Beauty Trailblazer - Julie Donaldson

The brains behind the cosmetic brand Tender Love + Carry, Julie Donaldson knows what women want to carry when it comes to beauty accessories. Not only has she taken this brand to number one locally, it’s also taking the world by storm globally. Available at departments stores across the U.K and the U.S. Donaldson shares her secret to success with beauty director Sarah Simpson.

When she’s not travelling the world at gift fairs or researching trends and product innovation, Donaldson is working away at The Beauty Collective’s HQ, in Auckland, home to dozens of brands including TL+C, VIA, QVS and Simply Essential. We caught up desk-side with Donaldson to document a day in her working life and discovered a sassy, hard-working mother of two who certainly knows her stuff.

What’s a typical working day for you?
Sounds cliché but every day is completely different. We work across so many different projects and deal with so many different customers; each week has different focuses and deadlines. There is always a new “urgent” project that pops up which throws my day/week off. I start at different times each day, which allows me to manage work and family, so there is nothing typical there either. One day a week I start stupidly early which allows me to leave the house before anyone wakes up and get a huge amount done before emails start coming in – it's probably my favourite morning of the working week.

What do you love about the beauty industry?
It is something people can have fun with. The products we deal with are not overly serious and are at a low price point, therefore, accessible to anyone and everyone.
The beauty industry is ever changing so requires constant innovation.
We always have new samples to play with and something exciting to show our customers. It is also nice to think you are helping to make people look and feel beautiful.

What inspires you when designing accessories?
I take inspiration from various, things, people and pretty strange places. Travel is huge, just watching what people carry and how they use things or what makes them happy inspires me. 

How much does fashion influence beauty and accessory trends?
Fashion and homewares are a huge influence. Everything is so easily shared online these days that people are more conscious of all their purchases and products. We have to make sure our items, whether it is a cosmetic bag, hairbrush or body product works with what is currently happening in your bathroom, bedroom and handbag.

What are your favourite trends right now?
So many of the trends we are looking at the overlap. We are working on Boho, Modern Vintage and then mixing it up with a more sophisticated look. My big focus is detailing and texture. Tassels, oversized pullers, pom poms, gold foil and hidden detailing whether in the piping, pullers or lining. We can have a bit of fun with our bags right now.

What countries do you look to when researching beauty trends?
America is our biggest market for TENDER LOVE + Carry so we always check in there first. We have clients globally and we still have to do completely different ranges/design in the bags to fit each market. The main stores we supply have quite unique looks, so we certainly tweak the trends based on whom we are presenting to. 

How do you stay competitive?
We try not to concentrate too much on what our competitors are doing, rather than focus on what we love. We are pretty quick to market. We have an amazing team who can turn ideas into concepts to samples in pretty much a couple of weeks. This is key in the current industry when everyone wants the latest 'it' product.

What has your role taught you about how women like to shop?
That women are extremely complex, everyone is different and things are always changing.

What has been your career high to date?
Our continued success globally. We supply the TENDER LOVE + Carry brand to thousands of stores throughout the USA alone. It is pretty amazing walking into a Department store in the UK or America and seeing our little brand sitting next to some of the big guys.

Travel is a big part of your job, how has that streamlined your beauty routine?
My trips are always pretty quick, I try being away from the kids as little as possible and I always leave packing my own things till the last minute. So my beauty routine is basic. I have a cosmetic bag that is pretty much packed from one trip to the next with the essentials. This is one of our clear travel pouches so it can go from plane to handbag to hotel room. Everything is in travel size or decanted so they are plane friendly. I am often going straight from a flight to a meeting. So the basics that can be easily applied in a vehicle are key.

What beauty advice would you give busy working mums?
Always make time to exercise. This is easier said than done, but does wonders for the way you feel and look.

What’s your best-kept beauty secret?
Drink stupid amounts of water

What the one beauty product you are never without?
Moisturiser and lots of it.

Photography Milana Radojcic