True Grit

Audi Magazine catches up with new mother and Gritty Pretty founder, Eleanor Pendleton.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief Of Gritty Pretty, Eleanor Pendleton, is taking motherhood, business and life in general in her stride – even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Felicity Bonello

9 May, 2020


Within moments of starting our interview it’s clear that Eleanor Pendleton is a person who naturally sees the good. Unbowed that her role as journalist and entrepreneur expanded to include ‘first-time mother’ on the eve of COVID-19, there’s an infectious optimism in her voice, an undeniable ambition in her outlook. It’s certainly not that she’s been without her own trials, but more that the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of interactive online beauty mag Gritty Pretty has a steady resolve – and an openness to share in the lessons she’s learned that paves the way to a refreshing relatability.

“It hasn’t been easy, and it’s come with its challenges but there’s been so many beautiful silver linings,” she explains. “It was definitely a shock to the system to be thrust back into working full time from home with a two-month-old, but now I’m just at a point where I’m more focused on the positives. With my husband and I both working from home we’ve been able to be with our son Banjo and we’ve seen every single moment of every day with him.”

“As a business owner [navigating COVID-19], I saw parts of our business dissolve literally overnight, but we’ve been able to adapt incredibly quickly and decisions that I may have made over the course of a few months, I was making in minutes. That first and second week was terrifying, and there were definitely levels of heightened anxiety, which coupled with being new parents wasn’t easy. But now business-wise I’ve tapped into this really nice head space, where I’m feeling creative and driven.”

Eleanor's role as journalist and entrepreneur expanded to include ‘first-time mother’ on the eve of COVID-19

“When I worked in print publishing, we were very structured and quite conservative, we never took risks, we never pushed boundaries in creating content"

Prior to the launch of Gritty Pretty the multi award-winning journalist and influencer, honed her beauty editor skills through the ranks of traditional titles including InStyle and FAMOUS. 

“When I worked in print publishing, we were very structured and quite conservative, we never took risks, we never pushed boundaries in creating content, everything was quite safe to be honest.” 

Enter the lesson.  “When I left my job as Beauty Editor at InStyle I almost had to get over this lack of confidence that I had developed. I was so used working in what was quite a traditional conservative women’s title that I had to unlearn some of those skills. I had to [say to myself], I can create whatever I want, I can write in the tone that I want to, I can be cheeky in my stories.” While creatively stifling at times, the silver lining appeared again in the invaluable learnings she received from print publishing around the importance of due diligence. “InStyle specifically taught me about discipline, rigour and processes; which really set me up to be a good editor.”

A long-term Friend of Audi, the self-confessed ‘tech geek’ took the leap from print magazines into the online space in 2014 with the launch of Gritty Pretty, and the lessons continued. 

“It’s not always going to pan out how you imagine, it’s going to pan out that’s for sure, but you’ve got to be open to the learnings. I’ve never been opposed to making mistakes, I think there is a lesson to learn in every challenge, and I’m certainly a risk taker when it comes to business. I love to experiment, I like to push the boundaries from a personal and professional point of view and I know that comes with its risks but they’re generally calculated risks.

The risk paid off. What started as an independent online beauty magazine, has now grown into a unique quarterly digital publication that brings consumers the latest in beauty news, trends, how-to guides, beauty shoots and videos. There are beauty masterclasses which connect the Gritty Pretty community face to face with the online brand and its esteemed leader and a gateway to a shoppable edit of products deemed essential by industry professionals. With a team of five to seven people at head office at any one time and a cast of wonderful contributors on hand, Gritty Pretty has amassed a steady following with an international cast of cover stars including Elsa Pataky and Shay Mitchell, alongside Australian beauties Miranda Kerr and Phoebe Tonkin.

Pendleton is across all of the details and intricacies of her business – from the branding to the creative, her passion is in conceptualising ideas. 

Pendleton is across all of the details and intricacies of her business – from the branding to the creative

COVID-19 has seen a shift is strategy and made way for other concepts to come to fruition

“It’s something I just thrive on. I love coming up with ideas that we believe no one else has come up with before and how we can create content that’s going to be different from any other platform. How can we make it jump out of a screen, and how can we bring lightness and brightness to our female audience day to day.”

With a list of past and present mentors which include Australian beauty authority Zoe Foster Blake, author and journalist Marina Go, and Editorial Director for Vogue Australia Edwina McCann, Pendleton is determined to evolve the Gritty Pretty brand and continue to innovate, push boundaries and create connections for her readers.  

While last year’s business growth was focused around a series of beauty masterclass events which brought the Gritty Pretty community together, COVID-19 has seen a shift is strategy and made way for other concepts to come to fruition. 

“One of the silver linings of spending so much time at home in isolation is that I’ve been forced to come up with some new ideas for the business. I’ve always wanted to do a podcast and Gritty Pretty radio will launch in June, and we have an amazing roster of guest interviews lined up,” she says with unmistakable excitement in her voice. And it is that unwavering sense of excitement and desire to ‘see what else is possible’ that continues to drive Eleanor Pendleton, and not even a little global pandemic is going to get in the way of that.