Episode 04

 

Meet Jeannine Morris. A multimedia beauty and wellness journalist who learned early on (thanks Dad) the importance of being your own advocate. She shares how speaking up for yourself can get you the most out of your career.

Announcer

Welcome to where brains meet beauty. Hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative Director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.

Jodi Katz

We’re joined by Jeannine Morris. Jeannine is a multi-media journalist with specialty in the beauty industry. Welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty.

Jeannine Morris

Thank you for having me.

Jodi Katz

We’re so excited to have you here. Our listeners are curious about the clear path and journey over the years in the beauty industry and not necessarily the glossed over, picture perfect PR story that people tell but an honest and authentic one. You certainly have an interesting story to tell.

Jeannine Morris

Yes I do.

Jodi Katz

I thought what would be really appropriate considering the atmosphere out in the industry right now. Let’s start with a theme of change.

Jeannine Morris

Okay.

Jodi Katz

When you started out in the industry the most coveted jobs are Beauty Editor roles and Print, right?

Jeannine Morris

Yes.

Jodi Katz

Go ahead.

Jeannine Morris

No, I was just gonna say when I started in the industry, I started as an intern at Cosmopolitan Magazine in the beauty department. That was about 10 years ago, digital was not even in existence yet.

Jodi Katz

I also worked at Cosmo but it was [inaudible 00:01:23] [crosstalk 00:01:23]. We didn’t overlap but I bet it was a super major coup at the time, right? To get that first job there. I’d love it if you could take us back to that moment. And how you got the job and what it was like working there.

Jeannine Morris

Sure. Well, after I graduated college I went to grad school at the New School University in New York City. And while there I was allowed to have more internships for school credit like I did in college. So, I found an internship opening at Cosmopolitan in the beauty department under Andrea Laventhal, who has been my career mentor for years. And I applied. At this time I was taking most of my classes at night and then I would work everyday from nine in the morning till six, seven, o’clock at night at Cosmo as an intern. Fast forward six months and the assistant left the job. So, the assistant position was open at Cosmo. I was interning there for a while and I watched girls come in to interview for it, all the time. They were coming right past me to interview for the position I’ve been dying for.

So I… long story short, I spoke up. And I said to, the beauty director at the time it was Rachel Hadgel, I said: “Excuse me. Like, I’ve been here for six months. I’ve graduated college now. This is my dream job. Can I at least interview?” And she was kind of surprised like, “Oh my god why didn’t I think of interviewing you?” I think they forget that, like, because I was in grad school that I was already graduated and looking for a job. So, they interviewed me, I took an edit test and before I knew it the job was mine. And I was the beauty assistant at Cosmo. Which was a dream job for me since I had started writing in college. It was a dream job. And I was so excited to be there.

Jodi Katz

Can you remember the feelings or the angst or whatever was going through you at the time of getting to that moment of speaking up? Was it hard to speak up? Or was it really easy at that moment to speak up, on your behalf?

Jeannine Morris

That’s a good question. I am not shy. And I’ve always been one, even through college and stuff, to ask for what I want. Because I truly believe that if you don’t ask for it, if you don’t put yourself out there. You know? How does the universe know what direction you’re trying to get to? So I ask. I speak up. So when I saw this happening, I pretty much, right away, when I saw her interviewing other candidates and giving out edit tests. I walked into her office and I was like: “Hi, can we talk?” Like, I wanted to let her know that I wanted to be considered. Worst comes to worst, they wouldn’t consider me for whatever reason. But at least I had to have a shot. And at the end of the day we have to look out for ourselves.

Jodi Katz

To be able to be your own advocate in that way, in a kind of corporate environment. It’s hard for a lot of people. There’s a lot of intimidating factors and people just really, for the most part, don’t ask for what they want.

Jeannine Morris

Yeah.

Jodi Katz

What kind of advise would you give somebody who’s, at any part of their career, who’s hesitant to speak up for themselves in that way?

