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How a former magazine editor turned beauty editing into a business with a heart

By BELLE RODOLFO Published Nov 26, 2021 5:00 am

I met Nicole when she was already a seasoned beauty editor for the now-defunct print edition of Town & Country Philippines, and I, a young beauty writer for the then-print edition of Preview magazine.

Nicole and I grew together as co-beauty editors: constantly attending the same press lunches, sharing product images, swapping lipstick shades in the car going back to the office after events. Both of us will agree that while editors of the typically one-woman beauty department work double time (versus a fully-staffed fashion department), we also reap the pampering, trying out products, the treatments, and all the fun stuff ourselves.

If there’s something one learns from being a one-person team for the longest time, it’s the fact that if you were able to hold up a full magazine segment by yourself, you can definitely hold up well on your own.

So for a beauty editor to go fully independent is something daunting — will brands still support you outside of your title? Will your connections remain friends? Will you be able to create your own beauty presence?

If there’s something one learns from being a one-person team for the longest time, it’s the fact that if you were able to hold up a full magazine segment by yourself, you can definitely hold up well on your own.

Nicole is a true testament to how beauty editors can be fully independent with the multitude of skills they hold, especially as she launched The Beauty Edit (TBE). It was originally a media platform and subscription box for beauty addicts and newbies alike, highlighting the best in beauty, from luxury to homegrown, as well as its first takeover box with Rustan’s, the pioneer in premium beauty retail in the Philippines.

TBE has since grown exponentially into a fully engaged and multi-dimensional community that Nicole has grown close to online. We chat with Nicole about The Beauty Edit’s journey below.

YSTYLE: You came from working at Summit Media, Town&Country specifically, for so long before you established TBE. Was it scary finding your own footing?

NICOLE LIMOS MORALES: The feeling was uncertainty more than anything, and I think that’s something common to a lot of journalists who leave publishing. It comes from not exactly knowing what we’ll do next, especially if writing or the magazine life pretty much defined our lives or if the brands or industry people would still support us elsewhere.

Nicole Limos-Morales of The Beauty Edit: “The Beauty Edit’s startup capital, believe it or not, is good content. It was built on that first and foremost.”

What I’ve learned, though, which I think everyone in publishing should realize, is that you take everything with you when you leave — the experiences, the knowledge, the friends, the colleagues, the connections.

Your foundation will always remain and so it’s important to build a good, solid one wherever you are. People remember good output and great work ethic. Work so hard and be so good that people remember you for the kind of output you produce and as your own person and not just for the title you work for.

I’m lucky that when I left Summit I had the privilege to take a short break (aka, early days of motherhood) and just think and plan, all thanks to a very supportive husband who also enabled me to just take the leap. It also helped that I knew my strengths as a writer and editor and that I’ve always enjoyed creating content.

The Beauty Edit’s startup capital, believe it or not, is good content. It was built on that first and foremost. It’s possible!

You came from print publishing but also you were there during the transformation to digital, which allowed a two-way conversation with readers. Now, for TBE, which is a multi-platform situation, how much more interactive is it with your audience?

I owe much of what I know in publishing — managing digital audiences, creating new concepts and story formats and analyzing data — to the incredible digital training at Summit back then. The feedback we got from working for a website is incomparable, though, to the interaction I now get from The Beauty Edit, where the relationships feel real because they are.

I was never a believer in making friends on the Internet but this platform totally changed that. I’ve genuinely learned to love and appreciate many readers of The Beauty Edit who are constantly in touch through the platform.

I wasn’t even aware of it in the beginning but I think this was a result of responding to everyone who sends a message and finding many of our readers deeply interesting, too. I’ve led many to find a dermatologist or discover their fountain of youth. I’ve had nerdy conversations on ingredients with several skincare junkies. I’ve accompanied many in their shopping sprees albeit virtually, whether it’s to recommend something or talk about my experience with a particular product. I know many of their personal stories because at some point they’ve already become friends.

And you’re right, it’s two-way because I’ve also learned so much from many of them. They lead me to brands I’ve never heard of or beauty treatments I’ve never tried just the same. The fragrance junkies are a different breed with all their niche fragrance knowledge; it’s incredible. Their feedback fuels us to carry on and dream bigger. Many of the conversations with them also inspire the content of The Beauty Edit.

Being simply a beauty editor, it is easier to say your opinions are not biased as the reader does not buy from your pages. With TBE, the audience can directly try out the products and services you recommend, which makes it easier — but how do you try to keep your reviews as objective as possible even as a beauty business?

I think product reviews can never be completely objective, and that’s all right. I think that this is also what we strive to be as beauty editors — to be trustworthy enough for our subjective opinion to count. And it can only happen if we’re constantly honest with our reviews.

Because I came from publishing, I prefer having editorial freedom when it comes to features and posts so I also avoid paid partnerships that could affect that. We also only work with brands we believe in. That is lost income on my end, but that’s the sacrifice we make.

To this day, I also still buy products even if I get sent a lot. I think it’s part of expanding our beauty horizon. It allows us to discover more formulations and technologies beyond what’s just presented to us. It allows us to talk about more things too. Part of my monthly budget goes to buying beauty products for this purpose.

When it comes to products sent through PR, I also don’t feature everything sent to me, which brands I work with know anyway. We value having editorial discretion, which good brands and reputable PR companies know about. We feature products because we find value in them for our readers and not because of the pressure of being given them for free.

Vol. 5 is a massive trunk! Could you tell us how you put it together? Is the process the same as every other volume? What's the decision-making and the curation like?

Since we’re unveiling The Big Beauty Edit, a list of some of our favorite discoveries of the year (much like Beauty Awards but I deliberately avoided using that term because I feel it’s something longtime publications are more worthy to give), I figured why not make the last volume just as big where we could feature some of these favorites?

And so The Beauty Edit Trunk was born. The Big Beauty Edit Trunk is the result of over a year of buying, trying, testing and enjoying beauty to its very core. It’s a lineup of over 300 products we think are worthy of the reader’s attention spanning eight categories.

From this list of favorites, I tapped the brands to work with, much like the process for the other volumes. This took over a month of meetings with different brands and deciding on which winners we’re putting in the trunk considering quantities, costs, redundancy, and so much more. We’re so happy we were actually able to get so many of our dream brands for this edition.