JW in Conversation with Eleanor Pendleton

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Gritty Pretty Eleanor Pendleton is a boss lady if ever you’ve seen one.

Tessa Talks with Gritty Pretty Founder Eleanor

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Gritty Pretty Eleanor Pendleton is a boss lady if ever you’ve seen one. As if being the mastermind behind one of Australia’s top beauty publications isn’t enough, she is also one of Australia’s most recognisable beauty entrepreneurs and influencers, Ambassador for Estée Lauder and, to top it all off, a new mum. Kickstarting her career as the country’s youngest beauty editor for FAMOUS when she was just 20 years old, Eleanor has continued to make her mark in the world of beauty with her simple, elegant style. 

We reached out to Eleanor to ask her about her approach to health, wellness and sustainability.

Q: Where were you born and raised?

A: I was born on the New South Wales Central Coast. I grew up on a small island called Saint Huberts Island before I spent a few of my teenage years living in Terrigal. I grew up in a really coastal, suburban, surfer community and I really loved it. I loved growing up in that area. It is somewhere that my husband and I go back to frequently because we still have our family there. It’s just a really beautiful, grounded place. I have so many amazing memories growing up, going to the beach, being outdoors, riding my bike. It is such a beautiful part of the world.

Q: How did where you were raised influence your healthy habits?

A: I think because I didn’t grow up in a metropolitan city and instead I spent all of my childhood and teenage years growing up in a coastal suburbian, I spent a huge amount of time being active and being outdoors. I was a huge tomboy growing up. I did every sport. I did netball, I did sailing, I did surfing and I loved fishing. I just loved being outdoors. I think having that sort of lifestyle set me up to want to be healthy. I think when you’re moving your body, you’re active, eating well, getting vitamin D and making sure you’re having a swim in the ocean, it’s just those simple things that have such a profound effect on your health – both physically and mentally.

Q: What is one of your daily rituals?

A: Every morning, after my baby has woken up and is fed, my husband and I take him for a walk to the beach, which is about three blocks from our house. We grab a coffee and my husband will do a surf check and it’s just a really nice way to set me up for the rest of the day.

Q: What are you currently working on?

A: During this time of isolation, my team and I used the extra time to be able to work on a new franchise of the Gritty Pretty brand. When COVID-19 happened, our business was certainly affected and we had a huge amount of work that was cancelled. But what that did was provide us with more time to be able to focus on other projects that perhaps would have taken much much longer for us to get off the ground and one of those is Gritty Pretty Radio. This is our beauty podcast which launched recently. And it’s a really amazing platform because we talk to a whole host of incredible brand founders and celebrities. There are so many different and incredible men and women that our team has conversations with and we share those interviews on GrittyPretty.com or in Gritty Pretty’s digital magazine, but it’s so special to now be able to house those interviews in an audio form.

For me personally, running a business means that a huge part of my job is making sure that the business runs smoothly day-to-day and because of that I lost that part of being a beauty editor that I really loved. I really missed the interviewing and the writing and being able to use that journalist part of my brain because I am busy running the business. So I have actually really loved being able to host this podcast because I get to flex that muscle again. I’m really excited about it! We have an incredible lineup of celebrity guests and brand founders coming up. We will be dropping an episode every fortnight and you can find us on iTunes and Spotify.

Q: What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your life career-wise?

A: It has to be COVID-19. I think, as a business owner, you definitely go through a journey of high-highs and low-lows and you sort of learn throughout a calendar year where those highs and lows sit. A lot of it comes down to work flow and when you have your quieter periods and how you best prepare yourself for that in terms of cash flow to make sure your business can run efficiently. But nothing prepared anyone for COVID-19. I had my son in January and if you had told me at the start of the year that he’d be six weeks old when a giant global pandemic took over the globe and shut down the world, I would not have believed you. I probably would have just laughed in your face. But I think that has by far been the greatest challenge. I know every single business owner can relate to that because it brought the whole world to its knees. It made businesses close their doors overnight. And that was super terrifying I think for everyone. 

