As public relations specialists, we’ve worked with Trae Bodge for so many years that it’s hard to remember the first time we met! She is a Smart Shopping Expert that many national shows and sites depend on for recommendations when it comes to finding the best deals on everything from back-to-school products to backyard barbecue must-haves to holiday gifts. She also has her own site where she blogs about many of the amazing products she gets to test out at True Trae, and we also learned she has a penchant for vintage clothing.
Trae, thank you so much for allowing us to interview you. It’s such an honor for our team! As I mentioned, we’ve worked with you for so many years that it’s hard to remember the first time we connected! Can you share with us when you got your start as a lifestyle journalist and how you evolved into the Smart Shopping Expert that so many networks rely on for the best deals and products to buy?
Thank you for the compliment – I appreciate that!
I started writing lifestyle content after a career pivot in 2009. I had been in the beauty industry for years and assumed I would continue on that path, so while I interviewed at a variety of beauty companies, I wrote articles to pay the bills. Most of the content centered around budget-friendly living, and having been a penny-pincher for years, it felt very natural to me.
I soon began writing a lot of content for coupon site, RetailMeNot, which is probably when we met! I enjoyed the work and eventually ended up becoming their spokesperson, leaving the beauty industry largely behind, aside from the occasional budget beauty blog post. I spent three+ years in that position, which is where I honed my smart shopping skills, both editorially and on TV.
You report on retail trends and tips for finding the best deals at retail. Before becoming a journalist, did you ever work in retail?
I worked in retail for years. My first job was at my mom’s beauty boutique at the age of 12, and I worked for her through high school. After college, I worked in beauty retail, starting out at Jordan Marsh in MA, followed by Bergdorf Goodman, and then at the flagship Kiehl’s store in NYC.
You’ve been on some pretty big morning shows. Can you share with us your most memorable moment and/or a highlight of your esteemed career?
I’ve been fortunate to have appeared on a number of national shows and each has its share of highlights. I really enjoyed meeting Hoda Kotb on Today Show. She’s as delightful in person as on TV. Working with Steve Harvey was hilarious – as you could imagine. One of our exchanges ended up in his blooper reel! The Rachael Ray show is also a fun one – mainly because they are such gracious hosts – no big surprise!
When not fielding emails from PR pros and testing products, what do you do to recharge and reconnect to your life?
Spending time with family and friends is very important to me, and that’s obviously changed a lot during the pandemic. We gather outside in small groups when we can – even when it’s cold out, which I never thought I’d do.
Fitness is also essential to my emotional wellbeing. I do some form of exercise almost every day, whether it’s pilates, yoga, Tabata. I also love to walk, and during the pandemic, I’ve been taking long morning walks while I chat on the phone with a friend or family member. This is one positive byproduct from this horrible time. I’ve reconnected with old friends, and I’ve also talked more with family than usual. All while staying in shape.
You are lucky to live in or around NYC. Can you share with us a couple of your favorite pastimes and places you look forward to returning to when COVID protocols have been lifted?
I live right outside the city, and in the beforetimes, I would go into the city a couple days a week for TV segments, PR events, parties, meeting up with people… I look forward to getting back to that.
I also miss museums and gallery hopping in Chelsea. I also miss going out to eat with a crew of friends and the occasional concert or movie.
Some of what I love about NYC I can still do, like walking the High Line, visiting parks, and walking for miles around the city.
What song/artist is playing on repeat for you right now?
I can’t listen to music while I work – I wish I could, but I get too distracted – but, my daughter is a singer and she’s been exploring a lot of music that my husband and I enjoy. Just the other night, the three of us listened to a mix of Bauhas, Perfect Circle, Muse, 30, and Radiohead, among others, while we cooked together. It was a really nice way to spend an evening.
Podcast or documentary? Which one is your preference and do you have a favorite?
I love both, but I’ve been watching more documentaries these days. I enjoy all sorts but lately, I’ve been into music documentaries, like the Bee Gees doc. I love to see how songs are created, so I also really like the Song Exploder podcast. There’s a Netflix series as well, but there aren’t many episodes yet.
I also love Tiny World on Apple TV. You don’t hear much about it, but everyone – literally everyone – should watch it. It’s like David Attenborough’s Our Planet, but it’s filmed in a way that’s so macro – you can hardly believe what you’re seeing. And Paul Rudd narrates, so you can’t go wrong.
I usually listen to podcasts on long drives. Armchair Expert, The Moth, This American Life, and Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, are go-to’s.
We saw you’re a fan of vintage clothing…what’s your favorite piece you’ve scored? Do you have a go-to shop you recommend for finding the best of the best vintage styles?
My favorite piece is probably an Albert Nipon black & white houndstooth faux fur coat. I think I got it over 10 years ago at a tiny shop in a tiny town in Upstate NY, and it was an incredible deal. I bought it thinking that I would rarely wear it because it’s pretty over the top. Let’s just say that I was mistaken. It’s become a staple.
To find the best pieces and the best buys, I recommend going to large second hand stores, like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Amvets, etc., as you’ll find a broad selection and real deals. If you don’t have the patience to comb through the vast inventory, you’ll find gems in small urban boutiques, but you’ll pay for that expert curation. A compromise is a small boutique outside of the city. You’ll reap the benefit of a curated selection, but the prices will be more reasonable.
Let’s pretend you could have an all-expenses paid trip to anywhere – where would you go?
An African safari. I will do this at some point in my life, but if someone else was paying, I’d want to go the 5-star route. I’m too price-conscious to do that on my own dime. 😉 I’d also love to take a scuba diving trip around the Galapagos. I haven’t gone diving since before I had my daughter – who is now 14 – so a re-certification is in order.
If you could meet someone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?
There are so many people I’d like to meet, but off the top of my head, I’d love to meet Trevor Noah. I love that he’s a mix of smart, perceptive, clever, and funny. I’d also like to meet any number of women who are just crushing it right now, like Michele Obama, The Squad, Kamala Harris.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I just started liking avocado in the last 10 years.
Anything fun coming up on the horizon that you want to share with us?
I’ve been appearing on the 3rd hour of Good Morning America every couple of months, and I’m really proud of those segments. In many of the segments, I have an opportunity to support small businesses, especially those owned by women, people of color, and others who are underrepresented. It’s a real joy to be able to do so. There are practical reasons why I can’t make every segment I do about that, so I am grateful to have this outlet. Plus, the show is amazing to work with! If anyone is interested in checking out the segments to learn about all the amazing brands, I post them on my site, truetrae.com, and on Instagram.
I’m also very excited about the PR-related chats that I’ve been participating in on the new social media app Clubhouse at 2 p.m. on weekdays. I’m not on every day due to other obligations or because the topics aren’t always a fit, but I would suggest that brand founders or anyone in PR or marketing should drop in when you can. You will learn something – I promise. The title is 30-Minute Media Chats.
Find Trae online at the following spots:
Blog True Trae
LinkedIn Trae Bodge