Young, grounded and creative; Constantin Papakonstantinou is the Global Digital Content and Talent Director of L’Oréal Paris, one of the biggest beauty brands in the world. We asked him about his professional growth in the beauty industry, the everyday life in Paris and the social media impact on marketing.
You grew up in Greece. How did you decide to study in London and then move to Paris?
Surprisingly, only a few people who follow me on instagram know that I’m Greek, born and raised between the Athenian suburbs of Glyfada and Vouliagmeni. I found fascinating moving abroad from a very young age. After graduation, UK was the obvious choice as I loved the English language – it helped the fact that I was watching many American TV series before the Netflix era. Also, the UK is a place where one can succeed fast in the marketing and communications field. While studying, I had to complete my professional training in France. Obviously, I chose to explore Paris, the most fascinating city in Europe. After spending one year in Paris, I decided to move there permanently and pursue a career in fashion.
Why did you decide to work in marketing?
Marketing is a field that fits perfectly a willing yet indecisive person. I was always fascinated by the fashion and beauty world and as my design abilities were not as good as those of an average designer’s, I thought marketing was the second best choice. As it turned out, my studies in marketing helped me to learn a lot about various business areas such as funding, law, communication and digital support.
How is it for a Greek to live in Paris?
Lonely! I mean, it’s not the obvious choice for a Greek, as learning French in school is a secondary activity and is becoming a less attractive one as years go by. The good thing is the French like my -according to them – exotic heritage and tend to love anything Greek. As a result, I always have a conversation topic. Also, I am excited whenever I meet a talented Greek living in the same city.
Spotted 📸📸📸 Hard at work or hardly workin 🙄 seriously no matter how intense this festival has been, it’s always a pleasure to work with people that get it and that are passionate about what they do 💕❤️ thank u to my @lorealmakeup family for everything 👶🏻 and thanks to @france2 @m6officiel @voguemagazine @teenvogue @hollywoodreporter for the features who would have thought 😍 #love #worthit #cannes2017 #wearefamily #evalongoria #doutzenkroes #barbarapalvin #ellefanning #thylaneblondeau #irinashayk #larastone
Can you describe your average day?
It depends. For instance, in May I sleep very little as I work for the Cannes Film Festival. I wake up the same time every day and along with the L’Oréal Paris Ambassadors, whom I follow throughout the day, we create the social media content. Then, I accompany them to the red carpet and to an event, such as the amfAR Gala or the Chopard party. There a few bumps on this road which make the experience much more interesting. On a more regular basis, I try to wake up early and meditate to eliminate the stress and prepare for the day ahead. There’s always a photoshoot which I have to attend and create the relevant content. I always make some time to dine with my friends. Then, in the afternoon, I usually make all the communication with my colleagues in the US.
Your favourite spots in Paris?
If alone, I prefer to read something in the Palais Royal gardens or visit the latest exhibitions in Palais de Tokyo. I love the Saint Martin canal and the Marais area – it’s full of bio shops and vegan eateries, such as the Season, Wild & the Moon, as well as incredible concept stores like Broken Arm and Merci. On a Sunday, I like to relax while enjoying an avocado toast and a smoothie at Judy’s Cafe and then wander around the Jardin de Luxembourg. I recently discovered a roof-terrace connected to my apartment. I spent quite some time there in summer reading and admiring the view over the Eiffel Tower, the Montmartre and the Grand Palais.
You work in L’Oréal Paris, one of the biggest beauty brands in the world. How did that happen?
I work for L’Oreal six years now. Everything started in my 20s during my traineeship, while I was still a student. I was lucky enough to be spotted by the L’Oréal president during that time and to be offered a full-time place which I accepted after I finished my studies. The funny thing is that I was the last of my co-students to find a traineeship but th first that secured a job. The good thing about L’Oréal is the brand’s innovative spirit. After two years in marketing development, I happened to attend a business meeting with the then president Cyril Chapuy – the best mentor I had so far – who invited me to help him develop the brand’s social media platform. I accepted without hesitation. Every day I learn something new. Social media is an unstoppable machine, working 24/7 and I’m extremely happy I work in this field. Today, I work as an online content consultant and in talent management.
Through your personal Instagram account, one can see that you know a lot of fashion people, mainly super models. How does it feel to work and socialise with them?
