Marketing Manager / Spell & The Gypsy Collective
Mel Carrero knows a thing or two about building incredible brands through marketing. Not the kind of marketing that you read about in a text book, but the kind that sparkles with authenticity and a true focus on community. She is the real deal.
Happily settled in Byron Bay with her spunk of a husband (yes, Mel, he is cute), Mel works for Spell & The Gypsy Collective as their infamous Marketing Manager.
Mel worked her way from university to her dream job by essentially, creating it herself. In this interview Mel takes us through her #careerstory, from high school to university and all the jobs in between. Get ready to have your mind blown and your confidence ignited. Mel is epic!
Let’s dive in.
Where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I grew up mostly in Port Macquarie, NSW but also lived on the South Coast of NSW for most of my young childhood/primary school years. I actually find it hard to say how where I grew up shaped my school years, you’d think because I work in Byron perhaps it was the coastal element, but honestly I don’t think any of that is linked as I am not super beachy, ha! However, living in a smaller town means that you’ve got to be ambitious for your career prospects as there are limited options for school jobs, and moving away is a must if you want to do certain careers. I think it’s interesting to note that I was not ever interested in a career in fashion until after I left school and until I was in my gap year in Sydney!
When you were a young girl what did you want to be when you grew up?
My earliest memory was that I wanted to be the post lady/mail lady – so I guess in a way I give people some sort of mail or news (particularly when I did journalism), but for most of my younger years I wanted to be an actress, then later on I wanted to be a video editor – so something in the entertainment industry.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to Port Macquarie High School and it was a pretty good school – you could see the ocean from some of the class rooms, there was a pretty good creative arts department. I don’t remember too much of the actual learning but just the friends I made there. We have had some top Aussie fashion creatives come out of the school like Samantha Wills, and the sister founders of Zulu & Zephyr Candice and Karla Rose.
Amazing, love a school near the beach. So, did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
Not exactly, actually! I got into video editing there which is definitely a skill that has served me through my career, but I don’t think I really knew exactly what it was I wanted when I was leaving school other than that. I applied for a media degree at Southern Cross University because it had video editing in it (at the time, SAE in Byron was the dream but they didn’t offer HECS at the time!), and that is about as far as I looked into it (I didn’t even really think about the journalism part of it which was quite a bit bigger than the video editing part). It was more in my gap year after school, I decided I wanted to work in fashion, and I was steadfast in that vision till I got my dream job.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
Not in high school, but I did in high school. I did small (in duration) internships at Fairfax Media, Diva and Market HQ/Mink Pink.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I went to Southern Cross University and did a Bachelor of Media – majoring in Journalism and Video Production and minoring in Marketing – I believe I was the first person to get the marketing part in that media degree as I had to go request it especially – seems like it should go hand in hand! Like I said previously, during high school I got into video editing and loved it, so I thought this is where I wanted my career to go until I became passionate about fashion and styling.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights?
How long you got, haha? So during school I worked in hospitality at a fish and chip shop for two years. When I left high school, I moved to Sydney and got a job in fashion retail and just loved it. I worked in fashion retail for many years to come when I was studying and ticked a few of the Australian fashion chains off my list – Diva, Sportsgirl, City Beach, Cotton On so I got to see how a lot of them worked.
I particularly loved Sportsgirl because of the fashion element and I threw everything into my job there. After I finished uni, I ended up getting a freelance role at the local newspaper, The Northern Rivers Echo, which was a super great experience with some amazing local journos. Around that time, I ended up getting a marketing job with a local marketing agency part time called Cake Marketing – I worked with the owner Katie O’Rourke on many different accounts like a florist, theatre company, solar company and more – it was super fun.
From there, I left both those freelance roles to take on a full time job because I wanted to sink my teeth into one thing and get some more experience under my belt, so I applied for and got the Marketing Manager job at Lismore Shopping Square, the local shopping centre with 80 retailers, marketing the entire centre. During those few years, from when I was at the paper till the end of my time at the Square, I created content by photographing and styling amateur and professional models for my blog which was called The Chubby Fashionista. I spent every single spare moment and weekend doing photo shoots for free to network, build my Instagram following, create content and contacts, and eventually, that paid off!
