‘Sliding Doors’ Podcast, Challenges, Rejection and Finding Success

Digital influencer, entrepreneur, creative director. Elle Ferguson has worn a lot of hats throughout her career. Now she’s adding podcaster to the list with the launch of her ‘Sliding Doors’ pod.

In life there’s those magic moments that break up the mundane. That send us hurtling towards something new, a fresh chapter. These ‘sliding door’ moments are the topic of Elle Ferguson’s new podcast, where she’ll interview a range of fashion and beauty industry icons around the world on the big risks that ultimately led to their success.

This leap of faith is something Elle knows well. Speaking with B+S she says that often you don’t even realise it will be such a pivotal move until you look back and reflect.

“A big one for me, on reflection…was right back in high school when I decided to get on the train and travel five hours a day to go to a Performing Arts School in Sydney. It changed the whole course of my life,” she says.

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

Having worked on the podcast throughout the last year, Elle has been privy to many of her guests reliving these critical steps in their life.

“It’s been amazing to sit across the table from people I know so well, actually reliving their story. The light bulb goes off. It’s not every day that you get to sit down and think about your journey. I feel like we don’t have enough time to. When you do – to sit there and see it in their face, then go, oh, my gosh, that was ‘it’. Kind of amazing.”

Despite her success as co-founder of acclaimed fashion and lifestyle blog They All Hate Us, her modelling career and launching her own vegan beauty brand ‘Elle Effect’, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Being in the public eye is always a challenge, but Elle handles it in style.

“Yes, you get haters because – it’s life. But I’m very lucky that I’m quite confident in who I am and the brand I’ve created…I’ve always been unapologetically me,” she says.

In an industry that is known for being particularly cut-throat, Elle has an interesting perception of rejection and career challenges that apply regardless of the industry you work in.

“That time somebody said ‘no’ to me and I thought it was the end of the world – it ended up being the best thing ever,” she says. “When I was talking to Jen Atkin, she said to me that rejection is God’s protection. She said that to me. I’ve been reflecting on all the rejections, and you’re like, that did work out.”

It’s a nice reminder that just sometimes things don’t work out to leave room in our lives for other opportunities. Speaking of room, the fashion and beauty industry is a notoriously crowded and competitive environment to navigate.

Speaking with Elle, she said her time in the States (arguably one of the most competitive atmospheres) really helped to reshape her views on the matter.

“Something that really resonated for me, spending time in the States, was how all the girls and guys kind of lived by the philosophy that there was enough cake for everyone. It doesn’t have to be this competitive world,” she says.

“I came back and I was like, ‘that’s the mentality that I’m going to have here’. And I think it saved me. If I don’t get that job, that’s fine. I wasn’t meant to have it. There’ll be another one. Once I kind of flipped to that way of thinking, it’s been really good. It’s all good. We’re all friends. We all support each other. It’s a nice place to be.”

Elle says that throughout her career, she’s been a big fan of women supporting women. In fact, many of the guests on her podcasts are women who are absolutely kicking butt.

“People in the community see it. I actually think they’re more trusting in your voice if you’re supporting others instead of saying ‘just me, just me, just me’,” she says. “I think we see it really evident in Jen Atkin and her group of girlfriends and guy friends and who she supports. She’s somebody I look at, and I go, you know what, that’s who I want to be like. I want to support all my girl gang.”

There’s no doubt that Elle has made a lot of friends throughout her career. The response to the podcast has been phenomenal. A true outpouring of love and support. Yet, Elle says that no one even knew she was making the podcast.

“It was about a year ago, and I had appeared on quite a few podcasts and told my story. I realized how amazing the platform was. For me, it was just being able to hear people’s stories or tell mine first hand,” she says.

“Instagram and social media is amazing, but we live such a filtered life. Even people that say it’s an unfiltered version – it’s somewhat filtered.”

The first episodes of the Sliding Doors podcast will involve Elle interviewing people she considers mentors and friends in the industry. However, despite knowing them well, she was still surprised by what they had to say.

“Every time I was with one of them, they would tell me something and I’d be like ‘What? You used to do that. What?’ Kind of amazing,” she says. “So many people see these beautifully filtered versions of these people, but they don’t realise that they have stories that are so similar to yours and mine.”

It’s also an opportunity for Elle to share more of herself with her audience. “You’ve got a good hour of me talking in your ears, so you’re kind of getting another layer of that, which is which is also adding to who I am.”

Elle’s tips for success: make the most of your ‘Sliding Door’ moment

1. Dedication and consistency

“Dedication and consistency is key. It sounds easy but it’s not. On the 4th April, I hit a year of running six days a week for 12 months. It was something that I said a year ago that I was going to do; and I have done it. And when I say to you, I have cried, I have screamed, it has been so hard. But dedication and consistency is what kept me going. Now, I’m like, ‘I’ve done this’.”

2. Have your non-negotiables

Even when you break it down like that, [and specifically when] I think of They All Hate Us. Like consistency. I posted every single day and that was just like a non-negotiable.”

Even now with my social media, I post every day. It’s a non-negotiable. I think to somebody that is starting their journey or at the beginning of their career…you’ve got to live and breathe it.”

“You’ve got to want it, bad.”

3. Achieve success quietly

“I always say achieving success quietly is a big thing because I think right now a lot of people go out and sing and dance about it. You probably don’t need to sing and dance about it until you’ve crossed the finish line.”

I remember at the beginning of last year, we were about to launch a new product for Elle Effect. We had the product landed in Australia, we’d shot the campaign. We never spoke. Then COVID hit and we all went into lockdown – I had to hold the product until December. It still felt new to the world because I hadn’t told the world about it.”

“I think that’s the magic to it. Nobody knew I was doing a podcast they were like ‘why are you in a studio?’”

4. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a pat on the back

The team that I have worked with on this [podcast] has been incredible. The majority of them are female, which I have to shout out because they’ve been so incredibly supportive,” Ferguson says. “I remember the first time I walked in, I legitimately thought they were going to hand me either a script or a book or something to say, like this is what you do.”

“I really feel like this for me has been something that …it scared me, because I didn’t know how to do it. And now I can quite confidently say, you know, I worked really, really hard and I’m really proud of what we’ve produced.”

“I sent myself a large bunch of flowers to say congratulations. I had to.”

“You know when you’ve really put all you’ve got into something? I was like ‘ I just need a bunch of flowers and a card’ to say ‘good on you’.”