BOSS BABE: ELEANOR PENDLETON
Eleanor Pendleton is the founder and Editor in Chief of leading beauty online publication and digital magazine, Gritty Pretty. From a background in magazines, Eleanor has created a beauty empire and is the ultimate Boss Babe and Beauty Entrepreneur. The Gritty Pretty Digital Magazine has seen superstars grace the cover, including Shay Mitchell, Miranda Kerr, Jen Atkin, Elsa Pataky and of course, Elle Ferguson.
A trailblazer in its space, Gritty Pretty also offers a shop-able edit of beauty products deemed essential by the industry professionals that know best.
You launched GrittyPretty.com in 2009, at the beginning of digital publishing. What led you to this idea?
In 2009, I was working as the beauty editor at FAMOUS magazine; I was writing eight pages of beauty every week and I was coming into work with my coffee, I’d sit down at my desk and check my emails and I would start my process looking at fashion blogs for inspiration before diving into my workload for the day. I would do that for the first half an hour of the morning to get inspired but there weren’t really any beauty blogs that I could find and I think because I’m obsessed with all things beauty, I really wanted a place to go online that I could get lost in but because I just couldn’t find that online destination, I thought I’d create one myself. And, so Gritty Pretty was born and the rest, as they say, is history.
When and what made you decide to make Gritty Pretty your full-time hustle?
I left my job as beauty editor of InStyle magazine to embark on a freelance writing career, and at that time I re-launched Gritty Pretty. I was surprised to see a return in my audience rather quickly and with credit to my experience in the industry and the relationships I had forged over the years, I started seeing a little bit of revenue come through the site. It was at that point that I thought, “Okay, I think Gritty Pretty really has legs to become a major online beauty destination.” So I lived very frugally while I saved all of my money from my freelance writing jobs and I would funnel that straight into Gritty Pretty. I used that money to redesign the website and build Gritty Pretty’s digital magazine. I really wanted to create an online magazine experience that felt luxurious and premium but it didn’t matter where you were in the world... You could be anywhere and access this free-to-read magazine wherever you were. I wanted to create a publication that spoke with women – not at women. I wanted to create a beautiful platform that was inclusive. And, that’s when I thought to myself, “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to give it my everything”.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career to date?
There have been so many! At 31 years of age and having entered into the workforce at 19, I’ve been lucky enough to have had the most incredible career over the last 12 years. I’ve travelled all around the world and attended runway shows in Paris with Chanel. I’ve gone to places like the Maldives, Sri Lanka and South Africa to name a few… and I believe that any opportunity where you’re given the privelege of being able to travel is priceless. For me, any experience where I’ve been able to travel for my job is an absolute highlight. Another highlight is photographing the women who have covered and featured within Gritty Pretty Magazine (including yours truly, Elle Ferguson!). We’ve featured everyone from Shay Mitchell and Shanina Shaik to Miranda Kerr and Hailey Beiber.
Looking at the times we’re in now, while we’re very much still processing the economic effects of COVID-19, to have a business that’s still standing, for me… that is the ultimate achievement. The real highlight. When I look around and see that a lot of businesses are struggling or closing and women’s lifestyle magazines are being folded, the fact that we’re still here, we’re still standing and we continue to create content and connect with our female audience more than ever - that in itself is one of the greatest forms of success.
You have recently become a mum to beautiful Banjo in January, how has this changed the way you work?
I used to think I was efficient before but I am next level now. [Laughs]. Juggling 10+ projects at once is second nature to me. I have always thrived off that level of busy but now that I’m a mum, my time now is so much more precious because the windows of opportunity that I get to work are obviously a lot smaller because I am also looking after my baby boy. What has also changed is my level of drive. Before I became a mother, I was an incredibly hard worker but now I have this new sense of purpose of why I’m working hard. I’m working so hard to give my son the future and the lifestyle that I didn’t have growing up.
Any advice for people who want to turn their side hustle into a full-time business?
