Inside Eleanor Pendleton’s Serene Northern Beaches Sanctuary
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the pared-back Freshwater apartment of Gritty Pretty founder and editor-in-chief, Eleanor Pendleton. Whether you're a skincare and make-up novice or consider yourself an aficionado of sorts, this week's Maker will be no stranger to you. Eleanor Pendleton is the brains behind digital beauty empire, Gritty Pretty, which, for the uninitiated, is Australia's leading online beauty publication. A trailblazer in its space, Pendleton's business has an e-commerce arm and names like Jen Atkin, Zoe Foster-Blake and Lily Collins have graced her digital magazine's cover. This editor's word is gospel when it comes to makeup and skincare; and what she tends to preach is a less is more approach: a refined, natural way of thinking about what we put on our faces and onto our skin. No wonder, then, that her home has a similarly laid back vibe. We sat down with Pendleton to discuss her favourite beauty products, the story behind her home and why she's uncompromising when it comes to those all-important 8 hours a night.
Just a brief, cursory look at Eleanor Pendleton’s home makes you realise two things. Firstly, that Pendleton’s effortless approach to life, as seen on her beauty website Gritty Pretty, is replicated in the place that she lives. And secondly, that she lives by the ocean with her husband and son.
Only in seaside sanctuaries do you see surfboards propped up against walls and rattan chairs piled high with handbags and cushions. Only in oceanside retreats do you get that distinct water-dappled sparkle; a light that filters through barely-there curtains. And only in homes by the beach is it so seamless to mix chic decorative accents with elements that nod to the great outdoors.
Flowers and plants punctuate pale pine pieces of furniture, while natural materials (think clay, white wood and of course, linen) sit alongside this digital entrepreneur's curated collection of jewellery, designer fashion and, of course, beauty products.
Aside from its relaxed, quintessentially Australian feel, Pendleton’s house also has a feminine edge, courtesy of pale soft furnishings and a plethora of scented candles. If you’re looking to recreate a sun-drenched space of your own, take inspiration from this thoughtfully styled space.
Hi Eleanor! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make beauty content on GrittyPretty.com, which inspires, educates and informs women without all the fluff.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I have that innate sense deep in my belly that if I’m not creating, if I’m not ‘making, if I’m not putting my energy into work that serves other women, then I’m not doing my job.
I’m so passionate about what I do – my business is a huge part of who I am. I’m extremely tenacious, driven and decisive – I’m one of those people that when they get an idea, they action it. They do everything they can to make that dream into a reality. Then, once it’s live in the world, it’s onto the next dream project.
What was the impetus behind launching Gritty Pretty? What gave you the motivation to start?
I had been working as a beauty editor in women’s lifestyle magazines for almost a decade. I was working at InStyle Magazine for over three years when my itchy feet feeling started to set in. I was hungry for more, to write with more wit and personality. I decided to embark on a freelance beauty-writing career after six months of toying with the idea.
Once I mustered the courage to resign from my incredible job, I became incredibly busy freelancing and managing clients. I decided to start publishing articles on GrittyPretty.com (after it had been on a hiatus during my time at InStyle Magazine) and within a few months, my readership returned and I was able to commercialise the site.
I realised GrittyPretty.com had the potential to become a business so I moved my energy towards that. Four years later, we’re here and my team has grown to a talented team of 7 staff.
Talk us through your editorial strategy. How do you keep things fresh in the ever-evolving world of digital publishing?
We sometimes do office retreats. For example, I took my team out of the office and down south to Soul at Gerringon—we used the time to brainstorm ideas, changes and content we’d all like to see implemented, if there were no barriers. I believe any idea—big or small—should be heard so I’m proud to have created an environment where my editorial and partnerships teams feel so.
We re-designed Gritty Pretty in 2020 so a lot of time was spent working on that. We talk to our readers a lot—we ask them what they want to read/watch more of on the website and adjust our content schedule accordingly.
