Were you born in Grimsby and did you go to school here?
I was, I was born at Grimsby Hospital and I went to nursery in Scartho, then went to Scartho Infant and then Scartho Junior Schools before moving to Toll Bar School and Sixth Form.
Can you tell me a little about your career so far? How did you get into magazine journalism, and what inspired you to be a beauty writer?
English was always my favourite subject at school and sixth form but I’m stubborn and didn’t want to do an English degree because I didn’t want to be told what to read. The closest subject to that was journalism. At that point I didn’t really know what I wanted to do once I graduated, ideally I’d work at a magazine but that was about as far as it went, but I figured I’d just go with it and see what happened.
I’d always had an interest in make-up and beauty, I’d spend all my student loan in the John Lewis beauty department and I was writing a beauty blog back in 2009/2010, then as I was coming towards the end of my degree at De Montford University in Leciester, I saw a beauty internship at a magazine called Psychologies advertised. I applied for it and the next thing I knew I was on a four-week placement working on the beauty desk there and I loved every second. I’d never really considered beauty writing or journalism as a career before that – I think it’s one of those things that doesn’t necessarily seem like a legitimate job, but once I knew it was a real thing I could get paid to do I made it my mission to do it full time. Jobs are few and far between, beauty teams on magazines don’t tend to be very big and it’s rare that people leave their positions, so when something does come up there’s a lot of demand.
While I was at Psychologies I was recommended for a last minute, week-long placement at Cosmopolitan. Another girl had dropped out and they needed someone to fill in ASAP and I was available. This was in summer 2011, I’d graduated by this point and had moved back home to Grimsby where I was working full time at McDonald’s in Cleethorpes (the one near the cinema) where I’d worked part time since I was 16. After that week at Cosmo, I was asked to go back for a further three weeks and then again at various points throughout the following year for the odd few weeks at a time. I made myself indispensable and always said yes to helping them out when they needed it – it wasn’t always easy, all my family are in Lincolnshire and I didn’t really know anybody in London which meant I had to pay for accommodation, too. But I was determined – I did apply for other jobs in PR and copywriting but my heart wasn’t really in it. Cosmo was my dream and I didn’t want to settle for anything else. I remember my dad saying to me that I couldn’t wait for the dream job at Cosmo to come along, that instead it had to be the end goal and something to work towards, but I didn’t want to believe him.
Then in August 2012 my boss at Cosmo asked if I could work with them full time for three months. I took that as my sign, immediately said yes, handed my notice in at McDonald’s and moved down to London at the end of September that year. I found a flat to live in through Twitter, and although I had no idea what would happen when those three months were up, I just went with it. Luckily, those three months turned into three and a half years. I worked my way up from Beauty Intern to Beauty Assistant and then I was Acting Beauty Writer.
It wasn’t always easy though, I wasn’t paid a lot and London is EXPENSIVE. In 2015 I reached a point where I wanted to earn more money, so I left Cosmo and got a job as beauty writer at a content agency where I worked on Superdrug’s bi-annual magazine called DARE. I learnt a lot but it was short-lived – I was there 10 months before Cosmo called me and said there was a job that’d come up as Beauty Writer and did I want it. I said yes, handed my notice in and started back in September 2016. While I was gone the magazine had got a new Editor, and had been totally revamped so I was given the opportunity to write big seven page, first person features that helped me develop and learn more than ever.
Then 18 months later a job for Beauty Editor came up at a magazine called Stylist. I applied, and much to my surprise, I got it. I always said there wouldn’t be many places I’d leave Cosmo for – it felt like home, I absolutely adored it and it was my dream job – but Stylist was one of only places I’d consider going to if I ever got the opportunity. It’s a free publication that gets into around a million hands every week. It’s distributed every Tuesday and Wednesday in big cities like London, Leeds, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.
I started there in February this year and that’s where I am now. I work across both print and digital on a team of four. There’s no denying working on a weekly is much harder and more demanding than being on a monthly, but I do absolutely love it and I know how lucky I am to be doing this job.
Do you have any particular favourite features or career highlights?
Oh god, so many. It sounds cheesy but the further into my career I get I realise the entire thing is one big highlight. I get quite bad imposter’s syndrome – I have no idea how this girl from Grimsby, who used to serve burgers, has managed to carve a career writing about make-up for some of the world’s biggest magazine brands. I constantly feel like I’m going to get caught out! It’s mad, so crazy.
The job definitely has its perks though – specific highlights include meeting and interviewing celebs. My fave was having afternoon tea with One Direction. I’ve interviewed Katy Perry, Rita Ora, Demi Lovato, Ella Henderson (we chatted about fish and chips, obviously) and loads of other people. I also get to travel a bit and I’ve been to incredible places. Last September I went to Tahiti (it’s slap bang in the middle of the south pacific – a 22 hour place journey!) and I still can’t believe I got to go there. I also get to try so much make-up, skincare, perfume, etc – I don’t have to buy anything and I’m forever being sent things to trial. That’s a definite highlight and one that my mum, my big sister and friends benefit from too!
My favourite feature for Cosmopolitan was one I wrote last year about the nation’s obsession with lip fillers. I went up to Newcastle and interviewed a doctor with a clinic there and watched some girls have fillers. I ended up having my lips done too, despite point blank refusing to when my editor initially asked if I would. Since being at Stylist I’ve done a few skincare features (I love skincare!) – one of my favourites was interviewing three women who still use sunbeds – it was very fascinating!
When you’re back in Grimsby, where do you like to spend time?
I always like going to Cleethorpes – living in London makes me realise how much I took living so close to the coast for granted. I like going to Louth with my mum and looking round all the cute shops and having a coffee in one of the little cafes there. When I was last home I went to Appleby’s ice cream parlour in Conisholme which I loved. I usually end up going for brunch in Marples too, and I always request fish, chips, mushy peas and scraps from Scartho Fisheries – there’s nothing quite like GY fish and chips!