This month I catch up with London based blogger Andrea from The Haute Heel. We chat about the tipping point that prompted a move into full-time blogging and her thoughts on creating content that brands truly value. Plus she spills her secrets to achieving great looking skin, the bloggers that most inspire her and what’s on her 2019 bucket list!
Name: Andrea Cheong Based: London
Hi Andrea, thanks for joining us for a chat! You’ve been blogging for over 7 years now right? Tell us how your blog The Haute Heel came about.
It was 2011 and I was studying art history at UCL but I’ve always wanted to be a fashion editor so I knew I had to get a portfolio of some kind. I was also interning at huge brands since I was 16 so doing everything I could to get a foot in the door. Turns out, social media was going to be bigger than I had ever imagined!
You have an incredible blog with regular new content covering luxury fashion, beauty, travel and food reviews (check out her What a Girl Eats series for honest and mouth-watering analysis!). How do you keep things fresh? Where do you get inspiration for content?
I have an editorial background as a journalist and Content Editor so I’m super strict with myself about posting articles and also finding fresh content. When you keep up to date with press releases, keep an eye on the trends emerging from social media, it’s not too hard to find new angles. But I can’t pretend it’s always smooth – I still struggle with posting 3x a week when there’s so much else going on.
You made the decision to go full-time with your blog this year, how did you reach that decision? Has anything surprised you about going out on your own?
I always said I didn’t see myself going full time because I didn’t feel like I could add value to the industry if I was stuck in its bubble. I was kind of pushed into it when I realised that the majority of office jobs, no matter what the industry, wasn’t going to look at what I did very positively or with respect. I am surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed working for myself because I really miss having colleagues and feedback and that feeling of being ‘in it together’.
The blogging industry is continuously evolving thanks to changes in algorithms, apps and consumer behaviour. How have these changes affected the way you blog and communicate with your followers?
I haven’t really changed the way I talk to my audience, I’ve always treated ‘followers’ like friends. If they comment a lot or DM me I learn their names and I even know who’s married, who has pets and what their dog’s name is. I don’t believe in being on a pedestal, it’s about always having an open discussion. My polls on Stories always make me laugh because I think my viewers are as savage and blunt as me.
How do you relax and switch off at the end of the working day?
I am really bad at this. I have days or weeks of intense productivity then a massive lull. It’s ok because they make up for each other but I’m working on it. I think it’s a personality thing.
Your images are beautifully curated and editorial, reflecting your love of art and creativity. How do you prepare for shoots? What do you look for in a photographer?
Thank you!! Shoots sometimes give me sleepless nights. I don’t just rock up to a wall and whip out an iPhone. I don’t think you can do that anymore and keep brands and people interested. I start by pulling looks from various PR agencies around London. I do a bit of location research and if there are any opportunities with properties around London I always jump at the chance. As for photographers, I don’t believe in working with multiple at once. You need to have a cohesive vision and find someone that really gets your idea, excites you and lifts you up. It helps to share moodboards or reference pictures and see if you’re in sync.
How would you describe your style? What are your wardrobe essentials this Autumn?
It’s very feminine. Right now, I’m really into whimsical, nostalgic vibes. I’ve already begun shooting fall transition looks and it’s a lot more glamorous with lots more reds and berry hues. Like an adult version of all the pink I’ve been posting.
You’ve worked with some truly inspiring brands. How do you determine which brands to collaborate with? Are there any campaigns that stand out, ones you’re especially proud of?
It’s probably the same as most people – would I wear that anyway, would I buy that service or product? I loved the Burberry beauty video campaign I did because I spent ages rehearsing how it would look in my head for weeks and when I finally edited it, it was exactly what I wanted. I also did a Garnier advert earlier this year and the whole shoot was like a sleepover because everyone was so down to earth and we played old school Britney songs all day.
You take an in-depth approach to researching skincare products and treatments! What are your top tips for great looking skin? Do you have any cult beauty favourites?
I used to have acne and when people recommend shitty products it makes me really angry because my mother used to spend so much on helping my skin improve and I just get really upset thinking that there are girls out there being as let down as I was by misinformation and bad marketing.
Now that my skin is under control (roaccutane) I think it’s best to go by skin need rather than skin type. As an example, I have congested skin that’s irritated by pollution (but not sensitive) and sometimes it’s dehydrated. Products containing Hyaluronic acid, AHA (glycolic acid), Vitamin C all work wonders for this. And daily zinc tablets keep sebum production under control. I like MZ Skin, Avene is just a life saver, Lixir (very affordable for it’s potency), I see Renee Lapino every other month, there are as many good skincare brands out there are as there are awful.
Who are your favourite bloggers? Do you prefer to read blogs or watch vlogs?
I really admire Mossonyi, Wish Wish Wish (Carrie), Park & Cube, if I could have someone else’s feed I’d pick The Silk Sneaker (Shloka)… I like a lot of people for different reasons. But I don’t really read other people’s blogs unless someone tells me to. The girls I used to read back in 2011 don’t post so frequently anymore and a lot of the new ones, sorry to say, don’t put in as much effort into their writing as they do their photos. I don’t really watch vlogs either. The only one I can sit there for the full 12 minutes is Sonya Esman because her editing is unreal.
Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I’m super anti-social.
What’s your favourite quote?
I don’t really have one!
Will you be doing any more travelling this year? What destinations are on your bucket list?
Yes! I’m in Zurich now, doing Cyprus in October and Cape Town in November. I’m planning to be in Asia in December or January – probably Singapore, Hong Kong and my friends and I are discussing Sri Lanka and Bali. Now that I work for myself, I’m making travelling a priority. Unfortunately, most of these aren’t holidays, they’re content trips. I really want to explore more of Japan, visit the cute houses in New England, join a shellfish eating competition in Texas and go to Petra. I’m also in love with Peruvian food so would love to visit the country next year.
Finally, what can we expect from you and The Haute Heel in future?
More fashion and destination content!