SHOPPING: The modern girlâ€™s survival kit
WOMEN FOR WOMEN: The female designers who changed the way we dress
MY FIRST JOB: The women we admire, look back at where they started
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WORKING GIRL: A fashion shoot with modern work-wear suggestions
GENERATION Y: A series of interviews with young accomplished career girls
SMILE: Not your average beauty shoot
TINDER ADVENTURES: Marina Khorosh of dbagdating.com looks back at her most memorable tinder dates
Isabella Bambagioni, Photographer Isabella is an Italian girl who spent the majority of her childhood in China and is now studying photography at the London College of Communitcation. Her biggest life goal is to be able to travel the world with her camera and capture the people and places that inspire her along the way. She looks up to female photographers like Annie Leibovitz and the emotional capacity of their works.
Natalie Theodosi, Editor-in-Chief
Sama Meibar, Sub Editor Sama has a degree in linguistics, speaks five languages and is annoyingly attentive to grammar and punctuation, making sure to correct your every mistake which is why she made for an ideal sub editor.
Born in Cyprus, living in London and studying Fashion Journalism. She aims to become a respected and widely read voice in the industry and looks up to women in fashion like Garance Doré, Ysmin Sewell and Caroline Issa, who manage to both look feminine and fashion forward and at the same time, lead highly successful businesses.
She aspires to “to be as strong and as amazing as (her) mum who managed to give her children the best education and the same opportunities as everyone else” despite growing up in Syria where women’s rights were and continue to be limited. As for her professional aspirations, she aims to work for the UN, in order to help people in countries of political unrest like her own.
Gemma Tuffield, Graphic Designer
Olivia Ancell, Model Olivia works as a part time model and posed for our workwear shoot. But she spends her regular nine to five working as a consultant in investment banking.
Gemma is originally from New Zealand, but she recently move to London, to work as a graphic designer for the Metro newspaper. One of the women she is inspired by is Lucy Feagins, the editor of the Design Files, for everything she has achieved on her blog and her biggest ambition is to set up her own business within the next ten years and work with all the brands that inspire her.
Marina Khorosh, Writer
She looks up to people that she recognizes to be strong and kind, especially her parents who devoted their lives to making sure she would be given every opportunity. Her biggest ambition is to thrive in the world of finance and to be soon able to buy a house for her parents.
Originally from Russia, raised in New York and currently living and working in Paris, the very cosmopolitan Marina Khorosh chronicles her hilarious and refreshingly raw dating adventures in the most romantic city in the world on vogue.com and her highly addictive blog dbagdating.com. She looks up to Joan Didion and her dad and aims to write a memoir, have two babies and make people happy. -11-
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION missleader / @missleader http://miss-leader.com
EDITOR’S LETTER There’s definitely a complex set of roles that comes with being a young woman in your twenties today, yet at the same time an infinite set of possibilities. As choice and freedom are granted to more and more millennial women, they become able to grow their ambition and build the lives they have always wanted for themselves, by taking matters into their own hands and working hard. Then again, when your life revolves around long working hours and to-do lists that increase by the second, a new set of challenges arises; as sweet as the taste of independence might be, the modern girl’s battle is all about maintaining a balance between her working life and everything else she wants to experience at these early stages of adulthood, like socializing with friends, travelling the world, starting a family, or just taking some time to browse Instagram and get her nails done. Finding myself surrounded by a group of such inspiring women from many different corners of the world, I decided to start collecting their different experiences, their hopes and ambitions, their struggles, as well as their affinity for the frivolous yet magical world of fashion and to bring them together in the pages of Miss Leader. This is what this magazine is about, a collection of stories, ideas and lessons to be learnt from girls who have recently started their journeys in the professional world and are doing a great job at reaching their goals, dealing with the many obstacles that come along the way and setting their own rules, discovering themselves and what they want, instead of what society dictates they should want. This is where the core message of Miss Leader lies; it’s not about having it all or striving for that unrealistic ideal of perfection that women have been always taught they need to attain. As attractive as stories with happy endings, perfectly toned abs, careers with highs but no lows and a flawless head-to-toe Prada outfit might seem, reality is more flawed than that and we want to discover beauty in imperfection. That’s why for this inaugural issue, we interviewed a series of young women who share both their successes and the obstacles they had to overcome, from Sophie Wright, one of UK’s youngest and most accomplished female chefs, to Lydia Zacharis whose Net-A-Porter job is the kind that millions would kill for and Shakira Chanrai, an entrepreneur who made a job out of her passion for wine. From their stories you can draw motivation, find practical tips on how to job hunt or be on your best behaviour in a professional environment and above all, remind yourselves that you are not alone in this ongoing challenge, of not only succeeding professionally but achieving a balanced life. Every industry seems to have been revolutionized by millennials’ fresh ideas and expert use of technology and that’s how we chose to explore each area that interested us, from beauty and fashion, to dating and fitness. Marina Khorosh discusses how modern dating is done by way of Tinder and shares her own hilarious experiences, we take a look at the social media accounts that will motivate you to go to gym, work harder and shop better with a mere scroll and the Youtube power-vloggers whose channels will give you all the make-up tips in the world, in a language you can actually understand. In other words, what this publication is trying to offer you is a modern girl’s survival guide, albeit a very chic one. It is put together by young women for young women in an effort to share experiences and empower each other during these early stages of what is bound to be an exciting yet tumultuous journey to become the leaders of our fields.
IN YOUR HANDBAG: Having a well-equipped handbag means that your day will run a lot more smoothly. Always keep a pair of sunglasses in your bag; if you were working late last night and those under-eye bags are looking their worst, you can slip them on and you will go from looking tired to mysterious in a matter of a few seconds. These dark blue Céline shades and their modern, clean lines are just perfect for a young yet professional look. Cardholders and wallets are necessary for obvious reasons and there’s nothing more chic than taking out a beautiful leather purse to pay for your morning coffee, on the way to work. Prada and its little sister, Miu Miu are the go-to brands when it comes to leather goods, with a wide variety of gorgeous shades to choose from and quality that will last you for years. Also, to make the commute easier, keep a pair of earphones and a book in your bag. We highly recommend Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, one of the most influential books ever written on women and feminism, that will open your eyes to a whole new way of thinking and simultaneously have you looking very intellectual. Your list of tasks grows by the minute as the day progresses, so a diary is essential to help you keep track of everything, especially if it’s illustrated by every girl’s favourite shoemaker, Christian Louboutin. And to ensure that you go through that long to-do list looking your best, don’t forget to keep some mascara in your make-up bag and sprey some Chanel Chance perfume, because as Mademoiselle Chanel said herself, “a woman who doesn’t wear perfume, has no future”.
ON YOUR DESK: Keeping your desk looking organized is a rule for any working girl who takes her job seriously; at the end of the day it can act as a reflection of how organized and efficient your mind is. But at the same time, a few personal pieces on your workspace can also act as signposts of your personality. Keep a visual book or magazine open on your desk at all times, so that you constantly remain inspired. We love Harriet Worsley’s 100 Idea That Changed Fashion. You’ll undeniably need to also keep a notebook on your desk, so why not make it a fun one? Kate Spade always offers feminine, fun options; just looking at the retro, pastel-hued illustrations of their 2014 notepad makes the to-do list inside a little less daunting. A pair of comfortable flat shoes is another essential, so that if one day you’ve made the wrong choice, you will not have to spend the rest of the day in pain. Miu Miu’s pointed toe flats make for a good candidate, as their more serious shape juxtaposed with a quirky print, are ideal for a young career girl. There might be days when you’re feeling that your outfit is not formal enough, your hair is not looking its best or you want to head out for a post-work drink but have no time to change. The answer lies in red lipstick, especially if it’s by Tom Ford and in the shade Scarlet Rouge. It makes everything look more glamorous in an instant. If red lipstick is not really enough for you however, another quick and easy way of updating your work outfit, simply involves putting on these goldplated rings by H&M which will add a dose of modernity and cool. So keep them nearby, at all times.
UNDER YOUR DESK: Your bag is such an essential extention of yourself, not only does it carry all those valuables that facilitate your everyday journey through the city, but it can also tell the world a little bit about who you are, before you even speak. That’s exactly why we love this Céline trapeze in fiery red, a classic yet assertive shade that cannot go unnoticed. Whatever your choise of bag might be however, make sure to keep it safely underneath your desk and why not draw even more attention to it with an equally bright scarf ? We have our eyes on this pink printed Hermes silk scarf that doesn’t only make for the perfect accessory on the Céline bag but it can also be used to brighten up your suit and make you stand out on a day of an important meeting. A pair of heels is another precious accessory for any woman. Our every-lasting love affair with them because of the instant confidence they give us and the magic they do with our posture is no news. So don’t forget to keep one of your most decadent pairs of heels under your desk, for those times when you’ve had a productive day and want to reward yourself with a glass of champagne at your favourite bar. We love Nicholas Kirkwood and those double-platform, frill-adorned heels because when it comes to shoes, the more extravagant the better.
Charlie May Leandra Medine in Rosie Assoulin
Wom e n f o r
WO M E N
THE PAST FEW SEASONS you might have noticed that there’s a significant shift in fashion. Magazines, blogs and the rails of your favorite stores are no longer trying to lure you into buying dangerously high, double-platformed heels or bandage dresses that interfere with your breathing system. In fact, the fashion propositions taking centre stage at the moment have seen those blisterinducing heels being replaced by orthopedic Birkenstocks and sneakers (in pink tweed by way of Chanel or leopard print, spikes and signature red Louboutin soles), while airy culottes, romantic midi skirts and joyful, bright coloured and below-the-knee dresses took precedence over black dresses that happened to be a little too short and a little too tight.
Kate Foley in Shrimps
What’s even more intriguing is that this does not seem to be one of those fleeting trends, condemned to a strictly one-season lifespan, like colour-blocking, peplums and Anna Dello Russo’s mantra on maximalism. That might be due to the new wave of female designers that emerged, taking over the paradoxically male-dominated world of women’s ready-to-wear and expressing a new perspective on design that goes far beyond seasonal trends. This new design aesthetic, defies the notion that looking good requires pain and instead proposes clothes that not only look fashion-forward, but also feel comfortable and flatter a woman’s figure. Undeniably, at the forefront of this movement are Céline’s Phoebe Philo and Miuccia Prada. Mrs. Prada has famously said that ugliness is a lot more interesting to her than conventional beauty. That’s why every single season she challenges women’s notion of what is covetable and attractive to wear, encouraging them to buy into fashion pieces that reject any social conventions of beauty, whether that is by wearing a red and purple shearling coat, a patchwork dress or a pair of floweradorned sunglasses. Additionally, Phoebe Philo has often expressed how strongly she feels about the importance of women feeling comfortable and confident in what they wear, something that seems to resonate very well with her clients, given the cult following she has successfully come to build, namely the Philophiles. Her luxurious cocoon coats, wide-leg trousers and chunky knits don’t only make for smart pieces to add to your wardrobe but they also generously give a woman an air of independence, a quality that ultimately, is priceless. As for the younger generation of Philo fans who might not be able to afford the hefty prices of Céline clothing, they make sure to invest their savings in the brand’s Python and Trapeze totes, while dreaming of one day wearing the head to toe look, just like all the women they admire. Interestingly, Philo and Prada are not the only ones with refreshingly new ideas on how modern women should dress. In fact, there seems to be a whole new wave of female designers sharing this ideology: -20-
prints previously seen on the runway are now translated into sneakers, bomber jackets and leggings. Hannah Weilland: is the 24-year old designer behind the luxe faux-fur label Shrimps. In the past year, not only has this young label amassed the attention of the fashion world because of the statement it makes on faux fur, presenting it as a luxury item instead of a cheap alternative, but it has also instantly won women’s hearts simply because its playful, candy-coloured coats allow them to tap into the most fun, careless versions of themselves, not taking life too seriously. A video displaying the Shrimps world on the labels’ website captures this perfectly, as it portrays women lounging in a caravan with their bright orange and candy pink coats doing everything and nothing, from chewing gum to eating pomegranate seeds and watching cartoons. A refreshingly raw and honest view of fashion and more generally of a woman’s world.
