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Interviews

In Interviews on
March 26, 2017

A Conversation with Poet and One-Woman Movement Melissa Tripp

Melissa Tripp is a Boston-based author, poet, entrepreneur and one-woman movement. Her work explores and expresses themes of love, vulnerability, empowerment, simplicity, personal narrative and hypothetical selves. Melissa’s words empower. They inspire. They intrigue. They heal. I’m so excited to be introducing you to her work. A few of my favourites include:

“you owe yourself: more care. more dialogue. more solitude. more reflection. more honesty. more room to be human. more healing. more love.”

“don’t waste your beautiful mind doing ugly things.”

“today, commit to nurturing the most important relationship you’ll ever have: you. enjoy your own company and explore your magic.”

Here, we discuss how to make money from your words (without losing your integrity), finding the courage to share your voice and more.


I’m curious about your writing journey so far. Where did it all begin for you and how has your relationship with writing changed over time?

Think about the vulnerability it takes to love someone. It’s not something you can forge in an instant, it happens over time. Writing, for me, has been relatively the same thing. The same investment, the same empowerment, the same discomfort. Gradually, then all at once. I think sometimes people have these preconceived notions about the life of a writer that are pure fantasy realm.

My personal journey as a writer, articulating my heart with no armor, is constantly shifting and shaping things in me. Things aren’t always in perfect sync. Words don’t automate closure and healing. But, they’ve made it easier for me to navigate the things I have yet to understand. The things I have yet to make peace with. 

 
Your words are so moving — simple yet so powerful. What is inspiration for you? Is it a particular book, a place, a mindset?

It’s not something I can pinpoint. Inspiration is this beautifully strange, complex, fragile thing that feels like travel. Inspiration is movement. Fleeting, mostly— there are no literal translations. Inspiration finds me in the brief moments, in the prolonged moments, in the moments I wish would stand still. Higher frequencies, secret structures, multidimensional escapes.

Sometimes i think we complicate inspiration trying to dissect it and confine it to one room. I’m learning to just let it be magic and mystery. 

 

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In Interviews on
March 8, 2017

Meet The Start-Up Founder Empowering Muslim Women

Nafisa Bakkar

I met Nafisa Bakkar at a networking event and was instantly impressed. Her company, Amaliah.com, was founded to address the difficulty Muslim women face when searching for clothes that are modest and fashionable. Now, having grown over the last 18 months, Amaliah is fast becoming a platform for the voices of Muslim women in over 85 countries.

For International Women’s Day, I spoke with Nafisa about her vision for Amaliah, the unglamorous side of start-up life and how she’s working hard to help give Muslim women a voice.


I’m so inspired by your story. What was the catalyst for starting Amaliah? And once you had the idea, how did you get started?

I realised that it was a genuine problem. It being Muslim women finding it hard to find clothes that are modest and fashionable. I’ve always wanted to empower others and I realised that fashion is a really strong vehicle to exert your own identity. It shouldn’t be a struggle for a Muslim woman to find clothes to wear.

Past this, I realised the Muslim woman’s voice is hugely unrepresented. We’ve since evolved into a platform that represents the many different voices in the Muslim community through our content contributors.

I started by learning as much as I could about startups. I read books, watched videos, spoke to people who had done it.

I thought it was very important to build some sort of foundation of knowledge. I then learnt to code so that I could go to the next level: building the first version.

I love how Amaliah is built upon the goal of empowering muslim women. Can you speak to the idea of reclaiming the muslim female voice and narrative? How do you plan on expanding upon that this year?

We plan on expanding to more countries with our contributors. Our community is from 85 different countries and I want to reflect that in our voices section.

For so many years, people have spoken on behalf of Muslim women whether it be in the media or even Muslim male scholars. It’s time that our own voices and stories were surfaced. It shouldn’t be a struggle to find the opinions and voice of a Muslim woman in the mainstream, but for now it is.