Jeannine Morris

Well, my father told me when I was, got my first job at Cosmo. He said to me: “You need to look out for yourself. You need to look out for your own goals. You need to look out for your own life. Because no one else is going to do it for you.” He was like: “You need to be your own biggest cheerleader. And if you really believe in something or you really want something, you have to go after it. Because no one is going to hand it to you.” And he was right. So I’ve been using that advice my whole, entire career. Now, I’ve been writing in the beauty industry for 10 years. 10 plus years. I look out for myself. I, you know, I just realized that my priorities should be my career, my life and everything else. Because, at the end of the day the companies I work with, they don’t really care what I’m doing. They don’t care about me. So, I have to look out for myself.

Jodi Katz

It’s such an interesting piece of advice that your dad gave you. And I would think that maybe most people are held back by doing that. By fear. The, ‘what if they say no.’

Jeannine Morris

Right.

Jodi Katz

Does fear play a role for you? When you’re asking for what you want or what you need.

Jeannine Morris

No. Because I ask myself: “What’s the worst case scenario?” So, for me to gain the courage to go up to a friend, to go up to a boss, to go up to somebody or to speak up for something that I’m looking to do, as far as my career goes, or just in life. I have to play out the worst case scenario. And the worst cast scenario in most times is the opportunity doesn’t come just for [inaudible 00:05:55] for me. And that’s okay. You know what I mean? But, at least I tried.

Jodi Katz

I really love this. Because, I really relate to it. As a young person, not at Cosmo at the time, but I was at Glamor. I thought I was speaking up for myself, but I really just had no idea that I was on land mines that were ready to explode as I stepped into them. I didn’t see them. I was the assistant to the editor in chief at Glamor. And I was probably like 22. I was not good at this job. I didn’t have a passion for the job. I didn’t have a passion for the culture there. So, I did what I thought I was supposed to do. I went to HR and I sat down.

Jeannine Morris

Oh yeah.

Jodi Katz

I thought this was a safe place for me to talk. And by the time I left the HR office, went in the elevator, back up to my desk at Glamor. In that amount of time, my boss was called and I was fired. [crosstalk 00:06:53]

Jeannine Morris

Like I said, especially in corporate, nobody cares about you. They really don’t.

Jodi Katz

Yeah. It taught me really quickly that HR only has one friend, right? And that’s the CEO that serves. But I had no idea, right? Like, no one tells you this when you walk into any corporate environment after school that you have to watch your back. And think about who you’re speaking to. Like, I just didn’t play that game. I didn’t even know the game existed, quite frankly.

Jeannine Morris

Well, you have to live and learn, I guess. I was just luck that my father, my father is an entrepreneur as well, and I was just luck that he kind of gave me, like, a school of hard Knox when I stared out my career. And, since then, like, I’ve been freelance now for eight years and I have always, always, turned to my father for business advice.

Jodi Katz

Well, you’re certainly lucky to have him. And our listeners are really lucky to be able to hear this from you. Because, it’s really beneficial advice.

Jeannine Morris

Thanks.

Jodi Katz

If we can bounce forward now ten years later after where Cosmo sent. Many well known publications have folded. Right?

Jeannine Morris

Yeah.

Jodi Katz

And beauty departments have been drastically reduced.

Jeannine Morris

It’s so sad.

Jodi Katz

So like, the hierarchy when you were at Cosmo, it’s gone. Right?

Jeannine Morris

Yeah.

Jodi Katz

So my thinking is in essence of career path and one that you set out on ten year ago and many of your peers. The way was known… it’s going extinct? Can you share with our listeners the landscape stuff that you’ve experienced now? I know that you’re not looking to be a full time editor. But, you still engage with this people as a writer.

Jeannine Morris

Yeah.

Jodi Katz

How has the landscape shifting, changed the way you do your business? And look for your business?

Jeannine Morris

Well, to be honest, I started shifting my business as soon as twitter and blogging became popular. And this was back in like 2008. I noticed that there was all of this new activity happening and it was all online. And it was twitter, everybody was creating twitter handles. And people were playing with word press and blogger and all these sites. And I wanted to be a part of that. So, I wanted to learn it. I knew it was going to be the next big thing. I launched a blog. At the time it was called ‘Beautysweetthought.com’ but now it’s just ‘JeannineMorris.com’. And I launched a blog, solely, to be able to start practice using these tools. I wanted to learn how to write for the online audience. I wanted to learn how to strategically use twitter. And I wanted to embrace the tools that many companies I was working with were afraid to tackle. [crosstalk 00:09:27]

