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The right foundation: forging a career as a social media strategist in the beauty industry

Alumni News

Any business worth its salt knows the importance of having a strong brand presence on social media to generate consumer engagement and procure sales. Just ask Sophie Carrel, a Curtin graduate who has built a rather glamorous career as a social media strategist in the global beauty industry.

Mac keyboard on a black desk with a colourful purse, lipsticks and nail polishes.

Carrel graduated in 2011 with a degree in professional writing and publishing, and has since worked in Australia and London for several luxury fashion and beauty brands including Box Magazine, Esquire and Ralph Lauren. From 2016 to 2018, she was the Global Digital Marketing and Strategy Manager at MAC Cosmetics in New York.

“I led the brand’s marketing strategy for global programs across all consumer touchpoints, online and offline, and multi-product categories, with a strong focus on fashion and talent collaborations, such as MAC x Jeremy Scott and MAC x Puma,” Carrel says.

“I developed the global content strategy to support MAC’s backstage presence at Fashion Week in New York, London, Milan and Paris for four seasons, and led the management and execution of more than 250 how-to videos.”

Carrel has always been interested in fashion and beauty, and says working with such an iconic and respected brand was a “a dream come true.”

“I had always looked up to the brand, so to be given the opportunity to concept and create ideas that were executed around the world was extremely rewarding.

“The biggest highlight of my time with MAC was covering New York and Paris Fashion Weeks. I was able to work closely with designers, makeup artists and models to create unique, branded content for our global social channels, which was an incredible experience.”

The sun sets over the Empire State Building.

A photo by Carrel of the iconic Empire State Building in New York City.

Carrel is still based in New York and is now the Social Media and Content Manager for DevaCurl, a leading producer and supplier of unique products for curly hair.

She believes it’s an exciting time to work in the beauty industry; with social media outperforming traditional forms of marketing such as television and printed advertisements, big beauty brands have had to overhaul their marketing strategy to appeal to a younger and savvier consumer.

“With the rise of social media, smaller brands with celebrity or influencer followings have become serious competitors for big corporate brands. The market is so saturated that it’s really important for brands to remain on-trend and relevant.

“Social media has also allowed for the growth of younger consumers, so the product innovation and marketing strategies of big brands need to be heavily focused on this Gen Z consumer and how they’re engaging with media and influencers, and what their online shopping habits are,” Carrel says.

Social media influencers are powerful drivers of sales. According to one study, more than 31 percent of consumers across the US and Europe said they had purchased a product or service based on a social influencer post.

At DevaCurl, Carrel is responsible for setting up partnerships with influencers, and recently oversaw a collaboration between DevaCurl and in-demand celebrity stylist Lacy Redway, who used DevaCurl products to style a look for actress Zazie Beetz for the 2018 Emmy Awards. The look was then picked up by beauty and fashion behemoth, Vogue.

Sophie Carrel in Central Park during autumn.

Sophie Carrel in Central Park during autumn.

Working with some of the biggest names in the industry is no mean feat – it requires confidence, panache and skill. Carrel says her professional writing and publishing degree developed her communication and creativity skills, and she credits the course’s work experience opportunities for helping to establish her career path.

“I completed my work experience at Box Magazine, a luxury lifestyle magazine focused on fashion, beauty and fine jewellery. After graduating from Curtin, I was hired to stay on at Box as an editorial assistant, which gave me the groundwork for building my résumé and pursuing a career in the industry.”

Carrel says that even if fashion and beauty are not for you, many careers can be pursued if you have a communications background.

“Communications is so broad. It includes so many different avenues such as social media, public relations, marketing, content strategy, events and copywriting.

“Many of these jobs and industries are new and weren’t even around when I was at uni, so as long as you have the foundations, communications allows you to find your niche through different experiences.”

For those who do aspire to work in the echelons of beauty and/or fashion, Carrel has sound advice.

“Companies want to see that you can think strategically and creatively, and can execute your ideas. Being able to apply that thinking to the beauty and fashion industry is what will set you apart.

“Having your finger on the pulse and knowing industry trends and best practices will show that you’re passionate and can think like the consumer.”

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