Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business.This week we chat with Nicole Kestenbaum, the creator/editor of the lifestyle blog, Lipstick and Brunch. Throughout her career, Nicole has worked with brands like Dove and Maybelline to Macy’s and Topgolf. She shares with us her favorite work experiences and some insight advice on maintaining such a successful and ever growing site.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
I’m Nicole Kestenbaum and even though my name doesn’t reflect it, I’m Hispanic, born and raised in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and I am fully bilingual. I have a degree in Communications from UNITEC in Honduras. I moved to the USA 6 years ago to get a second degree, this time in commercial photography. Ever since I can remember I have owned three things: colorful clothes, make-up and a camera. My dream was to work at Cosmopolitan or Glamour as a beauty editor. I am currently the owner of Lipstick and Brunch, an award winning beauty and lifestyle blog where I am able to curate my vision of creating content for a massive audience.
In the past I have been a writer and photographer for the largest magazine department and newspaper, El Heraldo, in my home-town of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I’ve had stints on TV both in Honduras (as a variety show host in El Rock Show) and Houston (at HCC TV). I’ve interned and worked at Local Magazine in Houston. More recently, I have worked as an advertising photography studio manager at Terry Halsey Studio and as a Marketing Coordinator for a PR company called Zulu Creative in Houston. I am very ambitious, driven and positive! I am not afraid to try new things and believe in working hard to achieve your goals.
2. Out of all of your work experiences, whether as a columnist, photographer or makeup artist, what stands out as the most impactful and why?
I think the one that stands out the most is my career as a photographer. My biggest opportunities and challenges came from being a photographer and starting at age 21 in Honduras where there were only men working in the field and it was really hard for me to be accepted. I started photographing weekly magazine covers in Honduras and then I was covering huge concerts and photographing celebrities. It was exhilarating! At age 21, I became the only woman photographer in a woman’s magazine back in Honduras and I had a really tough time at the start having to prove myself. I’m proud to say that my work allowed me to gain the respect of my colleagues and break the sex barrier that existed.
I’ve realized that my journey working as a columnist, make-up artist, photographer and TV show host are the reasons why my blog was born. I grew up thinking I had to choose to do one thing but with my blog I do everything I love!
3. What is your favorite subject to blog about between fashion, beauty, or lifestyle? Where do your content ideas come from?
My favorite topic to blog about is beauty. My content ideas come from my own struggles, whether it be breaking out at 30 or trying to successfully put on strip lashes. I also get a lot of ideas from the struggles or cluelessness of my own friends and family. They constantly text me asking what the best products or beauty methods are and sometimes that is the best inspiration. Wacky beauty trends like pink hair, gray lips or purple lashes inspire me to have fun, be bold and stand out!
4. What is your most successful form of marketing? (In terms of promoting your blog)
My most successful form of marketing is going to conferences and networking. I think that face to face interaction is so important because it can be so rare nowadays. I’ve always said that going alone to conferences or parties is one of my favorite things because I walk out with many friends (or business cards! LOL). I truly crave human interaction. That’s why I strive to make it to as many blogging conferences as I can!
Other than that, many brands find me through my Instagram content which could be my most successful form of social media marketing. I love styling my photos and telling a story. Curated imagery is powerful, it brands you, and creates a following but I also try to keep it real with mud mask selfies or a bare face!
5. Who is a #BossLady that inspires you?
A #BossLady that inspires me is…the truth is I can’t just name one! So many different women inspire me for different reasons! Ana Flores from We All Grow Summit and Latina Bloggers Connect, Lilliana Vasquez from The LV Guide, Pili Montilla from Te Para Tres, Gaby Natale from SuperLatina, Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere! All these women do what they love and make a living off of it and I look up to them because I have witnessed their journey and hard work. I believe that you can be successful if you’re passionate enough about what you work in. It’s all about hustlin’, believing in yourself and being persistent. It’s also about having someone take care of the business and financial side of things because that is not my strong point. My advice: always seek help in the areas you do not excel at. Know your weaknesses and ask for help.
6. If we were to raid your closet and vanity, what brands would we find? (I got kind of crazy listing stuff here because I’m a beauty junkie!)
My vanity is full of It Cosmetics CC Cream, contour palettes and their Vitality Lip Flush, L’Oreal, Bumble and Bumble, Dove hair products and deodorant, Ardell Lashes and lash glue for days, Clarins skincare, Pixi make-up, Maybelline and L’Oreal lipsticks, Neutrogena beauty and skincare products, Aqua di Parma perfume, Too Faced shadows and cocoa bronzer, my endless foundation wardrobe (aka too many foundations), Sheet & hydro-gel masks from Patchology, Estee Lauder and Hada Labo. Rhonda Allison Blemish Serum which is my holy grail for any break-out! And too many beauty samples that I try to pack on my travels.
7. What advice do you have for those looking to create a successful blog?
Find out what you’re really good at and ask yourself what people are always asking you for help. Find what makes you unique and don’t try to fit into a niche. Create your own niche and find out what makes you different and attractive. For a moment I was so stuck on looking like some of the bloggers I follow and admire and then I realized I have a different perspective to offer and that it’s also very valuable. In this world of trends, stand out and don’t be scared to be different.
For the record, I don’t think I’m there just yet! I have a lot of hard work before calling myself truly successful. But I also consider myself extremely happy so I think that makes me successful already.
Behind the Boss: Nicole’s Mood Board