Jodi Katz

To be able to have the willingness to embrace the new. Because it was hard. That was a long time ago. Right? This was like-

Jeannine Morris

It was long time ago. But, you know what? I was young. And a lot of people I worked for at the time were afraid of all the newness, and stuck in the old. Which, you know, is pretty much print and not embracing the change. Instead, they were staying clear of it. So, I decided to do it for myself so I can learn everything and I was very lucky because of my experience at Cosmopolitan. My blog gained wild – popularity, pretty much, over night. It was a beauty blog and it still is. But now it’s more wellness focused as well. And I celebrated today since 2009, it has allowed me so many different opportunities. It allowed me to quit my full time job, take on freelance writing and editing projects, as well as consulting projects and appear on air as a beauty expert for NBC.

Jodi Katz

Wow, so this is. I mean, what you were doing so long ago was really what many of your peers have to start doing now. Which is the pivoting, right?

Jeannine Morris

Yeah.

Jodi Katz

Like, you stayed ahead of it in many ways?

Jeannine Morris

I was very lucky.

Jodi Katz

Did you still have to keep doing more pivoting?

Jeannine Morris

Yes. I’ve been very luck to stay, like, ahead of the trend with social and ahead of the curve and I think that’s why I’ve been successful. And, obviously, I do see all the magazines started to do it all the editors started to branch themselves through the internet. Everybody started to take to it because they realized it wasn’t going anywhere and that was the way of the future. For me, I would say I’m lucky because I had a ton of beauty [inaudible 00:11:05] and deals. With beauty brands like Dove, and L’Oreal and big brands. And I would act as the face of the brand for a lot of different projects. That was mainly because my blog had a large audience at the time and it was very popular. So, just like now, it’s the Instagram girls and the YouTubers getting all these big deals. I had my time, a good five, six, year run. Where I was really killing it in the beauty industry and I was having a great time with it.

Fast forward to today, pivoting again, those deal are few far in between because now there’s instant Instagram celebrities over night who have millions of followers and great engagements. And those are the girls who are getting the deals now, which makes sense. So, I needed to, kind of, re-think my career again because I had like, used all the platforms and was active on Instagram. At this time, I’m kind of just a journalist that, you know, I try to be inspirational through my work. And I still get some deals like that, but not enough to make a living off of. So, I pivoted again.

Jodi Katz

So, what is this new direction? What does it look like to stay ahead of the curve and develop a strong career in this way [inaudible 00:12:16] in this moment?

Jeannine Morris

Well, for me, a lot of work I’ve been doing behind the scenes is starting to become more in the forefront. I’ve been consulting for beauty brands ever since I started my blog, really. Everybody wants to pick my brain or learn how to brand themselves using digital media. And I have been helping brands and helping individuals do this for quite sometime. But, recently I, kind of, put it out there into the universe. And I told my industry that I’m doing this. And I started a small consulting firm where I work with beauty brands or individuals, like hairstylists and dermatologists, to help them navigate social media and come up with content calendars and I create contents for them. And I help them do what I did, essentially, for themselves.

Jodi Katz

It’s really cool that, you know, you’ve made this change from editor to, almost, marketer. Right? And we see this in the industry at large, right? Like Linda Wells, who was, you know, formerly velour, just took the position at Revlon or in creative. And, you know, who would’ve seen that three years ago? Nobody, right? [crosstalk 00:13:28] Well, I didn’t. I’m sure you did. But now you have the industry and marketing teams and CEO has seen how valuable the editorial experience can be for their brands and building their brands, it helps. Do you think that’s something that’s going to be happening? All these great editors who have worked for 15, 20 years. In this realm are going to get eaten up by brands to lead, you know, creative marketing positions?

Jeannine Morris

Yeah, it’s been happening for quite some time actually. My old boss at Cosmopolitan, when she left Cosmopolitan after 10 years, she was the beauty director, she ended up going in house at fresh. Now she’s at Clinique. I know a lot of the older beauty directors, anyway, have all taken on brand rolls. And, for me, I am not one to work full time or to work corporate. I like working for myself. So, I just keep reinventing my own business model in order to stay afloat.

