Tamara Cosic: My family is my support in life
Her broad smile and boundless positive energy are trademark features belonging to Tamara Cosic, one of our most famous beauty bloggers in Serbia. Through Instagram and YouTube under the name "Lepa svaki dan", Tamara selflessly shares her experiences, knowledge and advice for beauty and health.
Tamara speaks for 011info about her growing up, professional path and the importance of family in her life.
What are some of your first and nicest memories from childhood?
One of the first things I remember from childhood was going to the Zoo when I was 3-4 years old. Going there was my favorite thing ever. Back then we lived near the Politika building and our family ritual involved walking from our apartment to the Zoo. We had a year-long ticket and my dad took me there at least once a week. Still, every single time we'd go see all of the animals, as though we came for the first time. And every week, one year after the other, we'd take pictures at the entrance, every single time.
Some other memories are from family matters. Visiting my grandparents who lived on the other end of the city. One pair of grandparents lived in Zemun and the other in New Belgrade, so anytime we'd go to visit it was a real journey for me.
When was the last time you went to the Zoo?
A year or two ago. We went as a family together, to remember the old days. We'd just looked at some old pictures recently and one of them showed all four of us - my mom, dad, sister and myself at the Zoo. It was then we agreed to go again and recreate the picture.
It's a completely different experience when you see your familiar childhood sights as an adult.
My dad loves taking trips down the memory lane, so he loves visiting various places he and my mom went when they were dating or places they took my sister and me when we were little. For example this year we went to summer vacation together for the first time in six years. Mom and dad took us to all the places they visited when they were about 10 years old, then the places they visited when they were 17 and 18. We love to revisit the past as a family like that.
Would you say family matters to you more than anything else?
I am very attached to my parents and family. My mom and dad are relatively young - they're 56 years old and modern enough to follow various trends and be interesting to talk to. On the other hand, they have a lot of experience and knowledge from their professional pursuits so I often ask them for advice. I do things my own way of course, but they helped me make various big decisions in life.
Mom helps me with the creative side and gives me the kind of support that makes everything seem easier. Dad is there for the more rational, systematic and analytical side. The two of them balance out perfectly. Whenever I have a new idea, I run it by them like a filter, to make sure it's a good one.
What was it like, growing up in the center of the city?
I attended the Drinka Pavlovic junior school in the center and our movements were limited between the school, Pionirski park and Terazije. That was our main route as kids. We didn't have that many places to play outside, since there weren't that many parks. Nowadays it's all much neater and cleaner. I realized this when we moved to Macedonia for three years after having lived in Belgrade for 15, due to my parents' work.
It was a lovely period of my childhood, full of lots of games and chasing around. In the summer we'd stay outside until 11PM. We were all together all the time and everyone took care of each other. The general practice was that whichever mother got the time rounded up all us kids and fed us.
When we got back, I realized for the first time how much we lacked any open space for children to play. There were no playgrounds or anything so we had to make do with what we had and had an atypical childhood for that time. I realized that even more when we moved to Zemun two years ago. That was where I saw all my friends from high-school and even friends from back in junior school sitting on the quay by the river, walking around, having fun while we at the center played some made up games.
What would you play?
We didn't do classic children's games like jump-rope or dodge ball. We did other stuff like sitting around in the school yard, or playing the popular video games like the Sims - though I wasn't that drawn to it myself.
The X-files TV show was popular back then, so we pretended to be FBI agents and followed people around the Pionirski park. It's a miracle nobody caught us. :)
We also had our own science and research projects like the FBI, so part of the game happened at home and other parts in the Pionirski park or any nearby location.
Looking back now, it was a strange way for children to play, although that gave rise to some other ways the kids use today, but it made it so the children spent more time outside than indoors.
Did you enjoy school?
I did. Actually, I didn't like studying as much as I liked everything that surrounded it. I waited for the 1st of September as though it was a holiday. The moment of returning to school after the summer holiday was the most spectacular thing for me. Getting ready, seeing all my friends in one place, spending time with them. I didn't like knowing that I had 1000 obligations that seem so huge to kids everywhere but looking back weren't that bad.
We even had the habit of coming to school around 45 minutes before class to spend time together and organize everything the way we wanted. I really loved that moment when they made seating arrangements.
On the other hand, I especially remember high school as an ultra fun part of my life.
Enlisting in the Economy high school coincided with you moving to Zemun. It was a lot of change in a short period of time.
Everything changed when I moved to Zemun. In the center, we lived in an apartment and in Zemun we had a house. The way of life was different in Zemun too for the kids. First off, they had a lot more places to play and their games were oriented towards outdoor activities and sports. Secondly, the girls didn't use makeup, whereas we all had done nails and hair already in eighth grade.
