An interview with... Gabriella Pisani
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt since starting Pretty Ugly?
Appreciating your readers and followers. Taking the time to reply to comments, questions and engagement goes a long way and people are genuinely interested in hearing from you, so be conversational.
What’s the main message you want readers to take away from your posts?
Authenticity, honesty and a relatability. I want readers to trust what I say and know that if I love a product or treatment, it’s because it’s genuinely improved my skin/hair/body/nails in some way.
Do you think social media has changed our relationship with self-image?
Absolutely, it’s changed our perception of self-image in a huge way. Rewinding to a year ago, I think social media was affecting young girls in a bad way, from the over-airbrushing and the arrival of ‘FaceTune’. However, over the last year, girls including Ashley Graham, Iskra etc. are promoting an amazingly healthy body image with a strict ‘no airbrushing’ policy and these girls are taking over the social media sector for the better.
From chapped lips, to sore callused hands from the gym, dry cuticles or a flaky cold-ridden nose, it’s a little miracle worker.
What was your first reaction to hearing about a ‘nipple balm for lips’?
Intrigued. Having never felt the need to moisturise my nipples, I was interested to know what was different about this product and why it was so cult.
What do you think now that you’ve had some time to test it out for yourself?
I love it. It’s so versatile and I am constantly finding new uses for it. From chapped lips, to sore callused hands from the gym, dry cuticles or a flaky cold-ridden nose, it’s a little miracle worker.
The phrase “go natural” means something different to everyone. What does it mean to you?
To me, this means straying away from the chemicals and nasties you find in so many products. It means being aware of what you’re putting into your body and onto your skin and letting YOU shine through.
Has there been a time in your life when you wish you’d toned things down and gone a little bit more natural yourself?
Definitely. During my teenage years when I’d started a new school for sixth form, I used makeup as a mask. I’d cake on the layers like war paint and looking back, I wish I’d been a little happier just being me.
Being so involved in social media, do your find yourself self-editing more when it comes to what you show of your life to other people?
I have two Instagram accounts. One for personal family photos and unedited shots, and another for my work life. My work life account is all glossy, and stylized and to a certain degree, false. That’s my filtered life, not reality.
You’ve described yourself as ‘brutally honest’, which is something we love, but does your honestly ever get you in trouble?
So far, no. I’m honest but diplomatic, and I’m truthful but thoughtful. I wouldn’t want to necessarily damage a brand’s credibility and I’m also very mindful that just because a product doesn’t work for or agree with me, doesn’t mean it won’t for others.
You’ve spoken openly about your experience with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – how has PCOS changed the way you think about health and wellness overall?
Having PCOS has just made me far more aware of health and wellness. If I don’t exercise, then I very quickly put on weight, particularly in the stomach area, the bra strap area on my back and in my legs and bum (all hormonal areas). My skin instantly flares up if I eat too many hormone-packed foods (dairy and chicken for example), and mood swings are commonplace if I’m not watching my sleep and overall health.
Your post about PCOS was incredibly successful, but what was your favourite topic to write about on Pretty Ugly in 2016?
Having won the Cosmopolitan Lifestyle Influencer of the Year Award two months ago, I’m being approached by more and more travel and food brands. I love writing travel guides and visiting different parts of the world, it’s my favourite topic of writing by far.
Is there anything you’re making a conscious decision to change, going into 2017?
Yes, I’m making a conscious effort to post more and more. I’m aiming to upload 2 videos a week to my YouTube channel and at least 4 posts a week to my blog. It’s essential for increasing your engagement and brand identity.
How is running Pretty Ugly different from the work you’ve done in the past writing for other publications? Do you find you’re more invested in the things you post?
This is my business now, and my baby. I set up Pretty Ugly solely by myself and have slowly turned it into a brand, that has won two awards in the last two months, and that drives me to constantly pour out more and more content and invest time when I normally wouldn’t (i.e. evenings and weekends).
What are your best tips for maintaining sanity in a fast-paced, busy city like London?
I have a few. Take time out from the city, whether it’s visiting friends or family in the countryside or other cities every now and again. Switch off from social media from time to time, and most importantly breathe. I realise that sounds ridiculous, but taking a few seconds to breathe in deeply, count to six and analyse what it is you may be about to explode over, and then reassess several seconds later, I often find it’s simmered down slightly.
We loved the ‘Positivity Pointers’ in your post ‘2017: A New Chapter’. What’s one thing that never fails to get you in a positive mood?
Exercise. Now, getting myself to the gym is the hard point, I’m definitely not skipping in there with a grin on my face. But once I’m there, and I’m running away any stressors, or noticing slight changes in my physique, it’s worth the pain. It’s well known that working out releases endorphins, and that’s no myth. After even 30 minutes in the gym, I feel happier, more confident and more focused on the things that matter – Pretty Ugly!
What’s one quote or phrase that has resonated with you recently?
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” – Oprah Winfrey
Given that your area of work means you’re plugged in basically 24/7, how do you wind down?
I like nothing more of an evening, than putting on my ‘onesie’, sticking on a face mask and watching back to back episodes of CSI. That, or heading off to a spa for the day is always a treat. The latter rarely happens, however…
You mentioned in one of your YouTube videos that you’re drawn to people who go through life with passion. What’s the one thing you’re most passionate about?
Family and friends. Nothing else will fall into place without those people around you. My work is at its best when I’m bouncing ideas off family members, especially my mum, and my head is at its clearest and most positive when I’m seeing friends and socialising regularly.
Finally, you also said what you miss most about childhood is the spontaneity. If you could do anything impulsively right now and have it guaranteed to work out, what would you do?
Move to New York. I interned out there for 3 months at Saint Laurent when I was at University, and it was just the most incredible place. If I could guarantee Pretty Ugly would crack the US, I’d be on a plane quicker than you can say Empire State Building.