While it’s impossible to describe any woman in one sentence, this is particularly true of the multifaceted and multitalented Leigh Campbell. But for the benefit of those who don’t know her, if we were to try, it might sound like this:
Ex-Cosmopolitan Beauty Director, Ex-Huffington Post Head of Lifestyle, Mamamia Executive Editor, Writer, Podcast Host (You Beauty, Get Me Pregnant & This Glorious Mess) mother (to beautiful baby boy Alexander and to her precious cat and constant companion Cookie), daughter, wife, friend, advisor, beauty expert (and oracle on all things skin and makeup), beauty influencer and SNACK-fluencer (more on this to come)….
And this doesn’t even scratch the surface. Leigh is quick-witted, funny, sensitive and warm, caring, and kind. Fiercely loyal and supportive of her friends, devoted to her family, husband and son. The kind of like the person who you’d imagine you’d love to be friends with.
All of which is perhaps why she has amassed a cult following of women who follow her on Instagram, participate in her Facebook groups and listen to her podcasts. Women who live and die by her beauty recommendations (Leigh has single-handedly caused beauty products to sell out en-mass, can make or break a new beauty product launch, and can catapult a regular beauty product into cult-like must-have status. Alpha H Liquid Gold, Ultra Violette Queen Screen and The Jojoba Company’s Jojoba Oil to name afew - these names will be very familiar to You Beauty Podcast listeners and Facebook followers...).
Women flock to her for everything from beauty advice, skin concerns, style tips, and after a long and difficult fertility journey (which she openly shared through her blog, Huff Post + Mamamia articles and podcasts) women now also seek out Leigh for fertility, pregnancy and baby advice. But certainly the most fun of all, Leigh is the ultimate snack-fluencer, sharing her weekly sweet and savory favourite new treats on Instagram. And like all things Leigh recommends, the impact of her opinion is not trivial – snack recommendations from this self-confessed snack-addict and sweet tooth, have been known to go viral.
Safe to say, this is a woman of influence. The true definition of "An Influencer" and we couldn’t wait to speak to Leigh about bags, babies, beauty and more. Enjoy.
IN HER BAG
What’s in your Simone bag right now?
It’s probably easier to tell you what’s NOT in it! My wallet, phone, keys, emergency snacks, of course. Then a leather pouch of other essentials like lip balm, tissues, panadol, hand sanitiser etc. Then everything the baby needs. So essentially my whole apartment. Lucky it all fits!
Leigh at the Mamamia office with her VESTIRSI Simone bag
How has your bag contents changed since becoming a Mum and what have you ditched? (submitted by a VESTIRSI customer)
I haven't really ditched much which is probably why my back is broken. Pre kids I had the typical contents of a working woman (phone battery pack, makeup touch up essentials, pen), and now I have all that plus dummies, bottles, odd socks and half chewed rusks. I’m a modern day Mary Poppins.
How do you organise Alexander’s gear inside your Simone bag? (submitted by a VESTIRSI customer)
I use a packing cube (from Plane Pal) which houses a fabric change mat, spare nappies, wipes, and an emergency outfit for him. I like a packing cube because it’s so light and not at all bulky so it doesn't take up any more room than necessary. Then I have a bottle bag ($6 from Kmart!) for his bottles and formula when we are out and about. Though recently as we are transitioning to less milk and more food I have a lunch bag (from Tiny Me) so I sometimes take that with his meals and snacks) depending on the outing.
VESTIRSI Simone leather bag, handmade in Italy from Italian leather.
The next question was going to be, what’s in your beauty bag, and I found a 2018 Mamamia article that peeked inside your cosmetics bag revealed the following as your go-tos:
- Ciate London Dewy Stix Luminous highlighting Balm (“This highlighter gives the perfect dewy finish. Not too sparkly!”)
- Lanolips 101 Fruities Lip Ointment (“Not the original 101, it has to be the fruities! Thick (but not too sticky) and super nourishing.”)
- IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better SPF 50+ CC Cream (“My Daily coverage and sunscreen taken care of in one step. Lazy girl win!”)
- Model Co Lash X-Tend Lengthening Mascara (“This mascara makes lashes look super long”)
Two years on, you’ve tried hundreds more products so I think the more interesting question is: are any of these STILL your go to’s, (because if they’ve remained a must-have for that long, with the slew of products you try each week they must be good!) and are there any new additions to the line up?
