Eleanor Pendleton is the founder of beauty destination and digital publication Gritty Pretty, a leading, shoppable beauty website and digital magazine, intended to inspire and educate. X-FILES asks the entrepreneur dynamo and beauty editor about her formative start in beauty, and her relationship with the digital landscape.What drew your initial interest to beauty? Tell us about your start. My start in beauty was kind of by wonderful accident. When I was completing my journalism degree, I would religiously email the editors of my favourite glossy magazines and ask for internships, as I knew that placements were key to getting my foot in the door of the publishing industry. Then-Cosmopolitan Editor-in-Chief, Sarah Wilson, accepted one of my applications, placing me under the guidance of legendary beauty editor Zoë Foster (now Foster Blake). Since being drawn to the print world from a young age (my father ran a newsagency business), I always assumed that I would end up working as a features or entertainment writer - however Zoë opened my eyes to the beauty world - researching cutting-edge products, the latest beauty trends, ingredients and the like. Since then, over the past decade, I’ve travelled the globe for my career working my dream jobs and now running my own successful digital beauty business. I believe in paying respect to your mentors and I believe I do owe my start into beauty to Zoë, as I would have never have realised that the route of beauty journalism existed for me otherwise!
Courtesy of Gritty Pretty You saw the potential of digital publishing early on... How did you develop Gritty Pretty, when and why?
I first started Gritty Pretty in 2009 as a side project while working at a major publication back when there weren’t many beauty blogs around - it was a place for me to share which products I was loving, my beauty routines and how-tos. When I took on the role of Beauty Editor at InStyle, having a blog was considered a conflict of interest. My goal at the time was absolutely working for an international publication so I chose to let Gritty Pretty sit dormant for three or so years whilst I focused on my beauty editing career. After making the career-changing decision to leave my full-time editor role and start work as a freelance beauty writer, I decided to come back to Gritty Pretty and direct all of my energy into it. I knew that while it lay dormant there were many a beauty blog that had launched, so I wanted to ensure that there was a key point-of-difference to other digital beauty destinations. I soon had my lightbulb moment - that there was no-one in the country producing a beauty-exclusive digital magazine, and so I began developing the first issue of Gritty Pretty Magazine , which was covered by Australian model Cheyenne Tozzi. And the rest is history!Courtesy of Gritty Pretty Being so connected to your audience, what is your take on, or relationship rather - to the social space?
I’m definitely in a really unique position where I am very closely connected to our audience of Australian women. I think one of the main positives of the social media phenomenon is the sense of two-way dialogue it allows - instead of talking to or at your followers/readers, it’s about conversing with them, listening to them about what they’re interested in and passionate about, and in turn creating content with that feedback in mind. It allows such an invaluable insight into who our reader is and what she’s about, and making sure we’re always mindful of what she wants to see, read and experience. I think that connection with women is what I really value most about being a beauty journalist.Courtesy of Gritty Pretty Does owning your business allow opportunity for your own professional growth?
I truly don’t think you can ever be prepared for owning your own business. There’s so many facets to running a successful business that you simply don’t think about until you’re faced with them, and you learn so much about yourself in the process. I definitely believe that owning my own business has shaped me into the confident, assertive woman I am today. If I hadn’t launched Gritty Pretty as a business, I do believe my introverted side would’ve prevented me from growing as an individual. I have been able to push myself outside of my comfort zone by running a business. Set by my own standards, I’m forced to constantly evolve otherwise my business would never survive nor grow.Courtesy of Gritty Pretty Who has taught you the most by way of business?
As the daughter of a father who ran his own small businesses his entire life, I think I was privy to a lot of conversations and stressors in my parent’s life that I may have not have been otherwise. When your parents run a small business, you sense the constant pressure of managing cash flow and staff that other positions as employees simply never experience. I’m grateful for that because I think I inherited my work ethic from my dad. I will never take no for an answer - I believe there is a solution to any problem, which can be achieved with hard work.Courtesy of Gritty Pretty What has been the most rewarding project in your career so far (pre or post GP)?
Seeing the first issue of Gritty Pretty Magazine was a pretty special moment - there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears in the lead-up, and to finally go live with a bang after months of hard work was so rewarding. Partnering with our key clients such as CHANEL, Estee Lauder and La Mer continues to be such a highlight. Last year, we ran six reader events across Australia in just three months and there is no feeling that can surpass the one when I get the opportunity to meet the young women who read my platform.
What is the most challenging thing about being in the social eye?
I think what I do struggle the most with in having a digital presence is the fact that there is never really an “off”-switch when it comes to social media, there’s this constant pressure to always be on, to be readily available at all times and to be posting daily. I now consciously try to take time out to disconnect, get out in nature or go to a yoga class, or whatever it is, just so I’m sure I’m not spending an unhealthy amount of my time and energy on social media, which is so easy to do!Courtesy of Gritty Pretty Where do you get your hunger and ambition from?
I think I’m influenced by natural mentors such as my parents and business mentors but for the most part, I think my tenacity is intrinsic. It’s a part of me. By age 10, I knew I wanted to work in magazines. By age 25, I knew I wanted to start my own business. I think that sense of hunger and ambition, for me, is just something that is in my blood. I’m a risk taker so I can never really understand those who umm and ahh over pursuing a passion. My motto in life is always, “When I’m 80 years of age, do I really want to look back on my life and wonder, “I should’ve tried that…” I want to leave this Earth after a long and fulfilled life knowing I achieved everything I set my mind to.
What is your hero beauty product or tip?
One of my ride-or-die skincare products would be Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair - I’ve used it religiously for years, and it is the workhorse of my skin regime - it’s full of hyaluronic acid, which immediately hydrates and plumps the skin, reducing the appearance of lines and any signs of dullness and dehydration. It’s a complete game-changer! I also can’t get enough of Tata Harper Cleansing Oil, SK-II Facial Treatment Essence and Sodashi Clay Cleanser with Lime - they’re some of my skin care go-tos.Courtesy of Gritty Pretty How would you break-down your own personal (fashion) style?
I would say my style is practical, comfortable and chic. My go-to outfit is a pair of jeans, a crisp white shirt and a blazer. I’m lucky that working in a creative industry, I do get to experiment with my style quite a bit!
What is next for you professionally and personally?
I can’t reveal too much about what is coming up professionally - however I can reveal that we are busily planning this year’s beauty masterclass reader event, which promises to be even bigger and better than last year’s event! Gritty Pretty will also be moving into a new, larger office at the end of this year, which is very exciting for my entire team and I. Personally, I think January 2020 is going to see my greatest achievement yet!