A weekly Q&A with interesting people in the Australian Media Industry
Sigourney Cantelo
  • Name Sigourney Cantelo
  • Company Beauticate
  • Position Founder/Editor
  • Interviewed by Social Diary on 15/6/2015
  • Q
    Describe your career path to date.
    A
    I started out as an editorial coordinator on an interiors magazine then went to Qantas magazine and was PA to the fabulous then-editor Carolyn Lockhart who started me off writing captions for the style pages. I moved to TV Week and cut my reporting teeth doing entertainment stories - the tight deadlines and profile interviews provided great training, and I soon picked up their fashion and beauty pages. After a little while I graduated to styling the odd cover shoot and attending beauty events. I then became beauty editor at the now defunct New Woman, then did some freelance writing before being made Beauty Director of what was going to be Australian Glamour, but Rupert Murdoch shelved it before launch due to the GFC. I then joined Vogue Australia where I remained for almost 6 years, initially as Beauty Editor and then Beauty Director. Last year I launched Beauticate (Beauticate.com), a website devoted to the Whos and How Tos of Beauty, and a few months later made the tough decision to leave Vogue and work on Beauticate full time. I haven't looked back - it's been an incredible ride.
  • Q
    What do you love about your job?
    A
    Being at the forefront of beauty and digital media in Australia is so exciting and we are able to do really creative things with the website. I love being my own boss and being able to have an idea and move quickly on it - such as the Ask Beauticate section and the new Beauticaters concept we've just created. As our first foray into User Generated Content, we're giving readers the opportunity to be beauty reviewers - and we've been inundated with applications. It's also really satisfying mentoring my staff and watching them blossom. Then there's the creative side of interviewing and shooting inspiring media personalities, entrepreneurs and beauty industry professionals in their homes - seeing inside their worlds and hearing their stories. I also love how with digital you can have such open lines of communication with readers, the feedback we get on the website and comments through social media is so heartening.
  • Q
    And what's not so great?
    A
    I'm not a numbers person or naturally technically-minded, so I find the detail-oriented side of running a website and business tricky. I'm always getting in trouble from my husband (who helps me with the tech and sales side of things when he can) for not updating the spreadsheets properly.
  • Q
    Describe your typical day.
    A
    After waking up to my three year old son Max hollering "Weet Bix!!! Someone?! I want weet bix!" I'll deliver him the goods before we then start the negotiation (okay, fight) to get him dressed while I pull on clothes and drive him to daycare. If I'm being good I'll make it to the gym or go for a quick jog along the harbour before racing back to my home office to meet the team by 9. We'll go through the work for the day and I'll do some writing and editing or head out to an event or meeting with a PR or an ad meeting. The afternoon is spent juggling content and client requests, feverishly trying to finish a piece before deadline, commissioning stories from our writers, organising shoots, styling flatlays, doing phone interviews for a story or going through pictures from a shoot. I then pick up Max from daycare (sometimes just before it closes!), race home to feed us all, spend some time with Max as hubby and I do either bath time or story time, then we both retire to the office where we'll knock out another three or four hours of work. I fall into bed at 11 or 12 doing last minute social media checks before passing out, or I'll inevitably be too revved up and I'll lie awake dreaming up new ideas for the site. A notebook next to the bed is mandatory!
  • Q
    What is the best experience you've had in your career?
    A
    I'm currently in Europe, which was the prize for winning the Jasmine Awards (an industry award for fragrance journalism) last year and creating some beautiful content for the site. We've been to Grasse in the south of France (the birthplace of modern perfume), and reviewed spas in Lake Como and Provence, and we're now sailing around the Greek Islands, which has been pretty incredible. I loved shooting Natalie Imbruglia, Dannii Minogue, and Lara Bingle for Beauticate and interviewing the divine Rosie Huntington Whiteley and very cool Anja Rubik. At Vogue I also had some pretty incredible moments: interviewing Rihanna in her home town of Barbados, Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper in New York; Cate Blanchett in Milan; designers Nicholas Ghesquiere in Paris for Balenciaga and Burberry's Christopher Bailey in London.
  • Q
    What do great PR people do?
    A
    Provide a seamless interface between the media and the brands, giving relevant and pithy updates on the latest goings on in their jurisdiction. I like it when they have newsworthy, topical information, surveys, facts and figures - oh, and answer my emails really, really fast with prices and product information.
  • Q
    What do bad PRs do...
    A
    Call repeatedly to ask if I've received a product. An email is fine! I also dislike excessive packaging to send a product (think of the environment!) and rolled up press releases.
  • Q
    How do you like to be contacted and when?
    A
    Generally email. A phone call is okay if it's an exclusive or big story/trip/opportunity because sometimes emails get overlooked. My inbox is terrifying these days at best. Phone calls at the beginning or end of the day work for me (when I'm on the daycare run!) but emails can come through anytime.
  • Q
    How has social media altered your job since the days when you started out?
    A
    We are expected to be 'on' and reporting 24/7 now, from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, there's the sense that we should be narrating our life and curating our experiences. We don't leave our work in the office anymore, but that's symptomatic across all industries - thanks to technology! It's also interesting how social media demands that we - as journalists - are expected to put ourselves on show now. "Sigourney's Edit" is my take on that sort of blog-style format. When I started out we were taught to never put ourselves in the story, it was about the subject, and that was it. I don't mind it because that's what readers want, but it's a completely different experience now.
  • Q
    Do you enjoy attending industry events?
    A
    When they're done well they can be a great insight into a brand and product, but I can't attend as many events as I used to now as running a business and website requires me to be in the office as much as possible during the day. I also find it hard now to be out in the evenings as it's precious time with Max, so more and more I send one of the girls in my team to get across the launch information and report back.
  • Q
    The media landscape is going through a period of dramatic change - where do you see it in 5 years?
    A
    People are obviously gravitating towards digital thanks to it's convenience and immediacy and the fact that we live on our devices now. In five years I think print will still exist but perhaps it will become more periodical, it just can't compete with digital in a news sense. Online I think the media space will continue to fragment and become more niche which will lead to more bloggers and sites popping up.
  • Q
    If you weren't a blogger, what would you be?
    A
    If I wasn't running a website I think I'd like to move somewhere remote and beautiful, hang out with my son and husband, write some bits and pieces, grow vegetables and get some chooks. It's a nice fantasy but in reality I'd probably be bored.
  • Q
    Your Instagram/Twitter:
    A
    @sigourneycantelo: (https://instagram.com/sigourneycantelo/)
    @beauticate: (http://instagram.com/beauticate/)
    @beauticate: (https://twitter.com/beauticate)