Ohhh good stalking! The answer is yes, I still use and love all of these. Well, with the exception of the Ciate stick because I dropped mine and it smooshed into the carpet. Devo. But would absolutely repurchase! As for new additions, I am going to be click-baity and suggest people listen to my (very excellent) beauty podcast, You Beauty. It’s Australia's biggest beauty podcast and number one in it’s category in Apple Podcasts. I spend each week trailing and researching new products to edit the market down to the best, and those are discussed on the show in our Spendy/Savey segment. Episodes drop each Tuesday.
Mamamia's beauty podcast You Beauty is the podcast for your face. Beauty experts Leigh and Kelly McCarren get real about what works and what doesn't.
Strangest beauty advice you often give, that shocks or surprises people? (Don’t cleanse in the AM for example!)
I don’t use cleanser, only micellar water (unless I am trialling a specific product of course). I made the switch about five years ago and my skin is so much better for it.
Most common beauty question you get asked (and the answer, if there is one!)
Probably if a sunscreen exists that sits well under makeup and doesn't feel like, well, sunscreen. The answer is yes! There’s quite a few sophisticated formulas now that feel like skincare, not thick yucky sunblock. My faves are Ultra Violette and Mecca To Save Face.
Leigh recommendations can catapult a brand into instant cult status, like that of new sunscreen brand Ultra Violette. You can read our interview with Ultra Violette founders Bec + Ava here.
How do I reduce the appearance of fine lines, when wearing a full face of foundation? (submitted by one of our VESTIRSI customers)
Ditch powdered or long-wear foundation formulas and go for hydrating liquids. When I interviewed Jessica Alba (ahem, name drop!) she said her makeup artist only uses liquid or cream formulas on her, never powders. That goes for blush and highlighter, too. It creates a dewy glow which is more flattering on mature skin. Or, any skin that’s not an 18 year old model, really. Use blotting papers down the t-zone if shine is an issue.
BUSINESS AND CAREER
Your career has always been very important to you and you have climbed the ladder from an editorial co-ordinator, to Beauty Director at Cosmopolitan, to Executive Editor at Australia’s largest online platform for women, Mamamia. What do you think helped you have such success in your career so far?
*blushes* Um, this is always such a tricky question to answer. I think it’s a combination of hard work, great mentors, proper ethics and really, really loving what I do. I put my career first for many many years and took a lot of pride in building a reputation. I still do of course, but now I have a child, I’m glad I was able to build those foundations back when I had the time to direct my focus.
Yes, as expected, this ex-Beauty Director has the beauty cabinet of your dreams...
What advice do you have for women just starting their career journey (in any industry), hoping to emulate a successful career, such as yours?
Work really hard. Stay in your lane. Be defined by what you say ‘no’ to, but take on every new opportunity as if it’s a door to something excellent. Oh, and ask yourself if you are heading in a certain direction driven by ego or by what will truly make you feel fulfilled.
What’s the next career role for you and where do you see yourself career-wise in 5 years?
I have no idea. I am about to go back into my executive editor role at Mamamia after a little over a year on maternity leave. It’s exciting and terrifying. I really don’t know who I’ll ‘be’ in my career now that I have a little person, so I’ll navigate finding that fit first. Ask me again in five months, not five years!
Leigh, back at the Mamamia offices, with podcast co-host Tigga Natoli and baby Alexander, announcing to her followers the news of Mamamia's new parenting podcast This Glorious Mess.
Will we see a book by Leigh Campbell in the future? And if so, what area would you most like to write about?
Gah! To be honest, not any time soon. I am very fortunate to have been approached by a publisher, so the option is there. But the thought of writing a book right now fills me with dread, not excitement. Plus I have no god damn time. Any time I do have I want to spend with my son while he is so little and wonderful. I am not about busting my own balls so I can say I have done it - time with my family is far most important. So maybe, but not til later.
You’ve written before that for many people (yourself included) “Happiness is not a default setting” and you’ve spoken openly about your struggles with anxiety and depression. What have you learnt throughout your mental health journey in terms of how best to manage the ups and downs of depression and anxiety, to try to live the most stable, balanced life possible? For example, you’ve spoken in the past about having to set some relatively strict parameters in which you can live your life, to ensure your safe and stable. And are these still in place, or is that near impossible with a baby?