Mary Katrantzou: is the Greek-born designer who established herself in the London fashion scene. Her bright-coloured, elaborate digital prints, inspired by anything from the inside of a shoe to cookie cutters and butchers’ aprons, as well as her interesting and surprisingly flattering silhouettes - some of her most popular pieces were shaped like lamp shades and perfume bottles - offer women an alternative way of dressing. “My client is a confident woman” Mary says, pointing out that her loud prints and intense colours undeniably make the wearer stand out in the room. That’s probably why she has a diverse group of very strong women, from Russian entrepreneur Miroslava Duma to Saudi boutiqueowner Deena Abdulaziz, supporting her every move and embracing everything she proposes, whether that be a dialbutton printed suit or a leather pencil skirt with a stamp print. Given the elaborate prints and intricate embellishment that define Mary’s pieces, the prices can soar up to couture level but if you wish to stand out in an MK piece and have a more limited budget, you can simply head to your nearest Adidas store where
Roksanda Ilincic: is one of the few Londonbased designers who fully embraces a more traditional feminine aesthetic, offering exquisitely-cut, A-line skirts and dresses in demure midi lengths, yet simultaneously making sure that whoever chooses to wear a Roksanda piece will not go unnoticed by using bold, primary colours. For SS15 she added oversized ruffles to her signature below-theknee dresses and romantic midi-skirts, all done in a festive mix of bright fuschia, orange and cobalt blue and paired with equally bright and very comfortable-looking flat sandals. Safe lengths, fluid silhouettes, comfortable shoes and bright, confidence-inducing colours; this is definitely a designer who has a modern, busy woman’s needs figured out. It surely helps that she is one herself. Sophia Webster: is the shoe designer everyone adores because of her unapologetic sense of girlishness and fun. She has put butterfly wings on the back of shoes, made heels to look like rows of candy, her signature clutches are shaped like speech bubbles with sayings like “touch my clutch” on them, while flamingos and fur pom-poms are regular motifs in her collections. Apart from providing women with very attractive footwear, the young designer’s work simultaneously encourages a new attitude; one that defies the old-fashioned belief that for a woman to be taken seriously she needs to be in a conservative black suit, attracting as little attention as possible. Given her worldwide stockists and ever-growing business, Sophia Webster provides living proof that you can conquer the world and you can do it in your candy-coloured, ostentatious heels. Charlie May: started by recording her sartorial musings on a fashion blog, girlalamode.co.uk and given the popularity of her insouciantly cool, modernist looks, as well as her fashion design skills (she studied design at University of West England and worked for LVMH award winner Thomas Tait) she launched her own brand in 2013. Just like her, the Charlie May collection - consisting of long, -21-
investment-worthy camel coats, frayed denim, long knitted dresses and beautifully crafted leather crop tops - is nonchalant and very much captures the spirit of our generation; a generation of young women, confident enough to choose clothes, based on their design and quality, instead of desperately needing to show the world their clothes’ price tag with an endless thirst for logos . What is even more intriguing is that even though not traditionally sexy and in many ways boyish, the designer still ensures that the Charlie May girl is in touch with her sensual side, with subtle yet alluring cuts on the backs of shirts and midriffbaring tops. Rosie Assoulin: is one of those designers who emerged into the fashion scene very quietly and gained her popularity by speaking directly to the women she wanted to dress; confident, fashionable and intelligent women who evidently responded. Rosie’s clothes are the kind that are completely rid of any bells and whistles, instead, their beauty lies in their subtlety and exquisite quality: an ankle length vest that makes for appropriate yet original office-wear, a sensual off-the-shoulders blouse ideal for your vacation, the perfectly tailored white shirt dress and a quintessentially feminine, yet fluid ruffled dress that lets you finish your entire meal at a party without fears of zips breaking. Simone Rocha: is the newest London-based, Central St. Martins-trained designer everyone is talking about. She has become known for mixing traditionally girly elements with boyish ones, encouraging women to embrace this juxtaposed, slightly perverse aesthetic, instead of always feeling obliged to sign up to one prescribed look and simultaneously to a single, one-dimensional identity that is simply not representative of who they are. Her latest collection, for instance, saw baby-doll, flufflined satin dresses paired with brogues on perspex heels and trenchcoats done in pink tulle. As for her recent J Brand collaboration she talks about embracing naivete and awkwardness by adding ruffles to pink and red denim and juxtaposing voluminous jackets with skinny-ankle bearing jeans, showing women around the world that the perfection they’ve been striving for, for so many years, might just not be the answer.
A RE DI AMONDS STILL A GI RL S BEST FRIEND? Every girl will find herself passing by Tiffany’s at some stage in her life, staring at the diamond rings and dreaming that one day, the ideal man will present her with one, as a sign of eternal love. In my case the day-dreaming started the day I discovered Cinderella, at approximately age five and it continued up until the day I moved to London as a teenager and discovered the joy of window shopping on Bond Street. Given the embarrassingly long conversations I’ve had with friends about the size, shape and brand of our dream bling (mine is cushion-cut and naturally, the biggest out of the three available sizes), it seems like I’m not alone in this. However, moving into my twenties something does seem to have changed when it comes to my love of fine jewellery and the kind of pieces I wish to acquire. While the dream of finding love and perhaps even sealing it with a fancy ceremony and an even fancier ring hasn’t completely died down, even amidst the cynical, hook-up culture of our generation, my focus has completely shifted. As lovely as the idea of flaunting your sparkly engagement ring might be, it’s starting to seem a lot more exciting to be able to show off a modernist and impossibly cool Repossi earcaff, a pair of Noor Fares’ signature winged earrings in brightly-coloured mammoth, made even brighter by the diamonds that adorn them or a Venyx by Eugenie Niarchos exotic Tortuga ring. Additionally, in the past it seems that I chose to ignore the astronomical costs of my desired diamond ring, dreaming that it will magically make its way to my ring fingers, by way of my Prince Charming’s bank account. Right now however, I keep finding myself checking the hefty price tag of the infamous Repossi diamond ear cuff and setting targets, determining by when I should be successful enough to be able to gift myself my coveted piece of fine jewellery. Setting goals for yourself, taking matters into your own hands is unquestionably a lot more empowering, than aimlessly hoping for someone else’s goodwill to make your dreams come true. A group of twenty-something women who have recently established their own fine jewellery brands, seem to be at the forefront of this intriguing shifting perspective. Noor Fares was still completing her Central St. Martins MA when her brand shot to fame, securing stockists like Dover Street Market and Net-a-Porter. Inspired by both the mathematical precision and spiritual meanings behind geometry, her diamond-studded cube earrings instantly become a woman’s precious lucky charm, the kind that she would only take off after many years, to pass on to her daughter. Another of Noor’s latest creations, the ‘Eclipse’, features a giant pearl surrounded by a crescent moon crafted in diamonds, a piece that’s not only special because of its exquisite quality, but also because of the creativity and imagination that went into it. As for the Greek-born and London-based Eugenie Niarchos, after securing the necessary skills and experience by studying at the Gemological Institute of America and designing capsule collections for Azzaro, she created Venyx World. Venyx is both her brand and a planet of her imagination, where colourful landscapes, magical creatures and powerful natural phenomena come to life. This beautiful world of make-belief translates into rings where the diamonds are crafted to resemble a reptile’s skin or lightning-shaped gold hoops inspired by Zeus, with Eugenie showing us that fun and our childhood imagination can still be part of something perceived to be so serious, like fine jewellery. When it comes to Gaia Repossi, it’s almost needless to mention that her signature ear cuffs and stacked rings have become a cult favourite, but what is even more impressive would have to be the way she has managed to blend her youthful, modernist aesthetic with the heritage and exquisite craftsmanship that is associated with her family name and business. Yet another unexpected melange that no one would have come to associate with the world of fine jewellery. Repossi is not the only heritage brand to add a bit of modernity to their attitude and approach. De Beers has recently launched their Moments of Light Campaign in support of the Women for Women foundation. The initiative features five women who are masters in their fields, from celebrated British designer Alice Temperley to chef Skye Gyngell and artist Cornelia Parker, all shot by female photographer Mary McCartney and interviewed about their career success stories. By putting such successful business women and positive role models on the spotlight and associating them with the brand, De Beers is highlighting that even though diamonds might still be a girl’s best friend, modern girls have a whole new attitude when it comes to acquiring them.
F INA NCIA LLY F EA RLESS Choosing to buy the 500 pound Gianvito Rossi PVC pumps over paying your rent? Spending half of your salary on a bottle of Dom Perignon because at the time it seemed like a good idea or buying the latest iPhone to make sure you’re up to date with technology, even though your current one works just fine? These are things most young women who are living in a big city and have discovered the joy of earning their own money will probably plead guilty of. What’s even worst is that a girl’s inability to stick to a budget has been romanticized so much in today’s culture that we almost expect ourselves to fail when it comes to managing finances. It takes a mere few seconds of scrolling through any social media channel to prove the point, as you’ll instantly find sayings like “life is short, buy the shoes” or “I like my money where I can see it, hanging in my closet” quoted one too many times. It’s only during these last few years that some equally stylish yet far more sensible young women started popularizing a different set of quotes and promoting a refreshingly more intelligent attitude when it comes to women and budgeting, fortunately for us and our debt collectors. Sophia Amoruso, might have built a multimillion pound business that depends on women’s fashion sensibilities, yet when she chronicles her success story in her best-selling novel GIRL BOSS, one of the first lessons she preaches to future girl bosses is that “money looks better in the bank than on your feet”, explaining that it took years of investing every penny she had in growing her company, before she was able to reward herself with a Porsche and Saint Laurent. As for 28-year-old Alexa von Tobel, she built a whole career out of her smart and often tongue-in-cheek financial advice. She is the author of the best-selling book, Financially Fearless, as well as a columnist for US Cosmopolitan where she offers women smart, practical and to-the-point advice; she’ll let you know about the best Happy Hour apps, how to avoid ATM fees and will encourage you to splurge on a haircut instead of seasonal trends. Even more importantly, Alexa founded LearnVest, an application that allows users to track everything they spend and ensure that they are keeping up with their financial goals, a venture for which she has managed to raise $72 million dollars for, since its 2009 launch. This enormous success Alexa has received (a few months ago she found herself on the cover of Forbes, championing the ‘Millenial Gold Rush’) only goes to show that there was in fact an appetite from the part of consumers to put their finances into place for a change, even though they might have not known it until the day they created their LearnVest account. What makes the platform so popular and inviting, even though it deals with a subject we’ve been taught to avoid at all costs, is its positive approach. As soon as you land on the website you are offered a free personalized plan and you are told that “It’s time to make progress” and “set goals you can actually achieve”, so it becomes evident from the very beginning that this bears no resemblance to the dreaded visits to your local bank. The way LearnVest works is by allowing you to connect all your bank accounts to the platform, as well as your income, fixed and flex spendings and financial goals, whether that be repaying a credit card, saving a certain amount or becoming smart about investment. This allows for all your spending to be monitored and the App then goes on to provide you with friendly, easy-to-decipher infographics on your progress; you will be told if your spending is too high-maintenance for your income, if you were not able to save the amount you were aiming for that particular month and even if you’ve been good with your budgeting, so you now legitimately deserve those overpriced Gianvito Rossis. As Generation Y women are breaking stereotypes and defying some of society’s most longstanding conventions by becoming such high-achievers, both in education and in the workplace, earning their own money and gaining complete independence, it only makes sense that they also change their attitude towards budgeting and learn how to manage this hard-earned money. LearnVest presents the tool that allows a young, working woman, who has recently started earning to do just that; becoming a modern-day essential and allowing female millennials to really solidify the precious gift that is financial independence.
MY FIRST JOB
You’ve probably heard the phrase “you’ve got to start somewhere” one too many times and while in theory it makes complete sense, it still remains a concept that is very hard to grasp for anyone who has finished university with a degree they worked hard for and a hunger to fulfill the countless dreams and ambitions, they spent the past four years of their university careers building. You might start reconsidering everything after being asked one too many times to photocopy, scan, create yet another Excel spreadsheet or make the rounds for coffee, forgetting that soon enough even the smallest of tasks you completed will pay off. However, staying focused on your initial goal during those early days where the reality of your entry level position will be far detached from the way you imagined yourself to be as a working woman, is what seems to set winners apart. Your goal might be something as specific as becoming a partner at the law firm you are working for, or as vague as finding a job that gives you full creative freedom, but what really counts is keeping your eyes on the prize. It probably helps to know that some of the most accomplished women in their fields did not exactly start right at the top either. Caroline Issa is one of fashion’s most prominent figures, often recognized for her incredible ability to be a successful businesswoman leading the TANK magazine team, working on a variety of outside projects like consulting for Tod’s and looking immaculate in her signature bright-coloured suits, while doing so. For her latest venture, one of the most exciting to date, she is making the most of the world’s fascination with her style and designing a collection in collaboration with Nordstrom. But before she began her exciting fashion journey, Caroline did a series of far less glamorous jobs, starting to work, earn money and discover the joys of financial independence from a very young age. Here, she shares her first working experience with Miss Leader: “My very first job was earning money as a babysitter. I was young, and yet still our neighbours trusted me with their even younger children to make sure they got to bed ok and were taken care of. It taught me responsibility at a young age, but also that you could earn money doing a good job and eventually have the freedom to spend all that money on whatever you wanted”. You are very likely to follow Erika Bearman or Oscar PR Girl as she is best known in the digital world, on one or more digital platforms. Before she became Senior Vice President of Global Communications for one of the greatest American brands, working closely with the legendary Oscar de la Renta and utilising her resources to build one of the first successful social media channels, pioneering one of the biggest contemporary trends, Erika made her first steps as an assistant, just like anyone with an interest in PR has to do. “My first job was Assistant to the head of PR for Giorgio Armani cosmetics and fragrances at L’Oreal. The greatest lesson for me was just to figure it out- whatever the task was, I tried to find a way to complete it. I would call my boyfriend to help me with excel, or my roommate to come over to my office at 10pm to help me stuff gift bags”. Even though she has come a long way since the days of stuffing gift bags and working on excel spreadsheets, she continues to maintain the same attitude; “today it’s the same, maybe the tasks are different, but everything I do I just try to get it done to the best of my ability”.
