If you are a true beauty buff than you would have certainly heard of esteemed journalist Sigourney Cantelo, who sat at the helm of the Vogue Australia beauty desk for many print runs before launching her own beauty-dedicated digital platform. The first of its kind at the time, it’s been five years since she launched Beauticate, a website devoted to sharing the beauty routines of high-profile women in the fashion, beauty, and health industries, and offering user friendly how- to demonstrations.
For the X-Files, we interviewed the beauty at one of her favourite local haunts, the Parlour Room in Sydney’s Clovelly Beach in new season looks and discussed career evolution and how Sigourney measures success. Explore the complete X-Files shoot here.
Talk us through your career evolution?
I’ve been a journalist for 16 years – mostly in print, working as a beauty and health director in magazines. A few years ago I left my job on Vogue to build my website – I had to learn a lot about digital very fast, but I never looked back. Back when I went to uni (I did a BA Comms at UTS) there was very little practical teaching about magazines, let alone digital – I learnt everything I know now on the job. I think the journalism curriculums are more practical these days, but nothing beats the school of life.
What are the best and most challenging parts of running your own business?
The best parts? Having autonomy and being able to navigate my own course when it comes to content, direction and voice. Also, connecting with readers, mentoring staff, and having flexibility to be with my family when I choose. I work at night so that I can have every Friday with my daughter and pick my son up from school. These years are so fleeting, so I really try to savour as many moments with my kids as I can. The harder parts of funning a business for me are the sales and accounting aspects. Numbers are not my forte and I don’t really dig a spreadsheet so I have to really force myself to work in that way. Let’s just say Xero (the accounting software) and I are only JUST on speaking terms.
How do you keep evolving ‘Beauticate’ in an ever-changing digital landscape?
I’m constantly looking at ways we can improve. This year we celebrate our fifth birthday and we are about to relaunch the site with a refreshed design and an exciting new product and shopping initiative- so watch this space! It’s something we’ve been working on for nearly a year so it’s incredibly exciting to get off the ground.
How do you measure success?
It’s changing as I get older. In her book Thrive, Ariana Huffington made a great case for what she calls the third metric of success “wellbeing, wisdom and wonder”. She sees this as an alternative blueprint for success after the traditional “money” and “power”. Beyond just running my business, it’s these kind of qualities I’m trying to nurture more in my life now– striking that balance of investing time with family and friends, trying to carve out a little time for meditation or exercise and introducing more random acts of generosity and kindness into my day.
What advice would you give someone following your professional path?
Read everything: literature, articles, essays, blogs and keep examples of writing you love and then practice writing and finding your voice. Write a blog or just write in private, just write. Volunteer to write stories for free (uni websites or websites you admire) and get people you trust to give you notes; take their feedback on board. Edit your own work, learn to be ruthless, try not to get too married to your words, and work out what makes good writing. To learn about the industry, find a brand or person you admire and offer to intern for them. Be super enthusiastic and be like a sponge when you’re in that environment – you’ll learn so much.
What do you love about beauty?
I love the effect that the right products can have on our confidence. Every woman deserves to feel her absolute best and having the right tools and know-how can help. I hope that – even in some small way – Beauticate can assist with that. I also love that the beauty industry is creativity married with science. There are constant innovations and it’s ever-changing! There’s always something new to report on and review.
What is your morning beauty routine?
Once I’ve got the kids off to their respective care, I try to meditate for 20 minutes. Vedic meditation literally changed my life (I did a course with Gary Gorrow about ten years ago and recently did a refresher with The Broad Place – both were incredible). When you meditate it gives you a serene contentment that I think is the essence of true beauty. When I keep a regular meditation practice I feel like I radiate with happiness. Lately I’ve been practising IM (Intermittent Fasting) – so I try to skip breakfast. I’ll just have a matcha tea or matcha almond latte and two big glasses of water. Fasting is hard as I’m a diehard sourdough and avo fan, but I do notice a big difference in my body when I do it. I LOVE my food and exercise has taken a backseat at the moment so IM is a good way to keep things in check. Makeup wise, if I have an event I’ll do a full face (and document it on @beauticate and @sigourneycantelo instastories) testing out the latest products that have landed. When I’m not eventing or doing meetings I’ll just smooth on some It Cosmetics CC Cream (a fab base and sunscreen in one) and some Lanolips and that’s it! I get lash extensions at Love Those Lashes in Paddington so I can skip the eye makeup on those days.
Detail your personal style?
I like structured and tailored pieces such as feminine dresses and skirts by Isabel Marant and Valentino – which are perfect for the working week. Blouses with fitted pants (obsessed with the Cedric Charlier tapered trousers in the shoot) and blazers. I generally gravitate towards neutrals (black, navy, tan and white) but also love an all-out floral or leopard print. One of the easiest ways I dress up my office wear for evening is to add a statement earring and I’m a big fan of silk scarves with coats and knits in winter. On the weekend and days sans meetings I dial it right back with denim and white tees and I don’t last long in heels even for events (I keep multiple pairs of flats in my car and at my desk for that reason!).