Join columnist Vicky Ellison every month as she meets with inspiring women from the worlds of wellness, business, fashion and art to bring you a snapshot of their story and advice to take into your day.
Accompanying the interview are select illustrations by Rose Electra Harris who created the illustrated for Laura’s book Cosy: The British Art of Comfort.
YOU’VE WORKED YOUR WAY INTO SOME INCREDIBLE ROLES – CAN YOU TELL US HOW YOU FIRST GOT STARTED? WAS JOURNALISM ALWAYS THE PLAN?
I am very lucky that it was always the plan, other than dreaming of becoming a vet as a teen, being a journalist after my work experience at the Guardian aged 16 gave me the bug; I was intoxicated by the taste of adrenaline, the thrill of a news room and the power of print. Not to mention the camaraderie between the colleagues that I saw, and the variety of things that these journalists tackled every day, from press conferences to court reports and beyond.
WERE THERE EVER MOMENTS OF DOUBT AS YOU WENT FOR NEW ROLES? AND IF SO, HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I have been incredibly lucky to be head hunted or poached for all of the more senior jobs I have been given. I [know] that this is rare and not the experience of most. I have had doubt in other parts of my career, and my day to day experience is full of them! I tend to rely on my gut, I have a strong instinct that has only failed me a handful of times since I started working aged 23. I appreciate and value the counsel of others; there are a few people in my professional circle who I look to for guidance and sense checking on creative visions or judgement from time to time. I think not being reluctant to ask for advice is important; getting rid of the idea that you have to ‘own’ your ideas, success and creativity in its totality in order to get credit. The best way to achieve the optimum outcome of any project is to surround yourself with talented people.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CURRENT ROLE AND WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES?
I love the magazine, and I love my job. I truly believe that London deserves an outstanding, extraordinary magazine and I feel proud that we deliver that every week. I value the fact it is free, it’s essentially a bit of a gift and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be as interesting or beautiful as the magazines or content people pay for. My team are the best in the business, they are clever, sensitive, bright, talented and tenacious, every single one of them. I enjoy working with people who are really good at what they do, and I have that pleasure every day. I enjoy the creative freedom that I have at the magazine, my bosses trust me and I never take that for granted. The challenge is making sure that each issue is better than the last, which when creating a magazine each week is a tough bar to set, but thinking I have to top it each week is what drives me on to create the best product we can, one that’s both commercially and editorially at the top of its game.
YOU HAVE REALLY CAPTURED A LONDONERS VOICE THROUGH ES MAGAZINE – WAS THAT A DIFFICULT THING TO DO?
I make a magazine that I want to read, which sounds like a bizarre approach, but I think I relate to lots of Londoner’s. I’m born and bred in this city, I work hard, I have frustrations with the capital and a deep love for the place. I want to understand people in the public eye and get to know strangers. I want to know what’s going on, I want to feel informed, to feel inspired. I want to feel transported to somewhere else at the end of a busy week, and I want to read witty copy and to feel surprised by the content. That’s the recipe!
HOW DO YOU APPROACH RUNNING THE TEAM AND EMPOWERING TEAM MEMBERS BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A COLLECTIVE?
It is challenging catering for individual personalities and their needs, especially in a busy high-pressured environment, but I think the key is to try and play to the individual’s strengths. Remember you’re only human and that the most important thing is that people know they need to take care of themselves because none of us are any use if we are burnt out. Remember you’re only human and that the most important thing is that people know they need to take care of themselves because none of us are any use if we are burnt out.
WHERE DOES THE INSPIRATION COME FROM FOR THE COLUMNS YOU WRITE AND FEATURES YOU INCLUDE?
I read the weekend papers, listen to what my friends are talking about, bookmark articles and Instagram posts, listen to what my gut is telling me and take notice of ideas that strike – try and write them down no matter how small because small gripes can become good columns!
AS A TRUE LONDON TASTEMAKER – CAN YOU SHARE ANY TOP PICKS FOR RESTAURANTS, SHOPS AND PLACES TO SPEND TIME IN THE CAPITAL?
I love Le Mercury on Upper street as an old classic, Quo Vadis has a special place in my heart, I am a Soho girl through and through. I used to love the stockpot but that’s closed now. China Town for noodles, Riva in Barnes for good memories of a loved one. Brunswick House so I can buy some stuff for my house on the side, I could go on…
IF YOU GET ANY DOWNTIME, WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE WAY TO RECHARGE?
IF READERS ASPIRE TO WORK IN A ROLE LIKE YOURS – WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
Take good care of yourself – your body, mind and spirit; you’re all you’ve got.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE COSY?
A column that I wrote about the joy of being cosy sparked the idea, it’s always been a real cornerstone of my life and the idea of an ode to tucking in and softening life’s edges when my day to day is so hectic really appealed!
CAN YOU SHARE ANY TIPS/EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK?
My favourite is the chapter on cosy holidays, the walks and secret spots recommended by the National Trust.
To hear more from Laura follow her on Instagram @laura_weir or learn more about her book Cosy: The British Art of Comfort here. To enjoy more of Rose Electra Harris’ beautiful illustrations follow @roseelectraharris.