Before establishing her internationally successful namesake beauty brand, that was actually offered a £1 million buy offer within 7 days of its opening, Jo Malone had a series of far less glamorous jobs. At the age of 14, she became her family’s sole provider, after her mother suffered a nervous breakdown and her father was absent gambling, getting her first proper job in a flower shop at the age of 16 and being fired shortly after for throwing a bucket of water on her manager. Amanda Le Roux has currently settled down in a position she loves as Aveda’s VP International but when looking back at her career she sees a “jungle gym”. Having no specific aspirations she initially took her mother’s advice to do a secretary’s course and her first job was a secretarial position in the Conservatives’ Research Department. Maybe not the most invigorating of jobs, but Amanda did make sure she became the fastest typist in her department and made sure to maintain that attitude of excellence throughout her career. Stephanie Phair is currently the Managing Director of the world’s most stylish outlet, the Outnet, but when she finished university what she did was far less glamorous. She decided to go travelling for a year with a backpack and a daily budget of $5, ending up in New York, to get over a bad break-up; because according to her, “geographical distance always works best”. She lived on a friend’s couch, while searching for her first job, which ended up being for a very small PR firm that was only handling two accounts. Looking back at it, Stephanie says how important it was that “someone took a chance on (her)” and offered her this position, despite her lack of experience in both PR and fashion. She insists that even if it does not seem ideal, every job will teach you something that you will use in the future and appreciate in retrospect. “Just like with relationships, there’s a reason for every job,” she says with a smile. It might seem hard to believe that the CEO of one of the most high-performing companies in the world started her career as a history teacher, but that’s the case when it comes to EasyJet CEO, Carolyn McCall. In fact she says that “teaching a group of teenagers history, immediately before their sports lesson was one of the hardest things I’ve done” and lists skills like having to memorise new names and faces quickly or finding the strength to control a room full of teenagers as still relevant to her roles to-date. Amal Alamuddin, is the internationally renown human-rights lawyer who has dealt with some of the most high-profile cases in the world, representing head of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Abdullah Al Senussi, former Libyan intelligence chief, while at the same time being in a relationship with Hollywood’s and the female population’s most desired man. Before she was dealing with world-famous human rights cases and galavanting around Venice in Giambattista Valli couture with George Clooney by her side however, it’s important to remember that Mrs. Clooney started her career just like any other law student, working as a student law-clerk at the United States Court of Appeals for a semester. -25-
WO R K I N G
GIRL Photography: Sofia Studencki Styling: Natalie Theodosi Model: Olivia Ancell Make-Up: Fiona Rose Loudon
Jacket, A-line, Bag, Celine
Leather Jacket A Line, Bag CĂŠline
White leather jacket A-line, Shirt A-line, Trousers Alberta Ferretti, Mules Zara, Luggage Louis Vuitton
Jumper GAP, Culottes Topshop, Mules Zara, Bag Louis Vuitton
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GENE RATION GIRL POWER A series of interviews with female millenials whose ambition and work ethic has established them as leaders of their fields
The millennial generation has definitely been the source of many a discussion these days. First and foremost there’s a lot of us; in the United States alone millennials make up for 60 million of the country’s citizens which undeniably creates a force to be reckoned with. As for female millennials, they present a new breed of women who have been given a lot more opportunities to be educated, compared to previous generations and are therefore highly ambitious, focused on their careers and a lot more aware of their own capabilities, as well as of the endless possibilities that the world has for them. Even though timing has not been this generation’s friend, with millennials graduating at a time of turmoil for the worldwide economy, this has not in any way inhibited them from creating opportunities for themselves, spearheading the digital revolution along the way. The following series of interviews, features women in their twenties who present prime examples of the shifting attitude towards women that has overtaken many a social debate. Their focused ambition, intelligence and impressive list of achievements offer a clear indication of all that Generation Y has to offer. From entrepreneurs, to creatives, culinary masters and prominent members of the fashion industry, these are women who have a clear idea of what they want to achieve for themselves and they go out and get it. The media has been obsessed with promoting unhealthy yet attention-grabbing images of women for years. In the 90s there was heroin chic and an ever-lasting obsession with the young, skeletal and naive-looking Kate Moss, while most recently a sexually explicit performance was all it took to establish Miley Cyrus as a pop-culture icon. As for Kim Kardashian, not only are we bombarded with myriads of shared articles on social media that speculate on her new, Kanye West-inspired look, her nude magazine covers and selfie books, but her latest App which encourages users to flirt and date famous Hollywood men, in order to earn money and fame and proceed to the next stage has earned the celebrity $42 million, in a short three month period. However, the appeal of celebrity culture and empty gossip no longer seems relevant, to this new breed of women who spend their days working hard to build a fulfilling life for themselves and search for real inspiration during their downtime. That’s why a whole new contemporary feminist debate has been ongoing in the last year, rejecting the traditional ways that women have been presented so far, as either masculine workaholics or passive sex objects and encouraging young women to look elsewhere for their role-models. There is a new, far more realistic ideal to strive for which no longer inhibits women’s scope of opportunities: you can look feminine, have a soft spot for red-soled Louboutins and Isabel Marant frilly skirts and at the same time, thrive in your chosen field, whether that is in art curation or banking, becoming a leader of both your office and your dreams. A mere glance at the beautiful, stylish and highly successful careers girls featured in this interview series is an indication that this is what today’s spotlight-grabbing women need to look like.
SHAKIRA C H A N RAI 24, G RAPEF UL APP C O - FO U N D E R
Following a London School of Economics degree and an impressive career start in the investment management industry, Shakira decided to give up the stability that a job in finance provides to become an entrepreneur. After being asked one too many times to pick the wine for herself and her friends during dinner, the idea for Grapeful came up, an App that offers a wealth of information on the best wine to choose, depending on the food you are having, making all those long wine lists at restaurants much easier to read. Here, Shakira talks about what it means to work for yourself, both the good and the bad and shares some of her expert knowledge on wine, so that next time you sit at a dinner table, you’ll sound like a true connoisseur. Having such a solid education at LSE and having worked in finance, which is every LSE graduate’s aim, what made you decide to go against the norm and switch career paths? I graduated not really knowing what I was passionate about nor what my long-term career goals were, but I figured that a few years working at a large, successful corporation would be great experience and it definitely was. I was fortunate to get a place on Fidelity’s graduate programme and was excited to start my career working in the investment management industry. While at Fidelity, I started studying for a couple of Advanced level qualifications in wine and, after spotting a gap in the market, I decided to launch Grapeful. What started out as a fun hobby (and an excuse to drink wine) quickly turned into a true passion with real business potential so, after working in finance for just shy of two years, I decided to take the plunge to focus on my venture. What are some of the most rewarding and also the most difficult elements when it comes to working for yourself as opposed to working for someone else? It’s a pretty fantastic feeling to work on something that genuinely fills me with excitement. I also love being able to control my own hours. No, that isn’t code for “I like to wake up late” – on the contrary, I now wake up significantly earlier than I did when I was working, because I have discovered the joy of early morning gym sessions.
That said, there are challenges – I miss the camaraderie of working in a team atmosphere, and it’s pretty scary not having a regular paycheck. In spite of that, however, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I love being an entrepreneur. How important is having a partner when you are starting something new? How do you and your partner work together?
I’d say it’s crucial; it’s a lonely world out there as an entrepreneur so having someone as vested in a venture is definitely reassuring. Ironically I had initially planned to launch Grapeful on my own – I spent the best part of six weeks looking for a developer to whom to outsource the project. That didn’t work out for a variety of reasons and I count my lucky stars that I happened to have dinner with Vikas, a friend from university, and tell him about my tech problems. He turned around and said, “hey, why don’t we work together?” The rest, as they say, is history. Vikas manages the tech behind the app and also the tech behind Grapeful Gather (our second venture together), while I’m responsible for strategy, partnerships, marketing and content. Although our roles are clearly defined, we regularly brainstorm ideas over lunch at Pret. How did the idea for Grapeful come about and what were the initial responses? I love telling this story. I was in Mumbai in October last year having dinner with two friends and they pushed the wine list towards me so that I could pick the wine. At this point I was fed up of always choosing for the table so I said, “why isn’t there an app for this?” That evening I did a bit of competitor analysis and, on the plane journey back to London, I spent many hours typing up my business plan. The initial responses were positive and I received some useful advice from a variety of contacts – guidance that ultimately contributed to the shape of the product today. Our generation does not necessarily know a lot about wine, how did you become so passionate about it? My dad has always been passionate about wine - he spent a few years in the wine industry and is a dedicated collector of fine wine. His cellar is pretty exciting! Much to his dismay, I never actually liked wine until I was about 20
years old. Once I started liking the taste, I became curious about how wine is made and what the difference is between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. I enrolled in a beginner course at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust in London - one of the most prestigious wine and viticulture schools in the world - and that rapidly blossomed into a perpetual desire to acquire more knowledge about wine. What are the main points someone should know about before setting out to make an app? How long did the whole process take you? Although I had the idea for the app at the very end of October 2013, I spent a few weeks looking for a developer to work with. Although this turned out to be a fruitless exercise, I’m glad I did it because the detailed conversations I was in with four developers (three in India and one in Ukraine) ultimately helped shape the app. Vikas and I agreed to work together in the first week of December and we launched our first version within 10 weeks. Very quick - in part because of the Christmas lull at work and the bank holidays. My top tips for getting an app developed are - be sure you know how the app will monetise, make sure you factor in a couple of weeks’ for Apple to approve your code before they launch it in the App Store (Google Play is much more flexible), and don’t be afraid to share your idea with people. I was terrified that it would be pinched by someone but in reality that doesn’t usually happen and I gained so much from a wide array of insights. The five key facts about choosing wine that everyone should be aware of? If you aren’t sure what wine to pair with your food, follow the strategy of “if it grows together, it goes together”. What this means is try and choose a wine from the region that the food is from - e.g. pasta with a Chianti, tapas with a Rioja, etc. -37-
Never say ‘Anything But Chardonnay’ - this is a personal bugbear of mine. Chardonnay can manifest itself in a million different ways, including Champagne. White and rose can range from bone dry to offdry to sweet, but red wine is almost always dry. If in doubt, don’t be afraid to go for the house wine - a decent restaurant will always make sure the house wine is of good quality. A bad house wine reflects extremely poorly on an establishment. Avoid full-bodied, tannic wines when you are eating spicy food. An aromatic and slightly off-dry riesling is perfect with Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisines. What are some of the qualities a young entrepreneur needs to have according to you? First and foremost, a thick skin. People will always criticise your idea so you have to learn to not take it personally. I also think any entrepreneur needs to have strong communication skills - you have to be willing and able to stand on a stage in front of 100 people and pitch your idea in a confident and compelling way (and without slides. Steve Jobs once said “people who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint). Thirdly, passion. Make sure you are passionate about the idea and the industry in which you’re launching your business. I know it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised!
What do you look for in the people you collaborate with for Grapeful? Someone that is proactive, honest and has a strong commercial sense. A sense of humour is a plus!
SO PH I E W R I G HT 27, CHEF, AUTHOR AND MOTHER
She has braved the gruelling restaurant business, travelled the world working as a celebrity chef and established her own catering business. Sophie Wright talks to Miss Leader about her impressive career and making your own rules. When speaking, to Sophie Wright you’ll unquestionably be, impressed with the long list of achievements she’s managed to compile in her 27 years: she’s braved London’s restaurant scene as a chef, travelled around the world cooking for celebrity clients including Tom Ford and Leonardo di Caprio, published three cookery books with a fourth one out this month, written a column for the Evening Standard and established her own catering business. What is even more striking about this highachiever - as hard as it might be to believe that there could ever be something more impressive than cooking for Tom Ford - is the assertiveness and the confidence that mark her every word. Her multi-faceted career began, as early as when Sophie was 15-years-old.Realizing that having dyslexia, the traditional route of academia was not for her, Sophie made the brave decision to choose her own, alternative path and attend Westminster Culinary Arts College. “I had really supportive parents, so it wasn’t hard to make that decision. Cooking was always my hobby and I was lucky to realize that I can make a career out of it and to find an amazing school that let me do that”. She speaks about her time at Westminster College with real joy and nostalgia, saying “If I could go back to college tomorrow I would, I made friends for life there, going back to teach is definitely on my to-do list”, something that serves as a good reminder that education is just as crucial and rewarding as our parents have always been saying, provided that you choose the right path for yourself. As for making life-changing decisions such as choosing to quit high-school and go to culinary school, there’s another lesson to be learnt from Sophie, “there’s no right or wrong decision, you can always just go back, nothing is final”. It’s this fearlessness that allowed her to explore so many different facets of her industry, seamlessly moving from working as Beach Blanket Babylon’s head chef, to securing book deals, catering and working for private clients, explaining that the way things happened was not part of any carefully orchestrated plan. Instead she describes her career progression as “very organic and very natural… when you’re young, you’re fearless, maybe now that I have a mortgage and a baby I would think twice but then I was very independent, I didn’t care where I lived, I was just very keen on life and new experiences”. She handed in her resignation to the restaurant she was working for because she had secured her first book deal to publish Easy Peasy, her collection of quick and easy recipes and 80-hour working weeks were no longer feasible when having a book to write, while catering was her solution to needing to make some extra money. Establishing her namesake catering business came about in a very similar, seemingly effortless fashion; “I never said ‘Now I want to have a catering business’... I had different private clients
and they kept increasing so I couldn’t work from my kitchen at home anymore”. As for becoming her own boss, even though it evidently adds a lot more responsibility on your shoulders and removes the security of the steady, monthly salary, she fully embraces being an entrepreneur and creates professional security through a solid relationship with her business partner. “I found my business partner, who had many years of experience in the industry and he invested in me which was amazing. I’m more the creative head and he builds the business side, but I always make sure to listen to him. You need to realize that when someone has so many years of experience he probably knows better than you. I’ve always been mentored”. As for aspiring young entrepreneurs who aim to build such partnerships and to find the support they seek in them, Sophie’s advice is “to put yourself out there and be interested in what other people are doing… never be afraid to approach someone and ask questions, usually young people are afraid of that, in case they sound silly”. Confidently moving forward is something that Sophie hasn’t only been applying to her career but also, to her personal life. One year ago, at the age of 26, she got married and she is now a mother of three-month old Albert, getting acquainted with the changes that come with parenthood. However, she yet again appears to be very clear about her wants and needs when speaking about her decision to have a family. “I always knew I wanted kids and even when it comes to my career, I get enormous support from my husband, I couldn’t have done it without him. I’ve partied hard, I don’t feel like I’m missing out, we have great friends and we love to entertain, I’m no longer interested in doing shots, I’d rather have a nice meal at home with a good bottle of wine”. Her words will unquestionably make many twenty-somethings with the thought of starting a family lingering at the back of their minds, sigh with relief. As for the million-dollar question of how a working mother, Sophie explains that it’s not about juggling a million projects at the same time but rather about good time-management and dividing your time to work on a diverse set of tasks. “I always say do one thing and do it well, it’s more about having different heads on, for example one day I’ll have my chef head on, another my mum head, then my writer head. But also you shouldn’t be afraid of new challenges, having someone tell you to write a book or a column might seem daunting at first but once you get going it’s amazing what you can do”. Time management and knowing your priorities are even more essential now that her focus has shifted on her son because “he’s only young once”. Yet Sophie also plans on starting to write again once he’ s six months old and later continuing with her catering, while in the meantime her new book ‘Blooming Delicious’, filled with suggestions on what to eat while pregnant, is coming out this month.
