Meet Girlboss Sally-Ann Mullin

If you are somewhat interested in the New Zealand fashion industry you would have come across this power house sooner or later. Having a multitude of roles in her career she has recently landed her latest role which give us all the boss ass bissh vibes. Juggling her career and family life, she is an inspiration to NZ women wanting to chase their dreams.

What is your current role?

I am the fashion director at Bauer Media New Zealand and head up a new division we created to offer visual creative solutions to clients, which we named simply The Fashion Department.

Tell us about your journey in media? Where did you start out?

Where do I start! I have had a less-than traditional career trajectory; I’ve always worked in and around fashion and beauty but my direction has taken a number of twists and turns. I cut my teeth in the costume departments of some of New Zealand’s most memorable TV shows including Outrageous FortuneGo GirlsThe Almighty Johnsons and Nothing Trivial. I’ve worked as a makeup artist on the creative team for MAC, as a hairdresser and wig specialist for the BBC in London on some of their big period dramas, and as a judge on TVNZ 2’s Project Runway New Zealand series. Predominately though, it is magazines that have my heart and for the past eight years I have worked for Bauer Media, who own the majority of the well-known magazine brands here. I started out as the fashion editor of Fashion Quarterly (at the time this was my absolute dream role) and after around three years holding that title I moved onto edit the magazine for a following three-and-a-half years. Recently I moved to a more diverse overarching role, running a department that creates the fashion content for a number of titles including Woman’s DayWomen’s WeeklyNEXTGood Health and WellbeingFashion QuarterlyMiss FQSimply YouKia Ora and Australian Women’s Weekly. I also work with brands consulting on their fashion lines and create campaign imagery or branded visual ad material for clients. 

What are some struggles that come with being a female leader in the media industry?

I have thought long and hard about how to answer this question. Perhaps my own experience is unusual and I do not wish to devalue the way other female leaders feel in my industry, but I can honestly say I have not felt my gender  has added any extra stress, roadblocks or problems for me in my trajectory. At work, I don’t consider being male or female. I am just an employee and leader working hard and striving to achieve as best I can within my limitations. Don’t get me wrong, there have been many struggles and tough moments along the way but I don’t think having a vagina has added to them. For me, my gender has neither held me back nor pushed me forward. Plus the NZ media is full of strong capable women in senior positions. I’ve also had the great fortune to work around and alongside many strong female leaders who have doubled as mentors and provide me with constant inspiration. 

What is your advice for brands wanting to stand out with their business from a media/editor perspective?

·         Make it easy. When you email a press release out to media make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Of course we want to know what the collection is about, but also include Dropbox links containing high res imagery, clear cuts of the product, any relevant captioning advice and most certainly the NZD RRPs. You want to make the path to coverage for your brand or line as easy as possible. In my experience the brands and PRs that regularly supply digital assets in this way secure the most organic (unpaid) editorial coverage. 

·         Time is money, honey. If you want as many key media and top-tier celebs to attend your event as possible, make your launch short and snappy. Our workloads are huge and schedules are tight, meaning we often can’t sacrifice large chunks of time out of the office or studio to attend endless long lunches or experiences (sadly). It is great to be invited to events and a privilege to attend, so don’t get me wrong, I know how extremely lucky I am, but many of us get invited to such a large volume of launch events, parties, dinners and lunches per week that we need to be rather selective about where we show face. My ideal launch or event time frame is 45min including the travel there and back from the office, this gives me enough time to speak with the brand team or PR, see the new range/product, grab a cute shot for Instagram and get back to the office.

·         Be memorable. We are storytellers. We need something to talk about to make sure the stories we are delivering to our audiences are interesting and they want to read/see them. Even if your product or line is more cotton basics than avant-garde, consider what your point of difference is, find an angle and pitch us that. Also bespoke pitches trump blanket media pitches all day every day. Good PRs carve off different angles to accommodate different channels/media brands.

What is a common misconception people have about you?

I have sometimes held a reputation as being a little scary and unapproachable, ie. strong and cold. It’s always totally confused me as those who know me will know I am anything but! I do have high standards and expect great work from the people around me but I am also kind, supportive and kinda goofy at times. My zodiac sign is cancer so maybe it’s just that; hard and spiky on the outside yet soft and sweet on the inside. Maybe I need to smile more?

