Allure, a women’s beauty and fashion magazine founded in 1991, has been an influential voice for over 30 years. It is widely recognized for helping women sort through thousands of beauty products with its annual Best of Beauty awards. But ever since Editor-in-Chief (EIC) Jessica Cruel came along in 2022, Allure has enjoyed its most significant web traffic in history.
Just one year after Cruel was brought on as EIC, Allure saw a 6% increase in website visits year-over-year, with total time spent increasing by 24%. Last year, the magazine also enjoyed its three most-read covers of all time: Jennifer Aniston, Kim Kardashian, and Millie Bobby Brown. In Q1 of 2023, Allure saw an 18% increase in website visits year-over-year, with total time spent increasing by 6%.
During her short but impactful tenure, Cruel has focused on putting diversity first. She is passionate about Allure’s Melanin Edit, an ongoing series spearheaded by the Black editors on staff, which she launched in 2021. It explores various facets of a melanin-rich life from providing historical context, to suggesting the most innovative treatments for hyperpigmentation, to highlighting the social and emotional realities of being Black – all while spreading Black pride. Cruel also has included micro-communities like drag queens and cosplayers in Allure content, to represent different subcultures within the beauty industry.
In addition, Cruel believes in meeting readers where they are. She has made major investments in Allure’s social digital platforms. For example, in celebration of this year’s lauded Allure Best of Beauty award winners, the magazine teamed up with Snap to create Snapchat Lenses that make it possible for anyone, anywhere, to try on winning products.
Cruel’s rise to the top of Allure has been anything but traditional. As a small-town Black girl from the south, she interned at Self magazine. She then moved to NYC, where she landed jobs at PopSugar and Refinery29. She began working for Allure under the direction of Michelle Lee.
“At the time of my first internship in New York City, there were very few magazine editors who looked like me,” said Cruel in an exclusive interview with me. “There was room for a new perspective in the beauty industry. I made it my mission to expand the definition of beauty.”
Cruel is challenged by how the media industry is constantly changing. Aside from creating and editing content, handling the business, and managing brand relationships, EICs today must establish brand influence on social media. But she loves her job because it has meaning. “There is no greater joy for me than to have a reader come up to me or DM me on Instagram, saying how much they related to our content,” says Cruel.
To young people looking to align their career with their life purpose, Cruel offers this advice. “The purpose you seek for your life early on might not be the purpose you actually pursue. Some paths in life must be custom created. There are so many career paths available now that didn’t even exist when I graduated from college. For example, Instagram had just begun at that time. The right career for you might not yet exist. You can dream it up.”
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