The Lift Up Project

If you follow me on Instagram (@Mia_Holt) — you may have noticed this post about my new project. I wanted to say a little bit more about here.


As a creative women, I’m constantly inspired and motivated by other creative women who I surround myself with, both in real life (I’m lucky to know a lot of talented women) and on social media.

Over the years, I’ve reached out to a lot of the women who have inspired me and I feel very lucky to have interviewed a lot of them on my blog, including: Emma Gannon (Girl Lost in City), Pandora Sykes (PandoraSykes.com), Olivia Purvis (What Olivia Did), Victoria (InTheFrow), Jess (The Travelista) and Megan Ellaby (Pages By Megan).

I wanted a space where I could showcase the work of other creative women, so I’ve decided to launch a newsletter called #TheLiftUpProject, where, every week I’ll send out an email introducing you to different women and their work.

The newsletter will feature women from all different kinds of creative backgrounds, and may feature some names you already know and love. But hopefully it will also help you discover someone you haven’t come across before and encourage us all to lift each other up by sharing each other’s work, because as one woman is lifted up, she pulls another woman up with her.

If you’re interested in receiving the newsletter, you can subscribe here:https://tinyletter.com/MiaHolt *

*Make sure you check your spam folder for the confirmation email.

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Interview | Emma Gannon

Mia Holt Girl lost in city

Credit: Emma Gannon – http://girllostinthecity.com/

I can remember the first time I came across Emma. I was searching for women in the media industry to follow on Twitter a while back when I found myself on her feed (@GirlLostInCity). I’ve been hooked on it ever since. It’s always full of industry insights and observations, a passion for all things social media and digital journalism and amazing supportive tweets of other women. She is a powerful women herself, and an inspiring one too, juggling being the Social Media Editor of Glamour Magazine, with running her successful blog (Girl Lost In The City) and writing her first book. (Keep an eye out for Ctrl; Alt; Delete – a memoir for young adults about growing up with the Internet, which will come out next year. FYI it’s supposed to be hilarious according to Commissioning Editor Sara Cywinski). She’s pretty much a digital superwoman.

I’m incredibly proud to introduce Emma to those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of discovering her, and also to delve a little more into her life and career for those of you who already admire and follow her work. So here it is, my little interview with Emma Gannon:

Do you remember the moment you decided you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t remember ever thinking I wanted to be anything else! It’s all I ever wanted to be. When I was much younger I would sit in my room just scribbling in my diaries (which I often now read at the Cringe UK nights in London pubs) and actually enjoying my homework if it had anything to do with me telling a story. I remember getting my best grades in all my drama essays, script-writing and English exams, and failed miserably at everything else. My poor mum would drag me to after-school Maths tutoring, I was so, so bad at it. I remember thinking: “Well it looks like I’m alright at writing” so I thought I’ll try and do that, and people around me gave me the confidence to keep on trying and improving.

Who influenced the decision?
I don’t think I was influenced by anyone in particular. Maybe one of my English teachers called Dr Le Gallez who was hilarious and such an inspiration to me at school, always on my side and tried to bring out my best work when I was a teenager. None of my family or friends were particularly into writing, I had no connections to the writing world or anyone who could help me out when I moved to London. I just had to hustle. There are people who influence me now though, from Roxane Gay to Lena Dunham to Brené Brown, to Elizabeth Gilbert. I am constantly inspired and feeling so excited all the time, especially now thanks to the Internet we can share our ideas whenever we want and for free.

Ernest Hemingway once said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – what does the process of writing an article feel like to you?
Oh I love this quote. I have to really really believe in what I’m writing about, otherwise I can’t write it truthfully and it sounds insincere. I’ve turned down commissions before because I didn’t believe in the topic or the angle of the story and didn’t want it to be in portfolio or following me around on the Internet. I have those moments where I get an idea and literally have to race home to my laptop and let it pour out of me. That’s what happened when I got the idea for my book proposal.

Yes! As well as being a freelance writer and social media editor, you’re also writing your first book. How is that going? Can you tell us anything?
I finally can! My non-fiction book called Ctrl; Alt; Delete will come out next year, with Ebury Publishing, Penguin Random House. I’m so excited. (You can read what Emma has to say about it on her blog here.)