Photo Credit: Jemma Watts
This will be the fourth book that Sophie will be publishing, her previous ones including “Cooking on a Shoestring” offering advice on how to keep budget eating delicious and “Home by 7, Dinner by 8”, which addresses a demographic that cookery books most often tend to ignore, the busy, young professional that has very little time to dedicate to cooking. Flicking through her books and hearing her advice for cooking amateurs - “buy fresh vegetables once a week and always have oil, rice, pasta, tomato, cheese and eggs in your food cupboard that provide easy options like an omelette… an easy recipe to start with would be to make your own pesto sauce and then you can just add that to pasta or chicken” - what shines through is a lack of pretention. At a time when our generation has become obsessed with avocado, kale and anything that’s slightly overpriced and labelled as organic and gluten-free, spending hours trying to get the perfect shot of their Whole Foods green smoothie for Instagram, it does come as a pleasant surprise that someone who’s so accomplished in the food industry steps away from the trending topic and instead offers tips and suggestions that can be incorporated into the reality of everyday life; “I think it’s great and if you can afford to you should eat organic but otherwise you can just eat well. It’s a bit pretentious, let’s start by having our five-a-day before caring if they’re organic”. Sophie’s strong-mindedness becomes even more evident when she starts speaking about dealing with the chasm that exists between what’s expected of male and female chefs in her industry. “Men usually go into restaurants, they say I will go Michelin -39-
star and there’s nothing else i want to know but you can be so many other things, you can be a food stylist, you can write a book, you can own a lovely little delicatessen, you can work for private clients. I am still successful in my own way and a different path is just as rewarding”, she states, explaining that women are usually expected to leave the restaurant industry by the age of 30 because of its gruelling working hours. However, even during the time when a woman does work within the chef business she often finds herself expected to conform to sexist labels - “women are either supposed to be sex icons wearing a skimpy little apron behind the cooker or perceived as these butch women who work the long hours and don’t have a family” - and listen to even more sexist comments. In any male-dominated industry these are issues that women still have to deal with, but Sophie’s relaxed attitude underlined with confidence seems to be the most efficient of ways to deal with such discrimination, “you just ignore and get on with it...I never cared, I just laughed and insulted them back”. It takes real strength of character to maintain your own personal integrity when society is dictating something completely different whether that has to do with starting a family at a certain age, eating organic or making career choices according to your gender. Sophie’s success story so far can act as a reminder to any young working girl, that even though there will always be obstacles, goodwill and a strong belief in yourself will ensure you overcome them.
LYD I A Z AC H A R I S 25, NET-A-PORTER BUYING
The journey of a smart, stylish young woman who got the job a million girls would kill for. ASK ANY YOUNG WOMAN about love at first sight in the 21st century and she is very likely to tell you that it’s an unrealistic concept, reserved for Shakespearean plays. Friendship at first sight on the other hand can exist. I met Lydia five years ago through a mutual friend who was keen to make the introduction because of the evident similarities she could detect both in our characters and interests. We immediately bonded because we shared a dream, that of working in the fashion industry. Meeting someone who has the same hunger as you and can understand your passion for a world that often appears as mad to those outside of it,can definitely prove to be an invaluable source of support, as well as fun: a few days later we braved a very early morning queue together, in pursuit of a purple, one-shouldered Lanvin for H&M dress, while the week after she made sure to reserve a place for me at Stéphane Rolland’s show at the V&A. In fact, crashing London Fashion Week shows went on to become a hobby of ours in the future. But apart from the joys of sharing a mutual madness for fashion, what proved to be even more precious was having someone who shared similar fears and insecurities as well. “At first it felt like a world that isn’t tangible. They always say that in this industry knowing someone goes a long way but I knew no one, so I always had my doubts about whether I’ll ever manage to gain access”, Lydia says while I nod with approval, remembering the earliest days of our friendship, both still at university and nothing but a big question mark when it came to the paths our careers were to take. It has been five years since those early days however and Lydia has definitely managed to resolve her doubts and turn her dream into a viable career. Following a brilliant academic career (she studied Economics at the London School of Economics where she also happened to receive First Class Honors and MA Management at The London Business School) she went on to join the buying team of Harrods, while currently she is working as an assistant buyer at Net-a-Porter, which isn’t only every girl’s favorite shopping destination but also the most sought-after company for graduates, after Google. Additionally, because time management happens to be one of her greatest skills, she uses her spare time to keep her lifestyle Facebook page ‘The Little Black Book’ up to date, organize events for Female Millennials society Eyedea, where so far she has managed to secure British Vogue’s editor Alexandra Schulman and Outnet.com’s Managing Director, Stephanie Phair as guest speakers and she has also previously contributed for SUITCASE magazine. This might seem like a long list of achievements for a 25-year-old yet Lydia says, “I am not the bragging type and I’m never fully happy with what I achieved, I always have a restlessness and thinking what I can do next. But yes, I can now step back and recognize that what I’ve achieved so far has all been really exciting”. It’s very easily detectable from her words that hers is a quiet confidence; despite the precision of her vision for her career and her big ambitions, no matter what she achieves she always remains humble and eager to figure out her next goal. It’s probably this approachable nature, along with her stellar C.V. that has made her an unofficial career adviser to anyone in her extended circle who are always eager to meet her, have a conversation with her and above all ask her the million dollar question: ‘How did you get your job?’ Speaking from personal experience, her advice can take you a long way. “Just keep calling and following up” she used to tell me at a time when I was ready to give my job hunt up and as a result I landed my first magazine internship. In fact perseverance is the first lesson you will learn from her, “when I want something I never stop, I become a bit obsessive almost”. That’s something she applies to everything from important life milestones like getting a job at Net-a-Porter to slightly less life-changing moments like acquiring a sought-after, sold-out-everywhere Mansur Gavriel bucket bag. In the case of the bag she refused to accept to be defeated by the long waiting lists and just like when searching for her dream job she did her research, managed to track it down in a Dallas boutique and had it
shipped to London. When it came to securing her job at Net-a-Porter, she started by contacting a member of the HR team on LinkedIn, then applied for a position that was filled internally and finally secured her current job a few months later, after HR got in touch themselves with the opening. The whole process took six months so this is where her perseverance came in handy. Being proactive is another trait that shines through Lydia as she goes on to give me some very valuable job hunting tips. It’s no longer enough to apply for positions you see advertised online, “I remember spending hours on the career pages of all the companies I was interested in, signing up for everything, searching LinkedIn to find the right people to contact and looking for alumni from my university who could advice and help me in getting a job”. As to what you have to do once you do get the chance to speak to the employer of your dreams, it seems to boil down to three things: research, knowing exactly what you want and being a well-rounded person, with hobbies and interests outside work. I ask Lydia why does she think she got picked out of the thousands of applicants for each of her jobs and she explains that when she was applying for her first buying position at Harrods, her boss could see how passionate she was and how badly she wanted it. Despite her lack of any experience in the field, she had read a book on fashion buying, done a lot of research on the company and spent hours on the SWOT analysis she was asked to perform, so she knew exactly what she was signing up for, “an employer fears that you have unrealistic expectations about the job and you will then realize that this is not what you want to do”. When it came to getting the job at Net-a-Porter, a question she gets asked countless times, she says that her research and her previous experience somewhere as prestigious as Harrods did help but what set her apart was also, all she had to say when her interviewer turned the discussion to a more diverse list of topics, like travelling, the best blogs and magazines to read and the most interesting restaurants to visit; “you have to be an aware, well-rounded person”. Well-rounded she definitely is. Apart from telling you who the most promising up and coming designers are and how incredible the pastels in the Gucci 60s inspired collection were, she will simultaneously solve a complicated mathematical equation for you and discuss the Eurozone crisis with just as much ease. She credits this to good education and stresses what a big advocate she is for having a strong degree; “My economics degree from LSE has helped me be at ease with numbers and in a broader sense to be analytical… My MA from the London Business School may have not been helpful practically but it was completely worth it because of the people I met and the connections I built”. Another question that’s lingering in my mind is what you have to do once you are in and it turns out that Lydia is very specific about do’s and dont’s in the workplace. “I make sure that whatever I’m given, I do it really well and I do it on time. Then I try to do things on the side that are my own initiative, like research on a competitor”. When it comes to dressing for work, she quotes Harrods’ ex-buying director, Marigay McKee, who used to stress the importance of dressing for the position you want and not the one you have, recognizing that this was something that she didn’t realize from the beginning either, ”there were mornings where I was just too tired and thought that because I was in an entry-level position dressing-up is not necessary”. However now she appears very firm on the topic, recognizing that “how you look is key, especially in a field like fashion… If you want to write about fashion you have to look fashionable, it’s mere logic”, she says adding the importance of being well-groomed and inevitably wearing heels, which “give you better posture and confidence”. Raising your profile within your broader circle of colleagues is another key aspect she advises everyone to take note of: “you can’t be too modest and it’s not enough for the people you work closely with to know
that you are doing a great job because promotions don’t just come from within your team. You need to speak to people about what you are doing. If you meet someone on the stairs just say hello, have a conversation with them and let them know what you’ve been working on”. Stepping aside from the practical career tips Lydia has to offer, there seems to be something even more powerful to take from her, that becomes more and more evident as she speaks about her life and career. Her strong-mindedness in her individual wants and needs and her ability to not compare herself to others is applause-worthy. She did not, for instance, let herself follow the safer path of a high-paid career in finance, despite the fact that her education put her in a perfect position to do so and that all her peers who have made that choice, have been enjoying far bigger financial rewards than her. Instead, Lydia looks “at the whole package” beyond financial rewards, never having second thoughts about her choice of a career in fashion and referring to far more fulfilling benefits that she gets from her job like travelling, having an input on what gets chosen for the website and more recently working on the launch of Net-a-Sporter, a project she was assigned to work on from scratch after a mere six months of being in the company; “it was really hectic but… it was nice to see people rely on me”. She demonstrates this strength of character again, when she describes a more difficult time of feeling stagnant in one of her old position and doing everything in her power to move on, even though in the eyes of everyone else she had the “dream job” and “no right to complain”. Similarly when our chat veers towards the subject of role models, she steps away from our generation’s obsession of religiously following and endlessly admiring other women to a nearly unhealthy extend through social media. “I don’t have role models as such” she says, pointing out a more demure type of admiration for her company’s CEO, Natalie Massenet, after having the chance to experience her “innovative ideas
“I make sure that whatever I’m given, I do it really well and I do it on time. Then I try to do things on the side that are my own initiative, like research on a competitor... it’s nice to see people rely on me”
and incredible vision” in meetings, as well as her mother, whom she describes as a “super woman” for raising her and her two brothers in the best possible way while working full time. If by describing her mother as a super woman, she is referring to a woman with a lot of dedication and the ability to multi-task, then she is definitely well-deserving of the title herself. She very firmly states her aspiration of being promoted to a Net-a-Porter buyer and at the same time shows no intent of pausing her work on personal projects, even though her schedule is becoming more and more hectic every day. She is very passionate about organizing events for Female Millennials Society, Eyedea and also maintains her lifestyle Facebook page, ‘The Little Black Book’ through which she channels her love for travel, art exhibitions and fine dining. “Working on personal projects is something that I definitely want and need and when it’s something that isn’t too high maintenance, taking a lot of your time, it’s perfectly sustainable… Maybe I can manage everything because I live alone or because at the moment I’m not in any serious relationship, but I think at this point in my life it’s worth it”. If there is one thing to take from this modern, young woman it’s the endless possibilities you can create for yourself, once you discover your real passions and set professional goals accordingly. Lydia was warned countless times of the impossibility of entering the seemingly intangible world of fashion and encouraged to take a safer path, yet she managed to make the impossible possible through hard work and by keeping true to herself and her vision for her life. Whether you work in fashion, finance or an industry sector that is completely detached from her world, that is a lesson worth taking away. A strong work ethic combined with a little faith and the ability to dream can take you far, no matter which road you choose to take.
DINA ZAHRAN DINZ CLOTHING CO-FOUNDER
How would you feel if you were wearing a shirt with a pom pom-adorned collar, a blazer with a heart-shaped cutout at the back, or airy summer pants with a water melon print? You’d probably be smiling and so would everyone around you. Dinz, the Dubai-based fashion label behind these fun, quirky pieces aims to do just that; create clothes that make women smile and feel confident, as Dina Zahran, the label’s 28-year-old cofounder, confirms. Speaking to Dina about the way her career progressed from customizing clothes in her dorm room to having a fully-fledged fashion business, becoming her own boss and being part of the Middle East’s ever-growing society, you get the same happy and positive vibes that are channelled through her clothes. A bright personality whose success story will motivate you to chase your own dreams, with similar passion, work ethic and of course, a smile.
How did you come to the realisation that fashion was the career path you wanted to take? I know this sounds so cliché, but it kind of just happened. I have always loved fashion and have had a great interest in it ever since I was a little girl, but I didn’t know it was going to be my career. Dinz started off as a hobby while I was in university; I designed and customised my own clothes, and slowly it just grew and turned into a fully fledged business. It wasn’t planned out that way, it kind of all just fell together one day at a time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’re very active and popular on social media, in fact it was through Instagram and Twitter that I discovered Dinz, while in London. How important is social media to a modern business and how do you try to use it to your benefit? We very strongly believe in the power of social media. In fact, when we first started Dinz many years ago, it was through Facebook that customers and even some boutiques, initially gained interest in our brand. Social media is an incredible tool because not only is it immediate, but it is also a very visual tool, which is particularly important in the fashion field. It enables you to reach a much more broad and diverse range of people at a much quicker rate. We make the most of it, by using it as a tool to showcase our collections . Of course it is always more effective to see and touch clothes and accessories in person, but social media can help generate interest and buzz about our products. What are some of the most rewarding and the most difficult parts of running your own business? The most rewarding thing about running your own business is that it’s yours. All the accomplishments and successes, they’re all yours. Seeing somebody own and love your product, gives you the ultimate feeling of success and satisfaction. For me, my business is my baby. It is something that I eat, sleep and breathe, every single day. The difficult part of this, is that you never get time off ! Even if you are on holiday, your brain is still working and you’re still thinking about things you want to do and goals you want to set for yourself. At the end of the day the responsibility of the whole business is on your head, because you have nobody above you to answer to and that can be quite stressful at times.
DINA Do you design with a specific kind of woman in mind?
our pieces and wear them or mix them up whichever way they like. By creating colorful and quirky pieces, we aim to make people have fun when they’re getting dressed. The most important thing is being happy, feeling good, and always smiling!
Yes, definitely! We design for confident, strong, daring women who love to express themselves through their clothing and aren’t afraid to take risks or stand out from the crowd. Most of our pieces are quite bold and loud, so it’s really fun to see how different women wear and style them.
It’s really exciting to watch how fast a region like Dubai is developing, even as an outsider. Tell me a little bit about what it’s like to be a young working woman in the Middle East at this time and some of the developments in the regions that you are the most excited about.
