Picture this: A career that involves travelling the world to interview celebrities, filming self tan reviews and writing all about the latest beauty trends. Sounds like a dream, right?

Meet Kate, one of our incredible fashion business alumni who has done all of this and more, who is currently killing it as a beauty writer and editor for ELLE and Harper’s BAZAAR. 

We chatted to Kate about how she got her foot in the door, what a day in the life of a beauty writer looks like and her advice for the next generation of beauty writers.

Kate Lancaster

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I'm Kate! I'm a born-and-raised Melbourne girl but I currently live in Sydney, where I've got the extremely unfortunate task of writing and editing the beauty pages of ELLE and Harper's BAZAAR Australia - kidding! Best job in the world.

What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

I am truly so lucky to have worked with some incredible people over the years, many who are at the very top of their industry and have decades of experience. I've also been able to travel to some wonderful places in my role, both locally and internationally. I recently travelled with a brand to Seoul in South Korea (also known as the skincare capital of the world) which was really interesting. I've also been able to meet and interview celebrities, such as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Drew Barrymore, and access industry experts such as Dr Dennis Gross and Erin Parsons. And I can't lie, the regular facials aren't bad either!

Rosie Huntington Whitely

Tell us a bit about your current job. Could you tell us what a day in your life looks like for you? What is your favourite part of your role as a beauty writer?

Each day is different but (pre-COVID), I would often start the day by either attending a breakfast meeting with PRs or a beauty launch to learn about upcoming products and secure exclusive story opportunities for the magazines. From there I would head back to the office for more meetings, tackling my emails and writing and editing stories in between. The job looks glamorous from the outside - and it definitely can be - but it's also a lot of hard work at a very quick pace. Some days I might also have an afternoon interview or evening event to attend on behalf of the magazines, but in a fast-paced environment, meeting story deadlines is a non-negotiable to keep the work moving through each department. This means I often work back after hours to get stories filed on time, however it's a small price to pay for such a fun job! I make sure to take regular breaks by playing with all the new products that land on my desk (yep, it's a real job!). But my favourite part is getting to interview and feature smaller beauty and wellness brands. For some of them, getting featured in the pages of ELLE or Harper's BAZAAR is a dream come true, so it's incredibly special to be able to support and amplify independent businesses.

How did you get your foot in the door of the industry?

I started at ELLE as an intern, doing relatively mundane things like sorting magazines and getting coffee, but after working efficiently and politely for a few weeks, I started working with the beauty department and earned more trust and responsibility - liaising with PRs, assisting with shoots, creating online articles. Eventually I was even given the opportunity to write and have my work published in the magazine, which was huge as an intern. From there, my bosses in the department, Janna Johnson O’Toole and Amy Starr, helped me find my first job and my career began from there. They've remained my mentors in the years since and I can always count on them for support and advice, which has been invaluable in navigating the industry.

Elle reader event with Grace O'Neill

What did you love most about studying MSF?

I really enjoyed the tutors, who all had great industry experience. It helped that they could relate what we were learning back to real-world scenarios that they had encountered at work. The course was also very hands-on, which is always valuable later on.

How has studying fashion business at MSF assisted in your career?

I found the course really interesting and I learned a lot about the fashion industry. Even though I work in the beauty department, both ELLE and Harper's BAZAAR are fashion magazines at their core. So an interest and an understanding of the fashion industry is essential to the beauty pages, as we often cover the beauty looks of the local and international shows and interpret trends for our readers.

Korea

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in this industry?

Network, and treat everyone you meet with respect. It really is who you know, especially as the industry shrinks, and you never know who you might encounter in the future. I also think a positive outlook and a commitment to going the extra mile is always appreciated and can take you far.

What advice would you give to the next generation of beauty writers?

Keep an open mind. The industry is going through a tough period at the moment, so your future job may not look like you imagine it will, but as things are moving really quickly, it's also the perfect time to start carving out your future career. If you can, start by interning anywhere in media that interests you, including creative agencies and PR companies. I know interning is not always viable for everyone, but if you can, I really encourage seeking out those opportunities across a wide range of industry sectors to figure out what aspects you like and dislike. The skills will be transferable to a number of jobs and if nothing else, you'll have made some valuable contacts for the future. Treat every task you’re given as important, as you’ll often be given bigger jobs when you’ve shown you can handle the smaller things. And don't be disheartened if your first job isn't at your dream company or in your ideal role. Every opportunity provides a learning experience, even if the lesson is 'this isn't for me'. You'll have a clearer idea of what it is you want in your next role. And start your own thing, whether it's an Instagram account, TikTok videos or a podcast! It all counts as experience.

Want to find out about how you can follow in Kate’s footsteps? Find out about our Fashion Business courses here.

More interested in makeup or beauty specifically? Find out about makeup here or beauty here.