Are there any names in the industry that are catching your eye at the moment? Or any personalities you’ve met or interviewed that have really impressed you?
I am totally impressed with Rosalind Jana who is a young writer studying at University and has also written a book on the side which blows my mind. Louise O’Neill I’m obsessed with at the moment after reading her novel Only Ever Yours, a dark fiction that comments how women are treated in society. Also Katie Oldham from the blog Scarphelia, when I read her writing it is like listening to music.

On your blog, you cover everything from social commentary to travel, where do you find the time to fit it all in and how do you keep your creativity flowing?
I love having my blog because I use it as a place where things spill over into. For example if it’s a review that the mag doesn’t want, I’ll do it for my blog, or if it’s someone I’m desperate to interview informally it’ll make sense to post on the blog. Often I’ve had a piece edited down for print so I’ll post the longer unedited version or the “scraps” on my blog. Or for example, I’ll have an idea for an article but I don’t want it to be edited so I’ll blog it because I want it to be a bit more of a rant than a fully thought out piece. That’s the beauty of a blog: no rules! Many PR agencies organise blogger travel trips now which is nice, it’s the same as a press trip but I get to meet new bloggers as opposed to mainstream magazine journalists.

In your article “A millennial goes offline” you put your phone out of sight for 48 hours. Be honest, has it changed the way you interact with your phone since?
Not AT all. I’ve definitely gone straight back to my old ways. I hated going offline. I love my iPhone apps, Twitter, my blog, my online pals!

When you’re not writing, you’re a social media editor. How do you balance being in charge of a brand on social media and still maintaining a strong voice on your own?
In my day job I am being paid to grow a magazine brand so that is my only focus from the hours I am in the office. It means doing some early starts if I want to bash out a blog post, and weekends are quite antisocial at the moment because I am finishing writing my book. The reason I make it work like I do is because I love every aspect of my job so much. I love working for a magazine, I love my blog AND I love writing my book. I honestly love the mixture of them all and I think it makes me better at doing each of the individually because I have to juggle and learn new skills all the time. Having a blog and working with brands makes me more savvy commercially in all of the things I do, and being a social media editor of a big brand helps my own personal brand too.

When it comes to social media management, do you prefer to plan ahead with scheduled content or go rogue day-by-day? What do you think works best?
A bit of both! We plan ahead in lots of ways at GLAMOUR so I always know what’s coming up in weeks and months ahead, but at the same time we need to be flexible and creative and timely each day. We cannot predict the news!

Are there any trends in social media that we should be keeping an eye out for or do you have any forecasts?
Ha, good question. I think native advertising is only going to become bigger and better. I think advertising full stop is going to go through this massive change because most ads just aren’t working at the moment. People skim and hide ads in their social feeds because brands aren’t being targeted enough and their campaigns are just too dull. I think something will have to change there, and social experts will play a massive part in helping brands be WAY better at how they advertise in a way that is INTERESTING and informative for people.

To finish, what’s the most important life lesson you can pass on to us?
Oh gosh I have loads. At the moment I’m going for: stick up for yourself and don’t apologise for who you are.

You can find Emma on Twitter at @girllostincity & remember her book is out next year so keep an eye out! 

Pandora Sykes Mia Holt
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Interview | Pandora Sykes

Pandora Sykes Mia Holt

Credit: PandoraSyles.com

When you read an article by Pandora Sykes, you get completely lost in her words. She has a way of telling a story, whether it’s about searching for non-saccharine florals or why she has an issue with the term clean-eating. Everything she writes about, she writes about it with style and substance and that’s why she’s such a wonderful journalist. Her words have graced the pages of numerous publications from The Debrief to I-D but these days, she uses her talents and skills in the role of Fashion Features Editor at The Sunday Times Style by day, and as blogger for pandorasykes.com by night.

Her Instagram is just a beautiful as her writing. It’s a mixture of colourful shots of her envious wardrobe showing her impeccable styling skills (Pandora has styled for the likes of Paloma Blue and Charlotte Simone) and her travels that will definitely leave you creating a wishlist of some sort. I pinched a few minutes with her to ask her all about her love for writing, her relationship with fashion and where she’s heading next. Pour yourself a cup of tea, sit back and read:

You’re currently the fashion features editor at The Sunday Times Style, what journey have you been on to get there?
I didn’t have a particularly straight forward trajectory – I jumped around, freelanced and in general just made sure I was doing as much as possible at all times. For example, in my previous role as Fashion Editor at The Debrief, I was also writing for publications like The Times and Company, and blogging at pandorasykes.com.