How did you get your job at Spell?
Lots of networking! Through my blog I met some amazing people, and one of whom who ran a site called Common Ground Byron Bay (now named Uncommon People Byron Bay) – Kirra Pendergast and I met up and she offered me some festival writing work where I could get into festivals to write reviews of the bands (something I had done at the Echo). I also took photos of the punters at the festival – something I really loved! At 2014 Bluesfest, one of the owners of Spell, Lizzy, saw my photos and posted some to the Spell feed which I was so excited about! When the next festival rolled around (Splendour ‘14), they asked me to shoot for them and I of course said yes. From there I did extra content shoot for Spell, which eventually led me at the end of that year to ask Lizzy, ‘are there any jobs going’? Which happened to be the same day that their then marketing coordinator resigned. The rest is (kind of) history and I have been working for Spell for over 5 years now.
What is the hardest part of your current role as Marketing Manager?
To switch off and separate my personal life because I love it a lot.
What does a day a typical business day look like?
There is no typical day, honestly! I could be on a photo shoot, in the office, overseas, in business meetings, strategizing with the team, at an event – no day looks the same really (until COVID hit and I was working at home).
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
Can they be fictional? Haha! I mean Carrie Bradshaw, although fictional, has always been a career inspiration… the whole fantasy of the girl in NYC is a pretty good one. Growing up though, I feel like I was present in the sense that I didn’t really look too far into the future of career, but then as soon as I left school, I was super driven to a goal. It is strange to think back on, really, I didn’t really have someone I was aspiring to at school (maybe the Olsen Twins but there was no real reason at that time!). During my years of working towards my dream career Samantha Wills was a huge inspiration to me. Coming from my hometown and school and creating this amazing brand that I adored and all of the amazing marketing initiatives her team put together – was always a huge inspiration to me!
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
Make sure you’re patient and work super hard! From finishing school it took me 10 years to get to my dream career, and 5 years after finishing uni. There is no straight and narrow road to where you want to go – it is windy and lots of stops on the way. I didn’t know exactly where I was going but I was building the skills to get to where I wanted to go each and every day working in some jobs that weren’t my end goal.
Hard working people are honestly the most admirable to employ and that means working hard no matter what job you’re in.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
- Favourite Websites: Business Of Fashion and mostly social media.
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: Ooh just one? Haha of course that would be Spell but also WeWoreWhat (Danielle Bernstein) is a huge inspiration with her content and always ahead of the game, Elle Ferguson in Australia.
- Favourite Podcast: I have a few: Happy Hour With Lucy and Nikki, Ideas Girl (which is the Spell Podcast so I am in it so totally biased), Good Ancestor Podcast, Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd, Life Uncut, Wardrobe Crisis, Glossy Podcast.
- Favourite TV Series: Right now I am watching Dear White People and it is epic! I also just finished 13 Reasons Why season 3 and man that show always gets me. It is so intense but deals with so much important stuff for young people! My husband and I also just finished Arrested Development for like the 5th time.
- Who is your mentor? (This can be a person you follow for advice, or an IRL person). I have a few mentors within my workplace, but I would say that my boss Lizzy is the main one! I feel like we almost mentor each other but she is seriously a genius and has the best ideas. Sometimes we will be close to finishing something and she will come in with changes which is sometimes hard but she’s ALWAYS right and that is why Spell is what it is – I have learned to trust her intuition! I have a lot of different friends that I would go to for different advice, but my husband is probably a big one as well – he’s probably the smartest person I have ever met (he has approximate knowledge of all things), so if I really wanted to know something or make a measured decision he’d be the first person I would speak to.
- Favourite all time book/s: I am not a big reader; it is actually embarrassing as I used to be a writer. Because my job for the last five years has been so fast paced, I often want to numb my brain with silly shows so I don’t read – but I did take a holiday recently and read a book by Dr Karl which was so great to read, and I have recently bought three books related to Indigenous History in Australia to further my education, so I am in the middle of reading Dark Emu (very slowly!) and finding it fascinating.
- Favourite App that you use every day: Instagram, TikTok, Podcast App, SAAY for editing stories, Lightroom, Tezza App.