Designing your own brand requires a lot of courage because you put forward your creative vision and share it with the world, but at the same time you are open to a lot of criticism. How do you deal with that part of the job? Criticism is a part of any job, whether you’re an accountant, a stay at home mom or anything else. Of course designers have to deal with it a little more directly because they put out products that are visual, and as human beings we have immediate reactions to visual stimuli. Because of this, there will always be positive and negative feedback from anything you put out there. I try to take it with a pinch of salt, focus on the positives, while at the same time, keeping any negative criticism in mind to help me become better and create stronger products.
For me, my business is my baby. It is something that I eat, sleep and breathe, every single day. The difficult part of this, is that you never get time off!
Because of this, there will always be positive and negative feedback from anything you put out there. I try to take it with a pinch of salt, focus on the positives, while at the same time, keeping any negative criticism in mind to help me become better and create stronger products. How is it working with family and how do you manage to maintain a balance between the personal and the professional parts of your lives? Honestly, it’s great. I could not ask or wish for a better partner than my sister. We’re blood, so we may argue or disagree at times, but at the end of the day we’re family and we will always see the best in each other and look out for one another. We try to keep our personal and professional lives separate by dedicating specific time to work, during which time we focus only on our work. However, having said that, there will always be times when we discuss Dinz outside the office, especially late at night when I feel most inspired and start sending Rima a million messages with my latest ideas. Dinz collections seem to always be very playful, colourful and with a touch of humor; the kind of clothes that instantly make you smile. Are these some qualities that are important to you? What is the main message that you want your brand to convey? Yes, that is exactly what our goal is. We want people to smile when they see our clothes. We aim to make women look beautiful and feel beautiful, but at the same time we don’t take ourselves too seriously and we don’t want you to either. We want people to have fun with
It’s just incredible, when we first started Dinz there were only a couple of regional designers, and it was still a new market. Now things are completely different. There are so many creative people doing amazing things and it’s so inspiring. Dubai is an amazing place to be, because it is growing and developing at such a rapid rate, enabling local talent to thrive and giving everyone an opportunity and a platform to reach the rest of the world. Middle Eastern women are so fashion conscious and so educated when it comes to fashion, so it’s really great to be able to design for this kind of fashion-forward and modern woman.
I found it very inspiring that you’ve been using fashion and your brand to promote awareness and raise money for Palestine through your Dinz for Palestine bracelets and t-shirts. What was the response you got from that? We’re Palestinian and it really breaks our hearts to see what is happening in Palestine, so every season we create one piece that we sell and donate the proceeds to Palestine. It’s a small gesture but we believe that any sort of awareness that can be created is positive. We’re so lucky and have been so blessed that we really feel the need to give back. This season we created a vest using the Palestinian Keffiyeh fabric, and added some colour to it, with hot pink lining and colourful embroidery of hearts, cherries, and other cute icons. The response we get from these items is amazing because everybody wants to help and this makes us really happy. What’s the biggest goal you have for yourself and your businesses? Growth, growth, and more growth! Every season we try to create a collection that is bigger and better than the one before. We really believe that you can always do better so we are constantly trying to grow and expand our business, one collection at a time. Nothing happens overnight, but hopefully with enough hard work and positivity we will grow and expand globally, that is the ultimate goal. As for myself, the biggest goal I have is to always stay inspired and keep working hard, no matter what. It’s easy to get discouraged sometimes and lose focus, but I try to remind myself of the bigger picture, keep a positive attitude and always keep working hard and of course, smiling. -48-
MASHA KOLCHINA 25, FILM PRODUCER
As soon as Masha discovered her love of film during her teenage years, she took a plane to London during her summer vacation to do her first film course, even lying to her father that she was going there to take English classes. She was hungry to learn and wouldn’t risk taking no for an answer. Almost ten years later, after receiving her MA degree in film production from the University of Arts London, she still has the same hunger and love of film as she did in those earlier years. Instead of producing music videos and casting her little sister however, she now matured into a professional and works on her own freelance projects. She talks to Miss Leader about her latest film, The Total Princess, her career goals and what it means to be a creative. When did you realise your love of film and how did you start getting into it? My father is a fine artist, so I’ve been painting ever since I could hold a brush and later, during my teen years my creative interests expanded to include photography. At the same time, I was a good listener and loved helping people out with their emotional problems, so film felt like the most organic choice, being the medium that combined everything I loved.
worlds and I’m sure that a big part of my creative process will be dedicated to this process.
When I came to this realization, I was 14 and still living in Russia but I was using any opportunity to try my hand at filmmaking, whether that involved shooting bizarre music videos starring my little sister or going to London to do a summer course in art video and having to lie to my beloved father by saying that I was going there to take language courses.
What are the biggest obstacles for a young professional trying to break into the film industry and how do you try to overcome them? Speaking from a director’s and producer’s point of view, I would say that financing your film is often the trickiest part. However, if you really have an idea you believe in, you always find a way. These days, you are not just offered grants, production companies and private investors, but a huge number of crowdfunding platforms, which can go on to play a big role in raising money for a film and also in building its public profile and first audience. Also, the more advanced technologies we now have access to, offer you so many ways to create a film on the tiniest budget, people can even use their IPhone cameras today. So if someone has made up their mind and decided to give their heart and soul to this form of art, they just need to stay openminded, make use of the resources available to them and remember that at the end of the day, what matters the most, is the idea itself.
Tell me a little bit about your latest project. It’s a feature film called The Total Princess. It is a debut feature of my dear friend Klara Hascakova, that we’ve been working on for the last two years. It started off as something experimental and rebellious and grew into a much more mature and well-balanced piece of work that I’m very proud of. The story revolves around a woman who needs to grow up in a modern reality, where she is surrounded by people who have not quite grown up themselves, yet they are convinced they deserve their adult status. It is about the pain we feel when we are conditioned by circumstances and the relief of breaking away from such social conditioning, to find our individual integrity. Does your Russian background and growing up in Moscow influence you creatively? It definitely does. Being Russian and speaking the language, gave me access to a wealth of literary classics: the poetry of the 19th and 20th centuries, Soviet cinema and the works of many contemporary film and theatre directors. All of those have greatly inspired me and affect the narratives I am drawn towards. They also add an occasional Eastern touch to the Western philosophies and values I explore in my films, a marriage which can be both enlightening and conflicting. I am still in the process of finding a balance between my two
What’s your biggest ambition? I would like to create films, which inspire people to live happier, fuller, more kind and honest lives in the context of today’s culture. I’d like to create a product with real positive impact and topicality, whether that’s a film or a TV series, two formats I’m very keen on working with.
Do you have any women you look up to professionally? There are many women emerging in the film industry each year, whose works I admire and whose careers are flourishing, something that makes me very happy, because I know for a fact that ten years ago it wasn’t like that and it was even difficult for me to find female role models in my industry. Leni Riefenstahl was one of the first women whose directing career I studied, followed by Sofia Coppola, whose early films touched me in a way that no other had done before. Today, the works of Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham occupy an important part of my life. It almost feels like I’m their little sister , who looks up to them -50-
and even though they have no idea about my existence, I never feel alone, knowing that the energy and wisdom they share through their work can act as my support and inspiration. How do you prioritize your career with every other aspect of your life? To be completely honest, I am still in the process of figuring this one out and it has been one of the trickiest parts in my working life. I still never have enough time to spend with my family or myself. Apart from the lessons I learnt in Tim Ferriss’s ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ book, which I greatly recommend, what I’ve come to understand so far, is that when it comes to family, it’s quantity that matters, while when it comes to work it’s all about the quality. Spending time with my family and giving them the time and energy they deserve, helps me become more productive at work. That’s why, I put family first in my list of priorities; it’s the aspect of my life that shapes who I am, something that ultimately reflects back in my work. Is there a film that had a particular influence on you, that you would also recommend to other young women? Any film starring Brit Marling would be inspiring for any young modern woman to watch. What are the qualities that someone should have according to you when trying to pursue a creative career? I think you need to be honest with yourself in understanding why you would want to have a creative career and realize that this is not a path you would choose to simply enjoy yourself or become famous. Creative people need to assume responsibility for what they present to the world because there is a big difference between creating for the sake of self-expression and creating for the audience’s pleasure. And although all creative work inevitably has an element of self-expression, that shouldn’t be your leading motivation because at that point, art becomes egocentric, a quality that’s the least creative of them all. Once you are able to find pure, selfless motives for pursuing a creative career, you are already half way there.
MINNA J. APOSTOLOVIC DUBAI-BASED ART CURATOR
Minna J. Apostolovic is a young woman who has succeeded in putting herself in the forefront of the Middle Eastâ€™s art scene, becoming an integral part of its impressive progression over the last few years. She always had an interest in art and studied Art History at university, but when she started working with Ayaam Gallery as a curator, she realized that her true passion lies in Middle Eastern contemporary art and now works towards both educating the people of the region about art, but also aims to give international exposure to the artistic talent that comes out of her native Dubai. In her interview with Miss Leader, she offers her insights on the local artists we should all keep an eye out for and tips on how to slowly start building your own personal collection, even if you are not a connoisseur. But more importantly, Minnaâ€™s impressive career path offers an inspiring example of the great input you can have within your community, when you pursue your passions.
How and when did you decide that the career path you wanted to take was in art? It definitely developed from an interest in drawing and painting, as a child, to a more deeper artistic and cultural understanding of my surroundings, as I grew older. I studied Art History, but my fascination with Middle Eastern contemporary art started when I joined the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) to manage their extensive corporate collection in 2006. After being with Ayyam Gallery for the last four years, it has further deepened my understanding of the art scene. As it’s still growing, being part of that progression is the most exciting part and I’m very happy and proud of that. Why did you choose to settle and work in Dubai? What are some of the best parts of living in the region? The UAE is home for me, I was born and brought up here. I have a goldmine of memories of old Dubai and it’s been fascinating watching it develop, to the beautiful, modern city it has become today. In addition to being at the epicentre of the world, it’s an exciting time to be in Dubai, because our generation is the defining generation of the city. There’s a collective of creative community here who are pushing the boundaries in art, fashion, film, architecture, technology and design. There’s still great opportunities for new ideas and concepts, and the city’s ambition is very supportive of that enthusiasm.
paintings, speaks volumes for humanity today. He examines some of the most intimate moments of the human experience: slumber, companionship, solitude and death. Nadim Karam: This Lebanese artist and architect creates some of the most fascinating sculptures and large scale installations which combine various cultural influences, Karam’s works transcend social, political and national borders, forming a unique pictorial language.
How do you see yourself growing professionally? Do you have any particular goals for the next few years? I see a long career path with Ayyam Gallery; they are family. I want to be part of the gallery’s continued progress and support its vision to spread the beauty and message of Middle Eastern art globally. The gallery partners are so inspirational and a pleasure to work with. In the past, women in the art world felt the need to dress in a very masculine way to be taken seriously. Have you seen this attitude change during the time that you’ve been working in the industry? Androgyny does not mimic authority, it’s more of a fashion statement nowadays. In today’s world, I believe women are equally at the forefront of the art scene. Whether it be artists, curators, dealers, directors of museums, art fairs, and institutions, women have established their presence and power in the world with education, ambition and hard work.
Dubai’s art scene is rapidly growing and you are at the forefront of this growth. What were some of the most exciting moments since you started working at Ayaam Gallery? What other developments do you envision? The Middle Eastern art scene has established itself in a very strong way. Over the last several years, key foundations, public institutions and infrastructures have further matured the scene. By working in Ayyam Gallery, I’ve been exposed to the forefront of progressive development. When we opened the gallery in London, it was a key turning point to ensure Ayyam Gallery’s artists are gaining the international recognition they deserve. In the future, I see more concrete emphasis on art education in schools and universities.
Tell me a little bit about DIFC Art Night that you have been a part of. What was the response you received? DIFC Art Nights is an arts focused initiative taking place at the heart of the financial district, The Gate Village, which is a contemporary urban area that’s home to a collection of art galleries, restaurants and high end cafés. Art Night combines elements of art, film, design, and cuisine, through a variety of indoor and outdoor activities; in other words it’s a semi-annual event bringing people together in celebration of art. A key feature of the event is art education, as we organize talks and workshops through collaborations with international and local museums which help people understand and connect to the dialogue between the artist and the work. The event started with 400 visitors several years ago and now we receive over 5000 people. It’s very exciting to be part of an event that’s become a key part of the city’s cultural calendar. Who are some Middle Eastern artists worth knowing? Amongst the plethora of brilliant Middle Eastern artists, it’s very challenging to shortlist a few. Here’s a small selection of artists who are amongst my personal favourites.
Samia Halaby: The artist’s canvases are full of colour and movement. Her paintings just instantly makes a room breathe. Born in Jerusalem, the artist is based in New York, where she has established herself an acclaimed abstract painter and an influential scholar of Palestinian art. Safwan Dahoul: He’s one of the prominent Arab artists working today. His angelic muse that appears in his monochrome and minimal
When it comes to young collectors who are not necessarily connoisseurs, how would you advise them to start educating themselves about art? The first important element of buying art is to trust yourself and your choice. Simply, buy art that you genuinely love and you’re going to enjoy hanging on your wall, don’t buy into something, just because someone told you it’s going to be an investment. Secondly, if you’re looking at art as an investment, do your research and go to a gallery or auction house that’s reputable and has a good record. I would also advise to only buy art that fits your budget, don’t buy something that’s beyond your financial means. Otherwise you’re going to be staring at it on your wall and stress out! Ayyam Gallery’s Young Collectors Auction is a good platform for new collectors. Held three times a year, the auction provides a selection of top established and emerging artists from the Arab world, Iran and Turkey. With a diverse range of mediums and affordable estimates from 1-10K, this is the perfect platform for new and young collectors to begin buying art in a fun and non intimidating way. Many young women who are just starting their careers are often concerned about maintaining a balance between their careers and their personal and social lives. Have you been able to find that balance? It’s so important and challenging to have that balance. The key is to prioritise, set boundaries and separate work duties from personal life. Personally, when I’m home from the gallery, I have dedicated a time to check my emails and make a conscious decision, not to be on the phone all the time. My husband appreciates that! I’ve learnt to focus on the important things, and literally just prioritise elements that compete for my time. Are there any women within the art world or more generally in other fields that you look up to and admire? I really admire Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi, President of Sharjah Art Foundation, a great role model for women in the art world. She has contributed enormously to the growth of the region’s art scene. She’s also the curator of the UAE Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. I admire her commitment to engaging the public to art education and various programs, doing all of this with modesty, commitment and hard work.
