Women Leading – Sarah de Warren

YAY MORE AMAZING WOMEN! This is one of those posts where I bang on again about how much I love the internet and social media. I can’t even remember how I found Sarah de Warren, I just know it was on Instagram or Twitter. I got a good vibe off her, listened to some of her music and thought she was pretty cool.


Since I’m the ‘polite pest’ kind of social media follower, she eventually noticed me and followed me back on Insta and Twitter, and we’d interact occasionally.

Then in May I moved to Manchester with no idea that she actually lived here, and on Saturday I finally saw her live at Oxjam and got to meet her. Oh life.

I am, as always, really pleased to share this interview with you and I love how thoughtful and intentional Sarah’s answers are, just like her music! You can follow Sarah’s journey here and here.

How long have you been making music for?

I have been writing for 9 years now, but I was playing piano and singing for much longer before then. Almost my whole life. At 13 I discovered that I could write songs and I was totally absorbed. It became my evolving project, for life.

Tell us about one memorable gig from the last year.

A festival in the Lakes called Kendal Calling! It was amazing. I played with my producer and we have actually just launched our new duo called XTALK. Festivals are my favourite shows.

What advice would you give to other young women thinking about making music?

You have to accept that you will be treated differently, so be prepared, and although you should totally be yourself, try pushing some boundaries and evolve into a confident artist as soon as you have your vision. Then you will inspire men and women with your work. As a woman, I honour the emotional connection I can make with people, without even having met them. I know this is different from person to person, but I know a lot of ladies are wired up the same – my music is not for me or my ego, it belongs to everyone.
In the early days, people see you at gigs and you will look out of place among the sea of male musicians. Don’t feel self-conscious, let it empower you. Show them you are at home on that stage.
What do you think is the best way to introduce more discipline into one’s life?
Taking up new habits in order to drop old habits. As soon as you break your pattern by starting something new, other habits tend to fall out of place pretty quickly. Your body and brain learn that they are not stuck, things can change at any moment.
Also, just set aside some time every day to think. It sounds cliche, but with so many distractions around us we often forget to nurture our philosophical side. Think about your life, what you want and how to get it. I like doing this on the train. You will start to realise what you can lose, in order to gain more important things.

Women Leading – Beverley

Beverley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who I’ve been reading for years, probably since I started blogging myself back in 2011. I’ve always loved how pure her writing is – like you’re reading her diary over her shoulder (in a totally none creepy way, obvs).

Beverley Pack Your Passport Profile Pic

Beverley recently relocated to Leeds from London in a bid to trust her gut. She’s a blogger who I’ve seen grow and develop into a quietly confident, kick-ass woman – who, by the way, writes an exceptional newsletter.

What has been the best thing to come from your blog?

