Carlene Higgins

Hi! I’m Carlene, Now I’m gearing up for my next venture, a website called Beholdr, dedicated to women like me and my friends, who are in their 40s or above, and don’t feel as though there’s much out there on blogs or websites that really speaks to their modern realities. Geared toward cool, creative and diverse women, Beholdr is a visual and verbal dialogue about life, self-image and style, seeing the beauty in our perfectly imperfect selves. I am also the mother of two young, beautiful children!

You gave us our big break at The7 Virtues, no one had ever heard of us and I wrote the online magazine for your Magazine at the time, Flare. You wrote me and featured us. I was so blown away. How did you develop this intuitive sense about brands with no history, it’s really a gift you have. 

As a Canadian fashion magazine, it was important to me to cover Canadian beauty brands and to be honest I loved getting the scoop on my competitors by featuring new brands and product launches first. Aside from that, I think it’s funny that you ask why I would think The 7 Virtues was important enough to write about; the brand has an incredible backstory, and the fragrances allow women to make a difference in the world with their buying power while indulging themselves in a beautiful original scent. It was a no brainer to me.

What is is that you look for in little known brands that says, this has staying power?

Two things. First, I like a brand that finds an undiscovered or underrepresented niche and latches onto it hard. You’ve got to commit yourself and not attempt to be all things. In essence, you’ve got to be original and be obvious about what you stand for. Otherwise, what are you here for? Second, it has to be of a high quality. There has to be some level of craftsmanship or it will never stand any test of time.

You have evolved with the beauty industry as journalism shifts from print, papers and magazines, the world is going towards youtube videos and podcasts. How did you make the leap from print to what is ranked by Refinery 29 and many media as one of the best podcasts out there right now? Tell us about that journey. 

I was a beauty editor at a prominent Canadian fashion magazine for more than a decade when they decided to shutter the print magazine to go entirely digital. Times had changed in life and in media, and I was laid off. It was a blessing really; it was definitely time for me to grow on my own. When I was considering my next move I really quickly saw a white space where only a few beauty podcasts were listed in iTunes. As a podcast lover myself, myself and co-host Jill Dunn decided to take the plunge. In our podcast called Breaking Beauty, we profile the most genius founders in the beauty business, how they got their start, and the little-known stories behind their best-selling beauty products. (Barb Stegemann and her incredible journey creating The 7 Virtues was one of our earliest episodes!) I think the reason why it’s been well received is twofold. For one thing, we were one of the first on the scene. Secondly, we have an original point of view, focusing on founders and humanizing beauty brands beyond mere products at face value, in a way that nobody else was doing. I think the fact that we’re friends and long-time beauty lovers (versus interviewers who don’t always use the products they’re asking about) means we bring a lot of fun and personality to the conversation.

What are you seeing out there now in the beauty industry, what are the trends that you find have the most meaning and staying power? 

What I’m seeing more of are brands like Fenty Beauty and Vernon Francois haircare that cater to a range of skin tones and hair textures where previously there was a huge lack. If you think about the meaning, that a person of a particular skin colour or hair texture has not been spoken to on store shelves, it’s diminishing. To finally have brands that speak to all women, all people, is very powerful and an emerging area I think will continue to flourish to more adequately reflect the population inclusively.

Best thing about being a Beauty Editor? 

The best thing about being a beauty editor is being able to connect to other people who have a common interest through stories, whether the topic is lipstick or cellulite, and whether we’re sharing in celebration or bemoaning in upset (or helping each other change our perspectives in what we consider to be beautiful). So much meaning lies behind a beauty product, a beauty image, a beauty moment. It’s interesting to explore the world through the beauty lens.

Worst thing about being a Beauty Editor? 

There are way more beauty products out there than I can possibly try, I wish I could try them all.

You’re a mom, what is your secret to being present and engaged in your kids’ life and still living your own dreams. 

I do my best but real talk: my three-year-old is upset most days when I leave for work.  Sometimes I feel guilty because I don’t only work for the money, I work to feel fulfilled, and that can feel selfish. But I believe that a fulfilled Mom is a better role model, or that’s what I tell myself anyway.

Favourite city in the world? 

Paris, naturellement.

Teetotaler or something stronger? 

Give me wine or give me death.

Most recent indulgence? 

A Louis Vuitton bucket bag. I realize it’s crazy to spend so much money on a purse but I much prefer to invest in quality things that will last me 20 years and hand them down to my daughter than to buy disposable items more frequently, which I feel is ultimately more wasteful.

Walk, bike or drive? 

Walk! I love to listen to podcasts, lose calories, catch some rays, take in views, and it’s the cheapest way to travel.

Who is the one person in the world you would like to sit beside on a long flight and what would you ask her or him? (Or maybe you already did and have a happy story….)

I would love to sit beside Ellen Degeneres and I wouldn’t ask her anything in particular, I would just tell her how much I believe that we are friends who haven’t met yet.

What would advice would you give people interested in going into fashion and beauty journalism?  

At this point they would probably be giving me advice and not the other way around.

Favourite quote? 

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”- Dalai Lama XIV

Last book you read or movie you watched (or both)

I haven’t read a book since the birth of my first child seven years ago. When you’re juggling, there are only so many balls sadly… I recently watched Anna and The King, I’m into period pieces.

Favourite cause, group or activist? Why?

Mental health is a cause near to me because I believe that we are sorely under-supported at every stage of our lives and the misunderstanding and stigma around the issue really needs to change. I’m also a big supporter of indigenous rights. I think in general people think of the third world as being some place halfway around the world, it’s like some weird far-sightedness where we can’t see what’s right in front of us.

Feel free to add your favourite fragrance by The 7 Virtues.

Afghanistan Orange Blossom- I’m a fool for neroli.

Favourite Virtue and Why. They are – wonder, balance, truth, courage, justice wisdom and beauty. 

Courage, because it implies an inner confidence, which is really about loving yourself— what’s most important in this world.

Web site:; 

Instagram: @breakingbeautypodcast; @beholdr_world

Favourite cause: Bell Let’s Talk;

Any Videos or podcasts you want us to link to:

February 3, 2018
February 4, 2018