What is your professional title, purpose or passion?
With my LWL hat on, my title is Founder – and I still get a bit of a dizzy feeling when I log in to the inbox and see so many incredible messages from people wanting to support, help or find out more about us. Our purpose here is to champion and celebrate the day-to-day achievements of people working to make our world kinder, safer, happier, more equal and more inclusive – and to empower women to write and talk about what they are doing every day.
What did you want to do when you were a child and what changed?
For a long time, I wanted to be a vet - if possible a dog vet specifically – but I found it hard to connect with the science behind it all and got lost in Austen and French grammar around my GCSEs. At some stage I romantically toyed with the idea of being a novelist living in a Parisian loft and perhaps editing some kind of newspaper or magazine. But there didn’t seem to be a road map for that and a careers questionnaire I filled out at school suggested I become a tree surgeon because I wanted a skilled job that meant I could spend time outdoors. I now wish I had taken that questionnaire more seriously.
I loved school, and was incredibly fortunate and privileged to have been gifted a wonderful education where I was encouraged to work hard and avoid failure at all costs. It’s only recently that I have realised how incredibly sheltered and focused by academic life was and how a lot of my “good grades” were down to the incredibly nurturing environment I was encourage to learn in. When I left school, I moved to Paris to work as an au pair (and if I am honest see if I could find that literary loft I was after). After a year of school runs and bath time, I got a job working at a real estate company (predominantly using my language skills to translate documents). The last 8 years have been the slow click of the domino chain of those early professional experiences and I sort of fell into the career I am in today. Again – increasingly aware of how fortunate I am in that way.
What's the best career advice you've ever been given?
“Work to live, not live to work.” It has become a kind of mantra for me when I feel the balance tipping too far to the left or the right and it also helps me keep a healthy perspective after a long day, at a grey desk in a huge office. I enjoy my “day job” but it’s not my purpose, it’s a vehicle for me to be able to pursue and support passions like this.
What is the best thing about your current working environment?
I feel very supported and whole in my current set up. I don’t feel like I have to alter the version of myself that comes to work, and I feel very encouraged to pursue my passions around the work I do during the day. Yes, some days I am the only person in jeans or in tropical shirt dress in a sea of suits but I embrace that. I can be me, be good at my job and enjoy nurturing my side hustle. I also feel I have an opportunity to disrupt from within, there are historical and embedded problems in the world of real of estate that are slowly beginning to be addressed and discussed. I see a real role for myself, and a real need for people like me to be driving, and putting pressure on, that change.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
“In five years’ time we could be walking round a zoo, with the sun shining down over me and you. And there'll be love in the bodies of the elephants too. And I'll put my hand over your eyes but you'll peek through.” I love that song.
Five years seems like such a short time and when I think of all the things that could have happened by then it also seems like an eternity away. In five years’ time I will be married (spoiler alert), we will hopefully have a ceiling in every room of our flat and no more buckets under leaky taps, I would love to have a rescue dog (or two) and perhaps be lucky enough to have a baby (ovary function and PCOS permitting).
For LWL, I would also hope that this platform is still thriving, and that I can allocate more than my evenings and Sundays to driving it forward and finding better ways to support the women around it. I hope we will have a bigger team of incredible women helping us to shape the content and the conversation to be more inclusive, more wide ranging and more global.
I also hope I’ll have learnt a bit more German, maybe have found the perfect pair of jeans and be able to wear trainers every day.
Tell us more about a charitable organisation or project you think is great.
There are so many incredible organisations that are working hard to empower women all over the world but in the spirit of answering my own question, I’d like to shout out a few…
Bloody Good Period, founded by Gabby Edlin is an amazing charity providing feminine hygiene products to asylum seekers, refugees and women in need in the UK. 100 Women I know, founded by Phoebe Montague is a movement on a mission to strengthen solidarity between survivors and initiate open conversation about sexual violence. The Penny Appeal has just appointed 11 year old Shakira Rahman as CEO and I am hugely inspired to see someone so young do everything she can to make the world a better place.“I’d like to use my position to make sure young people who don’t have a voice are heard, and if people don’t listen then I’m going to shout until they do.” That’s pretty amazing at 11.
I’m also a big supporter of Barking Mad Dogs Rescue, founded by Hilary Andersen and Wild at Heart Foundation founded by Nikki Tibbles. The passion and commitment these women show to improving the lives of dogs all over the world is amazing.
What drives you?
A desire to not waste the time I have. I’d hate to look back when I am 90, sat in my perfect pair of jeans, sipping on my cocktail of pills to keep my feet from falling off, with my 17 dogs and wonder why I hadn’t done more.
Any final comments?
