Words by Florence Robson
Starting off in the cosmetics industry as a brand manager for names including Paul Mitchell and Bourjois Paris, Hayley began blogging about all things beauty from an insider’s perspective back in 2010 – what does the product really do and is it worth the money? Her unique tone of voice and outlook enabled her to find her place in the blogging world, being nominated for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award within four months of launching.
Over the last seven years she’s won many awards, been featured in numerous publications, worked with hundreds of brands and even set up her own blogger network that champions women over a certain age: THIRTY PLUS.
Having worked within digital media alongside running her blog at Saatchi & Saatchi, Hayley’s understanding of the social media and online landscape is vast. She now works as a brand consultant, public speaker and industry expert.
Throughout your website, your passions are front and centre - even in your tagline! Was it always your plan to make a career from your passion for fashion and beauty?
No, never. I’ve always been very career focused and was determined to be successful from a very young age; I was the first in my family to attend grammar school, the first to go to university and the first to undertake a professional direction - my mum worked in retail and my dad was a postman, while my grandparents were window cleaners and chair makers. My degree in marketing allowed me to accidentally find myself working in the world of beauty on brands including Paul Mitchell haircare and Bourjois Paris cosmetics; I spent many years developing new products, working on packaging, negotiating with retailers, booking print and tv advertising and so much more - but that was never what I thought I’d end up doing! I assumed I’d work for a phone company, a bank or a big FMCG brand, not that I’d be able to be in an industry I was really passionate about. My blog journey was an accident and never a path I set out to pursue; if you’d have told me a decade ago I’d be working on my site full time alongside being a freelance consultant I would’ve thought you crazy!
How have you maintained and developed your personal passion for your blog over time?
The blog grew from a genuine passion for the beauty industry and my fascination with new products; to start with it was all about NPD and trends, what I was using and what I would recommend, but over the last eight years it’s evolved into more of a personal documentation. Like with any industry, you have to continually evolve and progress while be willing to try new things - if it starts to feel stagnant then you need to make a change or try something out of your comfort zone. Unlike many other bloggers that started at the same time, I’ve always tried to do everything differently or ensure I stand out for longevity; but I guess that’s my marketing background!
At The Female Lead, one of our key themes is to find strength in setbacks. Is there any particular obstacle you've had to overcome that's defined who you are today?
Oh goodness yes! I joke with my friends that I’m probably the most successful non successful person they’ve ever met. I’ve had contracts terminated, clashed with bosses, dealt with the most difficult clients - but you have to believe in your own ability and see the positive opportunity in every setback. Every time something rubbish happened I’d see it as an opportunity to go in a new direction, try something new, or learn from it; if you coast along and never have to deal with any difficulty you don’t learn how strong you are, or how growth can come from a sh*tty situation. Honestly, at the time those scenarios were devastating, but in retrospect they were the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
Are there any particular role models who have been instrumental in your personal and professional journey?
I don’t really believe in role models or trying to emulate others; I’m a believer in finding your own uniqueness, strength and ability and focusing on making the most of it. I do read a lot of autobiographies and books from great businesswomen (I love Karren Brady and Sophia Amoruso) but I use their stories as general inspiration to kickstart my own ideas.
On your website, you say that 'I'm proud to be exactly who I am, share my opinions and put myself out there'. Where did that confidence come from?
Age, ha! I think when you hit your 30’s something just clicks inside and you realise that you are who you are - and if people don’t like or appreciate that, it’s their problem not yours. I’ve always had professional confidence, but struggled a lot with weight and appearance growing up. I’ve never been skinny, I’ve always had massive boobs, I’ve always been short and I’ve always looked a lot younger than I am - but there comes a time when you just have to own it. I know my stuff and I work with huge global brands, I have a husband and family who love me unconditionally, and I’ve been financially independent since I was 18; whatever anyone else says, that’s what I always remember.
What advice would you give to any girls and young women?
Be yourself, celebrate your individuality and realise that you can’t be great at everything. Trying to be the best always is exhausting, so it’s ok to take a step back and focus your efforts on key areas you know will pay off.
Also, make connections - you never know what relationship will pay off in five or ten years time, or when someone you worked with will come knocking on your door once again. Stand up for yourself, but don’t be a d*ck about it.
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