I’ve been able to shine a spotlight on so many inspirational girl bosses since starting the #My9to5 interview series last year. And this month I’m thrilled to welcome one of my personal Internet favourites to the group: Anna Gardner of The Anna Edit. Anna started blogging and vlogging as a way to escape university revision back in 2011, and now has more than 350,000 YouTube subscribers and is one of the most trusted online sources for beauty reviews. Here’s how Anna made it all happen…
What were you doing before you started The Anna Edit (previously Vivianna Does Makeup)? And what inspired you to get into blogging and video?
I’ve always loved makeup, and I when I was growing up I used to beg my dad to take me to Claire’s Accessories on a Saturday so I could buy blue eyeshadow and body glitter. Bizarrely no one else in my family is into beauty, so I don’t know where the obsession came from.
Vivianna Does Makeup started when I was studying psychology at The University of Nottingham. I started procrastinating during my revision hours and discovered this whole online world of beauty lovers. I began watching PixiWoo, Tanya Burr, Lisa Eldridge and Ruth from A Model Recommends on YouTube, and noticed they all had blogs too. I naively thought blogging would be a semi-easy thing to do, and decided to give it a go because I was so bored of revision.
What was it like in the early days when you were juggling blogging with your studies?
I didn’t have a lot of makeup when I started blogging. In fact, back in the day all of my makeup fit into one little bag, which is kind of nuts to think about now. And I actually kept VDM a secret at first – I would hide it when people came into the room for about four months. Eventually I showed my sister and she was like, “Wow, you haven’t been revising have you?”
I was doing everything on a much smaller scale back then. When I first started I posted two or three times a week. And about six months later I started filming one video a week. But I would only film when all of my housemates were out.
After I graduated I started working in beauty PR, so I was commuting from Brighton to London every day. And that’s when I started writing a blog post every day and uploading videos twice a week. I put every minute of my commute to use, so I would write a blog post on the way to work and then answer emails on my way home.
When did you decide to take Vivianna Does Makeup full time?
It was about four years into blogging, and it was a really terrifying time. I was working for a start-up company writing beauty editorials, and I’d managed to negotiate a part-time contract. So I would do three days a week in my job, and then spend two days on VDM. At that time I was making a bit of money from the blog, but not really enough to look after myself.
But at the end of my six-month probation period I was asked whether I wanted to go full time or quit. They basically said it wasn’t working out to have me part-time, and I would either have to do it 100% or not at all.
Mark and I had just moved to London, and we were paying a stupid amount of money for a horrible, tiny, old flat. And it was just before Christmas, so it was terrible, terrible timing! But there was something inside me that just said, “Go for it, you’ve got to give it a go”. I cried down the phone to anyone who would listen. But in the end I went for it and never looked back.
What does your typical day look like?
I tend to wake up around 5.30am, which is crazy early in the morning! But Mark wakes up early to get to work, and I feel like I might as well be on the same schedule. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, so I eat as soon as I get up. And then I do one of two things: either make the bed, do my household chores, and get started on my laptop by 7am; or, if I’m feeling lazy, I’ll have a soft start to the day and answer emails in bed.
Then, day-to-day, I could be writing, filming or editing photos. I’ll usually watch an episode of Friends when I break for lunch, and I’ve recently started going to the gym so I usually try to beat the evening rush and go there at 4pm. I’m such an early bird that by mid-afternoon I’m sort of done for the day. So I’ll go to the gym, make dinner, have a shower and then call call it a day.
What are the biggest challenges and perks of your 9 to 5?
I’m a one-man band, I don’t have any colleagues. And I’m quite a social person, so when Mark gets home from work I’m like a lost puppy. I just talk his ear off for an hour! So I’d say that not having a team around you is the most challenging thing about blogging full time. But I know I’m so lucky to be in this situation, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Lack of company is just the one and only thing that gets to me a little bit.
And the perks? Well wearing elasticated trousers every single day if you want to is the best thing ever! Right now I’ve got normal clothes on, but I’m wearing a dressing gown over the top because I’m a little bit cold, which to me is the ultimate situation. And I honestly love what I do. Everyone else I know has suffers from the Sunday night blues, but I’m always raring to go. And I never take that for granted.
How do you manage to stay motivated and productive when you’re working from home?
If you’re self employed you never feel like you’ve done enough. You will always feel like there’s more to do because you’re the only one who can tick things off the to-do list. So you get to the end of the day and you’re like, “Okay, I did everything on my list. But there’s still tomorrow’s list.”
When I’m procrastinating I always end up on BuzzFeed looking at cat GIFs or reading posts like “Things You’ll Remember If You’re a ’90s Kid”. It’s all so nothing-y, and it started to become a problem, so I’ve now unfollowed a lot of the accounts that lead me into those bad, procrastination places. And if I ever get really distracted I switch my phone onto aeroplane mode and put it in the other room.
How do you unwind after a long day?
In the evenings people probably think that I’m ignoring them, because I’m really bad at replying to WhatsApp messages or anything like that. But I really do have my phone in the other room – normally because it’s charging. In the evenings I really enjoy cooking; I find that it’s a really good way to switch off. And Mark and I are always binge-watching something on Netflix. We just watched Love, which was so good. I was a bit emotionally traumatised afterwards though. I needed an evening to get over it and cry a little bit.
Which other women working in the beauty industry inspire you?
This sounds like an obvious answer, but it has to be Lily Pebbles. She actually inspired me to take VDM full time. When my manager gave me the all-or-nothing ultimatum she was the one who was like, “Take the nothing! You can do this!” She really helped me make that transition. And she’s just such an ideas person. I’m very much the pragmatic one in our friendship, whereas Lily’s a thinker and comes up with these amazing ideas. I’m always like, “Where did you get that from?!” It’s so nice to have someone in the industry that you can turn to for advice and bounce ideas back and forth with. I love that.
And, finally, what’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
I always turn to my dad for advice – he’s such a good egg – and he’s very much a “go with your gut” kind of person. I’m a big believer in that too. Just go with your intuition and don’t question it. Listen to what your gut is telling you to do and it will all work out in the end. I truly believe that. So thanks for that wisdom, dad!
You can catch up on the previous My 9 to 5 interviews here >>