The world of beauty and dating have long awaited the voice of a funny and frank woman to steer readers in the right direction. They’ve needed the kind of person you would go to about your boy troubles when you wanted a reality check, not a cup of tea and a cuddle. They’ve needed the type of writer who could make the release of Britney’s 1000th fragrance interesting and engaging, or at least someone who could make you feel passionate about eye shadow again.
Enter Miss Zoë Foster, the woman for the job.
For those of you who don’t know Zoë Foster, you are missing out. Foster maintains herself as an omnipresent voice both in print and online, as a wearer of many hats including novelist, columnist, beauty editor and blogger. So how did the wordsmith get started in it all?
‘When I was at high school I thought I probably wanted to work in magazines when I grew up just because I grew up in the country and it seemed like an awesome, glamorous life,’ she says. ‘And then I kind of chose Media and Communications at Uni just because I was thinking, “All right I seem to be ok at writing and I’ll just pad that out until I figure out what I want to do”.
‘I applied for a few really random magazines, like wine magazines and fishing magazines, just to get an “in” and I ended up at a kids’ magazine called Mania which was a year and a half of a lot of fun.’
Foster describes her career progression as moving ‘chronologically with age’ — starting from her kids’ magazine to Smash Hits and eventually going on to write for Australia’s number one women’s lifestyle magazine, Cosmopolitan.
It was here that her role transformed from beauty editor – a position which she always thought ‘was kind of a made up job that couldn’t be true’ – to a regular feature writer at the magazine. Her flair and quirky sense of humour saw her column, which started out as ‘a dating term of the month piece like ‘sexting’ or some word that was being thrown around from the dating world’ into a dating advice piece.
Foster believes that her friends and followers heed her advice for one simple reason.
‘I was just always that girl in my friendship circles that people wanted advice from,’ she says, ‘and I think that was not because I was awesome at it but because I was harsh and a lot of people just need a kick up the ass when they are being weak and I’m good at that. I exercised it in my own relationships.’
The dating column was also the inspiration for her latest addition to her growing collection of novels, Textbook Romance. The how-to dating guide was co-written with radio personality (and now boyfriend) Hamish Blake.
‘With Hamish, we’d written dual pieces in Cosmo before when we both had an opinion on something and they always worked really well. So I said, “Oh maybe we’ll do a whole book”, and it was really fun.’
And some free advice from the dating queen?
‘My mum is amazing — she is a counsellor and a psychologist and works in a maximum security prison…but most of [my advice] comes from her,’ she says. ‘I find myself repeating her because I love her take on things, it’s all very go with the flow.’
Foster whole-heartedly embraces the idea of taking life as it comes in terms of love and relationships, which is why she believes that ‘letting men chase you is so important because women try to force things so much and you can’t force things, with any aspect of your life—you just have to allow it’.
‘And it’s hard for a lot of career-driven women…but they need to understand it doesn’t work in relationships,’ she says.
The ubiquitous Foster also had a stint at Harper’s Bazaar where she eventually branched out to edit cult-favourite beauty site Primped. Her trademark of quirky, comedic writing is immediately noticeable on the site bringing seemingly dull press releases and reviews to life with her witty banter.
And as Foster explains, the quirkiness was always meant to be present in her writing.
‘That was always my intention and I didn’t know what beauty writing I was going to do.’
Foster says that the fun of beauty editing was turning what she felt to be a dull topic fun, and that was her challenge.
‘Six or seven years later it’s a little bit harder to be as excited about cleanser as I used to be. But if you can be a strong writer first you can be a beauty writer with ease because you’re going to have to write about mascara 24 times a year and you need to make it engaging and interesting every single time,’ she says.
Making her way in an industry that is notoriously difficult to navigate, Foster left me with these words of wisdom for those who wish to pave their way in the glamorous world of the glossies.
‘A few years ago I would have said write, write, write, and get a blog because there is the potential that employers are looking for. And as employees we can kind of use that as a living breathing CV. I don’t really know what to advise anymore,’ she admits.
‘But I do believe it just goes back to the key thing, which is to think about what you would write if you didn’t have to write about anything — and I also think passion is key.’
For all things Zoë Foster go to http://zoefoster.tumblr.com/