Thursday, May 15, 2008
Dream Jobs Part II: Marketing Beauty
There’s a scent that I am pretty crazy about because of its super cute bottle (yeah, I pretty much judged it by its “cover” hehe). I mean, I just couldn’t resist its perfume bottle cap made out of daisies! But more than that, it smells just so happy, young and fresh that I decided I would make it my signature scent.
So imagine my surprise when I met the girl who is marketing this fragrance in the US! And yes, she’s from the Philippines, born and bred! Cathy Abella, went to highschool in Poveda and college at the Ateneo de Manila University where she got her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While most Psych grads end up proceeding to medicine proper, law, or maybe a graduate degree and then a PhD, Cathy now handles marketing for designer fragrance brands in the US.
Sigh! Some people dream of working in the fashion/cosmetics/fragrance industry in New York City, and she’s actually living the dream! I just couldn’t resist but quiz her on how she came to work for one of the most prestigious beauty companies in Manhattan. Of course, I just have to share her experience with you! I hope her story will inspire you to follow your dreams and just make it happen!
1. How did you get started in the cosmetics/fragrance/beauty industry? Have you always wanted to be in that industry?
I never knew that I wanted to be in the beauty industry until a few years after graduating from college and starting my professional career.
My first job out of college was at an advertising agency in Manila where I worked in both media research and account management for a year. I moved to New York shortly after and continued to do advertising work for a popular weekend magazine. After two years in the magazine business, I realized that I had developed an enthusiasm for the fashion and beauty industry. After some time getting exposed and immersed in the fast-paced, exciting world that New York has to offer, I sat down to think about my interests and to explore how I could translate those interests into something I would eventually love doing.
Finally, I did a lot of research and networked with friends and other people already close to the fashion and beauty industry. They had a lot to share which only made me even more excited! I got a lucky break when I received a call from a search firm for a position at the company I am in today. I went through the interview process until they offered me a job starting as a Marketing Coordinator for all designer brands.
2. What are the entry level positions that one can look into if they want to work in the beauty industry? Can they do an internship while in school?
One usually starts as a Marketing Assistant, which is a great position to learn the basic day to day duties of marketing. At our company, we have interns who work on various brands and undergo training in different areas of the beauty industry.
3. How should one prepare for a career in the beauty industry?
Taking courses related to fashion and beauty would definitely be a great advantage. It would also help to know some fundamentals of marketing which you can apply in the workplace. However, I think the most important ingredients are having a genuine interest in the industry, a strong motivation to learn, and the right inter-personal skills to see your projects move from concept to execution.
4. What qualities do beauty companies look for in their marketing team?
A lot of determination and a “can-do” attitude. As much as the work is exciting, there are also challenges along the way. You must have the willingness to embrace those challenges and sometimes even go above and beyond the call of duty.
5. What are the perks of your job? Is it as glamorous as the beauty industry is perceived to be? What is your office like and are you always surrounded by perfumes and beauty products?
Some perks of the job include meeting really interesting people such as celebrities, designers and leaders in the industry during events. Speaking of events, we attend a lot of parties and new product launches which are all added perks to the job. There are days when it’s all exciting and glamorous --- and yes, sampling the different fragrances and cosmetics everywhere in the office --- but there are also days when you just have to roll up your sleeves and get something done and out the door. It’s a good balance of fun and hardwork!
6. Are there any cons to working in the beauty industry?
We can easily be stereotyped as “kikay” or “ditzy” just because we’re in the fashion and beauty industry. The truth is, there are a lot of brilliant people who have made a name for themselves because of the creativity, skills, knowledge, passion and wisdom that they gained from working in the industry.
Beyond simply loving fashion and beauty, it is imperative to have good analytical and decision-making skills to be able to manage beauty brands. One also needs to be an effective communicator to reach the right target audience and to become a successful leader.
7. What's a day in your life like?
No two days are the same in beauty marketing. We’re always on the go, season after season but we’re busiest when there’s a new product launch. What makes the day exciting is having a mix of goals that we need to achieve and being able to work with so many different people. Managing a brand involves knowing about various business functions including finance, sales, advertising, PR, supply chain, production, global marketing, creative, and media.
8. What advice can you give to those whose dream is to one day work for a cosmetics/beauty/fragrance company?
Before getting into any industry/company or job, I think it’s essential to spend some time figuring out what you really want to be; and then stick to your dream and work your best to achieve it, even if it takes some time for it to happen. Education is so valuable so try to do the best that you can and maximize the opportunities that come your way.
Cathy recently launched an exclusive designer fragrance, and is about to complete her master’s degree in marketing and communications at Columbia University in New York City.