Interview: Ashley Ropati, Beauty Writer and Style & Entertainment Journalist
Hi Ashley! Firstly, please explain to readers of The Twenties Club what your various roles are within the beauty industry:
I’ve been very lucky thus far with my variation of different beauty and fashion journalism roles. I’m currently a style and entertainment journalist with Fairfax media, and beauty writer for the Australian beauty website Beauticate.
I started my writing career as a beauty intern at Vogue Australia, so as my portfolio of work continued growing I continued developing my beauty connections and body of work. I was previously a writer at the Denizen Magazine, Trendspotter, Yahoo!, NZ Herald and the beauty editor at New Idea magazine, which was a wonderful opportunity to get to know professionals at the top of their field. Everybody from the French hairdresser of the year to “the spray tanner to the stars”, the beauty industry, much like fashion, is always evolving which is wonderful to be a part of. There is an endless sense of playfulness and innovation which I quickly fell in love with. Plus, the beauty industry celebrates youth, which is always a bonus as a young writer.
How did you get your start in the beauty industry? Do you have any advice for young females wanting to get a foot in the door?
I studied in Sydney, which as far as the fashion and beauty go, is a much bigger pond. Like many soon-to-be journalism grads that want to work in print, I spent most of my spare time pedalling my CV off to luxury magazine editors. Movies like The Devil Wears Prada didn’t deter me from being a magazine intern, and despite being well aware it wouldn’t be entirely glamorous, I knew it was a fundamental leg up in a fiercely competitive industry.
I tried to reach out to all of the big titles: Harpers Bazzar, Allure, Grazia, Vogue Australia. The only response I got (despite all of my emotive and heartfelt cover letters) was from Vogue Australia’s then beauty director, Sigourney Cantelo. I started as a beauty intern and spent almost a year at Vogue, while juggling my studies and punishing journalism deadlines, tidying the beauty cupboards, writing stories for online, liaising with PR people. Vogue taught me a great deal, somebody took a chance on me but my work ethic kept me there.
A lot of young women see the magazine, PR, fashion and beauty industries as ‘fluff’ jobs or glamorous opportunities to lunch and lounge all day. If you want to spend your afternoons at luncheons, become a blogger. If you’re prepared to work hard, sacrifice weekends, be on call and settle for 6am starts while everybody else is sleeping in, then try your hand at magazines, but make your work too good to ignore. Hard work, in any industry, will pay off. Contacts and connections may get you a pre-emptive job interview, but how much you know and how hard you’re willing to work will get you bylines. My first byline was with Vogue Australia, which is pretty great. I bypassed working for free at regional newspapers, photocopying and making cups of tea all together, but I did try to make every hour and every day I spent in the fashion shrine that is Vogue Australia count. Don’t take it for granted. There are (quite literally) 100 other girls itching to claw you down to take your spot!
We often read that beautiful skin starts on the inside – what foods or health rules do you rely on to keep your skin looking its best?
I think beautiful skin is an all inclusive reward. It’s a reflection of your entire lifestyle. A healthy diet, for sure, will keep your skin radiant, so too will regular exercise. Sweating does wonders for your skin as does hydration. I try to drink plenty of water, I carry a Camelbak (BPA-free) drink bottle with me everywhere, sometimes with a little lemon wedge for detoxification, and incorporate green smoothies into my diet. People let the jargon get on top of them but really plenty of sleep, plenty of water and however you choose to get your cardio should keep your skin fresh and glowing. That being said, the right cleanser definitely helps.
Do you have a “holy grail” skin care or makeup product that you swear by?
As a beauty editor, whenever I’m asked this question there’s never really a fixed answer. From week to week I’m given so many new, exciting and game-changing products, so I try to mix it up. If I had to choose though it would be a skin boosting product called Skinmedica TNS Essential Serum. Built to be worn under your make-up, it contains growth factor and virtually rebuilds the collagen production in your skin. Dermalogica PreCleanse is the best oil cleanser or make-up remover you’ll ever use. And because we’re all young and fun, my YSL Touche Eclat Radiant Touch has been my saving grace after a late night more times than I can count.
What are your skin care/beauty tips for twenty-something’s on a budget?
Beauty doesn’t need to cost the earth, or break the bank. Beauty editors are fortunate because they get gifted a lot of wonderful, expensive new beauty products to trial. Any top facialist will tell you above all, you need a good cleanser. It doesn’t matter how amazing your foundation is, if you’re not cleansing your skin well enough, you’ll break out. Cetaphil is a cost-efficient cleanser that works. If you’re counting your pennies, you can’t go past Cetaphil. If you get dry skin, try Trilogy Rosehip Oil instead of moisturiser, a little of this liquid gold goes a long way. Try washing your hair only once a week, and masking it afterwards, sprits with dry shampoo (Batistse is cheap and Schwarzkopf do a great alternative) to keep you going. Mashed banana and coconut oil is a great at-home hair masque. Miranda Kerr uses coconut oil to rehydrate her hair, so if it’s good enough for her!
Are there any expensive products that you believe are worth investing in? For example, should we spend more on a high quality moisturiser/cleanser or are the cheap ones just as good?
If you’re somebody who wears make-up every day then definitely consider how much you spend on your foundation. Whatever we put on our face soaks into our pores, so if you’re only willing to shell out $20 on a base foundation then you’re not doing your body any favours. I think there’s been real shift towards natural, eco-conscious beauty over the last few years, which is great to see. Make-up that doubles as skincare not only saves time but also saves your skin. Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Foundation is a beautifully enriched, lightweight foundation that feeds your skin while you wear it. A great primer, oil cleanser and eye cream should also be an investment buy. A top facialist told me that from the age of twenty, you should be using a night cream before bed every night. The ageing during your twenties is rapid, so I try to remember to use my Environ C-Quence Eye Gel before bed. Invest where you use it most: your eyes, your base, your skin, your hair. If you’re blonde, a purple shampoo should be a staple in your hair routine, don’t go skint on your colour care, especially if you’ve just paid a small fortune at a top hair salon to get your roots done, ladies. L’Oreal Professional, Kerastase, Original Minerals, Eleven Australia and Kevin Murphy are a few of my hair heroes.
And lastly… If you could give one piece of advice to your 19-year-old self for surviving your twenties, what would it be?
The best piece of advice would be “keep going” and “back yourself”. Confidence is an interesting thing, I don’t think until about 23 or even 24 did I start to really back my work and write like myself. When you’re just starting out, it starts to feel as though you’re stalling, and going to be in the same spot forever, working really hard, getting rejected over your lack of experience and making endless sacrifices, but it will pay off. That I can promise you. While it may feel like you’re missing out during all those Saturday nights in, with a bag of M&M’s and endless University paper deadlines, just remember you’ll eventually land your dream job and look back and pat yourself on the back. Listen and learn from the people who are investing time in you, there’s a reason they’re in the roles they’re in, so pick their brains. Watch the way they work. There will be 100 other parties and 100 other weekends, but golden opportunities are ‘golden’ because they’re fleeting. When you land one, grab it with both hands.