Digital Marketing & Business Strategist
Paula Roberts is a Digital Marketing and Business Strategist and go-to for beauty brands wanting to make a big splash.
Having risen through the ranks in some of London’s most prestigious agencies, Paula then went brand side, lending her talent to the likes of Jo Malone and Milk Makeup, and has consulted for Byredo, Hair by Sam McKnight and more. As the beauty and digital industries pick up the pace, Paula’s in high demand. Here, our latest Creative Achiever reflects on her career so far and what brands are leading the way in terms of innovation.
Tell us about your first job in industry.
My first job was in an agency. I was fascinated by consumer behaviour and trends. I wanted to be in a place where I could communicate interesting messages to interested people. An agency seemed like the best place to do that, WAVV RAPP COLINS was the leading direct marketing agency at the time I was recruited onto their graduate training program. It was the perfect foundation for my career, I was exposed to brilliant people and all functions of an agency as well as learning about the fundamentals of marketing strategy.
You were at Director level in a business within only a few years of graduating from university, how do you think you accelerated through the ranks so quickly?
I knew I wanted to learn quickly with hands on experience, but I also wanted to have a voice in the room. To do this meant that I had to seek promotion and work hard to make sure it happened. From an early point I was well taught how to interpret data and read insights to analyse people and markets. Without this knowledge my acceleration would not have been anywhere near as fast.
Your career so far has involved working with some really incredible beauty brands, including being part of the launch team for Milk Makeup in New York – what is it about beauty that first attracted you to it?
I have been so lucky to work with some of the best names in beauty, from the established brands to niche offerings that are game changers for the industry. I have always been mad about beauty. It is so dynamic and creative, with the power to change the way one feels as well as looks. What else can create armour, identity and enhancement?
You’ve spent the last few years consulting with different brands, what are your favourite kinds of projects to work on?
I am pretty eclectic and the joy of what I do is that I get to work with a spectrum of businesses on different projects. I get to work with people new to beauty as well as the old masters. All the sparkly minds.
It’s very rewarding, whether I am building a new brand, reviving an existing one, or just finding a fun way to narrate brands and products across channels. I am always drawn to the brave clients, the ones who want to do things differently and excite customers with amazing products.
You relocated to New York in 2014, are there any elements of New York working culture that you’ve brought back to London with you?
London and NYC are both big, bustling places home to people at the top of their game, but they couldn’t be more different. I learnt a great deal in New York, the attitude is infectious, there is a can-do way of approaching things and everyone wants their own slice of Manhattan, so you toughen up to make sure no one steals yours. There is no beating around the bush, the New Yorkers get straight to it. This is something that I have been happy to absorb into my way of working.
What kind of skill set do you have that makes you great at what you do?
I have learnt to help brands be commercial though technology and story telling, and used my experience to build and reinvent brands, helping them exist and thrive in a digital landscape. I’m an analytical thinker but I approach problems creatively. It provides a fresh strategy to help my clients.
What are you doing when you’re not working?
I do all sorts of things to relax: I practice yoga both for fitness and as a brilliant way to switch off. I enjoy painting, although enjoying and being good at it are very different propositions! Even when I’m not working the beauty geek in me is still hungry, so I’m always looking for new brands and products to play with.
Who do you think is killing it in the digital space at the moment?
Wow, digital is and continues to be mad and exciting. The industry is increasingly shifting its focus to the realm of wellness, focusing on inclusivity and holistic health for a demographic that is looking to enhance not alter. I am following a few of these brands with interest, Drunk Elephant for example, and I’m keeping an eye on Love Beauty and Planet. I am biased but what Milk Makeup continue to do is so exciting and authentic. Fenty is killer; the resonance, the content, the product. In terms of retail Farfetch as a digital marketplace. They operate global local and the customer focused service model is how it should be. And Sephora for their willingness to test and create immersive experiences.
Has there been a person pivotal to your success?
I have been inspired by many people, for many reasons and been fortunate to have had advice and support from people who have been innovators in their field. You can derive inspiration from many people and things if you are open to it.
In what ways has the beauty industry changed since you were first a part of it?
Where to start… Beauty is so exciting, it always has been. Both the brands and the consumer are different creatures than when I started out.
Digital has not only lowered the entry point for brands, the beauty landscape has been opened up, bringing innovation and new thinking to product, packaging, the way we sell, and the way the consumer discovers brands and products. Consumers are more active in telling brands what they want and there is more transparency with feedback thanks to social media.
Looking forward, the way technologies gain in popularity, artificial intelligence and algorithms are all beginning to shape a new beauty situation. The customers’ relationship to beauty has shifted with changing definitions of beauty consumers, becoming a mix of both external characteristics and inner confidence. It’s not all about looking good; we need to feel it too. It has purpose… It’s wild and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.