Whether you run a business or not, or you’re an employee or not – those first two weeks were absolutely terrifying. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was shitting myself. You know, I’ve worked so hard to create this business and the prospect that it could dissolve overnight was a really scary thought. But, I think because of my personality type, I was able to put that aside and focus on what I needed to do as a crisis plan and as a business continuance plan. I really didn’t want to have to let staff go, I didn’t want to have to decrease staff hours or give staff pay cuts. So, I worked incredibly hard to make sure I could do everything possible to avoid doing that. I feel optimistic and positive about the future, but I think it would be foolish of me to not say that that has been the greatest hurdle. 

Q: What are some ways you handle stress and pressure?

A: I quite like pressure. I’m sort of the type of personality who thrives off a healthy level of pressure and stress. I like it and crave it. I like being busy. But there is definitely a tipping point and I think for me, I am able to recognise – I don’t always catch it in time – but I’m able to recognise when my adrenals are going too hard or when I’m not eating healthy or enough. If I’m not sleeping enough, which no new mum sleeps enough, but if I try to remember to check myself I can generally keep myself healthy and in check. 

Q: What is your greatest strength?

A: I think one of my greatest strengths, which could also potentially work against me and become one of my greatest weaknesses, is that I trust people. When it comes to my personal life, I am very selective with the people who I let into my very close circle and I don’t let a lot of people in, but when I do I trust them wholly. And same thing with my business. I know a lot of business owners struggle to let go but I really trust the people that I have brought on board and into my team. It is a really big thing to create a business and create a brand and I trust every single person that I’ve hired that they know our brand values, that they know our brand ethos and that every single part of the Gritty Pretty brand, they’re completely conscious of. So I trust them to be able to do their job efficiently. I acknowledge that I definitely have my weaknesses, so I try to hire to those and you’ve got to be able to let go and delegate. I think if you want to be able to run a business efficiently, you have to trust people. So I would say that is probably one of my greatest strengths. 

Q: What is your greatest weakness?

A: I’m a very empathetic person. Naturally I have always been incredibly empathetic. I feel things on a really deep level. So, when someone else is feeling something I take on that emotion. And that can often be to my detriment. If I’ve got a friend or family member who is going through something, I will naturally take on that negative energy and if it is negative, I find that that can really bring me down. So, I struggle with retaining that level of empathy, because I think it’s important especially within a leader to be strong and soft, but sometimes it drains me and I feel like I can often have nothing left in the tank because I have just dispelled all of my energy into other things and other people. 

Q: Who inspires you?

A: I would say my husband and my son inspire me. I look at my husband who has such an incredible outlook on life and is an incredibly calm person. We’ve been together for 11 years now and that has certainly had an effect on me. He’s able to keep me grounded because he is way more calm than I am. He is incredibly level headed, diplomatic and the way he is able to look at something, like if there is a problem, he is able to view it objectively and that really inspires me and I think I probably picked up on that over the years. I’m definitely not as good as he is – I am way more emotional. And then my son, since having him, it’s given me a different sort of drive. Everything I do is for him. And there is a huge amount of my work that is self-fulfilling and is for me but it’s just a different level of priorities that I have now. I work really hard for him because I want to make sure that I’m going to give him the best life possible.

Q: How is sustainability a part of your life?

A: It is a really big part. It is definitely something that I have become more invested in over the years through self-education and conscious purchasing. You know, little things around the home. Making sure we are recycling effectively and efficiently. Going that extra mile, putting all my soft plastics in a bag and making sure I’m dropping them off at the soft plastics bin at Woolworths. Making sure I am recycling my Nespresso coffee capsules which are made of aluminium and can be infinitely recycled. But, the thing is, that with coffee capsules you just can’t put them in the recycling bin because the council recycling plants – the way they recycle and do their filtering system, the coffee capsules are too small so they fall through. Which is why I make a point of buying the Australia post return satchels from the Australia post boutiques and I make sure to put all of my coffee capsules into those bags and then I just drop them off at the post office. It gets sent off to a recycling plant in Nowra and the capsules get melted down and turned into things like swisse army knives and bicycles. So I like doing things like that. I’m definitely not perfect. I definitely purchase products where it’s inevitable that they are going to have bits of plastic or things that aren’t sustainable. But where possible, I really try and I think those small efforts can have a really great impact.

