Eleanor Pendleton is the ultimate girl boss. After launching Gritty Pretty in 2010, the platform has now become the go-to destination for all things beauty-related. With an impressive roster of brands and clients represented, Gritty Pretty aims to inspire and educate.
Eleanor’s philosophy – beauty minus the bullshit – is refreshing and her views on inner beauty are inspiring…
You launched the very successful Gritty Pretty, Australia's first digital magazine dedicated to beauty, in 2015. How did you find the courage to quit your job and start your own business?
I’d be lying if I said it was easy; it wasn’t. I battled with myself and self doubt for six months while I held the position of Beauty Editor at InStyle magazine. I had a dream job with a dream magazine with a dream team yet I couldn’t shake my ambition of going freelance so that I could challenge my writing creatively. However, the decision was one I didn’t make lightly. Before I took the leap of faith, I asked myself the usual questions one might such as – “Will I earn enough money to pay my rent?” and “Will I need to rely on my husband (then boyfriend at the time)?” – the latter I was never in favour of.
Eventually, after six months of toying with the idea of quitting my dream job to pursue a freelance beauty writing career, my husband told me I simply needed to believe in myself. The next morning, I walked into my editor’s office and handed in my resignation. I then spent the next 4–5 months working as a freelance writer. Once I had left InStyle, I decided I would relaunch GrittyPretty.com (which had been sitting dormant during my 3+ years at InStyle).
Slowly, Gritty Pretty’s traffic began to return. The site started taking off and eventually it began attracting advertisers from beauty brands I had existing relationships with. It was then that I realised Gritty Pretty was more than a beauty blog – it was a brand and it had the potential to become a business. It had the potential to become an online beauty destination for women all around the world who could trust its reviews, articles and content. I decided to write a business plan and take a step back and look at the digital space and specifically what it lacked. When we launched Gritty Pretty Magazine in December 2014, there wasn’t a single magazine that was beauty-only and was available online-only allowing women to access it from anywhere in the world. Gritty Pretty continues to grow and evolve because we listen to what our readers ask for. We have a direct dialogue with them that allows us to educate, innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible in terms of engaging online content.
You have worked for a number of publications as beauty editor and now have your own, how has your view on beauty and inner beauty changed and developed over this time?
Dramatically. Ironically, when I was in my early 20s and writing for some of the top glossy magazines, I wasn’t looking after myself. I was working 15–16 hour days, I wouldn’t exercise and I didn’t really eat healthily. I woke up in the dark and I’d get home in the dark. I put myself last on the priority list.
Once I started Gritty Pretty as my own business, I began to realise the importance of keeping my body and my mind healthy. If I’m not healthy, I can’t be the best version of myself, I can’t be the best business owner and I can’t be the best leader for my team. Now, in my early 30s, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. Because it’s my passion and my job, I place a huge emphasis on what I put on my skin topically, but in recent years I’ve also started putting the same amount of attention on what I put in it. Most mornings, I use The Beauty Chef Collagen or Hydration Inner Beauty Boosts (they taste delicious and sincerely, I mean it!). I’ll follow this with a reformer pilates or yoga class. At night, my husband and I will cook a healthy dinner made up of wholefoods and occasionally I’ll have a glass of red wine to go with it (because everything in life should be in moderation otherwise we won’t enjoy it!). Before bed, I make my husband and I what we call a ‘sleep tea’ (a mixture of The Beauty Chef Sleep Beauty Powder with warm coconut or almond milk and a teaspoon of honey).
You often reference your Filipino and Australian heritage, do you feel that your family history has shaped what you believe to be beautiful?
Growing up in an Anglo-Saxon surfer community on the New South Wales Central Coast, I was often teased for my Asian background. In my home town, there weren’t a lot of Asians or Filipinos when I was young and I remember not being able to understand what made me so different. Was it simply the colour of my skin? I could never see it. Nowadays, the Central Coast is much more of a multicultural area and I’m so proud of my Filipino heritage. I’m lucky to have a bronze tan all year round (and I’ve never had a spray tan in my life! True story for a beauty editor.) I’m very proud of my cultural background – we all should be. It’s what makes us each so incredibly unique.
With the ever changing landscape of digital and social media, how do you see Gritty Pretty evolving in the future?
As an entrepreneur and business owner, I’m constantly thinking about what the future looks like – not just from a publishing perspective – but from a product, e-commerce and logistics perspective. We are always listening to our readers. We might be a small company with just a handful of employees but we dream big and we work hard to achieve those dreams. We are constantly asking ourselves, “How can we deliver better content to our female readers?”. What started as a basic beauty blog with a home page and an article page (nothing more) has now grown into a beauty destination complete with beautiful, educational and aspirational content, an interactive digital publication, a curated e-boutique of beauty editor-approved products and a salon directory, which is tried, trusted and approved.
There is A LOT more I want to do and A LOT more ways Gritty Pretty can grow. The key isn’t rushing but doing things carefully, with love and with resources.
What does inner beauty mean to you?
Being truly and completely at peace with oneself.
Can you give us an example of a time you’ve listened to your gut instinct?
I remember the moment I came up with the idea to create Gritty Pretty Magazine. I was in the Blue Mountains and I went home the next day and set about creating it. I employed friends and colleagues I had worked with throughout my publishing career and we set about making this digital publication. I poured everything I had into it, including the small amount of savings I had. I walked into advertising agencies telling them why they should advertise in this digital magazine that didn’t exist and had nothing to be compared to. I decided to host a media launch event because I knew if I had one opportunity to launch and one opportunity only so I was going to ensure it was memorable. I listened to my intuition and it guided me. Over the past couple of years running my company, there have been times I have listened to my gut instinct and times where I haven’t (mostly because I want to see the good in people or a situation so I give it and/or them the benefit of the doubt). Hindsight is a wonderful thing and what I’ve learned most over these past couple of years running Gritty Pretty is to always listen to my gut instinct. Always.
What do you do to get your daily GLOW on?
See above, but my go-to’s are the Hydration and Collagen Inner Beauty Boosts, a yoga or reformer pilates class and an ocean swim and walk with my husband.
I want to… continue to be content when I grow up.
I thought I would never… travel for work again when I left my job at InStyle. The reality is as Gritty Pretty editor, I’m on a plane almost every month and as a Sagittarius, it’s something I love dearly. I’m very grateful to have such eye-opening experiences travelling the world and feel incredibly fortunate to have visited places including Paris, London, New York, South Africa, Iceland and Maldives – all in the name of research.
Earl grey tea ...tastes so much better with... milk and honey.
What does inner beauty mean to you? We'd love to know! Join the conversation by heading over to @TheBeautyChef.