A MOTH E R DAU G HT E R AFFAI R
When walking into Tiffany boutique you are instantly transferred into an escapist world of elegance. The white marble floors and the black tweed carpets are an ideal backdrop for the rails of Pucci printed dresses, Alexander McQueen gowns and Cedric Charlierâ€™s perfectly tailored coats, as well as the shelves housing those coveted Chanel quilted handbags and ballet flats.
to be learnt from this story. Firstly, Miss Lyssiotou points out that she ended up as the director of the family business in a very organic way; she had freedom of choice, hence why she studied law at university and worked for a law firm after graduation, yet she explains that “I always found myself taking time off to follow my mum on buying appointments and after a year I just realized I couldn’t keep asking for days off from my employer, I had to move to the family business”. She also has some incredibly insightful advice for those in a similar position to herself, encouraging young professionals at the beginning of their careers not to disregard the older generation and the power of their experience; “we have a lot more means with technology and the Internet and we have the energy to search for what’s new, we have all that and in combination with experience, you can build a lot”. Going straight into an established business of course, puts you steps ahead of your peers, “you immediately overcome the obstacle of having to establish a good name for yourself ” but simultaneously you are faced with different kinds of difficulties like having to preserve that name. “It’s very easy for people to say, ‘your parents created this but your wrong moves destroyed it’ ’’.
IN FACT, since 1980 Tiffany has been one of the only five multi-brand boutiques in the world that stock Chanel product. So it only makes sense that their retail space bears a close resemblance to Mademoiselle Chanel’s rue Cambon apartment, a type of aesthetic that is not often met with, in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
The gatekeeper of this impossibly chic boutique, Vera Lyssiotou, also happens to be a living representation of the elegant aesthetic her business represents, something that becomes evident the second she walks through the Tiffany doors in an understated little black dress, patent leather Chanel tote in hand. What’s even more interesting to watch is the way she interacts with her customers, an indication that this is not only someone with a great eye for fashion but a smart business woman, as well. One customer is eyeing the Chanel accessories, asking what will be arriving next season and Miss Lyssiotou makes sure to tell her all about the latest Métiers D’ Art show in Dubai and the tonguein-cheek, quilted oil containers that were seen down the runway. Another is looking for a dress for a wedding and she uses her expert eye to direct her towards a figure-flattering Emilio Pucci number, also explaining to her that “this is the best price you can find it at, my mum and I decided to reduce the profit margins for this brand, it was the only way to keep it following the financial crisis”.
On another note, mixing professional and personal lives, brings another set of obstacles to be overcome, especially when the business belongs to a working mother. As romantic as the idea of Miss Lyssiotou playing around the store as a child might sound, dreaming of one day getting to wear all those beautiful clothes and take over from her stylish mother, she explains that it wasn’t the case; “I wasn’t involved, I just knew that my mum’s job took her away from me, meaning that she was never at home because she used to travel a lot or she was always at the store”, she explains. When addressing the question of having to multi-task and juggle a multitude of roles, from wife and mother to boss, a question that so many young women in their twenties are constantly asking as they slowly start to consider starting their own families, she is a lot more reassuring, saying that “it’s a question of energy and personality”. Even though her schedule requires her to travel eight times a year to do the buying for her stores, she makes sure she is hands-on with her son while she is in the country, “I want him to feel my presence, while the time that I spend travelling, helps to make him a more independent person, capable of standing on his own feet”.
“It’s very easy for people to say, ‘your parents created this but your wrong moves destroyed it’ ’’.
In fact, even though it has been years since her mother has retired and passed on full responsibility of the family business to her daughter, she still makes sure to keep her informed of everything going on and ask for her advice; “I always show her my buys and ask for her opinion, she knows all about textiles and cut… She has a great eye and she’s very avant-garde, she sees ahead”. It’s a business relationship, where the daughter seems to be the yin to the mother’s yang; “my mother is the artist” says Miss Lyssiotou smiling “while I’m commercial, I’m thinking about numbers and budgets”, remembering her university years where she trained as a lawyer. More importantly, there seems to be a lot of trust from the mother’s part in handing everything she built since 1971 to her daughter, despite natural disagreements during their buying trips together; “it was funny because in Italy they speak so loudly so they were never sure if we are arguing or just talking” they say, laughing at these early memories. From the part of the daughter on the other hand, there is a strong feeling of admiration as well as a determination to keep the business alive and growing. “She is a legend, a living legend” she says with a big, proud smile on her face, telling me about the VIP treatment her mother receives when she joins her in buying appointments, with the sales managers at Missoni and Versace making sure that there is a special chair laid out for her and that someone is always around her. In fact, Mrs. Lyssiotou was friendly with the Versace family and all the other big fashion families in Italy, since the mid-70s when she started travelling there to source clothes for her boutique. Even though she was only buying for the very small, limited market of Cyprus; “she knew all the designers and all the designers knew her, because even though she was coming from such a small country, she had a great, strong personality, so she was always to be found on the front-row of the shows next to the Harrods buyers”. It undoubtedly does take a strong personality to travel to Paris without speaking any French and hop into taxis asking to be taken to Claude Montana and Cacharel, convincing them to sell clothes to a boutique-owner from a country that they had never heard of before. The result was opening the first high-fashion boutique in Nicosia with people waiting in long queues to get in, during the early days and securing a loyal clientele who “trusted her for her taste and what she had achieved”. Given the legacy behind her and the mere fact, that Tifanny is almost personified with its founder, Miss Lyssiotou is very particular about the goals she set for herself when taking over the family business: “I wanted people to know that the shop had beenpassed onto the new generation and that I’m just as good as my mum… my goal was to ensure that clients saw the continuation
That is definitely one of the biggest challenges a working mother has to face, one that has been discussed in the media one too many times, with clichéd headlines asking questions like “Can she have it all?” splashed all over the pages. Add the stress of the financial risks one has to take when heading a business - “there’s always a business risk at the back of my mind, in the sense that you are buying something that might be the wrong investment, so there’s a lot of stress” – and you might even start to wonder whether it’s all worth the hustle? However, as Miss Lyssiotou talks about not only the balance she has come to achieve when it comes to taking care of her son, but also about her love of her job, it all starts to make sense. “I love this, I like travelling and interacting with the world of fashion… It gives me so much joy and I get such a rush of adrenaline when I’m at a show and I get to see the new trends and all that beauty, from the boutiques, to the shop windows and the sales women in the showroom . It’s all so magical that at the end of the day it’s worth it”. Finding magic in the job that you do on an everyday basis, as well as the confidence to deal with the issues that any kind of demanding profession will inevitably bring, whether that be the pressure of living up to your heritage or to multi-task as a mother and business woman, are qualities that any young professional women will aspire to. This dynamic mother-daughter duo are a living proof that strong-mindedness and passion can help you achieve everything you aspire to be. How else than when faced with such strong, determined personalities would the equally assertive Karl Lagerfeld, agree to having his precious quilted leather bags, tweed blazers and CC-adorned ballerina flats in a store that isn’t designed by him, for the last 35 years?
For anyone with the dilemma of whether they should follow their own, individual path or join a family business, there are great lessons
THE RE AL BACK STA GE
Photography: Isabella Bambagioni Styling: Natalie Theodosi Make-up: Aga Malinowska
It’s Saturday night, yet she’s busy working from home. She’s keeping comfortable in her Superga x The Blonde Salad sneakers but she also layers her Jil Sander crop top over a shirt for a professional look. She goes through her to-do list and quickly starts getting ready to go out.
She takes a moment to relax in her vintage shirt and RĂŠne Caovilla combat boots, wishing she could go out like that. She finally starts getting ready by applying her favourite Tom Ford lipstick in Spanish Pink
Itâ€™s always nice having options. She loves this backless dress by CĂŠline, but the Topshop culottes will make for a modern, alternative evening look. What should she pick?
When she finally makes a decision, she puts her Burberry trench coat on, ready to forget her responsibilites for a few hours and explore the night...
THE NEW CLASSICS: #GIRLBOSS BY SOPHIA AMORUSO Sophia Amoruso, one of the most prominent millennials in the world, is known as the founder and CEO of every girl’s favourite shopping destination, nastygal.com. But in her best selling book, she takes you back to the earlier and often much tougher days, before she became a Girl Boss, where she was not enjoying school and sometimes resorted to shoplifting, sharing the lessons she learnt along the way. It’s truly empowering to see that a young, professional woman of such success finds the strength to expose the less glamorous realities of her life and make herself vulnerable to the world, instead of striving to achieve an unrealistic image of perfection. Not only does this help girl bosses in the making to realize that even the women they look up to the most, who seemingly have it all, do not have ideal lives, but it’s also refreshing to read professional advice that is real and rid of any pretentious formalities.
BOOKS THAT EVERY GEN Y WOMAN SHOULD READ
“You value honesty over perfection. You ask questions. You take life seriously, but you don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re going to take over the world, and change it in the process. You’re a badass”. That’s one of the most characteristic pieces of advice Sophia offers, speaking to the reader just like she would to one of her girlfriends. And that’s exactly why you won’t be able to put this book down until you’ve devoured every single page.
NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL BY LENA DENHAM Lena Dunham describes herself as “a girl with a keen interest in having it all” and her recently launched book chronicles her numerous struggles in an attempt to achieve her goal, from her first time, to her difficulties in finding friends she fits in with and her experiments with one too many diets. What’s the point of sharing such personal and undeniably awkward moments with the world, you might ask? It’s definitely worth celebrating a woman who has the courage to tell her story, ignoring the social norm that defines female concerns as nothing but petty. As the author herself puts it: “if I could take all I’ve learnt and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile”. It’s the kind of book that might make you cringe at the overflow of inappropriate personal information shared at times, yet its brutal honesty will serve as a much-needed reminder that being an intelligent and successful young woman or even a pop-culture icon and Vogue cover girl, in the case of Lena Dunham, does not mean that you have to lead a flawless life. SEEKING LOVE FINDING OVERALLS BY LEANDRA MEDINE The prominent fashion blogger’s first book focuses on how memory of key life events is interlinked with the memory of our sartorial choices at that particular time. She chronicles her own milestones by remembering how she tried to seduce her first kindergarten crush by wearing a tent dress, how her ex-boyfriend wanted to have drinks with her again, when they bumped into each other on the subway and found her looking happy and independent in a pair of her signature harem pants or how her first paycheque for a commissioned article by Harper’s Bazaar was celebrated with a pair of leopard Miu Miu heels. Apart from a very interesting and undeniably fun subject matter, what will get you addicted to the book is its rawness. This is not about your typical Upper East Side girl who is trying to convince you of how perfect her life and closet are, instead she uses seemingly common experiences like picking your first pair of heels and breaking up with your boyfriend to discuss her journey of self-discovery and is not afraid to make fun of herself along the way. It’s probably enough to mention that she compares her first time to the perfect way Balmain pants fit on French Vogue’s Emmanuelle Alt to convince you that this is worth a read.
Given our affinity with everything digital, we might sometimes forget the pleasure of a good book. Not only reserved to be consumed during the summer as tanning companions, books can in fact offer you the perfect way to relax, switch-off and spend quality time by yourself, while simultaneously opening up your mind. Whether you are looking for a light-hearted read that will make you laugh, for some professional motivation or for a guidance at a difficult time, you can always find it in a good book. The list below covers a variety of inspiring reads, both current and of the past, which every girl in her twenties would benefit from reading. Now, if you choose to read on your Kindle or order the original paperback version on Amazon, that’s up to you...
