Beauty Guru, Editor and Writer Keeks Reid, honoured me with a conversation about her writing journey and story. Beaming about her self-designed living room, Keeks shared with me that writing is now her full time job – a dream for so many creatives! Rocking her lilac eyeliner, it was music to my ears, to know that this boss lady, was able to attribute her success to writing and hard work. From Intern to Digital Editor of Hairdressers Journal Magazine, Keeks has not only established herself in the magazine world, but doesn’t let herself stagnate.
Showing her writing passion from a very young age, Keeks Reid would “inhale Jacqueline Wilson books and write in a diary…as someone else”. Taking inspiration from the world around her, she has always had an imaginative foundation to write and create. This carried through to her future educational choices. With her schooling years providing diversity, Keeks never felt like a minority and carried this confidence with her through her developmental years and into the world of beauty journalism.
Graduating in English Literature with Creative Writing from The University of East London, Keeks took a very open approach to her education. Ensuring that she wasn’t narrowing her path too early on, Keeks took her family’s advice to pursue a degree that would allow her to mould to different career paths. This gave her the platform to call herself a creative and her extra-curricular involvements and work experience began to shape her as a magazine writer.
Following Graduation, Keeks went on to be Editorial Assistant for Black Hair Magazine followed by Acting Editor to cover a Maternity Leave. Following the return of the full time Editor, Keeks was cemented as Digital Editor, which at the time was a fairly new department. When Keeks first started in the magazine industry Digital “wasn’t as respected” as the Print Department. This meant that sometimes ideas for Digital were overlooked and not prioritised. Alongside her desire to provide experiences and information about black hair, this became a catalyst for Keeks reaching out to the Beauty Editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Following an email to Cosmo, suggesting that there could be more accommodating material for different types of readers, was what gave Keeks the opportunity to show her writing portfolio. From this she produced informative beauty pieces about black haircare and beauty, which was the start of her journey as a freelancer.
Leaving Black Hair Magazine, opened up further opportunities for Keeks to write for platforms like Metro and Refinery. Having to also write “non sexy copy” for brands and companies allowed her skill set to continually expand as well as pay her bills. This expansion enabled her to “exercise that muscle” and write copy for websites as well as creatively writing. It was at this point in our conversation that I realised Keeks was extremely astute and aware of the ever-changing nature of the journalism and writing world and the need to keep your skills as a writer evolving often.
Like so many freelancers, Keeks felt an anxiety about not having a set income stream and learnt that completely freelancing was not a comfortable way to work for her personally. At the age of 25, Keeks admitted she “felt lost”. At this stage in her life she was lucky to have the option to live with family and understands that this was a luxury that not everyone might have. After applying to numerous jobs, she came across the vacancy for Digital Editor at Hairdressers Journal and had never felt so sure that a job was “for her”. Having had extensive experience with hair magazines and editorial responsibilities, meant that Keeks knew she was right for this. Having liaised with Ruth Hunsley (the editor at the time) before, allowed Keeks to get in contact directly and be considered for interview.
As a result of these interviews, Keeks was offered the position of Online Writer, not Editor, which was reasoned by her not having enough experience. After negotiating a better salary for herself, Keeks knew that she had the experience to be an editor. Admitting that she should have been more assertive and confident at the time, is now overseeing the whole of Digital after two promotions. Boss.
As Digital Editor, Keeks doesn’t close doors to writing opportunities that she knows she would enjoy. Creating content (and starting the Curl Up series on Instagram) for the Curl Talk Series for Cosmo, has been milestone moment for Keeks as she had complete creative control and “able to talk about Afro Hair on such a big platform”. Educating people about different hair types on a national level is no mean feat.
“Why do I know about how to recommend products to my friend with European hair, but they don’t about my hair type”
Keeks Reid, is an undeniable example that the proof is in the pudding. She has not only worked hard to get to where she is today, but has cemented that you can be nice whilst doing it. This is a key piece of advice that Keeks has enlightened me and other writers with. You have nothing to lose by just “being nice”.
My best advice for upcoming writers is don’t limit yourself. The landscape of writing, media and journalism is ever-evolving and it looks completely different today to when I started my degree 10 years ago. Social media was really niche then and now I don’t go a day without checking it, so who knows what the next ten years will look like. It’s great to have a plan, but it’s also important to move and shift as the media does too. So go with the flow, take on new opportunities and stay abreast of new media!