Emerging Headliner

CC Clarke: Beauty And The Beats

In the first few seconds of speaking to CC Clarke (real name Chelsea Clarke), my assumptions of what a beauty influencer might be like to talk to are swiftly corrected. Many may roll their eyes at the thought of someone making a living by happily whacking #ad or #spon under a photo of an indiscriminate product – complete with a tenuous caption explaining why they’re definitely genuine about promoting it (Khloe Kardashian and Febreze, anyone?) – but when top beauty influencers like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner can command a reported $1 million pay check per sponsored Instagram post, suddenly the idea of earning a living this way doesn’t seem quite so funny.

In this digital world, one can’t deny that influencers are changing the way that companies communicate with scroll-happy customers, and CC is the perfect example of a modern-day star. She was recently named the most influential online beauty influencer by The Sunday Times and has organically grown her Instagram following to over two million with her content.

Not to mention she’s a business owner and beauty entrepreneur amassing a huge loyal online following through her YouTube beauty tutorials, and is the CEO of Castaway Beauty and Hot Ombre Cosmetics – both of which are experiencing a meteoric rise and huge growth worldwide.

Immediately bubbly and endearing on a Zoom call, despite her intimidating online following, CC is completely down to earth and admits that she’s nervous to do her very first podcast interview.

Welcoming her first child into the world at the end of 2020 (you can follow her whole pregnancy journey – birth and all – online), she is bursting with love for her daughter and is currently getting to grips with juggling motherhood and her online businesses, insisting she’s far from perfect:

“I do sometimes think, ‘Oh, don't look at me, because I don't have my shiz together today,’” she laughs. “But then telling people that also makes them feel like it's normal as well, because if I just painted it like it was sunshine and rainbows and daisies every day, it's unrealistic.

"I'll tell you what, each day is a challenge with everything going on as well as having a baby, and if I pretended that it was easy, I think people would get fed up with me pretty quickly. Painting the reality as well as being a voice for positivity and trying to inspire others is definitely important to me.”

Since becoming a mother, CC has been determined to show that she can be a dedicated parent whilst continuing to run her various business empires. Setting a good example for her daughter is everything to her.

“Oh, my goodness, I definitely want to continue what I love doing,” she gushes. “I got so many questions like, ‘Oh, you won't have time to put makeup on when you have a baby’, or ‘I guess you won't be songwriting anymore once you're a full time mum’. At one point, I have to admit I got sucked into this mentality of thinking it's all gonna be over – all of my passions that I've worked so hard for.

“Of course, I'd sacrifice the world for my little girl, but you still want to fulfil your dreams for yourself as well. I snapped out of that as soon as she was born, really. It gave me even more of a motivation to show her that I can still fulfil what I feel like my purpose is when it comes to music, makeup and artistry.”

Music was always my first passion. I am a songwriter; I write my songs, and it's always been my goal.

A blog CC started in 2015 as a “side hustle” saw her online following grow rapidly, which led her to creating celebrity-inspired looks, make up tutorials on YouTube, and blogging about what she was wearing. Things really picked up when she was promoting a lip plumper which unexpectedly went viral – she only had 50 left but received almost 20,000 orders in under a week.

Shaking her head at the memory of not capping the order amount, CC shares that every time she tried out a new beauty craze, her following seemed to grow.

“It was just a side hobby, really,” she remarks, sounding genuinely in awe about how things have taken off. “I didn't even know that it could be a job, but it ended up turning into a job that I still love to this day and it’s given me the means to be able to be flexible in the studio. It just goes to show how crazy social media is and how much of an opportunity it can give artists these days.”

CC is very open about the fact that music has always been her true passion. Her musical influences growing up were Prince, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Micheal Jackson, and she began writing poems when she was seven. These turned into songs, and she later attended theatre college, although admits she didn’t exactly stick to the rules:

“I was always the one that was going off script and doing all the ad libs to the songs,” she remembers, chuckling. “It's just always been music for me; even in the beauty realm I am pairing music with beauty.”

CC has actually been working on her music behind the scenes for years; her debut track, A Little More reached Top 40 in the UK iTunes chart, as well as Top 15 in the iTunes UK Pop Chart, followed by Not Playing, which provided an insight into balancing being a strong business woman with being someone that millions of her social media followers can relate to.

The track’s main message speaks of female empowerment, something that is at the core of everything CC does. She says that her followers were surprised when she started to reveal more of her music side, but insists that they are loyal and have been nothing but supportive.

“People that had just been paying attention to the beauty side of things suddenly had their ears pricked up by the music. I guess you gain followers daily from different places that don't necessarily know your story,” she considers.

“It’s nice to see the tables turn because now I'm seeing people come from Spotify that have found me as a new artist, and they didn’t realise that I do beauty. And that's even more amazing to me. That is what I'm aiming for now: for people to find me through my music as well as knowing my story behind the scenes.”

CC’s new single is Boys Do Cry – the meaning behind it being fairly self explanatory – although she says it also very much applies to herself, as prior to 2020 she didn’t consider herself to be much of a crier.

“There is a stigma – especially with men and boys – around not talking about their mental health, but the song also applies to anyone with pride, or anyone that doesn't necessarily talk about their emotions. I have to admit, I've held my pride a lot before in the past, and it's not been healthy. We have to talk and feel our emotions to actually heal. I just felt compelled to really get this message out, and in a way that felt vulnerable.

"But also – I don't want to say it’s light hearted – but it is a song that feels positive at the same time, because it is reassuring: boys do cry – I cry, everyone can cry. Let it all out! Especially after the year that we've had, I feel like it's more important than ever to really talk to each other and talk about our feelings.”

CC admits that it has been hard making the transition to music from beauty influencer, but her fanbase has been with her every step of the way, fully embracing her new direction:

“I feel like if you love beauty, you do love music anyway,” she says. “A few years ago I was advised not to start a blog or start putting out tutorials online if I wanted to be taken seriously in the music realm. I did think, ‘Should I? Shouldn't I? Will I never get signed? Will management never take me seriously? Will producers not want to work with me if I'm putting out makeup tutorials?’ However, now I feel like the tables have turned where music artists are actually partnering with these influencers online to give their music exposure, because they know our followers are really interested in music.

“It's definitely become more acceptable. I think it also depends on how much of a real artist you are as well, because music was always my first passion. I am a songwriter; I write my songs, and it's always been my goal. Whereas I do feel like some influencers just try it out. I'm cheering on anyone that tries it though,” she adds. “I'm just so glad that we're breaking the boundaries of just doing one thing.”

CC’s diehard beauty fans needn't worry – she will continue with her online beauty content which will run alongside her music content; hell, she’ll even combine them to give the best of both worlds.

“My dream is to connect the dots, which is definitely quite unique because I don't know too many beauty influencers, bloggers or artists that have turned their beauty into a joint music and beauty venture [the less said about Kim Kardashian’s single, Jam (Turn It Up), the better]. For me, that is something I would love to do. I look up to artists such as Rihanna or Rita Ora who are doing both. I'll never stop doing beauty. If anything, it's a privilege and an honour to work with beauty brands to incorporate music, or vice versa.”

CC says she’ll never stop writing, and has a few tracks ready that she’s desperate to release this year. In the meantime, she’s thrilled to hear that her music is getting her fans through some tough times.

“I'm sure every music artist wants their music to make people feel absolutely brilliant. When I receive messages saying ‘your music saved me this year; it got me out of a dark place’, I just can't even describe that feeling when I receive those messages. It's like I've succeeded. That is the main aim: to touch people and to make them feel good,” she concludes before nipping off to care for her baby and create more content – she’s got a business to run, after all.

Consider me influenced.