Weekly Feature for Fashion & Beauty Fanatics: Q&A with Nancy Houlmont of Beauty411
After working as a cosmetics department manager and fielding questions from friends and family on the hottest new beauty lines, Nancy Houlmont decided to take her love for makeup to the Internet, and started her blog Beauty411 in 2007. She talks to us about the demands of blogging, NYFW and PR.
Q: What was it about beauty and skin care that influenced you to start your blog, Beauty 411, in 2007?
A: I started my blog as a way to share my love of all things beauty- and skincare-related. I had been working as a cosmetics department manager, so I was exposed to many great beauty brands and fragrances. My friends would ask me about the latest products I had tried, or they needed new skincare and would ask what I was using. Back then, I was researching AHAs, antioxidants, glycolics – things no one really had on the radar. It just seemed more efficient to put the information online for them to read at their leisure. From that, it turned into so much more!
Q: How has the beauty blogging world evolved in the past 6 years?
A: There has been an explosion of beauty blogs. People think it looks so easy – just get a domain and start a beauty blog. The truth is, having a quality beauty blog takes a significant investment in time. Not only writing, but researching and testing products, being active in social media, working with brands and PR. It’s not as easy as it looks! There are no easy shortcuts!
Q: It looks like you’re pretty social media-savvy. How do you use social media platforms to promote your brand?
A: Living in the Midwest, social media has been a lifeline for me. Each social media platform offers something a little different in relation to brand promotion. So it’s a matter of figuring out what each platform offers and leveraging it for your brand. For example, I love the visibility of Twitter and the fact that I can be talking with a top makeup artist and getting tips that I can then retweet and/or share with readers. That adds value all the way around.
Q: New York Fashion Week is coming up next week! Will you be heading there? If so, what are you looking forward to the most?
A: Yes, I’ll be at Fashion Week. It’s always crazy with no time to catch your breath, but I love the energy! I’m always grateful to be asked to cover backstage and see the talented makeup, hair and nail artists work their craft. To me, they are the unsung heroes of Fashion Week, and although front-of-house is exciting, there’s nowhere that I’d rather be than backstage! I love seeing the upcoming trends, the colors and learning from the makeup artists.
Q: Fill us in on a fall beauty trend we should know about!
A: One trend that was big at last fall’s Fashion Week was a graphic eye. Sometimes what you see at Fashion Week doesn’t make it any further than the runway, but that trend has stayed. The easiest way to get the look is with a bold application of eyeliner, using one of the eyeliner “pens” or stylos. If you’re unsure, there are many good videos on YouTube that can help with technique. It takes practice!
Q: What’s the best part of being a beauty blogger?
A: Really, there are so many great things about being a beauty blogger. I’ve been blessed with so many amazing opportunities – meeting Bobbi Brown, being backstage at Fashion Week, making so many amazing friends, being fortunate to have good relationships with brands/PR and trying out new products before they even hit the market. I am humbled and grateful for all of it, every single day.
Q: What about the most challenging?
A: To me the most challenging is the fact that I’m not located in New York. Being located in the Midwest sometimes feel like it’s “out of sight out of mind.” It means that you often don’t get information as “real-time” (i.e. launches) as a blogger in NY does. Even though I’m not based in New York, that’s the #1 city where my readers are, so getting information on new launches is critical.
Q: What are you PR pet peeves?
A: I don’t have a lot of them, but there are a few. Because of the volume I get daily, it’s come to the point where I can’t respond “yes” or “no” to every single pitch. Having people email the same pitch two or three times “to see if I received it” is frustrating and wastes a lot of time. It’s also frustrating when people leave agencies and you lose contact with a brand that you’ve covered.
Q: Any tips for PR professionals who want to get in contact with you?
A: From a time-management standpoint, email is so much more efficient for me. I really don’t like to be contacted by phone; it’s so interruptive. Nothing is worse than being in the middle of writing a post and having someone call you to find out if you received their email. And I’d rather not be called out on Twitter to see if I’d be interested in receiving a sample of a product. My contact information is on my website.
For more beauty and fashion insight, download our free 2013 Notable Influencers Fashion Pitching Kit or take a peek at our Top 10 Refinery29 Journalists on Instagram,Top 10 VOGUE Journalists on Instagram or Top 20 UK Fashion Blogs.
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