10 minutes with Chloe Brinklow from TOMBOY Beauty
Chloe Brinklow is a former magazine journalist, brand and digital consultant, a beauty specialist and has over 10 years experience in publishing, content, social media strategy, publicity and campaign execution. As well as editing TOMBOY Beauty, Brinklow is the Digital Beauty Contributor for Harper’s BAZAAR and Director of TOMBOY Consulting.
Recently, we caught up with Chloe to chat about her impressive career and find out what’s changed in the industry since she first started.
CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?
I am the editor of TOMBOY Beauty, an online destination with a l’ess is more’ approach to beauty, and the Director of it’s sister consultancy TB Consulting, where I work with brands on their creative, branding and strategy. There’s a talent management arm too, where I work with the amazing Nicole Warne from Gary Pepper Girl.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
After I graduated high school with an unexpectedly high mark, I felt the choice of what to study was very overwhelming. I originally enrolled in Fashion Design at UTS. I then deferred and took some time to travel, teach dancing, work in bars, and as an admin person at an insolvency management firm.
The latter brought with it as one of two huge “Aha” moments for me, in the sense that it helped me work out what I absolutely didn’t want to do. It was depressing waking up and dedicating everyday to something I wasn’t passionate about, with no opportunity to explore my creativity.
The second “Aha’”moment was when I had the opportunity to buy a dance school on the Central Coast. I had negotiated the lease, registered the new business name, started working on marketing materials and secured the finance but when it came time to signing the contract, I couldn’t put pen to paper. It was probably one of my most intense realisations, and without a doubt the biggest sliding doors moment of my life…
The next day I enrolled in a Communications degree, majoring in journalism and minoring in PR. I interned the entire length (of my still incomplete degree…) in magazines and PR. Two years into the course I was offered my first mag job as Editorial Coordinator at InStyle magazine. From there I really identified the beauty industry, in particular challenging the perceptions of beauty in mainstream media, as something I wanted to be a part of. I really got the idea to start TOMBOY when I was at InStyle, but wanted to hone the skills to make it (and it’s extensions) successful, before taking the leap. After InStyle, Lynette Phillips poached me and MaxMediaLab became my training ground for learning the business of media, publishing, branding. And also just how to be a strong businesswoman. While working at MML I started developing TOMBOY Beauty, because I believed I was filling a gap. There were some great beauty blogs already established but nothing that focused on premium editorial for girls like me, that weren’t personally lead. It still feels like just the beginning…
WHAT DID YOUR LAST 24 HOURS LOOKED LIKE?
I flew in from Singapore where I spent the week with Nicole Warne, and then straight into shooting a video series for La Mer, where I was both director and featured talent. I am not used to be in front of the camera so it was equal parts terrifying, and amazing.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I love creating, and I love doing it alongside amazing women (and men) who are leading the charge. I have always been really interested in doing things differently, and I think TOMBOY Beauty’s ethos is indicative of that. We kind of challenge this big beauty industry and present a new perspective, so being in the bones of that every day is pretty amazing.
DO YOU USE AN TECHNOLOGY/APPS THAT MAKES YOUR LIFE EASIER?
Definitely. I mean the usuals like slack and WhatsApp for communication. VSCO, and afterlight for photo editing. And Frame Magic for art direction of socials. Call Rec Lite is great for recording phone interviews.
YOU WORK WITH A LOT OF BRANDS, PR AGENCIES AND MEDIA…. YOU’RE WORKING AT THE CROSS-SECTION. WHAT KIND OF INSIGHTS CAN YOU SHARE THAT OTHERS IN THE INDUSTRY MIGHT NOT HAVE ACCESS TO?
I think working with multiple stakeholders, and also having held positions previously in print media, and as a publicist myself, gives me a pretty well-rounded view of the industry. I am always thinking in a 360 degree approach. I know that sounds buzzy, but I guess it’s like we will never offer ‘just an Instagram post’. It’s about getting into the bones of the businesses you’re working with and seeing what they need. Is it brand positioning, social content and strategy, campaign imagery, press, reach, conversion to sales? Coming at it from a niche perspective, my belief is that every business needs all of those things, but what are the priorities. I do think there is space for everyone to work in this industry and it’s about identifying your strengths and unique value proposition.
YOU HAVE 10 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN PUBLISHING, CONTENT, SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY, PUBLICITY & CAMPAIGN EXECUTION – WOO! WHAT’S CHANGED MOST SINCE YOU STARTED OUT?
When I first started out there was a real hierarchy in publishing and it was all about paying your dues. The problem with that is, a lot of people who sit in top jobs are there because they’ve been there for a long time and not because they’re bringing anything creative, or inspiring, or challenging, or fresh to the table. Now, I think the industry is evolving in the sense that we’re supporting and fostering emerging talent, not making them sit in entry level jobs behind a photocopier for years at a time – which is only a GREAT thing. My content producer Ella Jane has been working with me (and in the industry) for less than 12 months, and she has already shot campaigns and content series, holds her own in client meetings, and her written work is published too. It’s a very deep end approach, but I am seeing it more and more, and I do think the good work that is out there shows for it.
WHAT’S THE SCARIEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE?
Despite running a media company, my personal admin leaves a lot to be desired. After NYFW, I had booked to fly into Milan a week early, prior to Milan Fashion Week, telling myself I would take a holiday. Of course, time got away from me and I didn’t realise I had nowhere to stay for a week on the other end of my flight until I was sitting in my seat and being told to switch to airplane mode. I got in a quick text to Ella, and told her to book a holiday in Italy by the water. I got off the plane with no phone battery, but thankfully saw a driver Ella had booked to whisk me to Lake Como. I realise that is a very first world story, but the cortisol levels were high on the flight.
WHAT’S THE MOST EXCITING THING HAPPENING IN BEAUTY RIGHT NOW?
I really like that there is this ‘beauty in context’ movement being lead by brands like glossier. It’s a celebration of REAL women. I’m really into this amazing photographer and artist, Sophie Mayanne, who shoots people and their scars, and tells their stories. I really look forward to a day where there is a much broader perception of what is beautiful.
WE SAW YOU SPENT SOME TIME IN NEW YORK OVER SUMMER…
I have always been in love with New York City, since my first visit when I was 17. I have SO many friends there doing really cool things, and it was a long time since I had taken a vacation, or really took time out to be inspired, or spend time with my friends who have made it their home. It was a really blissful holiday spent going to friends’ art shows, galleries, live gigs, broadway. I also spent some time out in the Hamptons and upstate because I need nature. I’ve come back to Sydney really inspired and focussed on chasing what’s next for the business.
TELL US SOMETHING TOTALLY RANDOM THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU 🙂
I have three brothers and I spent most of my childhood wanting to be a boy. As soon as I turned 13 it all changed. I switched from karate and soccer and surfing to dancing. And from boardies with no top (to be like my brothers) to frilly bikinis. I have always been fascinated with feminine and masculine, and I guess that’s where the ideals for TOMBOY started. My Dad’s name is Tom, and he likes to tell everyone the site is an ode to him.
Images: Chloe Brinklow for The Daily Edited.