The Founder of Gritty Pretty on Her Beauty Essentials and Shoe Collection Inspired by Her Female Mentors
Self-care and and pride in one’s appearance don’t necessarily point to frivolity or vanity. As Eleanor Pendleton, the founder and editor of the digital beauty magazine Gritty Pretty, clearly knows, beauty, like fashion, can be a form of expression and, like fitness, beauty can generate real confidence. When the Australian entrepreneur first launched her site in 2010, she sought to create a resource to inspire other cosmetics junkies—but one noticeably absent of BS. Because to Eleanor, beauty is a natural extension of who one is, not an artificial layer one puts on.
Six years later and Gritty Pretty has featured some of our decade’s most natural lovelies. Ladies like Elle Macpherson, Miranda Kerr, Lily Aldridge and Hailey Baldwin have radiated from its pixelated cover.
We spoke with Eleanor about blazing this digital publishing trail, her new shoe collection for Shoes of Prey and the beauty trends and advice we should pay heed to.
How did your collaboration with Shoes of Prey work?
I was approached last year by the Shoes of Prey team to create this collection. I instantly thought it must be a joke, because I couldn’t believe that a brand like Shoes of Prey would want me. When the opportunity presented itself, I was so excited. From the outset I knew that Shoes of Prey was a brand I was aligned with. I met Jodie [Fox] seven or eight years ago when she was first starting the company. I was so impressed that she had left her practice as a lawyer, had left the rat race and gone on to start this company that she was so passionate about. So I felt things had kind of come full circle.
When I was thinking about the finer details of the collaboration and how I work with any brand, I thought that I would have to be heavily involved. I wouldn’t have just put my name on a collection of pre-selected shoes. What I loved so much about them was that they gave me an open end. They said I could create whatever I wanted. It was quite funny because when I started to design the shoes, I envisioned what I thought every woman would want to wear. I quickly realized that every pair of shoes I designed was black, which I didn’t mean to do! Everything I wear is with a black shoe, so that was kind of funny.
What was the design process like?
I designed the shoes using the 3D design tool on Shoes of Prey’s website. I think I did something like 50 or 60 versions. And I was able to see them in my cart and tweak all the designs. I wanted to cover all the bases; I wanted these shoes to appeal to all types of women and be worn for a host of different occasions. I wanted to offer an everyday flat, the most perfect black pump, a boot that you could wear with skirts or a pair of jeans, and a couple of slingbacks—because I’m just completely obsessed with slingbacks at the moment.
What were some sources of inspiration for you?
The whole inspiration of the collection really leads to this moment when I was on the plane heading from Sydney to LA to shoot the campaign. I remember sitting on the plane thinking that this is so insane. I reflected on how much of an achievement it is to have this collection and how proud I am of it. I’m still very young (I’m only 28 years old), but I started working in publishing when I was just 18. And there have been so many influential, key women in my life whom I owe a lot of my success to and whom I take a lot of inspiration from. So with that, I started looking at all of my shoes and thought, “I want to celebrate each of these women who has gotten me to this place.” So I’ve named each of the shoes after the five women who have inspired me so much.
Who are some of the women?
So the pebble leather flat is named after Zoë Foster Blake, a celebrated author and beauty editor here in Australia. She is the woman I did my internship with in university. She really is the whole reason I fell into beauty writing. The grey slingback with the black toe is named after Lisa Messenger. She is the editor-in-chief of the Collective Hub magazine. She put me on the cover of her magazine back in September 2015. That was such a defining moment for me, because Gritty Pretty wasn’t even a year old. It was so bizarre because I’m usually the one interviewing someone. So that was a huge highlight. The snakeskin-print slingback is named after my agent Katherine Moses. She’s been with me for two and a half years now. What I love about Kat is that she deeply respects my brand. Some agents are so money-driven, but Kat really respects and wants my business to grow. Oh, the black pump is named after Morgan Tait, my girlfriend who is also the art director of Gritty Pretty. When I had this idea to start this online magazine because no one else was doing it, she was the first person who signed on. The final shoe, the black leather boot, I named after Jodie Fox, the founder of Shoes of Prey, because without her this collection wouldn’t be possible. She got a really nice surprise; she had no idea.
The collection is called the Renegades?
Yes, I wanted to call it the Renegades because it’s inspired by these five key women who I think are renegades. They’re disruptive. They are a formidable force of women. Each has followed their own passion and created a business or a lifestyle. I think that’s really courageous.
Speaking of, how and why did you start Gritty Pretty?
I originally started it in 2010. It was a time when blogs were really starting to take off. Bloggers like Elin Kling and Columbine Smille, and all these Swedish bloggers, were just starting to make traction. And I would go to my job as a beauty editor at Famous magazine and go through my emails and have my coffee and look at these fashion blogs, and that was my inspirational hit in the morning. But I realized that there were no beauty blogs. I couldn’t find one that was just dedicated to beauty and sort of my style—no fuss and no crap. Just educational and informational beauty stories. So I just woke up one day and thought, well, if I can’t find one I’ll just start one.
So I wanted to create a site that was beauty without the bullshit. The best of the best beauty products, presented to women all over the world. When I was coming up with the name of the site, I wanted to create something that represented my style. Like I said, I wear a lot of black. And I believe quite strongly in natural beauty and products as part of a woman’s arsenal. They should empower you and accentuate what you already have. And it can be fun! You can put on a red lip and instantly feel more confident. Or put on a foundation that looks exactly like your skin.
What core products should every woman have?
It always surprised me how many women ask, “What is a serum? Why is that different than a moisturizer?” I always tell them that a serum is the workhorse in your skin-care routine. If there is any product that is actually going to do something, that’s going to hydrate your skin and look after it and nurture it and replenish it and plump it up, it’s going to be the serum. The serum is often the smallest and the most expensive product in your skin routine, but that’s because it contains the highest amount of active ingredients. Much more than in moisturizer or face cream. Serum is something that every woman should really invest in.
And sunscreen. Definitely wear sunscreen. There is no point in having this expensive, habitual skin-care routine if you don’t put sunscreen on at the end. You’re kind of just washing all that goodness away if you don’t put sunscreen on as the very last step. And then tinted moisturizer, lip balm and I love a cream blush because you can use it on your lips as well. Also, highlighter. I’m obsessed with highlighter. It just instantly adds glow. Within seconds you can look healthy and dewy and radiant—and so, so beautiful.
What beauty trends will we see in 2017?
I think that we’ll see a lot more Australian ingredients. There are a lot of brands looking to Australia for Kakadu plum. There are a lot of antioxidant-rich ingredients here that we’ll probably see come through. I also think beauty elixirs and fermented beauty drinks—we’ll see a lot more of them.