Photograph by Niran Vinod.
This post has been playing on my mind for a while. With new horizons being paved as we speak, I feel like it’s the right time to finally have a candid chat about life, ambition, and lucking out.
I’ve been a graduate for all of 20 months now and I’ve been incredibly ‘lucky’ to have been employed for 18 and a half of those. Especially after graduating into a recession.
Remember this blog when it (and I) was a young sprite?
My University roots
For the new reader of Daisybutter, I studied fashion journalism and ended up graduating with a First Class Honours degree in BA (Hons) Writing Fashion and Culture. I still remember sitting down in my first lecture to be told that print was dying. Yet I maintained high hopes and stoked big ambitions for my dream job in fashion journalism all the way through.
The irony that all of those hopes and ambitions ended once I landed my first job is certainly not lost on me.
How I knew what I wanted to do
I’ve always known that I wanted to write. Whether on my Xanga, in those cringeworthy MySpace bulletins (you can bet your bottom dollar that I was a MySpace girl… 18k and all that!), for my dissertation, my blog or for the various publications that I’ve been published in – it’s what I love and have always loved.
I began my career interning everywhere. As soon as I could, I devoted all of my spare hours during Easter, summer and Christmas breaks interning. You’d find me in fashion cupboards, running garment bags across the city, collecting and sending post, remembering complicated Starbucks orders… The whole Devil Wears Prada thing is so real guys.
And whilst I can’t stress how important and formative this period in my life was, it was also the pivotal experience that led me to realise that I wanted more than the magazine industry could over me. Could I see myself writing credits, sifting through incessant press sample returns, maintaining everyday relations with PRs or helping to pull looks at minimum wage or ‘London travel expenses only’?
In my heart of hearts, I knew it was a ‘no’ and as I handed back my intern’s pass to the InStyle security guy, I knew. I’d outgrown my founding ambitions and aspiration to become a fashion editor without even really realising it.
During our final year at University, my friend Lauren and I founded a magazine for career-focused women. Imagined over a crayfish and avocado salad and an obligatory latte in Pret way way back in November 2011, we ended up seeing it through to inception for a University module. And we also laid roots for it to be our business project. I’ve now taken it through to its fourth issue and hope to eventually develop it into a digital platform.
But that’s a story for another day.
In short, I quickly discovered that I truly thrived on working for myself and finally began to believe that self-employment might one day be my thing.
No magazine dreams… What next?
After I’d unceremoniously decided to throw in the fashion editor towel, I found myself ‘luckily’ walking straight into a full-time job. It was the push and shove I needed after completing the magazine internship from hell.
I had a shiny new title (my first ever!) as Assistant Product Editor at Alexandalexa.com. Day-to-day, I was thrilled to be producing and sub-editing online copy, as well as overseeing daily projects.
With only intern experience under my belt, I’ll be forever grateful that I began my career there because it restored my faith that I was somewhat good at what I wanted to do. Create content with a customer-centric lead. Three and a bit months later, I felt pinch-myself-lucky to be headhunted for a freelance copywriter position at the Arcadia head office.
(Ladies, the moral of this story is to persevere, if I’m tangent-ing a lot.)
Now and beyond
My time at Arcadia has been amazing.
It’s been the craziest, most stressful and exciting 16 months in my life to date. I started by producing web and product copy for Evans, and slowly built my way up to creating content and managing their social media channels. I’ve learnt a lot, stressed a lot and, perhaps most importantly, learnt that there isn’t necessarily one set path for everyone.
What I discovered is that I became unhappy pretty quickly with my long(ish) commute to London. Four (sometimes six) trains daily coupled with taxis, buses, car rides, walks, etc. was far too much for me, especially with health problems added in. Whilst everyone was super happy, proud, even jealous of me, for landing another foot up in the fashion world in London, I knew deep down that the city wasn’t for me right now.
Sometimes your overall quality of life needs to come into play.
Luck has played a small part over the past 20 months, but sheer determination, newfound aspirations and smaller goals have also driven me to where I am. I’m SO excited to start a new chapter with a full-time role; closer to home in an even bigger company, and with plenty of scope to grow and make a real impression.
The moral of my oversharing this week is just to remind you that there isn’t one dedicated way for us all. I’m excited for a taste of the unknown now, aren’t you?