2012Discovered baby brands. In the years I've been writing a weekly beauty column for the Telegraph Magazine I've developed a fascination for independent beauty brands. And this interest was given an outlet through MyShowcase, the beauty business I co-founded with fellow entrepreneurs Nancy Cruickshank, Rodrigo Dauster and Olivier Beau de Lomenie in June. So now, as well as championing these brands alongside the commercial ones in the Telegraph, I can provide a platform by which women can discover them via MyShowcase's network of Stylists. As anyone who works in beauty knows, it's extremely challenging to bring a new brand to market, despite the way the digital revolution has opened up distribution channels. It takes time, money and courage. So being able to support the smaller brands and their founders, by getting their products into real hands, while giving Stylists an opportunity to earn an income selling these products via MyShowcase, is particularly thrilling and fulfilling. Being new and niche doesn't necessarily make a brand good. But there are some real gems to be found, and this is one area where creativity in our business is at its peak. We need to support it.
2011Discovered my alias, The Legologist. Where will her boots take her next I wonder?
2010Discovered twitter. I am @KateShapland. And was given an Achiever’s Award by the Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW), for services to the beauty industry, which I collected with a creme puff on my head, courtesy of hairdresser John Vial.
2009Discovered blogging. I started my first blog, The Leg Room, one Sunday afternoon to write more about my passion: leg care. I also wanted to learn how to blog. Personally I hate the word “blog”. I dislike it almost as much as the word “wordsmith”, which is as pretentious as “blog” is clunky. Whatever you call it though, it’s all about self expression, so *blogging* isn’t just a platform for hobby writers, it’s obvious territory for trained journalists too. Alongside print media, it’s part of an exciting future within the wider digital arena for writers with an established voice. And it’s there for the taking.
2008Discovered Capri. And The Leg School, which consolidated much of what I’d already learned about good leg care and gave me new theories to consider. Every beauty editor has a passion – be it makeup, skincare or fragrance. My crusade started with cellulite and was refocused onto leg care as a whole as I learned more about the causes and related symptoms – the bigger picture if you like – through the years. Leg care isn’t just about cellulite; but just as anti-ageing has become a byword for skincare, anti-cellulite has come to stand for everything about legs. Which is wrong. The science behind great legs doesn’t begin and end with cellulite – there are many other issues, and cellulite itself cannot be eliminated just with a cream. Neither can wrinkles. There, I feel much better knowing I’ve said that.
2006Discovered the other side. I dipped my toes into brand development with a futuristic skincare line called Capsule, which I co-developed for Debenhams in the 1990’s. Later, I discovered how a concept gets from the back of a cigarette packet to the counter and beyond when I developed a beauty drink which made it into every multiple before I parted company with it. Those experiences, and related challenges, made me view brands – both newcomers and survivors – with deepened respect, and, in the real entrepreneurial cases, admiration.
2005Discovered less is more. It’s a mistake for a woman to avoid makeup altogether, but with age less of it works more in your favour.
2003Discovered precedence. There is nothing wrong with it in beauty – actually it’s wrong to assume that new products are always better. Similarly, beauty isn’t all about being young either, though you would be forgiven for thinking so. New products bring us an opportunity to experiment. If they wipe years off us at the same time that’s a bonus, but halting ageing should never be their only desperate objective. Products that, in my eyes, have yet to be beaten by “progress” include Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream and Guerlain’s L’Or Radiance.
2001Discovered facial acupuncture. Still, for me, the best “invasive” antedote to a tired face.
2000Discovered my voice. My column, in the Telegraph Magazine, which has run every week for a decade, is as close to beauty writing nirvana as it gets because I can write as objectively as it’s possible for a beauty editor to be in print in these commercial times. I also get to write for one of the biggest, most responsive and encouraging readerships in print.
1999Discovered digital. And the potential for beauty online while creating an interactive system matching eye, hair and skin colour to cosmetics for Zoom, an Arcadia website.
1998Discovered blusher. And still believe it’s the best cosmetic you can own because when it’s the right nuance and finish it gives you same magic transformative uplift as heels do.
1997Discovered a proper guru. In the form of Shari, an American body maker in London, who showed me that body shape could be changed without surgery. Shari had a method that was all her own: she used her thumbs to “pop” fluid-filled pockets in areas of stubborn fat and push fluid out, instantly reducing puff. She could take inches off your backside and muffin top in one go, and with regular treatment completely alter the shape of your body. From Shari I discovered why it’s important to eat an acid-alkaline diet if you have cellulite and the real value of massage, but that it needs to done by an independent practitioner. I’ve had good massage since but nothing has touched Shari’s special body sculpting technique.