Q: What is your biggest wellness indulgence?

A: It’s got to be a facial or massage. There is like a four hand facial at Jocelyn Petroni where you have two therapists working on you and it’s pretty next level. You sort of don’t really know what’s happening when it’s going on because you have someone doing your face and then at the same time someone is doing your arms and legs and it’s just the most decadent, luxurious experience. It kind of sends you to another place – it’s pretty special.

Q: What are your 3 clean – non toxic beauty must haves?

A: A pure face oil. Like a 100 percent Squalane, sugarcane derived, or a Jojoba or Rosehip oil. I would also say the produce that I purchase. When I do our weekly grocery shop I really make a point of making sure I’m buying produce from our local farmers market and our local organic butcher. And I think, as well, because my 5-month-old has just started on solids I’m really aware of that now. I’m so conscious of what I’m giving him to eat. It’s going to be the healthiest source of nutrients. I’m even more aware now.

Q: What is your biggest wellness must have?

A: Pilates. For me, it was a life changing moment when I found reformer pilates. Up until then, I’d never really found an exercise that I enjoyed. I used to hate exercise. I didn’t like going to the gym or boot camps. I think I would just grunt through every boot camp session I ever did. I’d be swearing in the back. When I found reformer pilates, I fell in love with it. I love that it’s so good for the female body. It’s a form of rehabilitation and is incredible for toning and strengthening the body rather than slimming the body. For me reformer pilates is massive. I love Kirsten King’s Fluidform At Home series, which I did during isolation. And I also go to a local pilates studio called Vive Active and they play really fun music so it’s a fun experience to exercise. 

Eleanor Pendleton's wellness must-have is Pilates.

Q: What’s your ideal way to switch off?

A: I find switching off really hard. I think we live in a digital age so having access to our phones is like being glued to a computer. Our phones aren’t phones, they’re mini computers. I find it difficult to switch off, particularly running a digital and social media business. But I try to every now and then, even one or two days a week I will leave my phone on charge in my bedroom and won’t go on it in the evenings. I try to use that time to be more present at meal time and make sure I sit down and have a glass of wine with my husband, and have real conversations. So I try to do that but it is difficult. I go through waves.

Q: What are you currently reading, watching and/or listening to?

A: I am reading two things. I’m reading Michelle Obama’s biography, Becoming, which I’m loving. And then I’m reading Weaning Made Simple: Your Go-To Guide To Baby’s First Food.

Q: Where is your favorite place to travel?

A: The best place I’ve ever been to in my life, and I’ve been to a lot of places, would be the Maldives. That was like being on another planet. Being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by the most aqua, incredible turquoise waters – it felt like I was living on another planet. I stayed at this place called Suniva Fushi and it’s an incredible, sustainable resort. Their approach to sustainability was so inspiring and mind blowing that I’ve just never been anywhere like it. I went snorkelling three times a day and you could see 30 metres below you to the bottom of the ocean. It was that crystal clear, like looking through glass.

Q: What do you eat for breakfast in the morning?

A: When I get up in the morning I have a glass of water with collagen, then I have a coffee. Coffee is my vice (and red wine) so I have one coffee a day. I love carbs and need them for energy so I will have two pieces of sourdough toast with some avocado and maybe a soft boiled egg on top. 

Follow Eleanor on Instagram @eleanorpendleton and stay up to date with the latest in beauty at https://grittypretty.com/. You can also keep up with Gritty Pretty on IG @gritty_pretty and listen to Gritty Pretty Radio on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Tessa James

Tessa James

Australian Actress & Founder of James Wellness


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