UNSW SPOTLIGHT | ZOE FOSTER BLAKE 


BY Kristina Zhou 

Zoe Foster Blake’s initial claim to “all eyes on me” fame, came when she fell down three sets of stairs at UNSW orientation week. Since then, her professional and personal life have climbed an upward trajectory– with barely a slip on her silky, Swarovski encrusted staircase.

Zoe’s CV is unparalleled in diversity: she’s worked at publications as diverse as Mania, Smash Hits, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Sunday Style. She’s also developed two widely successful apps (Break Up Boss/Amazing Face), authored 9 books, is the associate producer of a TV show (The Wrong Girl) based on a novel she wrote and collaborated on a clothing line with cult Melbourne company – Skin and Threads. To top it all off she’s a #girlboss having founded Go-To: a clean skincare line that’s triumphantly “changing people’s lives.”

Phew, what a list!

Despite her prolific success, Zoe insists there wasn’t a grand masterplan; no detailed business strategy that mapped out her next 10 years. “I never worried about my career. I didn’t go into my life saying I must be this, I must do that. Ideally, I wanted to write a column, write a book and travel and I’ve made that happen. If you have a loose goal and you love what you do – you will get there,” Zoe explains.

Instead, she took spontaneous chances when opportunities presented themselves and other times she didn’t let her inexperience deter her from applying for jobs she wasn’t entirely qualified for. Zoe offset her inexperience by being wide-eyed, enthusiastic and sashaying with unbridled confidence (even if she wasn’t always feeling that way). "I'm a big believer in serendipity and timing, and when you get a few hints that maybe you should go down a certain path, you should listen," she emphasises. “Just keep going forward like you know what you’re doing – and that is totally what I’ve done with my whole career, just pretend that you know what you’re doing,” Zoe advises.

Media students are told that in order to land even an unpaid internship at a major publication, it’s almost a pre-requisite that you interned at a number of places beforehand. So, here’s a shocker for modern day media students: Zoe Foster didn’t do any internships (“I didn’t do any intern stuff. I did one internship.”) and thought she was “too cool to write for uni mags”. Unjaded, she certainly worked hard and proved that inexperience isn’t necessarily a barrier to success; if you show an unwavering determination to learn and carve a niche that stands out amongst a sea of recycled voices. Her brand of cheeky articulation got her noticed by prominent editor Mia Freeman: in her early 20’s Zoe wrote a cover letter for Dolly magazine employing the tone of a 14-year-old girl, with a factious Rupert Murdoch quote spearheading the application.

For future university graduates, she recommends thinking beyond the traditional black and white cover letter: “If you are applying for a creative job – you think creative. If you are looking to work in advertising, maybe sell yourself as you would a product review; if you are applying for a job at a wine company, send your application in on a wine bottle label. So, while working in the magazine industry where you have two seconds to sell a magazine cover to a buyer, you need to do the same for yourself”.

Zoe’s down to earth, tongue in ‘chic’ tone, dressed in comedic wit, has engaged readers for over a decade. In a digital era where mistakes are glossed over, flaws are airbrushed away, and life’s miserable moments are casually flicked under the rug – Zoe Foster is refreshingly and hilariously real. “Fashion is hard. If you let it be, that is. I was in my twenties back then. Cared too much about what people thought. Thought I needed to be turbo on-trend, to the detriment of my bank account, figure, and sense of worth. I didn’t. Now, in my shimmering thirties, I give little to no fucks about what people think of how I dress, and one look at my trainers-jeans-and-hoodie combo today will quickly validate this,” she confesses.

Although digital influencers are constantly slammed for selling out, Zoe remains transparent and authentic: a quality that is as rare as emotional sanity before that time of the month. “A fashion retailer had asked me to do a capsule makeup collection. I realised that I wouldn't know where the factory was. I wouldn't know the quality of the ingredients used. But my name and my face would be on it. I'd worked years to build trust with my readers, so I pulled the pin, because I'm like, 'No way, that could be a horrible product.' It could have been great, but I didn't want to take the risk at that point in my career. The quality is really important to me.”

It speaks volumes about her credibility, when I impulsively purchased her skincare online (Go-To’s Face Hero, Amazing Face cream and Properly Clean foaming cleanser), without thoroughly reading reviews, despite having skin so sensitive that it even reacts to the wrong type of facial cotton (yes really). After the first week of trialling Go-To, my mum asked me to come clean about any cosmetic procedure I had, because I apparently looked more luminous (“You usually look haggard but today you actually look alive). “No mum, it’s just this new skincare regime I’m trying,” I say with a smirk. “Yeah right,” she scoffed, before actually trying it herself and now having to fight off my dad’s constant cheek pinching advances.

Zoe and her husband Hamish Blake are a serious power couple: she’s the media darling that’s appeared on almost every national broadcast and print outlet, and he’s the courageous comedian with two Logies, including a Gold Logie to his name. Together they have produced the most heart melting, awe inducing offspring (Sonny and Rudy Blake), with any social media post featuring them generating on average about 50,000 likes.

By now I know what you’re thinking: Zoe Foster Blake’s life appears charmed, like it was perfectly engineered by a Disney director that specialised in eternal happily ever afters.

Yet for all her success, Zoe’s kindness is legendary. Maybe being a decent human being is the default standard that’s expected of everyone, but when you start achieving success, it’s assumed there’s a trade-off: the niceness starts chipping away but hey your success can offset the crazy demands. Zoe proves that’s not always the case, as she cautions against mistreating people in lower positions of power because you never know what will happen in the future: the foot you spit on today could very well be attached to the leg you suck up to in the future.

“The intern can become the boss, the boss can disappear, and you might really need that publicist’s help one day. So, you know, don’t be a jerk,” Zoe warns.

Walama Muru

Phil'

Artsweek