She edits with lipstick, not a pen
Julianne Carell shares her journey in becoming a big time beauty editor.
by BRIANNA SHAW| Web editor
Keeping up with the beauty world as it constantly changes is difficult in itself, but former beauty editor Julianne Carell shares her love for the industry and the way it’s shaped her into the person she is today.
She grew up in New Jersey, and knew she was destined to be in the big city. As a sophomore at Montclair University, she began applying for internships at every magazine she could. Though she bombed her first interview with an assistant editor at Cosmopolitan, later she was offered another internship at Cosmo at the beauty closet. From there, she bounced around, interning at various magazines, such as Fitness, Teen Vogue and Glamour. After she graduated from college, she began an amateur beauty blog, but shortly afterward was offered a freelance position from a former coworker at Glamour. She stayed with Glamour for five years, but recently decided to take a change of pace and work on beauty products.
Can you tell me about your journey in your job as the Associate Beauty Editor at Lipstick.com?
“So I took the freelance position at Glamour, and that was it. I had been at Glamour ever since. I started as the freelance beauty assistant at the beauty closet, then six months later the beauty director’s assistant left, so I got promoted. We had some change in the entire beauty team, so they all filtered out and I was the assistant for the new beauty director that came in and she changed the entire voice of Glamour beauty. I learned a lot from her, but a year and a half in, Glamour decided to put an emphasis on digital and they wanted to really blow out their beauty section at Glamour.com. It was already pretty popular. It had a lot of traffic, but they wanted to be something bigger. So that’s when they decided to launch Lipstick.com. They were looking for an assistant editor to join Lipstick.com. They hired someone before I even thought about, but she had a counteroffer at her current job, so they opened up the interview process again and I thought, ‘“’Why don’t I try this?’ In my mind, being an assistant to the beauty director is probably not the worst thing, but seeing everything the beauty director gets and all the amazing opportunities the beauty director for the print magazine got — I wanted to be that. I wanted to be the beauty director at Glamour one day.
“The thought of moving to digital scared me because I was like if I go to digital I’ll never be the print beauty director ever. So I was hesitant to do that, but I talked to my boss, I talked to my digital team and they were like, ‘You can do this. We really want you to do this.’
“So I ended up switching over to the digital team and ever since then that’s what I’ve been. So I went from an assistant editor to associate editor. And the digital team itself had a ton of changes, we went through two different staffs basically. The beauty section grew a lot and we also reevaluated what was working and what was not and we changed our strategy based on that.
“That was my whole journey basically, and let me finish by saying it was not an easy decision to leave Glamour. At this time when it’s so difficult to find a job and it’s so difficult for magazines to stay afloat — print is quote on quote dying. So why would I leave Glamour? That’s what everybody keeps asking me. And the answer is, I just think I need to do something new. I needed to get out of the comfort zone. And it’s only been a month. I only left Glamour at the end of October. It’s been like three weeks. I’m freelancing now. It’s definitely an adjustment, but it’s really cool. And that’s my story!”
What are you looking for now?
“Well, I was really burnt out. So I’m taking time off and next weekend I’m going on vacation for like two weeks. I’m honestly not looking for anything right now. I need to take a break. I’m still writing. I’m still contributing. I’m also freelancing for Teen Vogue, but after that I have a few projects that I’m working on. I’m working with a few beauty brands on copyrighting which is something I’ve always wanted to do … I’m just going to see what happens. I don’t really have a plan per se. I mean, I do. I have a big project in mind that I’m going to be starting. I can’t really divulge too many details.”
What could you give to me about that project?
“So, I’m going to go into the lab and see what happens and see if I can make some products. Who knows what could happen from there? I don’t have a chemistry degree so I wouldn’t have any experience to work in grand beauty product development, but I could learn a little bit. But it’s definitely in product development.”
Could you describe what a typical day would look like when you worked at Glamour?
“It starts at about 7:30 am. We have what’s called ‘Slack.’ Instead of email we have a Slack channel. It’s instant messaging for our whole entire digital staff. So we have different chat rooms about different topics. So, one of the chat rooms is about beauty ideas. So, every morning we scout Instagram to see what happens overnight on Snapchat. See what celebrities are doing. See what other outlets are doing. Just drop all of our ideas for the day in the Slack channel. Basically, that happens as early as 7:30 in the morning, then our editor, who is Lindsey Schallon, would go through and approve any ideas we had during the day. In addition we had a whole lineup — a monthly and weekly lineup planned out. But in terms of new stories, she’ll assign those and I’ll start making my way into the office.
