he did at Mt. SAC.

When he looks back he recognizes the difficulties he faced but never regrets the choices he made.

“It was certainly difficult,” he said. “I mean it’s always difficult. It takes everything you have out of you. It’s so expensive. It depletes you of all your energy and your finances, but I still can’t imagine, even when I think about where I would go after this. I think about going back to L.A. but like… where do you even go when you leave New York? I have no idea.”

He got out of his questioning mindset and began reassuring himself that he’d done the right thing by moving.

“There are moments of you just taking a day at a time, and I mean I have family and friends who I talk to every day,” he said. “I was always just in a relationship with the city, and like with every relationship, it has its highs and lows, and sometimes it’s good, and sometimes you want to move away, but you know, I made it work.”

At one of his lowest points in New York, when he was at the end of nearly two years at Apple, he didn’t know he’d be getting his job at Etsy. He was miserable at Apple and was determined to leave his 9 to 5 retail job. Overall, he was again experiencing moments of uncertainty. He had to either find another job or leave the city.

“I was going to work every day. I was not a pleasant person to be around, and I was like, ‘this just not what I came here for,'” Jurdi said.

But before he could do anything that might have set him back, he landed the job at Etsy. Jurdi’s lack of a degree did not stop him from wanting the job. He saw it as an opportunity to prove himself. He advises others not to discourage themselves from applying for any job or internship because they think they’re not qualified.

“I think that the reason why I’ve been able to make a career, like working at Etsy as an editor, coming out of college without a degree, I always knew what I was good at,” he said.

Jurdi remains rooted in his convictions and continues to let his aspirations fly. From his impactful writing, to his jaw dropping clothing ensembles, he has defiantly left his mark on the concrete streets of New York City.

And to anyone who wants to follow a similar path, like myself, Jurdi offered some advice.

“You could… just be ready to own it.”