a guide to starting your own creative platform with… phoebe lovatt
Want to get into fashion, but not sure which path to take? From designers and stylists, to writers and directors, we asked a few i-D friends and family how they made their fashion dreams a reality. Here, Phoebe Lovatt discusses the launch and evolution...
Working as a freelance travel, culture and lifestyle journalist, as well as a consultant for various brands, Phoebe Lovatt has learnt a thing or two about working as a woman in the creative industries. In 2015 she set up The WW Club or The Working Women's Club, a physical and virtual space for working-women worldwide to meet, collaborate, learn and just generally hang out. To coincide with the launch of the four-day pop-up and series of curated, career-focused events, Phoebe released her first book: The Handbook For Women Who Do Creative Work, which offers concise and relatable advice for women working in creative industries. Here she shares with us her experience.
What I do and why I do it
"I do a lot of things! I'm a freelance journalist, a moderator, a consultant, and the founder of The WW [Working Women's] Club, which is a platform I created to connect, support, and inspire women working in the creative industries. I describe the Club as a 'a space for working women worldwide'. It's more of a conceptual space - both physical and virtual - which brings likeminded women together in cities around the globe.
I started the Club in LA in Los Angeles in January 2015, where I was living at the time. I'd been stuck in a creative rut and was feeling quite isolated and uninspired. I wanted to give myself a project, so I decided to consolidate all the practical information I'd picked along my own career path alongside insights from all the amazing creative women I'm lucky enough to met along the way. I wrote a little guidebook called The Handbook For Women Who Do Creative Work and launched it by opening a custom-built cowork and events space in downtown LA. That was really where The WW Club began.
Since then I've hosted events everywhere from London (where I was born and raised) to New York to Paris to Taipei. I also produce a weekly newsletter, podcast, and blog. I still write - I'm the New York columnist for the London-based business paper Courier - and consult for brands, but my main focus is The WW Club, which has totally changed my personal and professional life. I've moved to New York to grow the business and the hustle is no joke! But I feel so lucky to be able to carve this kind of working life for myself, and to help other women to do the same."
A day in my life…
"...could involve anything from recording and editing a podcast, to designing the invite for an upcoming event, to meeting with brands to discuss potential partnerships. Wearing so many hats can be mentally draining but it's what being a small businessowner is all about. You have to find ways to stay motivated and energised and, quite frankly, sane! For me this means getting up early to tackle a creative task before I get distracted by my inbox or Instagram, doing yoga, and eating well. But, y'know, I also drink way too much coffee and like going out to dance and drink cocktails with my friends. Gotta have balance.
The biggest misconception about this kind of career is that a) it entails a lot of time swanning about drinking cappuccinos and writing perfect to-do lists in Smythson notebooks and b) that everyone is rolling in cash. No, and no. It's really hard for me to take time off and I certainly haven't chosen this path as a way to get rich quick. But I believe that a successful life is about making choices that align with your values. Working for myself on something I believe in is really important to me, so I make sacrifices (namely, time and financial stability) to ensure that I can.
Luckily, the work is rewarding in many other ways. I have to be very self-motivated and organised, but I also get choose how and where I spent my days-that's a reward in itself. I get such a high from hosting events and I also receive some incredible emails from women around the world, saying that The WW Club has inspired them in some way. If I can help one woman feel like she has the information and support she needs to take the next step in her career, every last bit of stress is worth it."
To degree or not to degree, that is the question....
"I studied History at UCL and I'm so glad that I did. I was the first person in my family to go to university, but I'm a big believer in the value of an academic education. At university I learnt how to think conceptually and write critically. Studying history, I was taught to question everything and to zoom out to identify broader cultural patterns and shifts...In one way or another, that kind of thinking is the underpinning of all the work I've done since.
That said, I don't think university is for everyone. I now live in the US where university fees are astronomical and so many young people are saddled with student debt. That's a big burden to take on before you've even started your career.
Whether or not you pursue higher education, I think it's really important to become autodidactic. You can't stop learning the day you get your diploma - you need to find ways to keep enriching your brain and developing your skills. That's an essential part of any career, and it's something I really try to push through The WW Club: Read, go to museums, look at stuff that's not on your phone. Your work will be so much stronger for it."
What I wish I knew then that I know now...
"The advice I'd give my 16 year old self is the advice I'm still trying to give myself now! Which is essentially to go a bit easier on myself, to always remember how lucky I am, and to have fun with it all. I believe in setting and working towards big goals, but it's also essential to find a way to stay present and enjoy your day-to-day life without freaking out too much about what lies ahead. One day at a time. One thing at a time. It will all get done."
I'm excited by tomorrow because…
"I've got five million ideas for evolution of The WW Club and I'm doing my best to execute them in an orderly fashion. This month I'm launching an official membership programme, which offers exclusive content, online mentor sessions, events (and a really cute pink membership card!) just for members, alongside a lot of additional benefits that will roll out as the concept grows. I wanted to create a platform that would enable The WW Club supporters around the world to feel more integrated into the community. Hopefully this will achieve that aim.
Beyond that, I'll be doing more podcasts and, of course, hosting more events in cities around the world. In my personal career, I want to continue to write and to develop my skills as a moderator and speaker. I'm lucky that I have a platform that offers an outlet for all my creative impulses, whether that's designing the website or producing a beautiful event. It's almost impossible to know where I'll end up in 2020 - I've never really looked much further than 18 months ahead - but I do feel confident that I'm heading in the right direction."
Text Phoebe Lovatt