Step 1: have a business plan. You may not think you need one or you may think that you’ve got it all worked out in your head but I think it’s not until you put pen to paper and you really assess your potential customer, your demographic, your point of difference, your competitors that you can really decipher whether your business can truly be viable. There’s a huge amount of businesses that fail within the first couple of years and I think having that business plan to go back to during any moment is integral to surviving and thriving. When turning any side hustle into a career, you need to get all your ducks in a row. If you require finance to get your business off the ground (whether you’re self financing or borrowing capital), make sure you have all your ducks in a row and you’re ready to go. When anyone launches a business, it’s risky but you can make calculated risks. It’s important to make well-informed decisions. When you make those business decisions, I would say lead with your head and your heart. If you’re going to create a business, you must have the passion and the purpose but you also need to remain level-headed to be able to make the best decisions. Finally, my third piece of advice would be in the words of Nike, just do it. Because no one is going to do it for you - you can talk about it for as long as you like but if you don’t do it, it’s never going to happen.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
I’ve probably learnt two - one is that people, whether they are your employees and staff or people you collaborate with ad-hoc, they aren’t necessarily going to do a job the way you would do it and that’s okay. Most business owners struggle with relinquishing control but as a leader, I think it’s important you have the ability to trust people. If you’re going to bring people into your team – people who help make your dream a reality - then you need to hire wisely and let them do their job. This is why it’s so important, if you are hiring, to hire to your weaknesses and give people that freedom and that trust.
The second greatest lesson I’ve earned is to do with finance. For any business owner, it’s imperatives you are across your cash flow, right down to the cent. You need to be aware of every dollar that’s coming in and every dollar that’s going out; and if you aren’t, your business will not survive. Fact. It’s so important that you’re investing in the right areas so you can grow and that you can expand. But, if you aren’t aware of your finances and if you don’t have full transparency or you simply aren’t comfortable with numbers and they intimidate you, then you need to start getting comfortable with them. That’s something I probably learned the hard way. Finances and profit and loss management has never been my strong suit (I’m a writer and journalist, first of all) but when I started Gritty Pretty, I had no choice but to become familiar with finance. Be it tasks such as checking the business’ bank account every day to make sure we could pay everyone that week. You can’t just hope that it’s going to work out. You can’t hide under the rug when it comes to money. So, I would say if cash flow intimidates you, try to remove that fear that you may have around managing money because it’s 100% integral for business survival. A lot of fears around finance can stem from your childhood and in the way your parents managed or discussed family finances – it can have a huge effect on the way you view money today but I think the biggest mistake one can make is pleading ignorance. And, if at the end of the day, cash flow just isn’t your forte: outsource. Get yourself an excellent accountant and book keeper who can break it down for you.
What does your day-to-day look like?
I wake up between 6-6:30am. I get my baby up (if he isn’t already awake) and we have a feed and cuddle in bed before we get up, make breakfast and coffee (the latter being very important!). I work from home most days. So, I will play with my son [Banjo] in the morning, then he will go down for his morning nap. I then have two hours to power through before he wakes up again. He’s awake for another two hours so I’ll play with him and then I get another two hour window. During these work windows, I’m ensuring the business is running smoothly. As editor, it’s important I’m able to lead a strong team who are aligned with Gritty Pretty’s vision and values. Cultivating a positive work culture, solidifying Gritty Pretty’s niche as a beauty publisher, maintaining strong relationships across the industry and checking in with my team to ensure deadlines are being met are all part of my job.
The modern world is a busy one! What is your version of self-care?
My version of self-care has always been my skincare routine! I obviously harp on it a lot but at the beginning and end of the day, those five minutes I get for myself are just for me and they’re absolute bliss. In those 5 minutes, I’m not focusing on my baby, my husband, my team or the house chores. It’s five minutes just for me. If I can use those five minutes to nourish myself with skincare, put on a face mask and maybe have a glass of wine at the same time - that is my version of self care. When time allows, I’ll try to squeeze in a pilates class but that is a lot harder with a 6-month old so that morning and night skin care routine has become even more important.
What three things would we always find in your beauty bag?
Lip balm! I have a hundred. I love the Fresh Beauty Rose Lip Balm, Dior Lip Glow in 001 Pink and Lanolips 101 Ointment. You will also always find hand cream in my bag. I love the CHANEL Le Main hand cream. Oh, and a cream highlighter to dab onto cheek bones.
If you could have any five women sitting around a dinner table with you, who would they be and why?
That’s a great question! Okay, I would ask: Michelle Obama, Oprah, Jacinda Arden, Beyonce and Edwina McCann – and the best bottle of Pinot Noir would be flowing.
What's the last song you listened to?
King and Cross by Asgeir.
Parting words of advice for being a #bossbabe in work and life?
Anything is achievable – if you work hard enough.