“Every day at 11 we’d have what you call a ‘stand up’ meeting. So, the entire digital team would go around the horn and discuss the day’s stories or what projects we’re working on. So, we would have to be in the office by 11. After that meeting we’d get a coffee, then after that we’d start on the day’s stuff. So technically my day starts at 7:30, but I wouldn’t really get to start anything until noon. That doesn’t count going to beauty events or having a desk sides. And honestly an event or a desk side are part of being a beauty editor. Beauty brands are always launching products, they always are having experts, they always want to come meet with us to discuss their newest project. So, it’s very important to keep those relationships to go to those events and show your face, and also get the scoop on the new product for a story.
“Then the next couple of hours vary. Some days I’m on a photo shoot. Some days I’m producing Instagram or Snapchat content. Some days, I’m interviewing Mariah Carey… Well no, not me, personally. Some days, I’m talking on Facebook live with Jen Atkins… every day is different. Some days, we have ‘beauty brainstorm’ meetings, which are really fun. Where the whole beauty department gets together and throws around ideas. It’s basically a big beauty discussion where we talk about anything, feel free to express our concerns, talk about what’s happening on Instagram, talk about what Kylie’s doing.
“Then the other couple of hours I’m just writing, I’m producing content, I’m working with our social media team on how to position stories, working with our audience development person to see what stories we should actually cover. Believe it or not, the things we might think would do well, don’t do well — for Glamour at least. Fashion week content does not swarm at all, but you would never think that about fashion week… a lot of just writing and working with the art team to get art for the story. Every day is different, and that’s one of the best parts.”
What would you say was the best part about working at Glamour?
“I would say the best part about being a beauty editor is definitely the products. I love testing products. I love seeing what’s out there. I love seeing the brands, like seeing what new ingredients — new technology — to be used. Helping people, giving people recommendations for their issues to make them feel better. But the best part about working at Glamour I would say definitely the atmosphere and the environment. Everybody at Glamour is super nice, encouraging, not snobby. There’s not competition. The women — and the men, too — are just awesome people. And we would do get together every Thursday night… we called us the Glam Squad. It was cute. We all were pretty close. So, I would say the atmosphere and the people.”
What would say was your least favorite part?
“Definitely the late nights, and also the uncertainty that comes with digital. You never know when one month your traffic is amazing, and the next month it’s terrible. That uncertainty, I mean, it’s exhilarating, for sure, because you’re always changing. You’re always going to do something new, but it was also stressful. And I also would say the entire digital landscape is changing so much that my time with digital at Glamour, we had a ton of changes so it was kind if taking a toll on me. … But at the end of the day … I knew I was ready to go. That’s like my least favorite part, but it wasn’t terrible. I never hated going to work. I always woke up every day and loved going to work.”
What was an editing horror story?
“Basically, I was in charge of a lot of the photo shoots at Glamour, and when you’re on a photo shoot, especially on location team, you have to be nimble. Whatever pops up, either it’s something wrong with the space or something goes wrong with the camera, you have to really be able to transform with the situation. So we’re shooting Halloween tutorials, and everything was coming out phenomenally. But when the art team edited the photos and sent them to me and I showed them to Lindsay, the beauty editor above me, she was like, “Why did you shoot it like this? This is not what we described. This is wrong.” And I was like, “What do you mean?” And she said, “It’s supposed to be a tutorial, like 1 step, 2 step, 3 step, 4. And you just did a progression.” First of all, we did 10 looks and each look was really intricate. In order to do the makeup and have the models sit in the chair just so we could get that one tiny little detail step, it would’ve taken forever, so I made the executive decision to not do that and just have it be a progression. You could still see the steps, but it wasn’t lined out like a Pinterest grid. I can’t tell you how mad she was… it was bad. I felt like a failure like I f***** this up so bad and I didn’t feel good about it. So, I would say that was my biggest horror story, like f****** a shoot and not having everybody happy with it. It came out really pretty in the end, but getting through that was really painful.”
“I’ve had different beauty bloggers thank me, I’ve had celebrities retweet my stories — like that’s a really gratifying moment to have.”