THE SPIRITUAL READ: CREATIVE VISUALIZATION BY SHAKTI GAWAIN You’d never think that there was a time when fashion retail’s most important woman, Net-a-Porter CEO Natalie Massenet, did not have a life goal. Yet this was the case, as she herself admits to leaving university without a clue of what she wanted to do. When she started making her first career steps as a film production assistant, her vision began to take form albeit a vague one; she dreamt of a big, white space where a lot of young people with fresh ideas -62-
worked. This is very much what the Net-a-Porter headquarters look like today and Natalie often gives credit to Shakti Gawain’s book, Creative Visualization for teaching her this ability to look ahead and consciously picture what her idea of a fulfilled life looks like. The book is filled with advice on how to use visualization and positive thinking to achieve everything you have dreamt for yourself, teaching you patience, gratitude and to believe in the power within you, to achieve your goals. It goes without saying that it’s worth trying to learn from something that has proved valuable to someone as visionary as Natalie Massenet. THE LIGHT-HEARTED READ: HOW TO BE PARISIAN, WHEREVER YOU ARE, BY CAROLINE DE MAIGRET For years women all around the world have been fascinated by Parisians; there’s just something about their ability to eat baguettes and still fit into minuscule Isabel Marant leather trousers or their unapologetic attitude towards their bad habits like smoking and drinking a little too much red wine. The appeal of Parisian chic is most definitely no big news. However, the fact that a book has been written by the most Parisian woman of them all, in an attempt to dissect that ‘je ne sais quoi’ of her and her peers’ style, most definitely is. Caroline de Maigret is the music producer and model you will often find on Chanel runways, who embodies everything we love about Parisians, with her perfectly messy hair and unquestionable sex appeal, even if you’ll mostly find her in mannish brogues and slouchy pants. Her recently launched book offers an inside into the intimate side of a Parisian woman’s life: how she seduces a man, her soft spot for sitting on benches, her disapproval of women who fish for compliments and get lip augmentation and her open embracing of snobbisms, like making sure to leave a party when it’s in full swing. A light read that will make you smile, as well as get an insight of fashion’s favourite myth. THE OLDIES BUT GOODIES: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE BY JANE AUSTEN Jane Austen is the quintessentially British female writer whose novels might at a first glance just revolve around marriage, yet if you read between the lines you’ll find that what this visionary woman was really doing was using a subject that was socially acceptable for her to write about as a means through which to critique her society. Pride and Prejudice is one of the most known Austen novels where amidst all the superficialities of society that the author presents and pokes fun of, she gives you an idea of what real love and romance should be about with the now-famous story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. The book should be part of every twenty-something’s library of classics, not only because it satisfies our cravings for romance and happy endings but also, because it does so in an intelligent, tongue-in-cheek way. A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN BY VIRGINIA WOOLF Another literary piece that should be in every young woman’s must-read list is Virginia Woolf ’s extended essay, A Room of One’s Own. This work was revolutionary when it was first published in the 1930s because Woolf was one of the first female writers to point out the need for a woman to be financially independent, as well as to have her own space, as the title explicitly suggests, in order to thrive creatively. Even though we have come a long way since the 30s, particularly in the Western world, it is important to sometimes be reminded where we came from and who these brave, revolutionary women who fought for the rights we now enjoy, were. At the end of the day, these iconic literary figures are the ones who paved the way for today’s wave of influential women, like Lena Dunham or #Girlboss Sophia Amoruso, to be able to thrive and continue their own feminist revolution, not only on paper but on screen and in boardrooms too. A 21ST CENTURY WRITER TO TAKE NOTE OF: THE GAZE BY ELIF SHAFAK Elif Shafak is a Turkish-born writer whose novels deal with some of today’s most prominent social and political issues and characteristically blend Eastern and Western storytelling traditions to explore topics like national identity, motherhood, subculture and religion. Her novel, The Gaze, is one of her most noteworthy pieces of work which puts som ething as simple as a mere look into the forefront, highlighting the power it can have and the damage it can create. -63-
A WAN DER ING SP IRIT BY OKSANA SIVKO
Over the past year, Oksana often found herself with her iPad in hand, looking at the map of the world, picking one of the many places in her ever-growing to-visit list and planning trip after trip, with the help of budget air travel and booking.com. Being a Russian native and having secured a sought-after Shengen Visa, she was determined to put it to good use, to satisfy her travel cravings and discover all the European destinations she has been longing to see. She has travelled with family, colleagues, close friends and even not so close ones, getting to know them better during their travels. Over one single year, you could find her discovering Istanbul’s rich history with her mum, skiing in Austria and having one too many shots during apres ski with friends, shopping and practicing her language skills in Paris and exploring the Greek islands, while on a cruise with her entire family. In her very first travel article for Miss Leader, which she wrote while on the way to yet another destination, she shares the joy and fulfillment a spontaneous trip with a girlfriend can bring you.
I guess I won’t really rock anyone’s world if I say that everything is relative. It turns out that relatively to most of the people I meet, I happen to travel a lot, yet as far as I’m concerned I don’t travel enough. Wanderlust might in fact be something that’s running in the family, because I am writing this article while in the airport, sipping wine and waiting for my flight to Amsterdam, when at the same time, my mum is exploring Tashkent, Uzbekistan and sending me emails to advise me on the best ways of enjoying the city. Apparently, enjoyment should not be a collective experience in the Dutch capital, if you only have one travelling partner. But before digressing into a whole different topic, I want to share with you, the story of a spontaneous trip of mine, in the South of Italy. It was a hectic period in my life, having resigned from my job and making a transition from the corporate world back to higher education, all while dealing with the stress of securing my student visa. With a sudden turn of events, everything fell into place much sooner than expected and I found myself in Sicily with a girlfriend, a destination I’ve had in my mind for a while, which is why my itinerary of things to do and see became a little too long and detailed. Planning so last minute however, also meant that we would more often than not, come across slightly unwelcome surprises. But I did learn that laughing at the unexpected is the best way of dealing with any situation during your trips. It’s those uncomfortable circumstances that make for great memories and funny stories, that are constantly retold over the years. It was definitely with lots of laughter that we dealt with getting lost and driving our rental car onto the pavement one too many times, on the way from the east coast of Catania to Taormina, in the north. And the laughing continued every morning when we were greeted with a barely edible breakfast of bitter coffee and desserts that were too sweet; as much as we would have preferred a breakfast of champions with Italian charcuterie, Taormina is one of the most expensive parts of the island, so we chose to stay at a more average hotel. Given the beauty of the resort it was definitely worth it, with its breathtaking views of the sea and Mount Etna, its wide selection of traditional cafés and restaurants, as well as bars and clubs for the party animals, that have been tried and tested and I can guarantee you are just too much fun. Also it offers plenty of possibilities for adventures; I spend my first days on the island, scuba diving and I would definitely recommend the place for beginners.
But scuba diving was only the beginning of my adventures. Our visit would not be complete without climbing to the top of Mount Etna. After the inevitable glitches in organization, missing our bus, getting off at a different part of the volcano and having to beg the organizers of a different group to let us join them, memories that now ultimately make me smile, we made it to the top. The incredible feeling of the experience itself and of having managed to check off a personal life goal of conquering the top of the volcano, is hard to put into words. Those hours I spent on Etna were filled with beautiful yet mind-boggling juxtapositions that left me in awe of nature and served as a great reminder of its power and grandeur. There’s very strong winds that make you shiver as you hike to the top, yet the ground is so hot that you’ll constantly find yourself checking whether your trainers are melting. You are met with an endless grey, dry landscape but with a closer look, you’ll discover signs of life, with tiny flowers growing here and there. I was touched in the same intense way, when we went on to visit Palermo, a city that everyone just has to see. It’s really hard to describe the beauty and uniqueness of it: ancient cathedrals, gothic architecture, beautiful flowers and an unbelievable amount of rubbish on the streets. Initially, you might find the rubbish disturbing and thinking that it’s ruining the appearance of the town, but after a few days one can only agree that this is an integral part of the town, which paradoxically gives it, part of its charm. The signs of the ups and downs Palermo has experienced are evident in every corner, so much that I came to personify this intriguing destination with a forgotten ex-wife, who’s still desperately trying to hold on to her charm, definite that one day she will regain her grand status. Looking back at moments like this, I remind myself why I appreciate travelling the world so much. It might force you into uncomfortable situations like getting lost in a country you don’t know or being stuck on a flight with turbulence, fearing for your life and it will likely take over the majority of your salary leaving you with just enough money to afford your rent, but the feeling of your breath taken away by the beauty of a city like Palermo or by the joy of an accomplishment, like reaching the top of a volcano are truly priceless and will play an important role in making you a fulfilled and well-rounded person. So, next time you need a few days off from work or there is a long bank holiday weekend ahead of you, you know what to do...
DO YOU WORKOUT? As far as I was concerned, Sundays were for hangovers, long naps and if you were feeling adventurous to leave the house, brunches, to help you nurse the sins of the night before, with poached eggs and smoked salmon. Even though brunch continues to be trendier than ever, it no longer seems acceptable to show up looking sleep-deprived, still smelling of tequila and wearing the biggest pair of sunglasses you own, because you are simply unable to face the world. Instead, you are expected to arrive wide-awake and glowing, in your Lululemon leggings and bright pink Nike Air Max trainers, because you’ve just finished your high-intensity workout class. Even looking at what’s happening on the world’s most renowned runways proves that there’s a real shift of perspective. Karl Lagerfeld’s Autumn/ Winter ‘14 show for Chanel had Cara Delevingne strolling down supermarket aisles in ripped, pink leggings and tweed sneakers which are now sold-out across the world, Mary Katrantzou collaborated with Adidas, adding her bright, digital prints to tennis dresses, trainers and workout pants, while Alexander Wang’s H&M collaboration wasn’t merely inspired by sportswear, it actually had to offer more clothes for the gym than for the dancefloor. These designers did not wake up one day, to suddenly discover their passion for sport, instead they were able to detect people’s newfound respect for fitness and successfully tapped into the zeitgeist, with their fashion. Apart from the popularity of bright-coloured trainers and printed leggings however, this trend has also exercised influence over other areas of women’s lives and in particular, in the way they see their bodies. The days of heroin chic are certainly long gone and extremely skinny, frail-looking bodies are now met with distaste, instead of envy. Even though society’s and fashion’s appreciation for slim figures is still ongoing, some of the standards have been raised and our notion of attractive has currently become equated with thin yet healthy-looking women, with toned abs and an affinity for squats. Fitting into skinny Balmain trousers or sexy Altuzarra pencil skirts, is no longer done by way of smoking, drinking and avoiding carbs like the devil, but through healthy eating and intense exercise. A new crop of boutique gyms offering workout classes whose popularity is growing by the minute, as well as organic restaurants that offer gluten-free alternatives of your favourite brownies are popping up by the minute, in order to accommodate this new craze for working out and eating well. So much so, that spending Sunday morning at Barry’s Bootcamp, followed by a brunch (where you will naturally have avocado on toast) has become trendier than carrying a Céline tote or wearing mirrored sunglasses. It’s always worth second-guessing anything that becomes a widespread trend and has people obsessing over it. In this case, our generation has developed a craze for Instagramming their Whole Foods green smoothies and neon workout gear, while organic restaurants like New York’s ABC Kitchen or London’s Healthy Life Eatery come with waiting lists and abnormally long queues of Lululemon-clad women, yoga mats in hand. But even though there’s undeniably a certain degree of superficiality, that inevitably becomes attached to anything that is over popularised, it definitely looks like the advantages it has brought, namely a refreshing dose of health in young people’s stressful city lives, are far more rewarding. Talking to Stavriana Kamarinou, a 24-year-old, London-based lawyer, who has fully embraced the movement, this becomes even more clear. Her job requires her to be sitting on her desk at 9am, yet she religiously wakes up earlier to go to her favourite exercise class beforehand, a ritual that has become almost therapeutic in her life, motivating her to be more energetic in the office and to let out any stress, whether she’s having a hectic day at work or facing personal dilemma; “it’s the best time to spend with yourself, the intensity of the workout helps you block out all the thoughts clouding your brain and you come out of it feeling incredible”. We’ve asked Stavriana what her suggested workouts were, for beginners like ourselves who might be stuck in the old days, when Sundays were still dedicated to laziness and hangovers. So, we put together a list of some of the most popular workouts around the world, most of which were initially exclusive to celebrity customers, before the trainers decided to let the rest of the female population, in on the secret. All that is left, is to download their respective apps, books a class and buy some Mary Katrantzou X Adidas printed trainers, for that extra bit of motivation.
W H AT ’ S H O T ? BARRY’S BOOTCAMP: Barry’s bootcamp prides itself as “the best workout in the world”, offering you a mix of cardio and strength training. What’s even more interesting is that both the strength exercises and the intense, interval cardio training on the treadmills, are done in a dimly lit room with your favourite songs blasting from the speakers and a promise to help you conquer all your fears and inhibitions, as soon as the lights go down. It doesn’t really matter if you’re not a runner, the Barry way is to shock the body and help you gain strength, build stamina and lose weight (you can lose up to 1000 calories per workout) which is always a plus. If you have a moment of laziness, the trainers will be there to scream at you through their microphones, but then again that’s quite unlikely, because being surrounded by the beautiful crowd of Barry’s devotees, who tend to have abs of steel and carry their change of clothes in Saint Laurent totes, is motivation enough to run as fast as you can. If you’re still not convinced, maybe mentioning that this is a workout suitable for both men and women and more often than not, midway through the class, some of the men feel more comfortable exercising topless and showing off their six-packs, might seal the deal for you. SKINNY BITCH COLLECTIVE: The SBC has been every supermodel’s and fashion girl’s best kept secret, up until now that the experience is becoming open to the public. Russell Bateman created the infamous workout, after a successful career of training Victoria’s Secret models and his friends always teasing him that he only trains skinny bitches. His aim has been to change preconceptions of how women should exercise by creating a collective workout that does everything for you: it speeds up your metabolism, decreases body fat and increases your strength. How is this done you might wonder? The answer lies in short, intense exercises that are inspired by primal movements like crawling, while teamwork and getting to interact with your fellow skinny bitches is another integral part of the workout. So far, Bateman has been very particular about who joins his classes both in London, where he is based and in the pop-up workshops he often holds in LA, New York and Ibiza. The rules are that you have to know one of the existing members and once you make it in, you are only invited back if your attitude and effort were satisfactory, according to the SBC standards. Even if you aren’t BFFs with Suki Waterhouse however, you can still get a taste of this talked-about workout, as it launches a series of video training that will be available to all, in the next month. PSYCLE: This is the exercise class specifically designed with busy, working girls in mind. Each class lasts 45 minutes and there are slots throughout the day that you can easily book online in a matter of a few clicks, so if you happen to be working in central London, you can have a full-body workout and be back in the office before your one-hour lunch break ends. You’ll also be back feeling a lot more energized as the classes take place in dimly lit rooms, with pumping music and even though you are on a bike, this workout has been designed to exercise all parts of your body. To top it all off, their sleek and extremely hygienic changing rooms are fully equipped with hair straighteners and all the equipment you’d need, in order to come out with no sign of having broken a sweat, while their nutrition bar will provide you with well-deserved snacks, in the form of delicious smoothies and protein balls. BARRECORE: Barrecore is the ballet-based workout that has resonated with so many women because not only does it give you instant results, but unlike every other exercising class it lets you fully embrace your femininity. That’s probably why every 7am morning slot is fully booked, with young women who want to fit in their favourite workout before they get to their jobs, something that has led to creating a beautiful community of women who are hard-working and dedicated, in all aspects of their lives. It only helps that the trainers also speak a language you instantly identify with, as they often urge you to “run like there’s a sale at Selfridges”.