Jodi Katz

So, when I think about my journey and there was lots of pivoting and jumping and hoping and all the challenges after the years. I was, are we searching for something? You know, the jobs are plenty fine and good and, at the time, I’m sure the money was good enough. But, I was really always searching for something that would fill this, kind of, void. Like, a intellectual void and something in my heart. Like, what is the job that feels right for me? Like, what is the career path that going to- that feels really good about this work everyday? And I didn’t know how to articulate it, right? Like, I couldn’t say: “I want to be an XYZ.” But, I was searching for something and I finally found that feeling when I got a job as a copywriter at an advertising agency. I finally felt like – and that was years ago.

Jeannine Morris

Well, that’s great.

Jodi Katz

Oh, this feels really really good inside. What kind of thing are you looking to feel? Yeah, like what were you looking for? What are you looking for to make that feeling, like, satisfied?

Jeannine Morris

I am pretty good where I am right now. I have a pretty good – I found a pretty good balance between my marketing work and my editorial work. So, I love doing TV work. I go on NBC once a month to do a beauty trend report. I work with Amazon to do beauty trend reports. I love doing TV work but, I also am so lucky enough to be able to freelance write. So, I write and edit content for Refinery 29, Women’s Health, Harper’s Duvare. And then, outside of all the stuff that I do in front of the camera and in front of an audience I have this small consulting agency that I work on, kind of, behind the scenes and it really pays the bills. So, for me, I think what lights my soul on fire is writing and editing beauty copy. That’s what I love to do. Whether that’s for Harper’s Duvare or for a brand, at this point, to me, it doesn’t really matter.

Jodi Katz

So, this is a big question, why beauty?

Jeannine Morris

Well, that’s a good question. I fell into beauty actually. The internship I applied to at Cosmopolitan was specifically for the beauty department. And I didn’t know the difference at the time. Obviously, okay beauty department, that’s fine. What girl doesn’t like makeup and hair care and skin care? But, I was also interested in fashion at the time. I just wanted to write for a woman’s magazine. So, when I saw the internship for the beauty department I jumped on it. And I kind of fell into beauty. And now, I would never ever change my beat. It is constantly changing, always evolving, and, in the beauty department, you actually write your own copy. You interview [inaudible 00:17:16] you write your copy. Where as, in the fashion department, you style clothes and become more of a stylist. But, the editorial team writes your copy. So, I think I got very lucky falling into beauty.

Jodi Katz

So, if you really said: “I’m done with beauty.” For whatever reason and you walked away from this business. And you walked away from the navigating and the pivoting within beauty. What would you be doing?

Jeannine Morris

I couldn’t do that. That- everything I know, everything I love, everything I’m passionate about is in the beauty space. I mean, besides that, I have branched out a little bit as my interests have changed into wellness. On the side I’m a yoga teacher and a [inaudible 00:17:55] health coach. So, I write a lot of wellness content now too, for Women’s Health and Self. And even on my own site. So, I love the wellness industry. Obviously, it’s become trendy but, for me, it’s another huge passion.

Jodi Katz

So, my last question for you today Jeannine. And it’s something i think about quite often. Aside from financial goals, what is your barometer for success?

Jeannine Morris

My barometer for success, besides from financial goals, is just to be really happy. Authentically happy. And I am. Like, I’m excited to – I feel like I’m in a good place right now. And, of course, as a freelancer for eight year I’m pivoting all these different directions, sometimes we can feel pretty lost. Sometimes you can be very fulfilled but, I like just having a balance of, you know, a steady income so I can feel comfortable and live life by means. But, also just fulfilled work. And I feel, that the work I’ve been getting lately is enough. It’s fulfilling, but I’m always looking for more. Do you know what I mean?

Jodi Katz

Yes. Well, there’s always tomorrow. But, do you feel like you can find serenity in today?

Jeannine Morris

Yeah. I’m in a good spot right now. It’s been up and down for the past year and a half as I’ve been pivoting. Again, into writing more marketing content but, as of today in this year so far, I’ve been really happy. And pretty content.

Jodi Katz

Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Jeannine.

Jeannine Morris

Thank you for having me on your show.

Announcer

 Thanks for listening to Where Brains Meet Beauty with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for me authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

 

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