Let’s Break The Ice, what are we drinking?
We are drinking coconut milk cappuccinos. I remember, about two years ago, we ran a feature on About Time Magazine (the website I run) about London’s best coconut milk cappuccinos. We got such backlash on Twitter – people were saying that we were inventing trends and click bait. I felt really bad and so I discussed taking it down with my team. But we didn’t – we stuck with it. It was quite a lesson because about two months later, Pret rolled out with coconut milk lattes and this huge Vegan trend exploded.
You studied English and Drama and have always been passionate about writing but where did that passion originate from?
As part of work experience for Bristol University, we had to work in the industry for a bit. So I went and worked for a Fashion and Travel publication – I loved it but I didn’t feel like print was for me. I liked the immediacy of online – being able to see your stats and engage with people in real time, rather than working on features for Christmas next year. When I was working there I realized that when it came to food in London, there was a lot of overwhelming content – big long lists of 100 of the best burgers, for example. I thought about scaling it back as smaller lists would be great and less overwhelming. So, I set out to start my own site which ended up taking off. I found that Londoners were very receptive to being bossed around – the authoritative tones really do resonate with them.
How did you manage to monetize your business and turn it into a success?
It’s definitely been a challenge and a lot of “pivoting” – we had to work out which were the right avenues to go down. You need to have a flexible mindset and not be afraid to try things out. We did a lot of sponsored content (at the start) where we would work with brands and write about them – that worked well for the first few years and then the Instagram boom happened. Things really changed because people weren’t reading features in the same way but were following influencers – loads of the “brand spent” was going purely on Instagram and Social Media. So we changed things up and started doing more live events which gave our readers a real life experience.
Speaking of live events – you have just launched a brand new business?
Yes, we just launched the About Time Academy. For the last few months we have been working to create a whole season of events over the course of this year. We will be chatting to authors, experts, founders and entrepreneurs – all sharing experiences in lots of different platforms – some panel speakers, key notes, master classes etc.
As an Entrepreneur- what is the key to networking?
It’s a combination of things but what I often say to people is to try and maintain relationships when you don’t need something from someone – meeting someone for coffee without an agenda or a motive. Formal networking can feel a little cut throat – so genuine relationships are always the way to go. You never know when you will be able to collaborate with that person. And then just putting yourself out there – you need to be in the room – even if it means being brave enough to attend events on your own.
You are very creative so where did you learn the business side of creating a company?
One of the most challenging things that I find is being both inside the business and outside of it. So trying to run it as a business but also feeling creatively inspired. If you are only focusing on salaries or getting people on the payroll, sorting out your tax – you don’t have the creative space where you actually get back to the thing that you loved at the start. For me, that was my passion for writing and creating beautiful features and imagery etc. I also find breaking down my week very useful. I block out days- Thursday and Friday are always for admin – where all business stuff is sorted out. The other three days are for me to be creative.
Talk to me about the About Time Academy – what events do you have coming up?
We have loads of events coming up! One with Daisy Buchanan who is an Author and Journalist, Rhiannon Lambert who is a Holistic Nutritionist – she is doing a talk about supporting Mental Health through Nutrition. We are doing a half day workshop on how to get a book deal and another one on how to balance your hormones naturally with some hormone specialists.
What advice do you have for bloggers who are trying to create unique content and find their own voice?
I always say think about content as community. So when you are writing a feature, think about how it will “sit” with the community – who will read it, share it, etc. It always helps to have a niche and of course make content that is visually appealing.
If you could Break The Ice with anyone past or present, who would it be and why?
I absolutely love Nigella Lawson – I would like to Break The Ice with her. She is so warm and likable. Her recipes are just so decadent and there is so much butter in everything!
Videography: Cors Media
Photography: Jack Lewis Williams
Talent: Angelic Malin
Host: Kendal Olivia Barrett
Location: Sweet Tooth Cafe