With her background in beauty editing and now being at the helm of digital beauty sensation Gritty Pretty, Eleanor Pendleton knows good skin! This multi-award winning beauty and health journalist is, like her publication, dedicated to beauty minus the BS which has contributed to her loyal readership and following. We sat down with Eleanor hear all about her BOLD moves, business, beauty and more.
My career started in my childhood, growing up with parents running small businesses. It was in their local newsagency that I fell madly in love with magazines - it was like a toy store to me. From 8 years old I knew I wanted to work in magazines and I now realise how tenacious I was as a child. I had this bold brazenness as there was no other career option. While I had no connections and knew no one in magazines, I knew I was going to make my dream possible.
After school I went straight into studying journalism at Macleay College to complete my studies as fast as possible, so I could start working sooner. I would write to every magazine begging to do work experience. I jumped at the chance for my first work experience gig where I really made every second count. I knew I had to stand out in every way, from how I dressed, to my photocopying skills, to how I sorted and completed every admin task. If the journalists even remembered my name I would be so pleased. One my last day I was called into the Editors office, and she said the team had noticed I had done an amazing job and she offered me a Beauty Internship. Before this I didn’t even know the job of beauty writer and editor existed. To test all the products before they went onto the market – I felt like this was my destiny.
I then went to Cosmopolitan for my second internship which was one day a week unpaid. I was still studying and when I got a call from the editor who offered me a role of beauty writer. I was so excited to get my dream job and that was the beginning. From there I went to Famous Magazine as Beauty Editor. That was a big moment in my career as I wasn’t even 21 yet. I loved this job, the freedom and autonomy, the incredible leader and team, but I remember feeling embarrassed about my age, I was scared people would not think I was worthy. That’s when I learnt what the type of manager and editor I wanted to be. From there I wanted to work on a monthly international publication and I went to Instyle magazine. This was also an amazing experience and I leant the art of discipline and it also made me cynical. I started questioning marketing and going beyond the fluff to discover so many brands didn’t have the depth.
When I was 26 years old I needed another challenge and wanted to write beauty stories in a different way. When I was first thought about resigning from my full time role and going out on my own, I didn’t have a lot of self-worth or confidence. I wasn’t in a great place but my husband has always been in my corner. He is such a calm and gentle person and he gave me the courage to believe in myself, to take the leap and quit my job. He continues to be my number one supporter, he allowed me to find my courage in myself. This newfound courage led me to take risks, most of which were calculated, but risks none-the-less. In 2014 I launched Gritty Pretty which was a no BS title where I could be free to talk about what I wanted. Within about 4 months we started generating revenue which gave me the sense that this could be an amazing online beauty destination.
Over this last year we were impacted like so many and despite being a naturally agile brand, we had to push it further than ever before. A large portion of our revenue was on hold so we needed to look at other opportunities which saw the launch of our podcast and a series of virtual events. I was making these decisions in minutes but the option to do nothing in Covid wasn’t an option. If we don’t have readers, we don’t have a business. The closure of 7 women’s titles last year it meant the media landscape changed considerably and COVID was just a nail the coffin. For us this meant that a large amount of advertising revenue came up for grabs and we went on to have the best year we’ve ever had.
I recognise how grateful I am to work with people I love and to have a community of all our female readers - having these wonderful connections with woman, I will never take for granted. I was never close to the readers in magazines, whereas with digital and Gritty Pretty I talk to my readers every single day! My favourite part is storytelling and speaking with our readers. I sit down with my team and get really deep into the psyche of my reader. The reader is central to Gritty Pretty so we try and push the boundaries with our content, collaborating with our whole team so they can offer their magic. Our mantra is beauty minus the BS so it’s our job to edit the market and simplify the science. We need to feed the information through collaboratively and see it all come together.
Being a business owner, you can experience moments of loneliness and you just need to work through these times. I think it’s important to share our mistakes, it shows a sense of humanness – woman can be both strong and soft at the same time.
There are certainly times when I get overwhelmed and usually, it’s when I haven’t done my exercise.
- Swimming, walking, and Pilates are key for me
- I need to swim - even if it’s in the middle of winter, it calms me and clears my head
- Sleep is also a massive one for me and if I’m not sleeping I can easily feel overwhelmed
- I then need to write my to do list every night and de-compress - I don’t leave it to the morning.
If I knew how it was going to be at the beginning, I probably wouldn’t have started, but there’s nothing else I would want to do.