Ultimately, we want to send out the message that you can be who you are as Muslim women, hold the beliefs that you have, and be a person of purpose and impact in a society.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself since starting Amaliah? What have been the challenges and/or sacrifices?

First part: the toll starting a company takes on your mental health is a hard hit. I think the start-up world is VERY glamorised and people don’t speak enough about the fact that it’s bloody hard. The biggest challenge I’ve had is managing the toll it takes on your mental health. I think you sacrifice a few things — a big fat pay check for one, and also your relationships. But, at the same time, I remind myself that doing what I love is a luxury and it comes with the choice.

You’ve successfully raised seed funding and turned Amaliah into a monetised business. In doing so, how has your definition of ‘success’ changed?

I’m a real success skeptic. I always say don’t believe the hype. Raising money is not success, neither is being in Forbes or the Metro. But people seem to see these things as a sign of success.

Looking at your background, you seem to have always had entrepreneurial ambitions and ’thought big’. How have you managed to stay motivated and not be restricted by your own self-limitations?

I always say that where we are now is very much down to other people. I have constantly surrounded myself with people who help pick you up when you’re in those low moments or full of self doubt. I’ve also accepted that motivation dips. I think people think if you run your own company then that means you jump out of bed every day, raring to go.

There are periods when you won’t feel motivated and you’ll want to give up and that’s okay.

 


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In Interviews on
March 4, 2017

Cait Flanders on Life After a Two-Year Shopping Ban

Cait Flanders

Cait Flanders is one of my favourite people on the Internet. She started her blog as a way of documenting a journey that saw her pay off $30,000 in consumer debt and get rid of 75% of her material possessions. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she then embarked on a two-year shopping ban (yes, you read that correctly!) and shared her learnings along the way.

 

But what I love most about Cait is that she’s not afraid to get candid on a topic so many of us shy away from: money. In this conversation, we discuss her upcoming memoir, The Year of Less, how inherited financial behaviours affect us all, and how her definition of what it means to be ‘wealthy’ has changed over the years.

 


 

I can’t wait to read your upcoming book, The Year of Less! What has the process of writing it taught you about yourself so far?

Oh my goodness, so many things! It demanded that I improve as a writer and editor, and required me to be even more vulnerable than I have been on my blog. I wrote about things I haven’t shared with some of my closest friends, and found myself wiping tears off my keyboard more than a few times. But honestly, the best thing it taught me is that I’m capable of completing a project of that size. I have a tendency to look at big projects, like a book, and feel like it’s a mountain I’m unable to climb – so I procrastinate, put it off and say things like “maybe one day”. Having a deadline forced me to work on it every day and ultimately cross the finish line. Now I know that I’m capable of completing any of the creative projects I dream up.

 

How has your definition of what it means to be ‘wealthy’ changed over time?

It’s funny, but when I think about the word wealthy, I do picture what the media shows us: people with lots of money, big houses, cars and maybe a boat. But because I didn’t grow up around anything that resembled that picture, that’s never what I’ve imagined would or could be in my future. Years ago, I probably would have said my personal definition of being wealthy would have meant having a net worth of $1 million – and for no real reason, except that’s a random number that used to get thrown around in the early 2000s. “Save for your future and you could retire a millionaire!”

Now, money in the bank is only a small portion of what it would mean for me to be wealthy. I can’t deny that having savings helps me feel more comfortable. But true wealth, in my eyes, is being in control of my time and having healthy family/friends to spend it with.

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In Interviews on
February 12, 2017

A Conversation with Poet, Blogger and Author Nicole Gulotta

These days, it’s rare that a blog strikes you as being refreshingly different. But Nicole Gulotta’s is exactly that. As a voracious reader and writer, Nicole’s popular blog, Eat This Poem, invites you to bring poems to life on the plate, infusing recipes with personal stories, thoughtful commentary and simple ingredients. Her blog is also home to a selection of city literary guides, which just so happen to be one of my favourite corners of the Internet.

In this conversation, we discuss writing rituals, how to stay creative while working full-time, and her upcoming book (!!!).