What advice do you have for millennials wanting to chase a career in fashion?

If fashion is where you truly see yourself working and it’s what you have always wanted to do then go for it. The worst that could happen is it doesn’t work out and you try something new. I mean, I tried to study medicine for two years before I had a complete life 180. My advice is that life is long… so try the things. On a positive note it’s an extremely exciting time for New Zealand fashion at the moment with the designers from what we have dubbed ‘The new guard,’ Maggie Marilyn, Paris Georgia, Georgia Alice, Wynn Hamlyn and Harman Grubisa, gaining so much attention on the world stage and inevitably bringing eyes on everything else we have to offer in our local industry. It does take many long of hours and hard work but essentially what dream or career doesn’t? I would also note one piece of sage advice. If salary growth is your main motivation let’s just say no one works in the fashion industry for the money. It’s a tough gig, it is competitive, and margins are tight. 

Do you have any side hustles?

No, I do not. I am what you call time poor. I did get completely enamoured with the idea of owning a tow truck on the side. I planned to call it Sally’s Cheap Tows. This idea got so close to coming to fruition I actually found the perfect tow truck on Trade Me but I couldn’t find anyone to go halves in the business with me, AKA be the heavy driving the truck. HMU if there are any takers? 

How would you describe your daily style?

During the week if I’m in the office I’ll opt for simple tailoring pieces in black, white or beige; that may be blazers and shirts teamed with flares or bias cut skirts with stilettos or heeled boots. If I’m shooting I’ll be in destressed denim, vintage T-shirts and simple cashmere jumpers, most likely teamed with a heeled sock boot or Prada Cloud Bursts. I am polished but always like to have one element a little dishevelled for balance. For example, if my ensemble is immaculate I’ll wear my hair kinda scruffy and woody, or do a smudgy eye look. 

What is one thing that might shock people about you?

I can drive a tractor and back a large trailer. But actually, so can Juliette Hogan so maybe it’s not that unusual?

What is one expensive item you want to splurge your money on?

I am using all my will power to resist buying these super wearable Maryam Nassir wedges in limited edition Neon Fish print because I am about to renovate a bathroom. Help. Me. Sweet. Baby. Jesus.

What is one item that you love that is a money saver?

I wear bodysuits as a foundation layer to my outfits no matter the season. They add a great line, warmth and I find them really comfortable. To me they’re a better option than a camisole. My current go-to was only $44! It’s a black lace bodysuit by Jockey which is a part of the range I curated for Farmers recently.

One beauty product you absolutely love! 

I worked in makeup for a long time and still fangirl over cult beauty products in general. I can’t go past modern artist-lead brands and I love spending time at Mecca. By Terry by Terry Barber is one of my beauty obsessions and the Tea To Tan Face and Bodybronzing water is seriously top notch. If you haven’t tried it you absolutely must. You spritz the product onto the end of a big soft brush and buff it into the high points of your face or even your legs or décolletage. Once it’s buffed in the finish looks as natural as a sun-kissed tan and it won’t transfer onto clothes. It’s 100 times better than a traditional powder bronzer and unfortunately for my bank account an essential.

What’s your fave perfume?

I alternate between Louis Vuitton Turbulences and Tom Ford Patchouli Absolu. Both are rich and heady but I find them intoxicating. Occasionally I’ll find myself en route to an event with the Uber driver putting down his window and I’ll assume I’ve been too heavy handed with my scent application.

Your lip colour of choice?

After years of a bold red lip I now pat a small amount of MAC Rocker or By Terry Lip Expert Cherry Wine into the centre of my lips dabbed in with a finger and then work it out to the edges with Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. It gives a berry-toned lip-stain effect like you’ve just been eating blackberries or better yet, kissing! 

One quote you live by?

“When someone shows you who they are – believe them,” Dr Maya Angelou. Advice equally as useful at the office and in your home life.

Who inspires you?

My team, my family, music, art, film and nature. And then if I’m honest, different human muses seem to come and go from my life and influence what I’m excited about visually. They pop up just when I least expect it, normally right when I need creative inspiration but don’t know so, and that’s just the way I like it.

Want to stalk Sally? You can find her Instagram here.

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