The rise of Letchworth’s beauty influencer CC Clarke

CC Clarke

CC Clarke - Credit: TheExpertAgency

Voted the UK’s top beauty blogger, Letchworth’s CC Clarke has made a career as an influencer. Now she’s heading into fashion and music too.

CC Clarke

CC Clarke - Credit: TheExpertAgency

Ask a teenager what they want to do for a job these days and an increasing number will say, ‘Instagrammer, travelling the world’.

Instagram – the hugely popular photo and video-sharing social networking service – has become the foundation for a new type of career. Instagrammers with huge followings, known as influencers, can earn thousands of pounds through advertising and product endorsements, as followers hang on their every word.

For Letchworth beauty blogger, CC Clarke, the dream became reality. CC began a beauty advice blog in 2015 and quickly established herself as someone to watch (quite literally), amassing a staggering 2.1 million followers to her transformative tips. Last year she was named the most influential online beauty influencer by The Sunday Times.

‘I didn’t expect it to grow this big,’ the 28-year-old admits. ‘I’ve been lucky to bond with an audience and be flown all over the world by different brands and represent different products.’

She’s been the face of Maybelline cosmetics, worked with L’Oréal and YSL and designed her own clothing range in collaboration with

CC (short for Chelsea Clarke), spent her teenage years writing music and performing in musical theatre in Essex and the West End. She grew up in Colchester and credits her mum, a beauty therapist and make up artist, for her interest in beauty. ‘We bonded through make up.’ Four years ago, she moved to Letchworth to be near friends and for its easy links to London.

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It was her years in musical theatre that inspired her blog; she loved not only the singing but the looks too.

‘Whenever I was in a theatre show I’d do everyone’s makeup. I’d look up to stars like Gwen Stefani and see her style and makeup as part of her image.’

CC Clarke's second single, Not Playing

CC Clarke's second single, Not Playing - Credit: Tileyard Music

She created her own and celebrity-inspired looks which led people to ask her how she did them. To answer that she started doing make up tutorials on YouTube and blogging about what she was wearing.

‘Little did I know that it would snowball. A few things went viral and I started to grow as an influencer.’

A pivotal moment was a video promoting a lip plumper that went viral. ‘I linked in my bio that I had 50 left but in a week had nearly 20,000 orders because I forgot to cap the amount. Luckily the company sent out more and we had a production line in my living room with my mum, grandma, uncle and husband packing! That was the first time I really realised I could monetise my blog.’

Personable, fun and likeable both in conversation and in her videos, she admits the world of the influencer has a dark side. Online hate is a problem.

‘Self-care is crucial,’ she says. ‘I feel everyone is affected in different ways by the online community, or not so community sometimes. There are keyboard warriors that think you don’t have a life behind your Instagram page or any feelings.

‘Another battle to fight is the assumption that being a social media star is a soft career option.

‘One of the things that was really difficult for me to overcome was the stigma of “oh you just work on Instagram, you don’t have a real job”. Oh my gosh, if only you knew the hours that I put in to build something. You don’t switch off, it’s constant, keeping up and creating content. It’s my passion and I enjoy it of course, but it’s hard work.’

She feels there is definitely a shift in how careers can be made now thanks to the power of social media and that influencers are here to stay.

‘If you look at any company from a high street retailer to a building company, they’re now looking at online marketing. Personal trainers that traditionally worked in a gym are showing the masses online the workout they can achieve rather than just their one-to-one clients.

‘We’ve learnt in this pandemic that anything can happen. Primark has gone from making £650m a month to nothing because they don’t have any online sales – it shows the power of the internet.’

She believes more and more people will want to work in social media and marketing but that ‘real world’ social interaction is still very important.

CC has always been entrepreneurial and wanted to create a business that didn’t rely CC’s Herts favourites: I adore Hitchin for the restaurants and bars, there’s a lovely sushi restaurant there called Kazoku. I also love an Italian restaurant in Letchworth called Alloro. And St Albans is a favourite for the little shops. We love the countryside surrounding Letchworth and I’m obsessed with animals; last year we went to Foxholes Farm in Hertford to see the baby goats.

solely on her being a face online. Her passion for beauty has led to her own make up line, Hot Ombre Cosmetics, which she launched last year. She also has a wig range called Castaway Beauty managed by her husband Buzzy (bucking the trend for later marriages, they married in 2012).

‘I’ve always liked to change up my looks to the point where I was dying my hair multiple times to get it all sorts of colours. It wasn’t very good for my hair so I decided to explore wigs, which five years ago wasn’t very common. They were quite expensive and I wanted to make them accessible to my followers, so I created a wig line.’

And now she’s using her profile to launch a parallel career in her first love, singing. After a decade of songwriting she has been signed to Tileyard Music, sharing a roster with Sigala, Joel Corry and Ella Eyre, and has been working with industry songwriters including Pat Sheyne (Christina Aguilera) and Andreas Kruger (Sigala and Becky Hill).

A second single Not Playing has just been released. Her first, A Little More, went straight into the top 40 on UK iTunes.

She describes her style as soulful with a pop vibe, citing inspirations such as Lauren Hill and Rhianna who she met last year – they sang karaoke and had a dance off. She’s also met Simon Cowell. ‘I’ve grown up watching The X Factor and when we met he said, “I’d love to hear you sing one day, you’ll have to come to my office”.’ Despite being thrilled, she’s still waiting.

How is she managing to juggle it all – recording, blogging, fashion and beauty lines?

‘I don’t want to stop with anything I’m doing. I look at someone like Rita Ora, a British girl a similar age to me, she’s the face of a beauty brand, has a collection with a sports brand, she does these crazy performances but she’s a very successful music artist.’

When I ask about what the title of her new single means, she says it’s a complete summary of our chat.

‘I wanted to write about breaking the boundaries and feeling unafraid to be judged.

‘You can’t do it without self-belief and drive. It’s nice to have validation online but validation of yourself is the most important. You’re the only person who can make yourself get up and try to achieve things.’

CC Clarke’s latest single, Not Playing,

is available to download.