cheekyalchemy.com is a website with weekly updates on beauty, fashion and lifestyle, brought to you by established writer/editor, Suzy Josephson. I used to work with Suzy when she was the beauty and health editor at Marie Claire magazine, and I used to drool over the beauty pages she produced, and try to absorb as much of her tips as I possibly could.
Suzy, a Cape Town mom of two, runs cheekyalchemy.com, a website with weekly beauty, fashion and lifestyle pieces. Suzy calls it an “online magazine”, and with magnificent visuals and layout, that’s exactly how it feels. cheekyalchemy.com also rounds up beautiful and must-have beauty and fashion items, plus cool things to do, watch, eat, drink and see.
I asked Suzy some questions about herself, cheekyalchemy.com, and some of her best beauty products.
Tell us a bit about your beauty history?
My first magazine job was at Marie Claire as their Beauty and Health Editor beginning in 2002. I had previously only worked in radio producing and presenting documentaries, but immediately fell in love with magazines. Reading them had always been a hobby/ passion of mine so it felt so natural. I also loved the varied nature of the job, which entailed writing articles, styling shoots, attending product launches and meeting with clients.
I left Marie Claire in June of 2006 to have my daughter Julia. Having a child obviously changed my flexibility and I decided to freelance after her birth, but when she was eight months I was offered the position of Beauty Editor at O the Oprah magazine. I happily accepted the job as I missed the adult interaction with everyone in the office and was used to being very busy. After O, I worked as beauty editor at Psychologies magazine (I loved the less frivolous nature of the beauty on this title and adopting angles relating to women’s psychology) and enjoyed a stint at Elle as well, until the birth of my son Max in 2012. Not long after his birth I was once again drawn back into magazines when I became the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan.
Why did you decide to start cheekyalchemy.com?
Every time I returned to magazines I found that when they could accommodate my need for flexibility, my colleagues found it hard to deal with my privileges.
I also started to detect a feeling of uneasiness in magazines with all the competition they were facing from digital platforms and started to wonder why I wasn’t embracing this change.
I’ve always loved the design aspect of magazines and loved the idea of being able to create a product that looked the way I wanted it to and featured what I believed in without being dictated to by a brand and its identity. After all I could now be the brand.
I am in the fortunate position of having a graphic designer as a husband, who set up the initial site and designed my logo and initial posts. But after six months of the poor man having to return from a day at work and design my posts, it made sense for him to teach me to do it myself. He taught me how to use Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and how to use the site builder and I began to design, lay out and post the stories.
This is fantastic as it gives me the freedom to work while my children are at school and relax with my husband at night when the children have gone to sleep. I’m so pleased I have the flexibility to do all the lifting as well – some of the most important chats I’ve had with my daughter have been on the ride home from school and I’d hate her to be having these conversations with someone like an au pair.
I also love the fact that I can work from wherever I want to as long as I have a laptop, modem and cellphone. My mother was kind enough to buy me a MacBook Air, to allow me to design and write on the go and it’s light enough to carry around with ease.
What do you hope women will get out of cheekyalchemy.com?
I think it gives women very accessible beauty, fashion and lifestyle ideas and does the shopping and exploring groundwork that many women don’t have time to do. It offers them a lot of what a woman’s magazine does, but it’s free and can be accessed at any time from all technology- computers, cellphones, tablets, etc. I love that digital’s instant and, unlike magazines, I don’t have to wait three months to share something exciting I’ve just discovered. I produce beauty, fashion and decor stories and have a few contributors who occasionally supply food, wine and film reviews. One of digital’s biggest advantages over print is that you can link the recommendations made to other sites for more information or in order to purchase the products that have been featured.
The site has evolved a lot since I started though and I am slowly coming up with a style that I think works. I am learning as I go along what women want from a digital portal. I believe that images are the new words and so you’ll find that the site is becoming more visual and less text-driven. I also feel that this is becoming my point of difference and everyone needs one, especially given the hoards of blogs and digital destinations out there.
What is the best beauty advice you have heard, and followed?
If you can only afford one anti ageing product, make sure it’s sunscreen and that nutritionally rich food plays a huge role in the health and appearance of your skin and hair, whilst sugar-laden foods are their worst enemy.
What do you think is moms’ biggest beauty faux pas?
Giving up on make-up altogether. It doesn’t require much time to use a little concealer and mascara and it makes the world of difference. Feeling confident about your appearance and spending a bit of time on yourself improves motherhood greatly! My mom once told me that mother is not synonymous with martyr.
Most moms, especially new ones, want a quick fix for looking more awake? What are your top products for helping moms? And what are your best buys for instant mom glam?
A colour-correcting concealer with a yellow tint to neutralise those blue under eye circles and a red lip to draw attention away from flaws and provide instant glamour to even a T-shirt and jeans. Keeping brows shaped and groomed is also very effective. A pop of pink on the apples of your cheeks can also really illuminate a tired face.
With winter on its way, what are your best skin-saving products?
Placecol Moisture Hold Therapy for your face, and for your body Clinique Deep Comfort Body Wash and Beauté Pacifique Corpus Paradoxe Body Oil.
What is always in your makeup bag?
Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick, Dermalogica Sheer Tint Redness Relief and a Maybelline mascara.
What is always in your toiletry collection?
I love Moroccanoil Shampoo, conditioner and volumizing mousse, Essie nail colours and the Exclusifs De Chanel fragrances.
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