One of the highlights of participating in the natural hair makeover was meeting the talented team that worked behind the scenes to make it happen. At the helm was Ebony’s beauty and style editor, Elaine Welteroth. If you ask Welteroth what she loves most about her work, she’ll tell you it’s sharing valuable information with readers and helping them solve problems. Sure she loves testing the products and writing, but meeting with readers and helping them solve problems excites her. Always a beauty girl, she’s clear that this is her dream job.
Landing a dream job is no small feat. Neither is overseeing a beauty shoot. But Welteroth kept her energy high and everyone on schedule. I couldn’t help but wonder how she does it. Welteroth agreed to carve some time out of her busy schedule to discuss Ebony, style, and what it’s like to live her dream.
RDD: How did you begin your career as a beauty editor?
EW: I started working at an online beauty site called Somagirls.TV. I worked with the creative director and developed my own column called The Daily Chat. I soon realized that I really had a talent for beauty and fashion writing. I applied to a ton of internships. When I saw the November 2007 issue of Ebony magazine with Alicia Keys on the cover, I had a light bulb moment. I googled the editor, who was Harriette Cole at the time, and I reached out to her and told her how inspired I was by her. We hit it off. Eventually, I received an offer from Cole. Two weeks in, I was working with Michelle Obama. Page by page I got my start.
RDD: Tell us what a day in the life of a beauty editor is like.
EW: Early in the morning I have a flood of e-mails. I try to get in a jog before that. It keeps me energetic. I receive about 15-20 samples of beauty products per day-makeup, fragrance and even styling tools. A part of my job is to wade through new technology. I go on market appointments where I’m introduced to new products and build relationships with the brand.
RDD: What is your approach to beauty and style?
EW: Beauty is the great equalizer. Across every ethnicity, economic divide and age, women are interested in reinventing themselves. That can segue into deeper conversations about self-esteem. So my approach is from the standpoint of it being important to look good and feel good about yourself and to do your best. For the magazine I love doing photo shoots with real women like the natural hair makeover. I also enjoy identifying tastemakers. We’ve featured quite a few-Lloyd Boston, June Ambrose, Johnny Wright, and Gelila Assefa Puck.
RDD: You mentioned connecting with readers. How does Ebony intend to commit to that going forward?
EW: We encourage our readers to visit Ebony.com. Our editor-in-chief Amy DuBois Barnett wants people to write to her. Twitter has been big for us in terms of creating dialogue. We’ve been able to generate conversations through social media. So we keep our ear to the street. We want people to connect with us.
RDD: Today, the word “fabulous” gets tossed around quite a bit. One thing that came up on set the day of the photo shoot was the glamour and elegance of Eunice Johnson.
EW: Eunice Johnson was a trailblazer. She was more than a stylish woman. She had the power to change the perception of black women in fashion and to uplift women in their community and all over the country. She helped women to see themselves as worthy of a life of luxury. Rather than keep that experience to herself, she made it accessible to women in urban and suburban communities.
Some people may not know this, but for fashion shows you barter with designers for the clothes that the models wear. Many designers were not willing to do that for her at the time. So Eunice Johnson paid for the clothes that were worn in the shows. That was empowering. In doing so she also paved a way for black models like Pat Cleveland to become icons.
RDD: What do you wish more women knew about style and beauty?
EW: I wish more African-American women would take the leap of faith to wear their hair natural. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing or straightening. There are many women who don’t know what their natural hair texture is. I just wish more women would embrace it and explore the diversity of our own beauty.
RDD: What about when it comes to style?
EW: How you present yourself to the world is important because it says something about you. The decisions you make about what you put on tell the wold about you. I’m a big proponent of high/low shopping. You don’t have to pay a lot. Invest in some places. Invest in shoes because they support your body. And a purse, because you’ll most likely carry it every day. And a purse sends a message about your style- whether you are sophisticated, adventurous, or colorful. With clothes, I’ll wear BCBG, Chanel or Yves Saint Laurent, but I also shop at Forever 21 and H&M. I have my fair share of sundresses from H&M. I have a gray blazer from Zara that I love. I’ll wear bangles by David Yurman and mix them with beads. It adds character. J. Crew is also a great place to shop. The clothes look just as luxe as if you paid twice as much.
RDD: Name something you won’t leave home without.
EW: There is a concealer by Lorac called Double Feature. One side is a stick and the other side is a wand. The highlighter disappears into your skin and gives you a dewy look. I use the wand on my cheeks. I like wearing matte lipstick, but your skin should glow. Also the CoverGirl Queen collection has the most amazing bronzer. I use it to contour my cheeks and on eyelids. It gives a polished look.
For what’s hot and what’s next in beauty and fashion, pick up a copy of the July issue of Ebony on stands now!