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Top Beauty journalist, Sophie Cullen, on why the Big Beauty Weekend is a must for you

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By Sponsor

May 17, 2021

Time is running out for you to sign up for the inaugural Big Beauty Weekend hosted by Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design and the British Beauty Council.

The two-day virtual event is taking place on 12th/13th June featuring a glittering array of the biggest names in the beauty sector.

Sophie Cullen is masterminding the event. A multi-award-winning beauty journalist and brand consultant, Sophie writes for the top publications in the market from Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue Japan, Conde Nast Glamour, Popsugar, The Evening Standard and The Daily Mail and is a former Beauty Editor of Condé Nast Brides.

“If I wasn’t organising it myself I would certainly be getting hold of a ticket,” Sophie says. “The line-up’s like a Who’s Who of the beauty industry. There will be people speaking at this event who you may never have had the chance to hear from before, although the names will be instantly recognisable to anyone with an interest in the sector.”

What makes the Big Beauty Weekend so special?

“The thing which really sets this event apart,” Sophie says, “is that not only can you hear from some of the giants of the industry but you get the chance to put your questions to them too. People keep asking me what my highlights of the weekend will be and I think I give a different answer every time because there are so many exceptional elements to the programme. We’ve got Alexia Inge, co-founder and CEO of Cult Beauty, the world’s biggest beauty platform. Every brand there is wants to be on Cult Beauty from household names like Chanel and Dior to the newest hopeful start-ups. Alexia is fascinating and doesn’t do many interviews or talks so we’re incredibly lucky to have her. I want to discover how Cult Beauty works; how they decide what brands to stock? What are the upcoming trends or hero ingredients to look out for in the months to come? She’s a real trailblazer and if anyone can say what the must-have products will be for 2022, it’s her.”

“Then there’s Michelle Lee – someone else who very rarely speaks in public. As Editor-in-Chief of Allure Magazine in America she’s among the most influential individuals in the industry. She’s going to give us some really fascinating insights about what it’s like to run a pivotal publication like Allure. How does she decide what should be on the cover, what articles to run and what images? How to build a great team around you, what products to feature, what it’s like at a top beauty shoot.. we don’t normally have access to this kind of behind-the scenes information. It’s an absolute must for up-and-coming influencers, aspiring beauty journalists or producers. Then there’s her new policy around sustainability. Allure will no longer feature products which don’t meet certain standards on sustainability. We’re talking about the person in charge of the biggest beauty magazine in the world here, setting the tone for the whole industry, so it’s incredibly exciting.”

“Anyone who comes to the Big Beauty Weekend is going to learn so much and not just in the talks as we’ve got some amazing practical stuff going on too. I’m really looking forward to the brow masterclass from Laurretta Power, National brow artist and Head of Artistry, Benefit Cosmetics UK & Ireland. She’ll be showing us exactly how to achieve that perfect brow live and in real time. Of course, there are loads of wonderful “How to” videos on YouTube, but how often do you get the chance to actually ask the expert to explain what they’re doing while they’re doing it? That’s one of the biggest things about the weekend for me. It’s entirely interactive putting everyone from the least experienced hopeful to the top professional on an equal footing. It’s going to be brilliant.”

Your chance to talk to the top people

“This is what sets the Big Beauty Weekend apart for me,” Sophie says. “Many of the people who take part will have probably watched hours of videos from someone like Jamie Genevieve. When would they ever have dreamt that they could actually speak to her directly or even debate her? Thanks to our friends at the British Beauty Council Education Pillar who’ve helped put the event together we have a couple of really fascinating panels where you’ll be able to quiz the experts. The first is on sustainability – an issue which is top of the priority list for the whole sector. Among those taking part are Jayn Sterland, managing director of Weleda (UK) and a global spokesperson for the company and Sian Sutherland of A Plastic Planet which campaigns and searches for solutions to the nightmare of plastics in all kinds of products. Alongside them will be Phil Cumming who is in charge of sustainability for Walgreens, the parent company of Boots. Another panel will discuss the future of the beauty sector. In the hot

seat this time will be Sharmadean Reid, founder of WAH Nails and Jenni Middleton who’s a director of WGSN Beauty, and we’ll have a representative from Facebook joining the discussion too - and again, everyone will have the chance to ask these people genuinely searching questions. It’s an incredible opportunity.

What’s in it for you?

“A lot of people signing up for the Big Beauty Weekend are enthusiasts, people simply passionate about the sector. We’re also hearing from people with a burning ambition to make it big in the industry, and the event could be life-changing for some of them. The beauty world is a small but intensely connected one. The difference between success and failure can come down to who’s email address and phone number you have in your contacts file. I would have loved an opportunity like this when I was starting out. If you want to get into beauty journalism, learn how to build a brand, find out about marketing, about starting a new business – there are so many different facets to the beauty industry and it’s all here. As a way of picking up a huge amount of really current knowledge incredibly quickly it’s just sensational. One of the biggest takeaways will be the opportunity to network with so many from all over the world who share that passion. Whenever I’ve been involved with online events like this I’m always struck by the way people strike up relationships, create whatsapp or Facebook groups, how they look for ways to collaborate and help each other out. It’s inspiring. People who know the world of beauty is where they want to be – whether they have an exact goal in mind or whether they’re just dipping a toe in the water – will be able to join up with fellow travellers they would have had no chance of meeting in any other time or place. What's More, all the brands taking part (and there are many of them) are offering unique discounts for everyone who attends so there'll be some great offers to take advantage of and big savings to be had.”

“Everyone who completes the weekend will get a certificate from Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design which they put on their CV and add to their portfolio. That’s evidence of the kind of commitment prospective employers are looking for so it’s of real value too.”

“There are so many exciting things to look forward to at the Big Beauty Weekend, and I don’t think I’ve even talked about half of them. I just know it will be wonderful to be able to say, ‘I was there.’”

Click here for tickets or further information >>