Friendship dynamic was different, approach to school was different. In fact, it was a total shock for me at first. I was in a totally new environment, I didn't know anyone and I felt like I came from another planet. After the first week I already wanted to transfer to First Belgrade high-school because all my junior-school friends were there.
I remember the exact day. I came home and mom asked me what subjects I had. I told her this and that and also accounting, to which she said I won't like that a lot because I never liked math that much.
That opened up my floodgates. It had all built up inside me.
But my mom advised me to wait around 10 days or so, get to know some people and then if I didn't like it, they'll file a request for my transfer.
Over the course of those 10 days, everything turned around so much that I knew they couldn't pull me away from that school even if they tried. When I got to know the crowd and got over my initial shyness, I found myself in that school. To this day most of my friends are people I knew in junior and high-school. We all kind of stayed together.
The reason why you decided to enlist in the Economy high-school is interesting.
I had loved marketing ever since I was a child. My mom worked at Satchi & Saatchi for years, one of the largest marketing agencies. Later on she led the same kind of agency in Macedonia and did marketing for various big companies, so I spent my entire childhood watching her do all sorts of fun projects at work. I thought their work was all good fun and they spent their days testing new products, inventing campaigns and basically mix work with tons of fun.
Seeing how her agency was in the same street we lived, I'd often drop by after school to say hi to her, but actually I just wanted to take a peek at what's new. They had tons of various products, some of which weren't out on the market yet. They were testing them in order to make their campaigns. There was always colors, people in weird costumes and as a kid I always thought it was wacky and interesting.
On the other hand, even when I was little I started to love makeup and cosmetics. My late maternal grandmother was a very done-up lady. The first thing she did every morning was wash her face, brush her teeth, massage her face, apply her creams, put on her hair curlers and while her coffee was brewing, she would put on lipstick. And, while having coffee with my grandfather, she'd paint her nails in the color of the day - usually red or purple.
She would sometimes change outfits seven times a day. No reason, just to change a detail or two. She used the same perfume her entire life, but was loyal to it and used only the best cosmetics, no matter how much it cost. It was her luxury.
Watching her and a few other women who loved makeup, I began to love it too. When I was just a little kid I would sit in one of those ladies' laps and trace their eyeliner with my finger or touch their hair to see how it feels.
Then I'd put on my mom's makeup or take it off up to three times a day and practiced doing my nails. That was something that really fulfilled me.
As I grew older, I wanted to bring those two loves together - love for cosmetics and beauty, but beauty in the sense of taking care of oneself, enjoying your moments and things that made us feel good physically and psychologically. And my love for marketing as well. That's how I knew that what I'd end up doing would involve some kind of marketing in the cosmetic industry.
Guided by that idea of your dream job, you enlisted in Business studies.
We had a marketing professor in high school and when we asked her which college we should go to and which profession to pursue, she told us something that we all remembered forever. Whether you enlist in economy, law, languages, private or state college, those decisions don't matter that much. The most important decision is whom you will give children to, because that's the bond that lasts a lifetime. The college you choose, at the end of the day, doesn't matter that much because you'll do what you pursue and what you're meant to do.
I dreamed of working for L’Oréal. I actually went to college specifically so that I could work there, because that line of study was a perquisite for the position I wanted in marketing.
The first thing about choosing my college was making sure I had a lot of time for practice so I could finish as many courses and educations in cosmetics as possible. I thought that if I wasn't working in the cosmetic industry by the time I graduated, it was all for nothing.
One of the key moments was when my mom came to me and said: "Look, every day someone visits you for a makeup session or a hair treatment - our house is like a cosmetic salon. I'm going to buy you a makeup course for a birthday present so you can do it on the side while you're studying for extra pocket money. One day, that will definitely give you an advantage if you're applying for the cosmetic industry."
I finished that course in a single summer and ended up doing the makeup for the entire fourth grade of school, for weddings and celebrations and so on. All the money I made doing makeup went to trying out new treatments, products, massages and such, so that I'd know how it all worked.
After you graduated college, you found work quickly due to a curious set of circumstances.
When the fourth year of my studies rolled around, it was a time when unemployment was at an all time high. My mom had been working in marketing for years by that point and I definitely didn't want to work in a place where everyone knew my mother and thought I had any kind of protection.
So one day I was checking out work on the internet with a friend of mine so we could apply and prove that it's possible to find a job.
Of course I wanted to go to L’Oréal and nowhere else. But my dad had a talk with me and told me it's all well and nice that I had that much confidence, but I'd never been to a job interview and I didn't know how much pressure it can be. That's why he suggested I should find something else first, apply for it and get some experience interviewing for work.
That all made sense to me, so I tracked down an add and applied for the position of a marketing assistant at Avon Cosmetics. At the time I'd seen some of their small offices around Belgrade and had no idea what a huge company they really were. But as I researched them in preparation for my interview - I took it all very seriously - I ordered around 30 items from their catalogues to test them out and I realized they were a massive company, that their portfolio was gargantuan and that the entire concept of their sales is focused on educating people how to use their products. All of this coincided exactly with all my interests.