1996Discovered Sally Blake. And with her, the magic of fragrance. Sally was the original fragrance connoisseur – there was nothing she didn’t know about the subject, its history or trends; every square inch of her home was filled with memorabilia, scent bottles and notes for a book that sadly never got written. If it wasn’t for Sally and the time she freely gave talking to me about her passion I would never have seen perfumery for the art it is, only as the branding exercise it has largely and unfortunately become.
1995Discovered foundation. Not the mask-like horror that everyone associates with the word “foundation”, but a wonder of a thing that truly transforms a face if it has the right features. For every age the following rules apply: always satin finish, never matt; always one nuance darker than your natural skintone; and always sheer enough to see skin underneath.
1991Discovered cellulite, from my ankle to my thigh, as the anti-cellullite market opened up. Tried every treatment and product from thereon and found that none of them made any difference unless – in some cases – used with the right diet, massage and exercise.
1990Discovered redundancy. A change of editor along with the inevitable editorial shift left me jobless. My way of managing being a freelancer with the worst paid skill in the world and a mortgage was to accept every commission and project that came my way. Which is how I came to appear on The Big Breakfast with a paper bag on my head, be the first beauty editor to endorse a shampoo in a TV commercial, and exfoliate Hugh Laurie on morning TV. I also wrote for every publication I could – from Elle to Marie Claire, the Daily and Sunday Express, The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Mail and, for three years, The News of the World.
1989Discovered the French pharmacy. And with it, the continental approach to beauty, which has always inspired me. There is a consistency and flair in the way French and Italian women go about beauty, and British women can learn a lot from this. We are ready to let beauty be a practical part of our lives rather than a pampering (the worst word in the beauty vocab) treat. But we still allow ourselves to be led by the next best thing, instead of assertively discovering and sticking with something that works for us personally, regardless of its fashionable status.
1988Discovered the power of a great haircut. Thanks to the supremely talented and unforgettable Michael Rasser, founder of Michaeljohn. Some years later, I discovered that a good hair cut is the fastest passage out of frumpy, dumpy and lumpy middle-age too.
1987Discovered makeup guru Joan Price. Who explained that the cleverest way to use makeup is to enhance your face with a signature look that can be edited through the seasons and years, not just as a tool to make you seem younger or the height of fashion.
1986Discovered beauty. Commissioned to write a spa review by then beauty editor Leslie Kenton, Kate came back working for new beauty editor Amanda Cochrane. Through Amanda I discovered the meaning of holistic beauty – that cosmetics have a surface value but that the real key to beauty is feeling well; to look beyond the press release, write as objectively as possible (and it was possible then), with your own style and a touch of humour; and that the keeper of the beauty cupboard keys is secretly the most powerful person on every publication.
1984Discovered work. Hired by Harpers & Queen (now Harpers Bazaar) as secretary to the fashion editors, Vanessa de Lisle, Liz Walker and Hamish Bowles. It soon became clear why there was a revolving door for secretaries in this office. By 10am I had been “restyled” by the fashion editor, the abomination that was my first day outfit trashed for something a la mode: jodphurs, Katherine Hamnett slogan T-shirt, yellow plastic earrings and one of Stephen Jones’ miniature top hats which had to be worn, just so, on the side of my head. I was also renamed Chloe (and told that my family and friends should call me the same when they rang up) and at 4pm I got sacked for pulling the netting off the hat while disentangling it from the phone as I explained to my mother that I was no longer Kate. High points: seeing a young, unknown Naomi Campbell in her school uniform on a go-see; smoking at my desk. Low points: being repeatedly sacked and reinstated while managing fashion’s fragile egos.
1980Discovered crash dieting. And Elancyl’s slimming ivy cream.
1979Discovered my eyebrows. Plucked them out.
1978Discovered red lipstick and blue hair dye. And put them with a mohair sweater, Fiorucci pants and R Soles cowboy boots.
1977Discovered Clinique’s 3-step system. Obsessed from afar.
1976Discovered Charlie. And wanted more than anything to be the very independent Shelley Hack crossing a New York street.
1975Discovered Miner’s lipgloss. Got told to take it off.
1974Discovered Norman Hartnell In Love. Wore it to school.