 


Can you share a little bit about yourself, what you do and why you do what you do?

I’m a writer, author, tea drinker, and home cook. At the moment, I work for a food startup in Los Angeles, the city I’ve called home for nearly a decade. Because I’m a content editor, writing is the core component of my day job, but I always have several creative projects of my own going on, too.

I write because I can’t not write. Writing found me early in life (I have memories of family vacations where I scribbled songs, poems, and our daily adventures into notebooks), and in high school I started writing poetry very seriously (so seriously, in fact, I went on to study it in graduate school). Now I write more about food, but regardless of subject, the impulse to write has always been there.

This past year I’ve started connecting with fellow writers to encourage them on their journey. I absolutely love this work.

The writing life is hard, but I believe the more we’re empowered to embrace our desire to write, combined with practical tools to navigate balancing work and creativity, the easier it becomes.

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In Interviews on
January 5, 2017

Meet the Girl Changing Publishing for the Better

 

From the moment I met Jessica Montgomery at a recent networking event, it was clear that her energy is infectious. After all, she has founded Spora Literary, a platform that aims to change the face of publishing forever, making it possible for you and I to submit our manuscripts and get representation straight away. (The dream!). And she’s done it all while still maintaining her full-time job.

I spoke to Jessica about the future of publishing, her plans for Spora, where she gets her motivation from and more…


Where did the idea behind Spora Literary originate from and what was the catalyst for starting it?

I have always known that I have wanted to work for myself, and a year out of my Literature and Journalism degree I was working as a freelance content creator and marketing manager at a London start-up.

All my dealings with fellow writers and creators had taught me how closed off the publishing industry can be, especially to those who might not have the knowledge or the contacts. Working in the London start up scene also meant I was witnessing the changes other industries were making and thought; why can’t publishing make a change too? 

Similarly, (my then friend and now business partner) Dominic was experiencing the same thing working in publishing directly. He came to me with the basic idea for Spora wanting my opinion. ‘Could this work?’ After a few months of back and forth, brainstorming and picking our own ideas apart we grew the original model into Spora Literary as it is today.  

 

A lot of people stumble when it comes to finding the right business partner. How was the process for you? 

Going into business with the right person is crucial, and more often than not it’s someone you might not expect. I was friends with Dominic at University prior to setting up Spora and when he approached me with this idea, it started a dialogue that showed us another side to our relationship. We actually make great business partners and colleagues, who knew? In many ways we are complete opposites in terms of personality and skills sets, but that works to our advantage. We always challenge each other’s assumptions and aren’t afraid to call the other person out on an issue. Going into business with your friend doesn’t work for everyone but we know each other well enough to never take anything too personally.

 

You’re currently managing a full-time job and the launch of your own company. What sacrifices have you had to make? What challenges have you faced? 

For me being super busy is the status quo, I have always had projects on the go be it freelancing, events or blogging. I thrive in high-pressure environments. However, when the stakes get higher it takes a lot more focus and energy to keep the balance. I’m incredibly social and cannot live without seeing my friends and networking, so to fit everything in, my events job, Spora and other commitments, I do compromise on my well-being.

I definitely don’t sleep as much as I should! The biggest challenge is keeping things consistent and finding a structure that works for me. At my full-time job there are things in place, infrastructures that make doing my job much easier. With Spora, I have to create all those structures and processes myself.

I have to set my own deadlines and goalposts and everything always takes longer than you think. I’m still figuring it out. Fortunately I am very passionate about everything I do and the way my life is slowly evolving. I wouldn’t do it all otherwise!

 

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In Interviews on
December 3, 2016

Investing Isn’t Just For Rich White Men. Ask Sallie Krawcheck.

Money tips | Money advice | Ellevest | Investing | Women | Feminism

 

Sallie Krawcheck is on a mission. A few years ago, you would have found her on the cover of Fortune Magazine. As CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, she rose up the ranks to become one of Wall Street’s most powerful women. Today, she’s making her greatest impact yet. Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women, is revolutionising what it means to invest.