What was a success story?
“Probably just focusing and knowing what my strengths are. I’m a big visual person so they put me in charge of Instagram and social media, so one of the bigger things was Facebook Live . It just launched. There were no guidelines for it. They just decided to put me on there. And I just went on and head of Com and Nav entertainment she gave our EIC a compliment about it, and the EIC told me about it directly and it was a huge deal. She was like, ‘They noticed you.’ So I guess that was a huge success. Someone known recognizes your work … just being recognized by celebrities that you write about, that’s another really cool thing. I’ve had different beauty bloggers thank me. I’ve had celebrities retweet my stories — like that’s a really gratifying moment to have.”
What celebrities retweeted your stories?
“I’m gonna say like Kristen Bell. … She like retweets and likes everything.”
“[Eva Chen] he is the main person that inspired me in terms of magazines and her journey, and being an awesome business woman in general.”
Was there anyone that inspired you and your career?
“I would definitely say Eva Chen. Like I said, she was the beauty director at Teen Vogue and I interned for her. Then she went on to become the EIC at Lucky and now she is fashion Instagram. I had always followed her because working at Teen Vogue, she had a really young audience anyway and was really good about answering questions for the young audience like, not only about beauty, but about career stuff. She was always a huge advocate for interns and people starting in the industry.
“Twitter was the big thing back then, and she would do Tweets and she would be very responsive, which I thought was really rare. So, that is kind of inspiring. She is the main person that inspired me in terms of magazines and her journey, and being an awesome businesswoman in general. Killing it in the industry and also having the work-life balance. She just had a baby, and she’s just really killing it. I want to learn from her.”
How do you balance work and social life?
“It’s definitely a constant struggle. If I have a dinner, I will leave work no matter what. Like if I have plans, I’m leaving and I’m going. I have more trouble balancing my home life than my social life. I’ll go out. I’ll meet with friends and family. But when I come home, I just plop down on the bed. … I personally struggle with keeping up with my apartment and my house. There’s products everywhere. I’m not very good at keeping clean. That has honestly been a bigger struggle for me. My boyfriend is the neatest person you’ll ever meet. Thank God for him. If I didn’t have him, I might have to file as a hoarder. So he really keeps me on track.”
What kind of advice would you give to Journalism students like me who are looking for internships and experience?
“My advice for you, like you’re doing all the right things. You’re already writing for the newspaper, you’re already doing all that good stuff. My advice for you is to try and get an internship here in New York. … Try to come out here for a few days and meet in person with a bunch of beauty and fashion editors and try to narrow your focus a little bit. Try to figure out if you want to do beauty or you want to do fashion. You definitely can’t do both. I would do a little bit more research. Look up different editors and see who you would want to meet with. Another thing I would recommend is keep doing these informational phone interviews. You emailed me, and I said, ‘Yes.’ Like keep doing these phone interviews, and personally anyone who’s looking will definitely let you know and if they keep you in mind they see that you’re eager.”
“Find a focus. Yes, people will tell you to apply everywhere and be open to everything, but if you know what types of magazines you’d want to work for. Find a list of editors that inspire you. You need for figure out what your dream job would be, then from there it would be easier.”
Is there anything else you’d want me to know?
“Find a focus. Yes, people will tell you to apply everywhere and be open to everything, but if you know what types of magazines you’d want to work for. Find a list of editors that inspire you. You need for figure out what your dream job would be, then from there it would be easier. Read everything that your target magazines are doing. Be really familiar with what they’re posting on their websites on the magazines, on their Instagram, on their Snapchat. … Keep in mind, see what they’re doing and once the opportunity comes for you to pitch that outlet or do an edit test, it will be that much easier to formulate an edit test because you know what they’re doing already. You know the type of content they’re producing. You know what they’re voice is. That stuff is really important.”
Based off of Carell’s responses, I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to pursue an editing job with fashion and beauty magazines. I know the road getting there won’t be easy, but what journey ever is? I know that adding my love of fashion and makeup to my passion for journalism is the path I want to take, and now I must answer Carell’s question to narrow my focus: cosmetics or fashion? So far, I’ve taken Carell’s advice and started researching different magazines. Yes, it’s a process, but I’m slowly but surely finding out what I think would suit my style best. Though I have much to learn and experience, it’s safe to say I’m on the right track.
This interview has been edited and condensed.