Moreover, our beauty director and beauty assistant are constantly attending product launches, learning about new trends, ingredients and technologies which also allows us to curate. For us, it’s about creating beauty content without the BS; and consistently improving what we put out into the world.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your business?
Learning to become comfortable with money. It might sound strange but a large reason we can feel uncomfortable or intimidated or simply confused by finance is due to the way we’re raised or our parents’ approach to money. To run a business, you need to understand cash flow otherwise you will simply not survive. Numbers have never been my strong suit so I’ve been smart enough to know what to outsource.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started?
Learning not everyone will do a job the way you would. They might take a longer route to get from A to B but as long as they reach the destination, that’s all that matters. You need to learn to respect everyone has his or her way of working. Also, trust your gut—it’s always right.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to start their own business and go out on their own?
Write a business plan. Consider the risks. Know your brand and your demographic. Believe in your product and yourself.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since launching? Do you have a favourite cover?
I feel proud Gritty Pretty has photographed and profiled some incredible women for the cover of our digital magazine. From Miranda Kerr to Shay Mitchell and Hailey Beiber, I’m thrilled that these women want to be on the cover of our publication... it’s something I can’t quite put into words.
We don’t have the years of history or brand heritage that the likes of Vogue or Harper’s BAZAAR do, so when a little Aussie digital start up starts being recognised and adored by celebrities such as these women, I feel very proud.
We pay respect to the businesses that these women have built and give them credit where it’s due. While a lot of other publications prefer to tear them down, we believe in building women up and these women inspire our female audience.
What are three sleep-enhancing products you swear by?
Doterra lavender oil, This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray and a cup of The Beauty Chef Inner Beauty Powder before bed.
What are three beauty products that are constantly in your high-rotation
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum, Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream and La Mer The Renewal Oil.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
My husband and I purchased our first home—a two-bedroom apartment in Sydney’s Northern Beaches—in 2017.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
We were those unlucky first home buyers who bought right at the peak of the Sydney real estate market. We had lost out on 13 properties beforehand (I lost track!). We would consistently lose out to investors or downsizers. It was a long, gruelling two years of sacrificing our Wednesdays and Saturdays inspecting properties.
Eventually, our apartment came up for a sale on a Friday. We inspected it on the Saturday and bought it on the Sunday. We loved its bones – its high ceilings that made it feel instantly more like a house than a unit, big windows and its Cypress Pine floorboards. We knew with a slick of white paint and lime-washing, we could make the apartment into a lovely first home. It’s also walking distance from our favourite beach, Freshwater Beach.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
We simply had it painted white and lime-washed the floors. We also renovated our kitchen.
How does your home reflect you as a person?
I believe it reflects my husband and I at our truest selves. We’re calm, relaxed people and the property and how it's styled reflects both us and our coastal surrounds. The beach is a big part of our lives—we’re there every day and I think this is seen throughout the space.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I wanted to choose pieces with natural textures such as timber but I also wanted to choose sustainably where possible. Our mirror and entertainment unit are from Totem Road, which sustainably makes all of their furniture. I’ve kept colour to a minimum and inject it using art such as our artwork by Vicki Lee & Ted O’Donnnell.
What are your favourite pieces in your home?
Our two artworks by Vicki Lee & Ted O’Donnell; I love that our Samsung Frame TV doesn’t feel intrusive and instead more like a printed artwork; and our Malawai chair alongside Olive (our olive tree) in our main bedroom are some of my favourites.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
Definitely our bedroom. In the mornings, it’s drenched in sunlight and both being morning people, we love that the sun wakes us up.
What does getting a good night’s sleep mean to you?
I’m one of those people that needs 8 hours—I function better in the morning rather than staying up at night so I will always ensure I’m in bed to get my eight hours. It’s my me time. Without it, I can’t function sharply the next day.
What is your favourite local hotspot?
Pilu Barretto at Freshwater Beach is our coffee spot—we walk there most mornings to see our friendly Barista, Martin, and check the surf before starting the day.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
We always have something going on! Head to Gritty pretty for all the updates!