Chief Creative Officer of Tangle Teezer, former Beauty Editor, freelance writer, author and mother Jacqui Ripley shares her secrets to staying organised and one step ahead at all times
She’s managed not one wildly successful career, but several.
Pitching her way out of the Cosmopolitan fashion cupboard, Jacqui worked her way up to Health and Beauty Editor at 19 Magazine. After the birth of her son, Jacqui embarked on a successful freelancing career, writing health, beauty and lifestyle features for women’s magazines, including Glamour, Grazia, Red, Cosmopolitan, ELLE and InStyle, as well as contributing regularly to newspapers such as the London Evening Standard, and Sunday Times Style. She also found the time to author seven books on the subject of beauty.
Now a CCO, she has helped make Tangle Teezer a household name at lightening speed, bringing together her formidable creative and marketing skills to take the brand global with incredible success.
Jacqui’s incredible career journey is living proof that you don’t need your life mapped out for the next 10 years: instead, you need a good notebook (or six), an insatiable curiosity and the ability to tell an interesting story.
GTG: Can you tell us what a typical day for you looks like?
JR: The only thing typical about my day is getting up around 6.30 am and having breakfast. When you work in a creative environment no day is ever the same.
As CCO I’m responsible for the creative output, brand messaging and positioning. I work very closely with Shaun – the inventor and founder of Tangle Teezer and it’s very important we’re on the same creative wavelength. We have a very honest relationship whereby we can tell each other if things aren’t working and go back to square one if needs be.
My day can be anything from commissioning market research, directing and overseeing designs for packaging and inserts, reading and acting on consumer feedback, thinking about concepts for trade shows, engaging with key influencers such as session stylists, journalists and vloggers and thinking of exciting designers to collaborate with – our most recent being Lulu Guinness. I travel a fair bit too, regularly flying to New York to check in with our PR agency and meeting press. I’ve also travelled to Brazil, New Mexico, LA and in the summer, South Africa. We’re in 65 countries so I’ve learned to think globally.
GTG: Could you tell us a little more about your unique career path?
JR: I have never been one of these people that had a five or 10 year career plan. But being a natural communicator and writer has held me in good stead. A well written and pithy email can really open doors. All of my positions may sound different in title, but the common thread is being able to tell a story in an interesting way.
GTG: How did you make the change from editor, to freelance and author to CCO?
JR: My starter position in life was in a graphic design company where I took briefs from clients and fed their vision back to the design team. From there I moved into magazines starting at Cosmopolitan in the fashion department. I was stuck in the fashion cupboard for six months doing returns. I then started presenting ideas to the editor for one page accessory features and that was the start of my editorial career.
From there I moved onto a magazine called 19 as Assistant Fashion Editor, but after a couple of years got bored with styling and pitched some beauty ideas which were readily commissioned. As luck would have it, the beauty editor decided not to return from maternity leave, I applied for the position and got it. For the next six years I had a blast attending swanky press events, travelling the world to direct beauty shoots as well as compiling and writing features.
When I had my son I decided to leave and go freelance. By golly, did I work hard. Instead of one boss you have dozens to please, but for the next 12 years I must have worked for nearly every women’s title and paper. I interviewed the best brains in the business on the topic of health and beauty. The contacts I made were priceless. I then pitched the idea of my first book, Celebrity Style Secrets to a publisher. With the impressive contacts I had made over the years, I interviewed them as the experts behind the most photographed women in the public eye. This was in 2003 when celebrity was just becoming a phenomenon. It was picked up by radio and press and I was commissioned for six more books over the years.
I was introduced to Shaun via a beauty editor friend. He was fresh out of the Dragons’ Den after being turned down for investment for his detangling hairbrush and he was looking for somebody to help with copy on inserts and the website. We really hit it off, I could see the potential the brand had and it wasn’t long before he asked me to come on board permanently. I jumped at the chance as the opportunity to join a dynamic start-up with an innovative product was very exciting.
GTG: What motivates you?
JR: It’s not a case of what, but who. I find so many women in business inspirational. The likes of Jenna Lyons of J Crew for instance. She started with them at 21 and has worked her way through the ranks becoming Executive Creative Director and President. The whole brand revolves around her personal style. That’s some serious creative welly!
GTG: What’s the most challenging project you have worked on?
JR: When I joined Tangle Teezer they had no social media. Obviously it’s a driving force in any brand, especially retail, so to set up accounts – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from the get-go where people want to engage and follow is a bit daunting. I was sweating when I put out our first tweet! I fretted our followers would be in single figures as six years ago the brand wasn’t as well-known as it is now. This is when the journalist and natural communicator kicked in. I made our tweets and posts funny, trend-led and asked questions of our followers and fans. It worked. Today I’m happy to say our followers are in their thousands and we’ve even trended a couple of times.
GTG: How do you organise yourself?
JR: I’m addicted to notebooks – I have six on the go at any one time with lists after lists. My desk isn’t that tidy, but it’s organised chaos, I normally know where everything is. I’m trying to go paperless but I do like a hard copy in my hands to make notes on. I forecast worries before they happen so try and pre-empt anything that may go wrong especially on shoots and with travel. I never arrive late. I hate being on the back foot having to apologise before the meeting has even begun.
GTG: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to do what you do?
JR: Be nosey. Be curious. And never stop asking questions. I always feel like I’m constantly interviewing people, but the amount of knowledge and ideas you gain from asking questions is invaluable. It always surprises me when I meet someone and they never ask a single question. Someone is always more interesting than yourself! Google everyone you have a meeting with before the meeting, not after and try and drop a piece of information in about themselves that shows you’ve done your research. And read everything – there’s no such thing as information overload, knowledge is personal power.
GTG: How do you achieve a work/life balance?
JR: In a job like mine the boundaries are always blurred. Many of my friends are in the industry, so it’s always a case of mixing much pleasure with business. But I’m very good at booking holidays otherwise they don’t happen and enjoying my weekends – albeit with one eye on my emails.
GTG: What 3 things do you do to maintain energy, focus and motivation throughout the day?
JR: I always make a Nutribullet , £89.10 in the morning usually stuffed with spinach, kiwi, half an avocado, blueberries and anything that’s lying in the fruit bowl like an apple.
Lunch is normally soup or a salad – I try and avoid bread. I hardly drink coffee. I’m really into Teapigs Peppermint , £3.99 and Liquorice , £4.49 herbal teas. For dinner I keep it light throughout the week – salad, salmon, and omelettes and then I have the weekend off diet where I enjoy whatever I want to eat.
I really used to put myself under pressure to go to the gym after work, but after battling a commute home I could never be bothered and ended beating myself up. I solved the problem by buying a yoga DVD – Jillian Michaels Yoga Inferno , £8.95 which is a hybrid of yoga and cardio and actually quite tough. I do this 2 or 3 times in the working week. I’m a weekend warrior at the gym where I run, cycle and row which helps set me up for the coming week.