Your articles are always fantastic reads, whether it’s a fashion article or a piece on social commentary. What do you think makes a good writer?
Practice. I used to be super verbose (still am, if I’m honest) and love long pretentious sentences. But as my current editor has taught me, the cleaner the sentences, the stronger the written piece. I also think you have to find a distinct tone. And also, proof read! I get really annoyed when someone hasn’t bothered to edit their own work. It’s the hardest thing in the word to divorce yourself from the sentimentality of your words (you become welded to certain phrases or sentences that may be superfluous) but that’s why it’s such a rigorous, essential discipline.

Why did you want to become a writer and who or what inspired you?
I’ve never wanted to be anything else. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was tiny – my mum would get out 14 books for me a week at the local library because that was the maximum. I’ve been writing stories since I was 5. Some of them are really weird; I found one that I wrote aged 8. I was a small Chinese child whose parents had died in the war – it ended with me losing my legs. My writing now is a little more optimistic.

When it comes to writing, it’s important to have your own voice. What advice would you give to writers who are trying to find theirs?
I don’t think you can really ‘learn’ a voice; it should be ingrained. You can help by honing your craft for want of a better expression. So read a lot, write a lot, figure out what kind of thing you want to convey in your writing. Humour is very important to me; as is thoughtfulness. So that’s what I strive for in tone.

In your article “Instagram: A tool to verify your choices”, you mention how it’s becoming quite persuasive when it comes to making fashion choices. How else do you think social media is influencing and changing our relationship with fashion?
It’s vastly changed the regular (and by that I mean, those who are not in the industry) person’s interaction with fashion and style. Before the advent of social media you were either ‘into fashion’ or you weren’t. Now it’s not nearly so elitist and people who aren’t necessarily into fashion will follow bloggers or designers on Instagram and find themselves developing their own sense of personal style that they might not have had the confidence or resources to have done before. It’s also made ‘normal girls’ into celebrities by dint of having a blog. That’s massively changed the landscape every which way.

 

Pandora Sykes Mia Holt

Credit: PandoraSykes.com

What does style mean to you and how would you describe yours?
Personal style is exactly that – personal and an expression of you. I don’t like dressing like everyone else; fashion (and by proxy, trends who encourage unity) can be quite homogenous in that sense. I like to mix vintage, designer and high street and I try and have a careful rather than exhaustive approach to my style – so don’t wear things that don’t suit me. Don’t buy something just because it’s cool. And don’t shop relentlessly on the high street; invest in things I will wear for a long time and maybe, one day, pass on to my daughter. I still shop too much, though!

How do you put an outfit together? Do you tend to plan ahead or spontaneously pick pieces an hour before?
Sometimes I will wear something an think ooooh I like this, I want to shoot this for my blog. But in general I just get brief snatches of time before work or on the weekend when I will cobble together a bunch of my favourite new things. I enjoy the process of introducing new things into my wardrobe to work with the existing.

What is your all-time favourite trend?
Eeeeek. The seventies, probably. Horribly on trend, that is. But I have been into that decade, to be fair, for a long time. I had a ton of vintage suede jackets and skirts from eBay. Also love the little mod sixties silhouette of polo neck and A-Line mini and anything folkloric and beautifully detailed without being too girly.

Do you have any wardrobe essentials?
White shirts, Gucci brown ankle boots, vintage suede skirts, polonecks and Bella Freud knits. For summer, off the shoulder blouses and dresses and anything by Reformation.

As well as writing about fashion and social commentary, you cover your travels on your blog too. Out of all the places you’ve visited, which one was the most stylish?
In terms of locale, the Amalfi coast. Heavenly. In terms of the people, Venice Beach in LA or Copenhagen.

What about London – where are your favourite places to take friends who are visiting the city?
I often think what I would do in London if I was a tourist. I’d probably have a much more diversified experience of the city than I do now as an inhabitant. Our parks and green spaces are pretty wonderful so I’d recommend Hampstead Heath, Hyde Park or Primrose Hill. Eating, I love The Shed, Maggie Jones and Gymkhana. On the high street, can’t beat Topshop’s flagship store and Liberty’s. Portobello market is on my doorstep and I like wandering down it to Golbourne Road. Also Tate Modern and the National History Museum. But honestly I could go on for hours!

What’s next for you?
Who knows! I’ve never seen what’s coming next – and that’s what makes life exciting. But for now, more writing, more styling, more growing my blog and in my role at The Sunday Times Style. And getting married next year, that’s also a new step.