I guess I’d like to say a massive thank you to all the people who have helped us through the last 2 years, those of you who have supported us at events, contributed to our blog, shared your story for our Launch Pad, been a shoulder to cry on when things haven’t gone as planned and been there to discuss and refine all the wild ideas flying around. This is only possible because of the amazing network of people keeping things moving and growing – and I am so hugely grateful for that community.
What does a normal day look like for you?
Monday to Friday I am up and out by 7:30 (in theory - in reality it’s more like running out the door at 8:03) and off into Soho for my “day job”. The best days are those when I have a LWL breakfast or evening event sandwiched around the day in the office, where I get to meet with someone who has found a way to make their purpose and passion what they “do” every day. LWL gets my full attention most Sundays, when I retreat to a comfy corner with laptop and notepad and respond to emails, make phone calls and brainstorm ideas. It can be very time consuming running the site so I try to take Sundays to get things in order for the week and to keep all the plates spinning.
What have you achieved that you feel most proud of?
This. Well not this questionnaire, but this platform. I spoke recently at an event for IWD about why I founded LWL and what my early goals were for my humble little blog. I didn’t think for a second that this would grow into the incredible platform it is today – bringing together such an intelligent, ambitious, skilled, successful, inspiring and kind community of women and men. I have now started to dare to dream about where this platform will go and what our future looks like and it’s exciting and daunting all at once. We have a lot more to learn, we are by no means perfect but what we have achieved in the last two years makes me feel pretty proud.
Tell us about a a woman who inspires you
Every single person who sends in a questionnaire and decides to tell their story. There really isn’t anything I love more than opening our inbox and finding a new set of answers waiting to be read. We have so many incredible stories on our Launch Pad now – and I have learnt something from each of them. I often turn to the Launch Pad on days when I am needing a pick me up or feeling a bit low. It’s a pretty impressive line-up and there is something so powerful and motivating to read about the way people spend their days – and not in the “a day in the life of” type way, but in the “this is how I choose to make the most out of my precious hours” kind of way.
I am also mildly addicted to Instagram. Someone once told me to curate my feed like I would my bookshelf and I took that advice literally and have sought out inspirational women to line that shelf. I find opening the app like opening an inspiring book, or actually more like being part of a really chatty, witty and intelligent bookclub. I am so very grateful to people like Gina Martin, Anna Whitehouse, Scarlett Curtis, Africa Brooke, Jennifer Nadel, Elizabeth Day, Syreeta Challinger, Casandra Stravou, Emma Dabiri, Alex Head, Jess Phillips, Laura Bates and Reni Eddo-Lodge… the list goes on and on….for the conversation they stimulate via their feed. I find the app a place I feel simultaneously inspired, challenged, intrigued, shocked, motivated, driven to act, compelled to contribute – it’s a really positive and passionate space for me.
What was your biggest failure?
Every diet I have ever tried to do. I’m the kind of person that whatever I put my mind to (within reason) I will determinedly try to do. But when it comes to my body and the way I look after it, I feel like in lots of ways I have failed (side note that in the grand scheme of things I am very lucky to have a body that fully functions). I’ve never felt like my body was something that was totally in sync with my being – the most prominent example being when I am plodding up a hill on a run having to quite literally talk myself up it with a combination of “come on hurry the f up it’s just a hill why are you so unfit” and “you’re doing great, just ten more steps, just keep that chin up, ignore than van full of men leering at you, you are a gazelle, leap over that discarded can of beans and run wild and free”. I am beginning to feel now that my health must become an absolute priority in the little things I do every day and should no longer be the last thing I tick off begrudgingly on my endless to do lists. Failing to lose weight isn’t the failure that matters to me, but it’s the failure of being able to listen to and understand what my body needs to be the strongest, most healthy version of itself.
What do you like most about yourself?
I like the importance I place on friendship. I believe nothing else in life has a greater value that what you invest in the people around you. I love my friends and love the person they have helped me become.
How can we make the world more inclusive and accepting?
We all need to speak up. I’m a big believer in the importance of recognising how we can all have our own impact. For a long time, I sat and wondered why there were so many things that angered, annoyed or upset me and why no one was doing anything about it. The most important lesson for me from the last two years has been that we should all feel empowered to use whatever privilege we possess to do good and to drive change in our communities and networks. We also all need to be more aware and more cognisant of the impact of our actions and choices.
What skills have been key to your journey so far?
I’m a people person through and through and I value human connection above all else. I think a pretty consistent thread through my journey so far has been prioritising the preservation of good and trusting relationships. I am also someone who gets a real kick out of organised fun, well if I am honest any kind of organisation. I have a pretty scary excel list for most projects and being able to multi task effectively has been an essential tool for where I’ve got to today.
FOUNDER OF LWL / DOG MOTHER TO LAYLA / HUMMUS SAMPLER (I wish) / EMEA RETAIL DIRECTOR