Can I cheat with this one? There’s actually been two amazing things that have come from my blog. Firstly, my career. When I moved back to the UK in 2013, after three years in Australia and New Zealand, my blog helped me get my job. I’d studied media and marketing at university, so I already had the knowledge needed for a PR role, but running a relatively successful blog gave me the extra edge. I understood the media landscape from a publishing point of view *and* a PR point of view and, three years later, I’m now a PR Manager with experience in online and traditional PR.
I’ve also made a lot of friendships through blogging, and a lot of those blogging friendships, most of which started on Twitter, have turned into actual, IRL friendships. I still have lots of non-blogging friends, but I’d definitely have fewer amazing women in my life if I hadn’t started my blog!
What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
It gets better. I think that’s what I’d say. It gets better and you won’t always feel like such an outsider. You will find your tribe. Don’t worry if the people you’re surrounded by aren’t on your wavelength, you’ll eventually find the one who are. Make an effort with the people who matter, make less of an effort with people who don’t. It’s not your job to make people like you. And, also, you’re enough.
What were you looking forward to most about relocating to Leeds?
Renting my own flat instead of a room. I’ve lived on my own before, in my final year at Leeds uni, but since then I’ve travelled and lived in shared flats and it got to a point where I really needed my own space. I loved living in London, loved where my flat was in Shoreditch, and I have no regrets about moving there when I got back from New Zealand, but it was time for a change. I have my own place now, and in a way it feels like things I didn’t believe I could accomplish in London are a bit more feasible here. In the distant future I’d love to set up a small business or write a book and, for reasons that I can’t quite explain, that seems less scary and overwhelming in Leeds than it did in London.
What do you think is the best way to introduce more discipline into one’s life?
I’m an all or nothing kind of person in that, for the most part, I can only give 100% of myself to one thing at any given time, and it applies to almost every aspect of my life. I’m either running regularly or not at all, blogging regularly or not at all, eating well or eating terribly. On paper it looks like a really great way to be disciplined; concentrate on one thing at a time and do it well. But life doesn’t work like that. After a while, I realised that if I wanted to find any kind of balance in my life I needed to create some kind of order and, honestly, the only way I can do that is with a physical planner. I think a planner you can actually write things down in is a really great way to introduce a bit more discipline into your life. All your tasks, your notes, and appointments are in the same place, and physically writing down what you want to accomplish makes the goal seem a little more concrete in your mind. I tried online planners for a while but, for me, the physical act of writing a plan makes a world of difference.
Beverley Pack Your Passport on Brick Lane, London

Women Leading – Yasmin

I met Yasmin earlier this year at the Blognix Retreat. She is an incredibly friendly and focused young woman, who is also a very talented photographer.

Yasmin Qureshi
Yasmin is very hard-working; she has even put plans to build her own photography studio into action. I have no doubt that she will achieve this dream.

Yasmin, tell us how you first got into photography.

I first got into photography because of my blog. I started my first blog Yazzy’s Corner in 2013 as a hobby. At the time I had a full-time job that I wasn’t happy with at all, it was making me depressed and the long hours were making me ill. Blogging for me became the creative outlet that I needed and I’m glad I started it. During this time I started to become more and more interested in photography. I wanted to make my blog look more visually appealing to my readers and of course, to me! When I left my job in 2014, I then decided to go back to university to study photography as a degree and during this time I also started my photography blog, Yasmin Qureshi Photography, which I’m now planning on developing a lot more.

What is your vision for your career?

I’m going to be working as a freelance photographer and blogger. I’ve already started my business with the help of SPEED at university, but as I’ve had such a big set back so early on with the build of my own studio (something I’m still not over!) I’m glad I’ve still got a year left of university because it means I’ve got time to perfect my brand which I’m happy about. When I go back to university in October I’m planning on making my blog my FMP and I’ll be getting in contact with various creatives and small business owners for shoots which will be posted along with their interview on my blog. I’m really excited to see where this leads!

Tell us one positive thing you’ve gained from the blogging community.

I would say making lifelong friends! Thanks to blogging I’ve met some great people and gained the confidence to attend events, sometimes alone – something I would never have normally done. I’ve made one friend in particular, Sophie, who I’ve become very close with over the past few years.

What do you think is the best way to introduce more discipline into one’s life?

By creating a routine for yourself that works and reminding yourself what’s important. I know that if I stay in bed til 12pm (which I love to do, by the way!) I’ll barely be able to get any work done which will set me back yet another day. On the other hand, if I wake up early enough to start working on my to-do list at 9am, I’ll know my day will be a lot more productive. As a self-employed person, a wasted day means a wasted income. As much as I love to spend the morning in bed, I know that I have to prioritise my business and put the hard work in now, especially if I want to continue to pursue the dream that’s only just started.

Follow Yasmin’s journey on her blog here or on Twitter here and here.

Upcoming singer Erin Louise by Yasmin Qureshi Photography www.yasminqureshi.co
A sample of Yasmin’s brilliant work

Women Leading – Onetenzeroseven

Today I want you to meet Sophie, who creates beautiful things that she sells on Etsy and blogs about it at Onetenzeroseven.