I remember the first time I entered their building. I loved everything about it and I thought to myself - I want to work here. This throws off my whole concept.
So one interview came, then the second and third round. It all went great and I got the job after a month and a half.
However, even though the ad said that I'd be working in a dynamic environment and see novelties in the industry, it actually turned out that this job was not dynamic, nor were the products. Most of my time was spent translating the catalogues from English and I never got to see any products. So three months later I told my parents, with tears in my eyes, that I had to quit.
But in that moment my boss came to me and asked if I wanted to be a beauty business coach for Serbia and Montenegro.
That's how I landed a job where my main task was to train women through skin care and makeup lessons, to use our products, sell them in the best possible way, advance in their career and be representative in that whole process. It was exactly what I'd wanted to do.
You stayed at that job for two years and then...
I quit and tried for the first time to start my own blog and record for YouTube. I can say it really started off great. But people close to me were wondering if that was really the right choice. I left behind a great paycheck, a company car, security and various other benefits which were rare to get at my age in order to set off into something uncertain.
That's why I accepted when the company Oriflamme offered me the position of regional sales manager, which was a job having to do with numbers and lots of travelling, so it was pretty dynamic. A bonus reason why I accepted was that I got to work with the best people in the industry. Their work ethics, dedication and experience were really peerless, so I said YES t oa new adventure, even though I realized a year later that I owe to myself to really try my hand at what I'm doing today.
You couldn't go against your passion.
I realized that I'd be betraying myself if I didn't at least try to see through the whole blogging story.
I don't have a head for numbers. I want to be creative and do something directly in touch with people. To influence women in some way to feel good. This is my personal mission and what I feel is the right for me in my soul. That's exactly what I told my colleagues at work, explaining why I was quitting.
And to all of that they said "If you can't be our sales manager, you'll be our blogger."
That's how Oriflame became my first client. They really pushed me ahead to persevere in my idea of sailing into the unknown from a secure and well-paid job and became my first moral and financial support while I was creating the Lepa svaki dan blog.
On the other hand, you got a lot of support from your mom.
Many think that Lepa svaki dan is about me. Of course it isn't. When I decided to go all in and make my blog, I told my parents I wanted to quit for the second time and that it would be the last time and I needed their support. I gave myself six months to either make it super successful or to put it away and say I tried but it didn't work out.
My mother, who in the meantime became a professional coach, sat down with me and said "Now let's write down why you want to do this and what matters to you". I answered 300 very draining and weighted questions within several days so that I could define exactly what my mission was and why I wanted to do this with all my heart.
I remember it was Christmas. My mom wrote everything down in a bulleted list - this is the goal, you want to write about this, this and this and then she just said out of the blue - "Well you're beautiful every day. Your blog is called 'Lepa svaki dan' because it's a collection of advice that makes a woman beautiful every day on the inside and out".
And that's how the name was born, maybe a bit provocative at first glance but when you get into the reasoning behind it you realize that it's dedicated to women and who want to be beautiful every day, on the inside and out.
Now you run a blog, an Instagram profile and a YouTube channel. What takes priority?
Sadly nowadays people have only enough time to appreciate something short-form or from multiple parts, while doing something along the way, rather than to sit down and read. That's why the blog sadly fell off. My plan is to restore it in the coming months into something completely different.
When it comes to Instagram, for me everyday interaction is my inspiration. Something that's personal, non-edited and intimate, a place where we're all a community. YouTube on the other hand, is something I keep very structured through categories and a channel through which I provide education and answer the audience's questions, while trying to inspire people do to certain things in new ways for their own benefit.
I can't really say which social network is my favorite, but my favorite aspect of work is the educational one.
Somehow everything came together. The business experience I gained working helped me come a full circle in my work today and not wonder if and whether my viewers will see something or whether it will go over well. All the time I'm thinking from my clients' perspective - what's important from the viewer's angle and what can I do to make it all easier to absorb and understand, as opposed to what I see as important from my own angle and my own desire to fulfill the idea that got me into this line of work in the first place.
How is your work today different compared to your beginnings?
Starting off, I recorded everything on my laptop. I'd open it, click record, talk and then put it up on YouTube unedited. I would put on makeup and record at the same time. That's when people accepted me as someone with incredibly poor video quality, but a lot of educational content.
At first, I didn't have a high-end mobile phone nor did I know how to take these interesting pictures. I just took pictures any way I knew how and put emphasis on the articles I wrote and people were fine with that.
In time I realized that this is exactly a part of my authenticity and no matter how much I advance and learn, I don't over-edit my images today in order not to lose it. On the other hand, I don't want anyone to be surprised if they see me in person after seeing me in a video or image first.
