Jasmine Garnsworthy: From full-time Editor to being her own boss
She has a resumé that reads like a dream for anyone climbing up the ranks of publishing – think POPSUGAR, Stylecaster, Mamamia… – but six months ago saw Jasmine Garnsworthy give up the regular gigs to enter into the world of freelance, a decision she describes as being “absolute magic”.
Having also recently launched a line of customised natural beauty oils called The Buff, we decided now was the perfect time to chat to this multi-tasking guru to learn more about the move to being her own boss and to discover just how she’s managing to juggle all the different elements of her life…
You’ve already had a pretty incredible career. How did you first get into media?|
I studied a communications degree majoring in PR at QUT in Brisbane. I interned from the end of year 12 until my second year of uni, when I began working full time as a fashion PR consultant for a local agency while studying. I pretty quickly learned that PR is not my jam and started looking for other opportunities. That led me to a copywriting role with what was then called MyCatwalk in Sydney. I grabbed the opportunity, moved interstate, and finished my degree externally.
Can you talk me through your career?
While at MyCatwalk I worked crazy hours to prove myself, become a stronger writer, and make connections in the industry. I then landed a gig as Style Editor with Mamamia.com.au. After a couple of years I moved to fashion editor at POPSUGAR before relocating to New York City, where I’m now a freelance writer with a focus on natural beauty and wellness. I write for sites like Byrdie, Sporteluxe, News.com.au, Stylecaster, Mamamia, and Refinery29 while also running my brand The Buff.
What would you say has been your highlight?
The past six months — since I started freelancing — have been absolute magic. I love having the flexibility to work and travel, prioritise my own agenda, and build up a business.
The moment I first started working in PR and realised I’d been working my ass off for something I didn’t even enjoy. Thankfully I realised this at the tender age of 20 and was able to cut my losses. Communications is such a broad degree that I was able to pivot really early in my career.
After such amazing roles, why did you decide to leave the stable workplace for the freelance life?
As a digital editor you already work long hours, and I realised it would be financially and personally more rewarding to go out on my own and invest that time in my own business. I also wanted the flexibility to work from anywhere, and since becoming a full-time freelancer and small business owner have enjoyed some truly amazing experiences that I wouldn’t have had in a traditional work environment. Things like volunteering in a refugee camp in Katsikas, Greece, and writing while traveling through Cuba, Jamaica, and across the US. I can also now spend more time with my family in Australia and simply take my work with me.
Is this around the same time you decided to launch The Buff?
I launched The Buff about four months into my freelance career, in January this year.
Can you tell me a bit about the brand?
The Buff is a line of natural beauty oils. Our most popular products are the Customized Face Oil and Customized Body Oil. While ordering, customers answer a quick skin quiz, and then we draw on a library of oils that includes jojoba, tamanu, grapeseed, rosehip, argan, raspberry seed, and maracuja oil, consider their various properties, and blend an oil specific to the customer’s needs. Finally, we package in a monogrammed bottle with the buyer’s initials — it’s so cute!
How did it all come about?
I created The Buff after a chronic acne outbreak in 2015 that lasted months. Harsh prescription creams and cleansers, antibiotics, and more than a dozen expensive visits to the dermatologist did nothing to help. As a wellness and beauty writer and editor I was able to spend hours every day researching magical elixirs and talking to experts in pursuit of something that would restore my complexion. I investigated the nasties many skincare and makeup companies pack into their products, and decided to clean-up my routine.
I learned about jojoba oil; an antibacterial, nourishing oil that mimics the skin’s own sebum and is non-comedogenic — so it doesn’t block your pores. I also discovered tamanu oil, a substance that’s been used for generations by Polynesian women to treat acne and scars. After several weeks of my all-natural new regimen — including oiling every day — the acne and residual scarring cleared up. I was hooked, and soon after completed a Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation and created my own line of oils for acne-prone skin. I truly love using these oils, and love introducing other women (and some guys!) to them. I also just released a Free Beauty Oil Blending E-Guide to help people work out which ingredients they should be looking for in skincare.
Did you always want to get into beauty creation?
Over the past few years I’ve focused most of my writing around natural beauty and wellness, so launching my own line feels like a very natural progression.
Will you continue doing freelance writing as well as work on The Buff?
I hope so!
So what does a usual day in your working life look like?
My schedule is changing a lot now that I’m combining building the business and writing. I usually spend the early morning responding to international emails that come through overnight and answering messages and comments on Instagram and Facebook. Often I’ll have a media event in the morning too — usually a workout with a publicist or a breakfast launch — and then return home or to a co-working space (I use an app called Croissant that’s like ClassPass for coworking in Manhattan) to begin on the day’s stories.
After writing a couple of articles I’ll take a break, answer The Buff customer emails, liaise with suppliers, or coordinate any upcoming event partnerships. We’ve started rolling out Beauty Blending Bars at events across Australia and NYC, all of which require quite a bit of planning.
At around 4 p.m. I ship out orders from the previous day and then squeeze in another story or two before my boyfriend gets home from work or I head to another event. I spend most nights packing orders and working on The Buff customer requests until pretty late.
You are producing an incredible amount of freelance content each week. How do you juggle all your responsibilities?
Um, right now it’s just about prioritising everything over sleep! I’m trying to work out a better balance, but I still get such a buzz whenever I publish a new story which drives me to continue pitching content and saying yes to work! I truly love what I do, so it’s never an inconvenience working in my “spare time” — my career is my favourite hobby.
I also take a concoction of herbs to boost my immune system and support my adrenals which have made a huge difference. I used to burn out and get sick pretty regularly (especially when traveling between timezones!), but they help me just keep on going. I see an herbalist in NYC named Daniela Turley and rather than recommending what I take, suggest everyone sees a naturopath or similar for their own supplement recommendations.
Is it good being able to have the flexibility to be working anywhere in the world?
It’s so, so good!
What are some of the negative aspects of being your own boss?
Accounting and invoicing. I have a love/hate relationship with Xero.
How do you keep yourself motivated each day?
If you can scrape together enough motivation to visit the gym, I find even a low intensity workout in the morning can inspire a seriously productive day.
What’s your advice for those up-and-coming influencers considering giving up their jobs to become full-time content creators?
If your company allows it, try and secure some freelance work before you leave the security of a full-time job. Freelancing is like any business and it’s always wise to test the market before going all in.
How do you best get started as a freelancer?
Become skilled in your trade (whether it’s graphic design, writing, or something else), build your network, create a personal website showcasing your work, and use social media as a tool to brand yourself in your relevant industry.
Where are you hoping to see your career in five years’ time?
We’re working on strengthening The Buff’s distribution strategy so hope to have a really robust retail presence and thriving direct-to-consumer business. I still see myself continuing to contribute stories in the beauty and health space to a handful of my favourite publications.
Select images by Dave Blake Photographer.