I am at my happiest mentally when I eat well, do some form of exercise, get a good amount of sleep and don’t overcommit to too many ‘things’. Sometimes I ace the balance, other times not so much. It has been easier on maternity leave because I am the boss of my own time. Well, Alexander is my boss, but going for walks and having healthy food at home is easier. Grabbing a block of chocolate at 3pm for lunch because you’ve been in back-to-back meetings all day in the office is not healthy. So I’ll try and maintain some sort of ‘balance’ (I hate that term!) when I am back working.
Therapist assigned exercise (with Alexander in tow!)
As a new Mum, how have you managed your mental health with your pre-existing “sadness on your shoulder” now combined with the mix of sleep deprivation, breast feeding, hormones and all the other challenges of being a new Mum?
At first I didn't! When Alexander was 7 weeks old I was diagnosed with PND and Adjustment Disorder. A combination of medication and seeing an excellent psychiatrist has really helped me.
FERTILITY, GREIF + HEARTBREAK
Fertility is a topic very close to your heart after a difficult fertility journey including endometriosis, miscarriages, multiple rounds of IVF. You’ve generously shared your journey in an attempt to help other women going through something similar and have written multiple times about the topic, sharing your journey via your “Treading Water” blog series on your website, and through articles on Huffington Post and Mamamia. You also co-host a fertility podcast called “Get Me Pregnant” on the Mamamia Podcast network where you discuss all parts of the fertility journey with medical professionals. So here’s my hard-hitting question: When you’ve followed all the medical advice, and done “All The Right Things” how does one make peace with infertility, loss and a new future that doesn’t include a baby, when it’s something they wanted so dearly?
That’s hard for me to answer because I was at the start of that journey - a long journey which requires a lot of work - when I fell pregnant with Alexander. I’d started to try really hard to not hate myself and hate my body for ‘not doing what it was supposed to’. I had started to grieve a life I was never going to have and was trying really hard to imagine happy times in my future that didn't involve having a family. But then we got really lucky. So I can’t speak from experience as to how hard and long that road really is. But all my love goes to those women and couples who have had to accept it and are on that road.
Leigh + 4 month old Alexander
What do you credit getting your through these difficult times and do you have any advice for women struggling with infertility?
A really supportive partner, lots of warm baths and chocolate and not having any other option. Old mate Winston said “when you’re going through hell, keep going” and it’s true...you find grace and strength when you have no other option but to soldier on.
You recently lost your favourite person, your Father, who you refer to as “Your Home.” Was there any literature (books, podcasts, for example) or any practices (exercise, meditation) that helped you process your grief?
Not yet. I think it’s too soon. I reached out to a Facebook Group I am in and asked for resources, especially for my mum (her and dad were married 54 years), and overwhelming the advice from those who had lost a partner or parent was to give it time, let the grief come, feel it, process it, sit in the pain. It’s so bloody hard. Some days it knocks you for six when you least expect it. More than once I’ve been walking down the street with tears streaming down my face and strangers have stopped me - I think they were worried I was going to push my pram into oncoming traffic. Grief is the price you pay for loving someone so dearly. It’s a tax. And I’d pay it a million times over to have the kind of father I had.
Leigh on her wedding day with her "favourite person"
The Power of Social Media: Part 1 - Leigh gave a shout out to Pro Golfer Adam Scott, explaining how her Father is his biggest fan...
The Power of Social Media: Part 2 - word got out to Adam Scott who rang Leigh's terminally ill father for a chat. (I'm not crying, you are.)
What’s the best piece of advice your Father gave you?
To be honest my dad wasn't an advice kind of guy. He was the ear you needed when you had troubles, the kind of person to ask you how you were and truly care to hear the real answer. He was a listener. He was a safe place.
If you could give 18year old Leigh one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t get lip filler when you’re 21, it’ll be a disaster. But definitely go on that third date with a guy called Rich, it’ll turn out he’s not annoying, he’s actually pretty wonderful.
Leigh + "a guy called Rich" (her now husband, Rich Gioutsos)
Success means different things to everyone, but what needs to happen in the next 6 months for you to consider 2020 a success?
If I’m not a blubbering mess when my baby starts daycare and can manage to enjoy my career again and work out how to tackle ‘the juggle’ after such a big break, I’ll be happy. Oh, and if the plagues and natural disasters could politely f*ck off, that’d be great.