Liz Earle Wellbeing Magazine
THE BIG QUESTIONS
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?
Food and Travel Editor of Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine
WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
My days vary hugely depending on whether I’m working from home in Wiltshire, or working in London. I spend my time at home researching and writing magazine copy, commissioning recipes, as well as writing and testing recipes myself. When I’m in London I could be in Wellbeing Studios having big editorial powwows with the team or hopping about the place interviewing people and meeting PRs and publishers. Some of my favourite working days are when I’m helping to coordinate our food and lifestyle shoots for the magazine - either in the studio or out on location. The great thing about working from home is that I often have the freedom to choose if I want a quiet writing day or a more people-focused day - unless we do have a shoot planned that is, then it’s a solid week of team-time!
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?
I spent my childhood drawing on everything and anything (including my parents' newly painted living room walls!) My parents always thought it was a given for me that I would do something creative, even if I didn’t quite work that out until later. I was also the kid who used to take in my pad and pen collection on ‘bring-a-toy-day’ at school when everyone else brought dolls and cars! In my teens I wanted to be a fashion designer, before it dawned on me I’m definitely not trendy enough to be in the fashion industry. Later on, I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator - still something I’d like to do. When I studied English Lit at Edinburgh University I thought I’d rather like to write for a living too. In terms of the food-side of my job, well - I’ve always loved cooking and eating. The kitchen and my Mum’s home-cooking was at the heart of my childhood, but it wasn’t until my Mum died that I realised quite how important food was to my sense of self and identity. It was only when I set up a food blog at university that it dawned on me that I could perhaps make a career out of cooking and writing about food.
WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?
I have 10 GCSES - A’s and A*’s, 3 A’s at A-level and a 2:1 in English Literature and History from Edinburgh University.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
My best career and life advice came from my art teacher Mr Baxter. He said to me: ‘Emma, it’s a crime if you don’t use your creativity in your work - you must stubbornly go ahead and make a living out of your art and writing.’ Sadly, he died a few years ago whilst I was at university and so never got to see that I have indeed found myself in a creative career - although he would definitely say I’m not using my art enough! He was a real mentor to me, in my art and in life, and I often think about him.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
My mum will forever be my role model. She always instilled in me that you can be both warm, kind and generous - both personally and professionally - whilst also pursuing a job and life that fulfils you and makes you happy. For her, being a successful working woman, as well as loving mum, wife, daughter, sister, friend etc. went hand in hand and being one didn’t diminish the other.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?
I get to work from home which feels like such a luxury - I definitely don’t think I’m suited to an office environment. I thrive off solitude when I’m working - especially when I have a big deadline to get in - so to be able to choose when I see people and when I need head-down time is so important to me. On top of that, being able to work my own hours in an environment I’ve created to best suit me (that is: lots of day light, open windows, plants and frequent cups of tea!) works wonders for my productivity.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD?
I’d like to weave more movement and exercise into my every day - it’s too easy to sit for hours hunched over a laptop typing, forgetting to get outside, enjoy some fresh air and move. I try to go to yoga a few times a week and walk instead of getting the bus - but it only takes a few busy days to totally throw that routine out the window!
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?
I hope to be doing much of the same thing - but it would be great to be able to bring my illustrating more into my world of work. I’d also like to be writing my own books - both cooking and children’s picture books - as well as working on the magazine.
DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?
Oh, totally. My private and professional life align almost perfectly with one another. I am just as obsessed about food - both eating and talking about it - in my personal life as I am in my professional life. The only difference is that I can talk freely about food in my working life in a way that might bore my not-so-foodie friends! My professional alias as it were -‘The Hungry Romantic’, which I go by on my own social media platforms, could not be more apt. Those who know me well can vouch that I am both hungry and romantic in all sense of the words. I’m a sucker for love, be it romantic, familial or that more general, everyday love of the world around me (such as lovely autumn leaves, beautiful views and a good book).
WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?
I’m incredibly lucky to be a part of a company with strong female role models and leadership. My boss, Liz Earle MBE, is a hugely successful entrepreneur, best-selling author, organic farmer and campaigner - all the while being a mum of five! She is Editor-in-Chief of the magazine, and we also have a mostly female editorial team. It’s really rather special being a part of a company that is so supportive and with such a vast pool of experience - both life and professional. Quite a few of the team are working mums and it’s always very inspirational to see how well they are able to juggle the demands of home and work - I feel like I can barely juggle work and my laundry! I think having a flexible working environment really helps there and also mastering the art of prioritising things.
DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?
Of course. The best work comes from a whole range of life experiences and it would be madness to confine yourself to the skills and talents of a small pool of people.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?
I’m working on it! In theory, it should and could be much better. In practice, I can sometimes struggle to balance my deadlines with things going on in my life. I work my best under pressure, so often I find that I’ll create (not necessarily consciously) pressured situations for myself in order to do my best work - which in turn means I find myself with a knot of anxiety until I get it done. I am getting better at switching off though. I was in the habit of always checking my emails before bed and often replying, and soon realised that this is a) not necessary (it can always wait until the morning!) and b) not good for the soul. I think it’s really important to carve out time for yourself to do things that aren’t ‘work’ - whether that’s a walk in the park, reading a book or a cuppa tea and a good natter with a friend. Note to self: I must practice what I preach!
WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?
I am - by nature - a people person which helps a lot in a role where you are constantly interacting and collaborating with others - be it via email exchanged, over a coffee or on a hectic photoshoot. The ability to juggle things is always useful, as not only am I often having to hop around mentally with different projects, but also we plan a lot of our content far ahead - so often I will be in ‘winter’ mode in the middle of summer!
ANY FINAL COMMENTS?
I think for me - and perhaps I’m lucky here in the industry I’m in, which is by its nature a very supportive and friendly one - that collaborating, sharing knowledge and helping each other ‘rise’ is so important in your professional life (as well as personal of course). Not just because I truly think it’s where the best work happens, but also because life can be hard enough, so let’s support each other whenever and wherever we can!
Follow Emma on Instagram @hungryromantic and Twitter @hungry_romantic
For more of Emma’s work see hungryromantic.co.uk and you can sign up to her new newsletter here.
Find out more about Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine over on lizearlewellbeing.com