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Interview with Elise Wilson, Beauty Editor at Are Media

06 October, 2022


Elise Wilson is currently working as the category beauty editor at Are Media and works on some of the most popular magazines in Australia such as New Idea, Woman’s Day, WHO, Take 5, That’s Life, and TV Week. 

Medianet sat down with Elise to discuss her career in the Australian media industry and how she first got here. 

You first started your career in the media industry as a receptionist for Pacific Magazines New Zealand. What was this experience like for you and how did it prepare you for future endeavours in the media industry? 

I was well and truly thrown into the deep end as a receptionist for a thriving magazine company. 

I helped with everything from front desk duties, customer queries, accounts, marketing, events, staff parties, couriers, you name it! It taught me a little bit about many things, and quickly realised my passion lay in editorial, especially beauty! 

I idolised the beauty editor, for New Idea and Women’s Health at the time, and loved helping her with all her deliveries and coordinating hair and makeup artists for some of her shoots.

How has working in different roles in the media industry and beyond taught you the most about yourself?

I love learning. 

I love seeing how other departments work and how they flow day-to-day. I’m a people person, and I think that’s why I love media so much, it’s full of outgoing creative types, to who I’m naturally drawn. 


How has the media landscape changed during your career? What has been the biggest marker of this change? 

I’ve seen a lot of redundancies and mergers over my 14 years in media, but that’s the nature of the game. 

In this industry, we’re constantly evolving and our customers' and readers’ wants and needs are always changing too. 

I think the biggest marker of change would be websites and apps arriving and us having to quickly jump on board with that technology.  We needed to be able to cater to all of our audiences across print, social media, and digital.


Did you always want to have a career in media? 

No, not at all. 

To be honest, growing up in the UK I was quite sheltered and thought I’d become a teacher or something. But when I moved to New Zealand at 18 my eyes were well and truly opened. 

I knew my passion was hair, make-up, and writing, so I completely lucked out when I fell into magazines and discovered a beauty editor was a real job! 

I worked for 10+ years as a hair and makeup artist in NZ too alongside my roles in mags. I was hectically busy but I loved it.


What's a commonly held belief about your job that you disagree with? 

I guess the role of a ‘beauty editor’ sounds very glamourous, which of course it is to an extent, but it’s so diverse too. I don’t just write about lipstick all day! 

My job has a huge focus on advertising too, helping with briefs, managing shoots, campaigns, and editorial/advertorial content across a range of our print and online titles. I also have staff underneath me that I need to manage and organise their workload, it’s a constant juggle, I live off spreadsheets and calendars.

Oh, and I love it when people naturally assume our offices, wardrobes, and lives are actually like the sitcom Ugly Betty in New York. It always makes me laugh.


What makes working in beauty and health journalism so unique? What first drew you in?

Well, I’m obsessed with beauty. Literally all of it! 

But health, wellness, and fitness came later for me, I guess it wasn’t always as trendy, but now beauty and wellness are so intrinsically linked. Plus there has been such a rise in health services, apps, experts, treatments, exercise, diets, etc, there’s so much to learn about!


What's one thing about working in the media industry that you didn't expect when you first started? 

I don’t think I’d expected everyone to be so nice. 

I’m not just saying that but I do have friends in other industries that work with people that are so competitive and ready to throw anyone under the bus, but I’ve never found that personally in media.

 I’ve been extremely lucky with the editorial and advertising teams I’ve worked with over the years, it’s really collaborative.


So far, what has been the most memorable experience in your career? 

I’d have to say moving to Sydney from Auckland five years ago in 2017.

I was feeling like I was hitting my head on the glass ceiling a bit over there and I knew I was destined for bigger things. The opportunity came up in Australia, I applied and I moved countries within 5 weeks. 

It was the best decision I ever made.


If you could give advice to your younger self or to anyone else wanting to break into this industry, what would it be?

In such a collaborative and fast-moving environment it’s important to remember nothing is beneath you. 

Your hard work and willingness to be the yes person and put yourself out there will get noticed, trust me. 

Oh and if you don’t love events, networking, and working out of hours, this job might not be for you!


Alice’s pitching preferences: 

I love when PRs put everything in one email and lead straight in with exactly what they’re pitching. 

I get so many emails per day, I’ll miss the punchline if it’s not glaringly obvious from the start!


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