Made Up Careers
Among the surfer chicks and the beach babes, the cow cockies and the horsey heads, a new breed of women is putting a fresh face on what it means to be Taranaki raised. They have researched, refined, colour-matched and Instagrammed their skills as far afield as New York. Now these young business women hailing from New Plymouth tell Michelle Robinson how they literally ‘made up’ their careers.
SALLY JO HICKEY ~ Makeup and Lifestyle Vlogger, of New Plymouth (22)
She may have been the quiet kid at school, but YouTube star Sally Jo Hickey is sure making up for that now. With more than 189,000 subscribers to her online beauty and lifestyle tips channel, she has one of New Zealand’s top rated YouTube channels.
The communications graduate has proudly created a full-time job for herself – predominantly creating makeup tutorials.
For the uninitiated, Sally Jo uploads two or more makeup or lifestyle videos a week, each with a differing theme. Her most popular clips are ‘how to’s’ on creating product reviews and showcasing trends for each season. She earns money through advertising and sponsorship from beauty companies.
“It’s been a full-time job for over a year now. It’s surreal because, to me, it’s still a hobby and I love it. It’s hard to switch off when I’m with family or on holiday. I’m always on the computer.”
Sally Jo started dabbling in makeup behind the Body Shop and Lancome counters while in her second year of her communications degree. While Dad wanted her to focus on her studies and her classmates and friends started looking at her sideways, she proved to be onto a winner when she
prioritised her makeup tutorials.
Sally Jo has a famous name. She’s created that for herself, but you can’t go past that surname. Hickey. ONE News’ weatherman of 25 years, ‘put the jug on and break out the Lamingtons’ Jim, is her old man.
Growing up in New Plymouth, Sally Jo shied away from the association because whenever she did well at anything, she got teased that it was ‘because your dad is Jim Hickey’.
“I was never bullied, I just got teased but I made myself the butt of the joke with my self-deprecating sense of humour, so I didn’t mind it too much,” Sally says in her hundred miles a minute way.
But having a local celebrity for a father taught Sally Jo a lot in how to deal with the highs and lows of being in the public eye.
“Dad’s career helped me because it taught me that fame is a thing, not a person. Dad’s just a regular guy. Of course he’s amazing but he’s just a regular guy. So I don’t let the feedback I get, go to my head.”
Sally Jo’s subscribers are the type of people who will give detailed feedback - mostly positive. They’re typically aged between 18 to 24 but Sally Jo occasionally gets feedback from women in their 50s and 60s, including her mum who loves to come over and rifle through her products.
There have been a few weirdos. Well, not weirdos, but people who are a bit shy to meet Sally Jo in public so they have gone the extra mile for a quick chat. The extra mile being, having fans follow her to her car and turn up at her front door.
She politely asked them to respect her privacy and they never bothered her again. “It’s New Zealand, right? Most people are too shy to approach me.”
Don’t let the dramatic lashes and hot pink lipstick fool you – beauty blogging is a serious business.
Sally Jo keeps herself on the coal face of “beauty journalism”, a rapidly expanding market, by following industry leaders on social media. Interestingly, the bulk of her subscribers are American.
Recent news coverage on the growth of beauty blogging put YouTube beauty category views as up 80 percent from the previous year, reaching 4.5 billion. Some 1.5 million beauty videos are uploaded to the site per month, worldwide.
Sally Jo often collaborates with overseas vloggers (video bloggers) to come up with vids, like the time she and a US blogger each bought products from their own country and sent them to each other to share in a haul video.
A “haul”, by the way, is when a vlogger goes shopping and shows off the items they’ve bought, what they cost, what was discounted and how long the items took to ship.
Basically a brand review.
Sally Jo would love to go back to America, having recently been flown over with Shannon Harris
aka world renowned YouTube star Shaaanxo for a Benefit Cosmetics brow collection launch. Shaaanxo is from Palmerston North and is New Zealand’s biggest beauty blogger. Her YouTube channel has more than 2.7 million subscribers.
The Kiwi girls and Australians such as Chloe Morello and Michelle Crossan keep in contact and collaborate from time to time. “The community on YouTube is great,” Sally Jo says.
“There’s not that many beauty bloggers in New Zealand and we’re all different. I see the YouTube scene taking off in the next few years like it has in Australia,” Sally Jo says.
“I can’t wait for the New Zealand industry to get bigger.”
Sally Jo is more than happy to dish out advice to budding vloggers – be yourself.
“There’s a gap in the market still. People don’t need to have the fanciest equipment, phones have pretty good cameras these days. But the main thing you have which no one else has is your personality.”
“I love cats and Disney and lame stuff like that. It’s important to let your personality show through, people enjoy that.”
Sally Jo uses a Canon EOS 600D camera which she sets up to record and edits using iMovie and FinalCut Pro X.
“Most computers come with built-in software that you can use.”
Along with the more serious videos, she’s done makeup tutorials using only kids’ makeup; where she’s got her boyfriend to do her makeup, and has promised a makeup session by dad Jim.
She’s branching out into more ‘lifestyle’ videos now too, including fashion, homeware hauls and subscribers have even requested cooking demonstrations after getting enthused by some foodie photos she shared.
Sally Jo enjoys doing this with homeware and Korean cosmetics.
“I enjoy Korean cosmetics. Lots of the products come in cute egg shaped containers. They have very good skincare, it’s a very big thing right now.”
Everyone who wears makeup could do well with a touch of white or pale eyeshadow on the inner
corner of their eyelids to give them a more awake, refreshed look, she says.
But on her days off from work and appointments, Sally Jo loves to go barefaced with just a bit of moisturiser, sunscreen and lip gloss. Makeup may be her money maker, but she’s not all consumed by it.
“I think you gain confidence as you get older. When I’m with my friends, it’s not like anyone’s
going to notice if you’re wearing makeup or not.”