Changemakers: In Depth Interview with Modern Filipina and Multi-hyphenate Muse Gretchen Gatan

The beauty blogger, make-up artist, and marketing manager on juggling multiple careers

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For beauty blogger Gretchen Gatan, however, beauty much like life is something you can take control of and put it in your own hands.

I’m a huge advocate that modern Filipinas should be independent in every aspect, and should know how to take care of themselves and find happiness and fulfillment on their own. This is why I love sharing my struggles and experiences, to help empower women that anything is possible if they dream big and work hard.

With our lifestyles getting faster and faster (and traffic just the opposite), it’s sometimes hard to keep life under control. In between our jobs, family, and chores, a lot of things can slide between our fingers without us even noticing: personal relationships, hobbies, passions, opportunities, or worse, even our dreams. It is only too easy to lose sight of the important in the grind of the everyday. Some of us get so caught up with our schedules that we even neglect our own personal upkeep.

On the other hand, Gretchen Gatan, the beauty and lifestyle blogger at Great’s Junkyard, is quite adept at juggling a lot of things: a marketing manager for beauty discovery platform and makeup distribution company Glamourbox.ph, and a freelance makeup artist.

My schedule can be pretty hectic, but it’s all about prioritization and time management.

Gretchen’s success was anything but instant, however. After studying Creative Writing in the University of the Philippines and Ateneo De Manila University, she started her career as a copywriter and marketing assistant for a startup advertising agency. She worked her way up the corporate ladder while studying at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, where she earned a second degree in Marketing. She also took a Fashion Makeup course at the Fashion Institute of the Philippines.

Despite her busy schedule, Gretchen makes is a point to maintain close personal relationships  with her family, boyfriend and her dog Booboo. She also finds time to enjoy playing ultimate frisbee or practicing yoga.

We caught up with Gretchen in between her schedules to ask her about her multiple careers, as well as some beauty advice. The multi-hyphenate muse graciously granted us a few minutes to answer our questions

Being a writer, marketing manager, and freelance makeup artist, how do you manage your time juggling multiple careers?

To be honest, it was a little difficult to juggle everything at first. I had to make a few sacrifices, like giving up playing Ultimate frisbee. I used to play Ultimate frisbee competitively (I played it for almost a decade). I even became part of the player pool for the Philippine team. But then I started GretasJunkyard.com in 2013, and then I also got the marketing manager position I’ve always wanted, so Ultimate was really something I had to give up. Don’t get me wrong—I love the sport, but I felt like I was doing more important things—things that helped shape the career path I dreamed of for myself. I’m very fortunate it all fell into place, and that there’s synergy between what I do as a beauty blogger, a marketing manager for a beauty discovery platform and makeup distribution company, and a freelance makeup artist.

My schedule can be pretty hectic, but it’s all about prioritization and time management. My weekdays are dedicated to my full-time job as a marketing manager, while weeknights and weekends are for when I need to work on the blog.

Gretchen Gatan Loansolutions.ph Interview

What were some of the challenges you faced when you were starting out with your blog? Did it cost a lot to get started?

One challenge for me was finding my niche, because when I started, Greta’s Junkyard was really just a hodge podge of different articles. It covered everything from food, to beauty, to random musings. But then I became more invested in beauty and skincare, so this became my main topic. Occasionally, I’d also write about my travels. And knowing what I really wanted to write about helped establish my blog’s identity.

There are hundreds of bloggers out there who have such a strong following, and who take really great photos, but my strength is in my writing because I’m first and foremost a Creative Writing graduate—so that’s another purpose of the blog. It’s a creative outlet where I can simply write about whatever I feel like writing.

It didn’t cost much—I mean, I had to buy the usual like my domain name, and a hosting provider (that’s around Php 3,000). Building the blog’s design didn’t cost me anything at all, because my boyfriend self-learned how to design and develop websites, so I’m very lucky.

Do you have any advice to those who want to start blogging as a full-time profession? Is it possible or cost-effective to make a living out of it?

I wouldn’t recommend making blogging a full-time profession, because it’s not sustainable. But that’s just my opinion, because the income I get from my blog is mostly from sponsored posts, so it’s very project-based in a way. In terms of financial independence, it still helps a lot that I have regular income coming in twice a month.

I guess if you really invest yourself and dedicate 100% of your time building and growing your blog, and reach a level where all your posts are paid, it might be possible to make a living out of it. But for me, earning (passive) income from the blog is an extremely huge plus. I’m just really happy to be writing what I like to write about, and sharing with my readers my thoughts and opinions on different things. It was never really my goal to make money out of the blog—and I think that’s what’s helped me stay grounded throughout the years.

Why is it important for the modern Filipina woman to take care of herself? What are some good beauty buys you can recommend that won’t break the bank?

I’m a huge advocate that modern Filipinas should be independent in every aspect, and should know how to take care of themselves and find happiness and fulfillment on their own. This is why I love sharing my struggles and experiences, to help empower women that anything is possible if they dream big and work hard.

Makeup and cosmetics can sometimes be construed in a negative way—like how women who wear a lot of makeup can’t accept their natural beauty, and are therefore insecure. But who cares what people think? I love makeup because it’s fun, and it’s my way of expressing myself through bold brows, lashes, and lips! I don’t wear makeup for anyone but myself. And I hope that more and more women are able to see it in this light as well.

What are good beauty buys that won’t break the bank? Since I’m a brows, lashes, and lips kind of girl—I would definitely recommend Etude House’s Color My Brows (Php 380), Maybelline’s Falsies Mascara (Php  459), and Maybelline’s Creamy Matte Lipstick (Php 299).

You serve as an inspiration to those who do their 9-to-5 jobs but can’t seem to find the time or motivation to pursue their passion. Any advice you can give us?

If you want something really bad, you’ll do everything you can to make it happen. I have to admit—there are days when I feel very uninspired, and I just want to stay in bed and watch TV shows on Netflix all day, but I guess being in my late 20’s pushes me to get up and do something. Anything! Whether it’s to fix my clothes, finish an article, or take photos of a few products I’m sent—I don’t like the feeling of wasting time where I end up telling myself, “I could have done this and that if I didn’t stay in bed all day.” It’s such an ugly feeling (to regret wasting time), especially knowing that time is so precious and I don’t have a lot of it. There are so many things that I want to do, but so little time to do it all.

I guess my advice would be to have that initiative, to have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and to surround yourself with positive people who support you, who believe in you, and who are as equally passionate and fiercely driven as you. Trust me, all that energy can be contagious, and you’ll find yourself wanting to pursue your own passions. Also, know when to stop and take a breather. Overworking yourself will do more harm than good, so give yourself time to just relax and enjoy things, before hustling all over again.

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Written by Kash Avena

Kash has been with Loansolutions.ph in marketing and business development roles since 2014. Now based overseas, she is happy purveyor of financial literacy for OFWs and their families.

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