I do love models. These girls are humans just like the rest of us. They work hard and they are usually smart with imposing personalities. It’s just that they tend to be taller and prettier than the rest. But they are special people with a great sense of humour. I feel proud to be able to call some of them my friends. For instance, Barbara Palvin, Soo Joo Park, Kristina Bazan, Natasha Poly and Luma Grothe, we’ve shared some great times together. Liya Kebebe and Doutzen Kroes are something like my mentors. I have worked with some really kind girls, none of them showed any sign of whimsical behavior.
Balmain announced recently its new collaboration with L’Oréal Paris, out in September. Can you tell us a little bit about the products? How is it to work alongside the house’s artistic director Olivier Rousteing.
This partnership was decided over a dinner with Olivier, Soo Joo Park and others I happened to attend. It was there where Olivier expressed his appreciation for L’Oréal Paris and I thought this would be the perfect match. Olivier is by far the smartest, most humble and authentic new designer who managed to achieve so much in such a short time. He’s one of the first who figured out the social media impact. The collection consists of three sets of lipsticks, ideal for three types of girls: Glamazones, Rock & Roll and Couture, I.e the three archetypes of female empowerment. Both the packaging and colour palette – something we’ve never seen before – and the whole communication are a result of his efforts and his team’s. The result is brilliant.
The social media tend to become one of the most effective marketing and advertising tools. Is L’Oréal Paris investing in this method?
To be completely honest, it took us a long time to realise the importance of social media. We started to use them quite late, just three years ago. But we’ve come a long way since then and now we can say that we have invested in a community with talented millenials, surprise partnerships ans launching strategies to create a complete result.
Who’s the ideal L’Oréal Paris Ambassador? And who’s your favourite one?
We are a brand among few with such a varied group of ambassadors. When choosing, we focus on their values, personal history and type of beauty; the latter has to be unique so that it completes the rest of the team. I can’t choose one as every single woman is unique on her own way.
More and more brands embrace diversity. For instance, L’Oréal chose Hari Nef, a transgender model as an ambassador. Why do you think there’s such a change in fashion and beauty world?
It’s because social media broadened the way we perceive beauty. No one has to be beautiful in the classic sense to be popular. Regarding the LGBTQ community, it is a fact than even more brands seem to approach positively equality issues and to promote them accordingly. Hari Nef is the best one to represent the trans community, as Miss Fame is an excellent representative of the drag queens. Despite the differences, the goal, meaning celebrating diversity, remains the same.
As a digital manager, what do you think is the influence of the social networks over the daily lives of a potential consumer? What’s your opinion about the so called influencers?
Social media is the new TV and influencers are the new magazines. They managed to become a powerful platform where their fans can see through them what each brand has on offer. There’s nothing more powerful than marketing and advertisement coming from someone you look up to. See Kylie Jenner and Lip Kits.
Beauty bloggers have a great influence through their videos. Do you think this poses a threat on the beauty industry?
It’s more a chance rather than a threat. These are people with great make-up skills. However, they lack something comparing to the major brands; the ability to upgrade themselves and sell in bulk. It’s an opportunity for the brilliant people to work with exceptional brands.
Due to financial reasons, the fashion industry is going through a tough period of upheavals and changes. In what extend has it been affected?
Before, one could launch a product two years after its respective trend; that’s the time that was needed from the catwalk to the market. Now, we see the so called fast fashion and beauty phenomenon. You see something on Instagram and you want to have right away. You can either adapt to the industry’s needs or see your business losing the contact with the current reality. One can always find ways to reinterpret a brand, just like Gucci did.
Through Instagram we noticed that you are very much into photography. What inspires you? And are you a professional?
I realized that photography is current as it is “democratic.” Anyone with an iPhone can claim to be a photographer. In a way, this is beautiful. Talent is the only thing distinguishing the good among the average. I took up photography as a hobby, in order to create the social media content. It’s fascinating and it offers a direct way to discover the person behind the lens.
Would you consider returning to Greece? What is that you miss the most?
Certainly, as Greece is a beautiful country with incredible culture and excellent food. I miss the Greek passion everyone has for the arts and theatre. I miss the sunshine and the positive energy even through these difficult times of the recession. Greece has so much to offer and seeing that it can’t meet its potential due to wrong political decisions, it frustrates me. Just like Paris, our islands and cities could be a brand on their own. We underestimate how much foreigners love this country and this is in fact a dream destination of theirs. I could return at some point and create my own business or collaborate with local entrepreneurs.
INTERVIEW BY SOTIRIS KABERIS
Follow him on Instagram: @iamconstantin
Photo Credit: Nicolas Gerardin