I met Sophie through Daisy and just like her, she is an unstoppable force. In just five years, she has built a brand. For two of those years she’s been self-employed full time. When I’m around Sophie I feel really good about myself and my own goals – a testament to the sort of person she is.

She’s also the Co-Captain of Etsy Team Leeds!



How long have you been creating, making and selling?

I’ve been creating and making for as long as I can remember. I still have a sketchbook from being around 8 years old, filled with really terrible sketches of a clothing line I was desperate to create back then, haha. Some day maybe I’ll make them a reality! I started selling about 5 years ago when I opened up a shop on Etsy and I’ve learned and grown so much since then. It’s crazy to think about where I’ll be in another 5 years.

To you, what is ‘creativity’ really about?

I think being creative is taking what you have and building something really incredible for yourself and the people around you. It doesn’t have to be artistic, you can build something from anything. Creativity is seeing possibilities where other people might not, it’s building a family with strong values, it’s climbing the corporate ladder, it’s looking at your life and deciding where you want to be and setting of on a journey to get there, even if it seems a million miles away. You have everything you need to live your dream life, you just need to be a little creative.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own business?

Do it now. Do it yesterday. It’s the most incredible feeling I’ve ever had. Even if it seems right now that it will only ever be a little side hustle, to build something with your own hands is like nothing else. It can seem overwhelming and you’ll want to have everything perfected before you let your creation out into the world, but the best advice I could ever give is that “done is better than perfect”. It’s no good to have the best idea in the world if you keep it all tucked away to yourself. Pick a point and just start and you will build and grow from there. No one is an overnight success.

What do you think is the best way to introduce more discipline into one’s life?

I don’t really believe in discipline, I’m more of a breaking-the-rules kind of gal. When it comes to working hard, though, I believe if you truly love something and want something so much it hurts you will stop at nothing to make it happen. When I was working full time there were occasions where I would work on my business until 4am and get up at 8am to go to my day job. It’s not something I recommend of course, but it was necessary to me at the time. I didn’t really go out and see friends, I didn’t spend money on luxuries like clothes and holidays, for me the most important thing was to build my business and so what may seem and sound like discipline was just pure passion and determination. Now those days are behind me and I have the fully flexible life I dreamed of!


Women Leading ~ Runawaykiwi

Today I want you to meet Rebecca who blogs at Runawaykiwi.

I can remember the first time I found Rebecca’s blog. She writes about expat life perfectly, always nailing with honesty and stacks of humour what it’s like to be in a big city far away from home. Even though she was in London from New Zealand, and I was in Melbourne from the UK at the time, I related to her writing SO much.

She’s still in London today and still writes as sharply as she did back then.


1. What has been your favourite thing about blogging so far?
Being a creative badass. My blog is my domain, and not a single person in the world can tell me what to do with it. I can write what I want, when I want and fill it with as many creative swearwords as I want. It is very rare to have such a magical little bubble all to myself. My blogs only purpose is to help me express myself and help me make sense of this crazy mess called life.

2. What advice would you give to someone thinking about a year abroad in a big city?
Oh 100% do it. It will be the hardest year of your life, and you will struggle …hard. But you will grow more as a person than you ever thought possible. And added bonus you will become more sure of just exactly who ‘you’ are. Not it is not easy, but do it any way. Oh and you get to try cookies from other parts of the world. Treats make it all better.
3. Has your new YouTube series ‘What the f*ck am I doing with my life?’ made you famous yet? I wish! Actually scratch that no I don’t. As with most things I do it is just a little bit of randomness to make me smile, and hopefully make other people smile too. And there it makes gin tax deductible which I consider my greatest achievement in life.
4. What do you think is the best way to introduce more discipline into one’s life?
Figure out what is important. If you find you are not sticking to something it really can’t be that important to you right now. So either stop being so hard on yourself, or find a way to make it more important.
Drinking Coffee