Fashion journalist and stylist Ella Gregory, brains and beauty behind hit blog Coco’s Tea Party, is known for her creative eye and excellent fashion and beauty edits. GTG’s Kiran Branch sat down with the eclectic blogger to talk about the blogosphere, beauty ambitions and her most coveted make-up and skincare products.
Firstly, what made you decide to start your blog?
I started blogging in September 2006, before it was considered a cool thing to do. It was a totally different scene back then, and there were hardly any fashion blogs - let alone people that did it professionally. It started out as a hobby, and slowly became a much bigger part of my life.
How did you decide upon a blog name?
Unfortunately there is no story whatsoever here. It literally was the first thing that popped into my head, and luckily I haven't grown to hate it. My name isn't Coco and I don't drink tea, so there really is no meaning to it at all.
What’s your favourite aspect of blogging and are there any downsides? Is there anything you particularly do or don’t like about working on the Internet?
Well, sitting in front of a computer screen all day every day has ruined both my eyesight and posture, so that sucks. But I love the immediacy of blogging - you can think up a great story, write and publish it within the hour and immediately have a response from your readership. That never gets old!
How much of a techie are you?
I used Blogger for the first six years of blogging, and learned to write all my site code and deal with the back-end side of things myself. But since moving to WordPress I've had to get help with that, as it's become more complicated.
How do you balance blogging with other interests or jobs? Do you ever go offline?
I don't have much of a work/life balance to be honest, and I'm always tuned in to what's going on online. I try to switch off in the evenings though, and watch a lot of US TV shows. I've always been a total TV addict!
How do you decide what to feature on your blog?
I'm very strict about what I feature and am always thinking about what my readers are going to be interested in. I treat Coco's Tea Party like a magazine, and won't bung any old story up there just for the sake of it.
Which beauty products and fashion brands make you part with cold hard cash?
Surprisingly I'm not a big shopper, and also am not particularly loyal to any one brand. I prefer to shop at places like Selfridges, ASOS and Net-A-Porter, where there are lots of brands under one roof and you can discover the unexpected.
Down to the nitty gritty, what’s in your make-up bag currently?
I've just got into Eyeko, so I'm using their black liquid liner pencil , £10, a lot at the moment. Base-wise I'm currently switching between the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Compact, £33, and By Terry Densiliss , £75, and I'm pretty loyal to MAC Studio Finish Concealer , £15. With blush, mascara and eyeshadow I like to mix it up all the time but I have been wearing a lot of Charlotte Tilbury lately - her products are brilliant!
What's your skincare regime? What products do you use?
This year my skin suddenly became quite oily, so I've had to change it up and it's taken me a while to settle on a new routine. At the moment I cleanse with Shu Uemura 'Fresh' Cleansing Oil, £59, then I use Ole Henriksen 'Truth is in the Eyes' serum , £39, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair , £65, and Bliss Triple Oxygen Ex-'glow'sion Moisture Cream , £55.
What's your haircare regime? What products do you use?
I'm naturally brunette but have been colouring my hair for over two years, so have to be fairly careful with haircare. I use Kérastase shampoo , £13.95, and conditioner , £15.95, l and I usually do a Philip Kingsley Elasticizer, £24.20, treatment once a week. I also love Moroccanoil , £31.85, which helps to prevent dryness and split ends.
Who are your top people in fashion, health, beauty and fitness? Who do you rely on in a crisis?
Jessica Speechly at Errol Douglas is my go-to girl for colour. She always gets the shade of blonde just right and shares my reality TV habit, so we always have a great gossip!
What’s your personal favourite hair and beauty look?
I've always been a sucker for that California girl look; beachy golden locks, sun-kissed skin and natural-looking make-up. So far I've got the right colour hair, but the rest is still a beauty ambition!
What’s your ultimate favourite beauty treatment?
I don't usually have time to get treatments purely for pleasure. Whenever I visit the salon it's always for something boring - like highlights or a wax. In an ideal world I’d get a massage every week though!
What are your top fashion, health and beauty tips and your biggest fashion/beauty bugbears?
It's nothing you haven't heard before, but always take your make-up off before bed, cleanse and moisturise and drink lots of water. I don't have many bugbears but two of my pet hates are blue eyeshadow and white shoes. They both should have been left in the '80s!
Can you tell us about any fashion or beauty blunders that you’ve experienced?
When I was about 17 I bleached my hair at home. It went horrifically wrong and I was left with multicoloured hair. It was blonde, ginger and brunette all at once. HORRIBLE! But I learned my lesson - and always go to the salon for colour changes now.
What are your fashion and beauty must-haves when you travel?
My skin does not hold up well with travel so a good foundation and concealer are always top of the list. And I'm a big fan of Birchbox , because their miniature sizes come in so handy for traveling - especially if you're only taking carry-on luggage.
Who is your favourite blogger/vlogger?
I have mad respect for Catherine Kallon at Red Carpet Fashion Awards. She's like a machine, and I've been reading her blog since the beginning. I also have a real weakness for celebrity gossip, so can't resist Lainey Gossip.
What would be your advice to aspiring bloggers? Is there anything you’d do differently if you were to turn back time?
Now more than ever it’s really important to have a unique selling point. My content is so varied, and if I launched Coco's Tea Party today I think it would get lost amongst all the noise out there. Stay niche and give people something they can't get anywhere else!
If you could invite anyone dead or alive to guest blog/vlog on your site who would it be?
Hmmm… Can I say Carrie Bradshaw? I know she's not a real person, but she was the original blogger, in a sense. And she'd definitely have some great style tips! But if that's not allowed I'll go with Mindy Kaling - she's absolutely hilarious and has great fashion sense too.
What does the future hold for your blog? Are there any exciting developments in the pipeline?
I'll hopefully be introducing video content to the blog in 2014. I'm terrible with cameras, and have no idea how to edit videos, but I'm keen to give it a go! So fingers crossed that works out.