If you’ve ever been confused by investing (with that much jargon, who isn’t?) or thought you don’t have enough money to even start investing, this interview is for you. It’s time to get serious about your money, because nothing is more exciting than financial freedom.

 

As someone who has been on the top of Forbes and Fortune lists and had a career that epitomises success, I’m curious about how your definition of success has changed over the years?

At this stage of my life, success to me is all about having an impact and building a great company. Your readers probably haven’t heard the term “gender investing gap” and aren’t aware of the fact it costs them typically hundreds of thousands of dollars over the lives. My goal right now is to, first and foremost, make women aware of it. Secondly, I hope to really inspire women to begin investing. And if they do close the “gender investing gap”, they can live lives that are very different from the ones they would otherwise live.

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In Interviews on
November 26, 2016

No-Bullshit Career Talk With a Copywriter

Copywriter Career Advice

 

Hillary Weiss is the kind of person you discover on the internet and are so glad you did. She has one of the strongest internet presences and voices I’ve ever encountered, and her badass attitude is nothing short of inspiring. Here she discusses why she loves being a copywriter, how to pitch clients (and win!) and the honest money lessons she’s learnt from being self-employed. Enjoy! It’s one of my favourite interviews yet.


 

You’re a renowned copywriter and content extraordinaire. Why do you love what you do? Has anything surprised you about your chosen career path?

I love what I do for so many reasons. 

Firstly, because writing has always been the only thing I’ve ever been good at. 

Seriously: I’m awful at math, I’m not naturally very organized or very neat, growing up I tended to, uh, resist authority, etc. So being a writer – and a self employed one at that – has been the perfect path for me in a lot of ways.

Secondly, I adore my job because it gives me endless opportunities, every day, to transform lives and business, just by giving a voice to ideas.

 

So many brilliant human beings bite their tongues when it comes time to share what’s in their hearts, or even talk about the stuff they’re experts in. They don’t know if it’s the right moment. They don’t know if they’ll say it the right way. They aren’t sure how people will react, or worse, not react. They wrap themselves up so tightly in a web of fear and doubt, their songs go unsung, and uncelebrated. Being able to step in, and be the one to say “Yes, this idea is worth sharing, and I can help you share it,” is a true privilege.

 

I don’t always know what I’m doing either.

I don’t always know how people will react, or whether an idea is as good as I hope it is. 

The only difference is that I have the experience-tempered audacity to shut my eyes and pull the trigger anyway.

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In Interviews on
November 13, 2016

No-Bullshit Career Talk With… A Buzzfeed Editor

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Kristin Harris is Celebrity Editor and Head of Talent Relations NY at Buzzfeed, where she’s interviewed the likes of Ryan Gosling, Robert De Niro and Kate Winslet and generated over 6 million page views per month (!!!). We met while interning at Vogue and she’s been impressing me ever since with her tenacity, drive and lust for life. Here we discuss career mistakes, why happiness is a concept, how she learnt to stand up for herself and much, much more. 

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In Interviews on
November 8, 2016

An Interview With Kayla Hollatz

Kayla Hollatz is a writer and social media strategist. But that’s not all… she’s an expert brand builder, coach, founder of the #CreateLounge Twitter chat and podcast, and a generally amazing human. Here we discuss what it’s really like to work for yourself, the people that keep her inspired and her top tips for building your own creative community, virtually or otherwise.

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In Interviews on
October 9, 2016

No-Bullshit Career Talk With… An Editor-in-Chief

 

How Angelica Malin turned her love for writing into a business

 

Many people talk about creating their own jobs, but Angelica Malin actually did it. She’s the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of About Time Magazine, a London-based publication with a penchant for food, travel and making the most out of life. Here, she discusses being fired, deciding to control her own fate and turning her love for content and writing into a successful business. This post originally featured in my newsletter, but I loved it so much I had to feature it here. Read more