I believe that realistic content sends a much better message to the audience. Sometimes I'll record myself without makeup on wearing a tracksuit I wore five times that week, with wet hair or wearing the same gray sweater I wear around the house. I think that's a part of my authenticity and that's the way I am in private. In my profile you'll find up to seven pictures of me wearing the same dress just because I liked it at the moment.
Yes I'll touch it up if I had a pimple in the middle of my forehead or add some color to make it more vibrant, but otherwise I won't make any big changes.
I realized over time that if I wanted to elevate things to a new level, I have to learn at least the basics of video editing. I can freely say that those were the longest several days in my life. I think I remembered every swear word I ever heard. I just sat there, swearing, being angry, watching tutorials, reading and trying over and over. I wanted to combust until I learned it all.
For a while I edited my own clips but then I realized I needed to get to a new level. I hired a girl who was really good at that type of work and can really get into the camera shop, twist it around, fit various pieces of footage together. I realized I could learn that too but the entire editing aspect takes up a lot of time that I could use to do some other things, give more info to the audience, make a new category, answer my dm's...that's why I decided to hire someone to do my editing.
As my work developed, I began needing more people for the team and that's something I'll be looking into. It would be nice in the coming time to have a photographer to work with, for example, and I plan on hiring someone to be a sort of an assistant - a person who will follow my work and give creative ideas or maybe test something instead of me so that I can share it from their angle.
How do you weigh what to publish, or do you at all?
I have a moment that always has a bit of a pull in this line of work. You'll take some pictures, share some footage and then you realize that something else is going over better and getting more reactions, more likes, more shares. This can subconsciously affect you to think that something might not go over that well and you shouldn't publish it.
But the first time I ever thought that, I was like - what just happened? This channel came to be because I wanted to share content with people to help, not to get it shared or interpreted one way or the other. Why change it now?
I remember when we were in Kopaonik - my mom, dad, sister and myself were playing associations for the first time. We thought we'd easily beat our parents, but they won hands-down. It was then I realized this would be a nice lifetime memory, so I took pictures of the little pieces of paper and wrote some lines that meant something to me and in that moment I swore I'd never think about anything going over well or not. This was my profile, my content. Some image will have a lot of likes and other not so much, but it will be close to me and it will be what I am.
I can't do everything, just what I'd actually eat, drink, use or buy - those are the only things on my profile.
Social networks are the place where we usually share the best versions of ourselves, which can cause problems. But that's not how you go about it.
I often state on my Story that I'm a girl who likes to get up early, start the day at 6AM and be ultra productive. But when summer comes around, I don't do anything. I love to train, but I also love sweets. I love to do myself up and I can be a diva for a day, but I can also wear a jumper and tracksuit. When women look behind that too and don't see only the best moments, but everything I share, they shouldn't feel inferior to me, they should say "Thank goodness - she's just like us."
When women ask me about certain things, I'll tell them objectively that I do some things well but I'm a total disaster at others. Just so they wouldn't think that my best aspects are the only real ones.
Someone might think that your job consists of putting on makeup, some fancy clothes, taking pictures and putting it on social networks. How much time does your job actually take out of your day, and how demanding is it?
People don't realize that there's usually up to several weeks of product testing and recording results behind every topic. What is it like, does it cause inflammation. Behind every conversation with the doctor there are days of preparation - me finding out what questions are important for their area, who's really the best there and why give priority to one over the other.
Also, when it comes to agreement with companies, they don't just say 'take a picture with our lipstick on' and that's it. We usually organize entire campaigns together, summing up what they wanted to be, what are their goals and what materials would be the best for reaching those goals while keeping it all educational, interesting and inspiring to my followers. Then there are technical aspects - everything needs to be photographed, recorded, monitored, sent for corrections, invoiced...everything that happens in any business but remains behind the scenes.
Then you have to reply to numerous messages and questions from my followers and I always try to get to all of them. Even if I can't do it every day, I do my best.
But in the end this is the work I love, so I enjoy it all.
What are your plans for the future?
The next step is to make "Lepa every day" an offline place. That is to open up a beauty center that will bring together everything that makes up my philosophy, the beauty inside and out in one place. Girls and women will be able to come and try out some atypical treatments. I'm now in the first month of my new work and I am slowly arranging the interior and equipping the center.
Also I've been doing medicine marketing for years and through that I've had the chance to test various treatments. Thanks to this experience I now work on selecting some of the best machines I ever tried and protocols to create what "Lepa svaki dan" will be in the center.
It will be a center where in addition to apparatus treatments we will work following a unique protocol that fits together with "Lepa svaki dan" philosophy, in other words the beauty that comes from taking care of yourself and feeling good inside. It will all be one guided process of falling in love with oneself.