SM I LE
Photography: Sofia Studencki Direction: Natalie Theodosi
‘SO NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT OF EYELINER?’ That was the first response I received to the idea of getting my friends, who also happen to be a diverse group of young and beautiful women from many corners of the world, ranging from Syria and Iran, to Sweden and Greece, now living and working in London, to wipe off even the smallest trace of makeup on their faces and have their portraits taken for Miss Leader. We’ve grown up together, secretly sneaking in to the bathrooms of our old high-school to add a layer of blush or eyeliner, convinced it would make us more attractive to our then crushes, so my request did come a little out of the blue. In the name of our almost ten-year friendship however, they did take the challenge. On the day of the shoot there was a strange mixture of feelings, as everyone did seem to be quite intrigued by the idea of putting themselves in front of the blinding spotlights and professional lens of a photographer, yet they did secretly wish they could add just an extra layer of foundation to hide their skin’s flaws or a little mascara to brighten up their eyes. Those first camera clicks were definitely uncomfortable but in an effort to relax we started sharing embarrassing stories from the past: high-school catfights, old relationships that no longer make any sense and our affinity for unacceptably short denim cutoffs. Those memories resulted in laughs and smiles that brightened up our faces in a way that not even YSL Touche ´Eclat can. And that’s where the moral of this little story lies: as miraculous as the effects of a good concealer or of a bright red lipstick might be, sometimes a smile and positivity are all you need to look and feel attractive, particularly when you are in your twenties and the glow of youth still shines on your face. Ask any woman to look back and she will say that she regrets not realising and fully embracing how incredible she looked at the beginning of her adulthood. So it might be worth learning from the mistakes of the past generations and instead of pondering over cheekbones that are not defined enough or lips that are too thin and in need of a good lip-liner, finding the perfection you are normally trying to achieve with make-up in those flaws and celebrating your youthful beauty with confidence and a big smile.
SAMA MEIBAR, 24, SYRIAN, DIGITAL AD SALES MANAGER
DARYA ALIKHANI, PERSIAN, 23, GARAGE MAGAZINE INTERN
SOFIA STUDENCKI, 20, SWEDISH, PHOTOGRAPHER
STAVRIANA KAMARINOU, 24, GREEK, LAWYER
SANDRA FIORELLA FARFAN, 21, PERUVIAN, FASHION MANAGEMENT STUDENT
NATALIE THEODOSI, 23, CYPRIOT, MISS LEADER EDITOR
THE YOUTUBE GENERATION Make-up was never something that really fascinated me. Apart from buying the bare necessities once or twice a year (a foundation to hide my skin flaws, red lipstick because it makes you look glamorous and French and a mascara to bring out the eyes), I always thought it was most wise to save up the rest of my money for overpriced and utterly uncomfortable red-soled shoes. Fast-forward a few years later however, when following bloggers became everyone’s guilty pleasure, winning over reality TV and I find myself spending way too much time on Amelia Liana’s Youtube channel, iPhone in hand to take notes of her latest beauty product recommendations and making my first trips to Space NK to purchase them. What is even more intriguing is that these young women, many of whom have no formal background in the industry apart from a genuine obsession for anything beauty, have managed to create extremely successful businesses through their Youtube channels and boast hundreds of thousands of fans who loyally follow their every step on social media, cheering them along the way. If one merely takes into account the fact that a vlogger’s video receives an average of half a million views, while a magazine’s professionally directed and most often presented by an industry it-girl video will not even receive half the number of hits, it’s no wonder that this wave of young beauty vloggers have been collectively labelled as a ‘Youtube Phenomenon’. It seems that the days of it-girls are long gone and Generation Y’s answer to celebrity culture lies in Youtube channels, Wordpress blogs and the twenty-somethings behind them. It’s no longer relevant if you work for a glossy magazine, live in a major fashion capital or count Nicole Richie as your best friend, the modern way of measuring one’s worth is in Instagram followers, retweets and Youtube hits. This newfound way of consuming content has definitely brought plenty of advantages with it; evidently it has created an opportunity for younger and more raw voices to freely express themselves and to be heard by thousands, often millions of people. In addition, to providing an alternative creative platform, it has also allowed these young digital connoisseurs to turn their hobbies into very fruitful careers, becoming their own bosses, at a time when they would otherwise probably find themselves, stuck in an entry-level position at the very bottom of the corporate ladder. Then again there’s a downside to everything and sometimes it’s worth asking, what does it really say for our generation and its levels of intellect, that on a daily basis we feel the need to follow what another twenty-something is wearing, eating and drinking, living vicariously through the seemingly perfect snippets of their lives we get to savour on social media? We look at some of the most prominent figures of this 21st century phenomenon who have caught Miss Leader’s attention, in order to try and dissect where the allure lies.
THE FACTS: 119k instagram followers, 230.000 Youtube subscribers
THE FACTS: 1.7 million Instagram Followers, 220.000 Youtube subscribers
THE FACTS: 191k Instagram Followers
THE FACTS: 377K Instagram Followers, 575.000 Youtube subscribers
London-based Amelia Liana, finished her Sociology degree from Nottingham University yet her overflowing beauty cabinet prompted her to start her own blog and channel, instead of applying for a traditional job. Using everyone’s favourite digital platforms she invites you into her glamorous world through weekly vlogs that document her daily musings, from travels, to dinners with friends, Psycle classes, shopping and endless tea-drinking. The reason her over 200.000 subscribers are so keen to follow her every move however, is probably that she looks great and she really knows what she is talking about when it comes to make-up and skincare, as she offers weekly tutorials sharing Kim Kardashian’s sought-after contouring techniques and tips on how to get ready when you’re running late, honest reviews on an endless array of products and even chats on those hardto-address female topics from periods, to boobs and acne. The fact that this is a girl just like the rest of us without the professional make-up artist’s skills that no one could ever dream of achieving by watching a five-minute tutorial, will instantly make you identify with her. So next time you are wondering what affordable mascara to buy from your nearest drugstore, what face-mask to treat yourself to or how to add volume to your hair, you’ll probably find yourself heading to amelialiana. com, just like you would go to your girlfriend who happens to do her beauty research much better than you.
There’s definitely something about the allure of Middle Eastern beauty; the perfectly shaped thick eyebrows, the immaculate winged eyeliner, the gold and the shimmer and that unapologetic aesthetic of glamour and more is more. Huda Kattan, the Dubai-based makeup artist, beauty blogger and as of recently, owner of her namesake beauty line, has established herself as the authority of that signature Arabic look, letting all the women around the world who are fascinated by Oriental beauty, in on the secret. What is even more fascinating than sharing her natural skincare recipes, hair teasing and lipplumping techniques, is the journey Huda took before establishing herself as an international beauty authority. She had to work hard to convince her father and husband to take her seriously when she insisted that leaving her career in finance to train as a make-up artist in LA was a good idea. Given the extraordinary response to her blog and the mere fact that Huda Beauty lashes and nails are sold in thirty Sephora stores across the Middle-East, she was clearly onto something.
Even though not a Youtube aficionado, Into the Gloss’ Emily Weiss is definitely a name to know in the beauty business, both for her widely-read blog and her recently-launched beauty line, Glossier. Her story goes something like this: she started by working as a Vogue assistant which is an achievement in itself if you ask anyone remotely interested in fashion or beauty, however Emily had different plans. Unable to find inspiring content online, she gave up her fancy position in the world of glossy magazines and instead decided to launch something glossy of her own. Her blog offers beauty straight from the cabinets of real, strong women Emily admires (interviews have included everyone, from top model Karlie Kloss, to New York power attorney Lawren Briscoe), as well as alternative beauty tips, like blending eye shadow to your lip gloss for an extra shimmer. As for her beauty line, Glossier, not only does it present a perfect exercise of branding with it’s beautifully designed logo and website that will have you browsing for hours, but it simultaneously offers a refreshing approach to consumption. Instead of inundating you with product, Glossier breaks it down to three main necessities - primer, balm and face mist - because according to them a modern beauty brand should be about “fun, easy, imperfect and personal beauty”.
Claire Marshall is another Youtube favourite, sharing her tips all the way from Los Angeles. Not only does she show you how to get effortlessly wavy beach hair, wear a smoky eye during the day and stop biting your nails, she also adds a more diversified touch to the beauty business with her unconventional glamorous yet grunge look. She might have perfectly curled hair and luscious red lips, like most ladies with good make-up skills, but she also has tattooed arms and masters the boyish, laid back look, with plaid shirts and boyfriend jeans aplenty, showing her viewers that being a Barbie lookalike is most certainly not the only way to go.
THE POLITICS OF INSTGRAM Thinking back to school days your popularity was measured by who your friends were and how stylish your clothes looked. However, much has changed and at the moment it seems that what you do in your everyday life is almost irrelevant when compared to your digital presence. Spent an amazing weekend abroad partying in Mykonos or skiing in Austria, but forgot to take photos? Well, then you might as well have stayed at home because if you don’t have Instagram proof it just doesn’t count. If on the other hand, you spent a weekend stuck in your flat doing nothing, yet you managed to snap the perfect selfie or a good shot of your coffee table arrangement (extra points if it involves burning Diptyque candles, flowers and a copy of an indy magazine) that received more than eleven likes, then you are a social butterfly in the making. Social media has undoubtedly opened a lot of doors for Generation Y, as it offers a platform through which to share your perspective on the world with an audience that has no borders. It has proved to be precious at times of major world conflicts, allowing the public to share news on real-time and present honest views that would otherwise be shadowed by the bias of traditional media. But when it comes to the day to day, what does this affinity towards selfies, hashtags and filters really say about our generation? Is it all just a display of young people’s superficiality and vanity or an exercise of clever self-branding? When having to witness your Insta-obsessed friend and everyone around you, spend an average of twenty-minutes rearranging the sushi platter in order to take the perfect shot while you just want to devour it, carefully schedule her posts during the most popular times according to Statigram and use Lo-Fi and Valencia to make both herself and her lifestyle look much posher than they are in reality, then you might start questioning people’s values and self-worth. Then again, thanks to this one photo-sharing platform you now get to see what your friends abroad are constantly up to and every time you scroll through your own Instagram account, you are met with memories of all the great places you’ve been to and the great moments you’ve had, getting to appreciate your life that much more. Not to mention that Instagram also means business and a dedicated user can monetize their popularity, with bloggers like @chiaraferragni and @bryanboy charging up to $5.000 for posting a photo on their widely followed accounts. Amber Venz is another blogger and business woman who took advantage of our digital obsession by founding Like to Know It, an application which sends the products you liked on Instagram straight to your inbox and ready to purchase, ensuring that the stylish lady who wore it first takes commission. As for fashion interns, a well-presented Instagram account with a good following has often gotten them the opportunity to go from doing coffee runs to managing their magazine’s social media platforms. So where should one stand when it comes to using social media? If you are a twenty-something young woman with a college degree, a job and ambitions, you are also very likely to have the intelligence to realize that you have better things to do with your time than taking pictures of your beauty cabinet (have you heard of #shelfies?), but at the same time there’s nothing wrong with tapping into the zeitgeist and keeping yourself updated. Here’s a few things to consider when it comes to using Instagram to make sure you keep things classy: - Don’t take life or yourself too seriously, post silly pictures, make funny faces and share photos where you might not look perfect, but the moment and the company surrounding you, do. - You’re young and probably look the hottest you ever will, so taking a selfie once in a while is not a sin. Don’t dedicate more than five-minutes to the act however, you have better things to do. And by all means, do not do the duck face. - Even if you have the most exciting job in the world try to avoid mixing your professional and digital lives. Getting fired because of a shared photo or tweet is just so not chic. - If you are in an industry where social media is a skill that can increase your pay and employability, do look at this whole phenomenon from a professional angle but at the same time don’t forget that this is not neuroscience. Clever captions and unique photo-editing skills will probably take you further than a one-hour selfie session. - Follow the accounts of people who inspire you and never hate-follow. As tempting as it is to follow that girl you don’t like and comment on how tacky she looks, it will only end up filling you with negative energy, you don’t need.
EFFICIENT INSTA-STALKING A collection of our favourite Instagram accounts by strong, inspiring women that will fill your feed with smiles, motivation and positivity. For Fitness Inspiration or Should We Say Fit-Spo: @izagoulart The Victoria’s Secret supermodel greets her 1.5 million followers every morning with a workout video. There’s just something about the uplifting music, her motivational hashtags which urge you to #justdoit #dontstop and the perfection of her six-pack that will have you running to your nearest gym. It’s also just refreshing to have first-hand access to a supermodel’s everyday routine and a taste of the gruelling work that goes into maintaining a Victoria’s Secret-worthy body, instead of being fed the myth of all models being naturally gifted and staying skinny while eating burgers, backstage. For Your Fashion Fix: @sorayabakhtiar The modern girl’s way of shopping is by checking her favourite blogger’s Instagram account, for suggestions. Scrolling through Soraya Bakhtiar’s feed will give you that exact fashion fix we are guilty of craving. What’s even better is that whether you are looking to splurge on a Céline bag and Chanel sneakers or looking for the affordable Zara alternative, her eclectic mix of highs and lows and her ability to edit it all down to the season’s most coveted items, ensures that your shopping list will be sorted. For Professional Motivation: @ariannahuff The Huffington Post founder might be one of the most successful business women in the world yet she also happens to be a self-proclaimed “sleep evangelist” and has written about the importance of taking a break and sleeping, in her best-selling book Thrive. By following her Instagram account, you get to see snippets of the life of an accomplished career woman, which include having lunch with Jennifer Lopez, giving Ted talks and brainstorming with her ever-expanding team, which are very likely to motivate you go to work with a smile and a lot more energy. But also for those difficult days where nothing goes your way, the constant flow of inspiring quotes Miss Huffington shares will help to revive your strength. For a Dose of Art: @anhduongart Anh Duong is one of the most prominent female artists of our time, known for her intimate selfportraits and the way she incorporates fashion into her art, as she often draws still lives of her Saint Laurent heels and Prada bags and depicts herself in Dolce&Gabbana and Lacroix gowns. The unapologetic way she embraced her femininity in the 80s and 90s, at a time when all renown artists were male and female artists felt the need to dress in a masculine way themselves, in order to be taken seriously, shows a truly confident woman, worthy of looking up to. By following her Instagram account, you can get glimpses of both her artwork and life, which is ideal for a quick dose of culture during those busy times, when visiting museums and galleries is not an option. To Wake Up Your Wanderlust: @suitcasmag SUITCASE is the travel magazine whose Instagram account will let your mind wander in every corner of the world with a mere scroll, from Vebier’s sunny slopes to the pastel-hued streets of Harajuku and undiscovered corners of Ghana. The fact that the team behind the magazine is a group of creative and ambitious twenty-somethings and their editor-in-chief, Serena Guen, has just received the Women of the Future Media Award for her work, makes it all that much more special and easy to relate to. A Humanitarian Who Will Inspire You In All Sorts of Ways: @elisasednaoui Elisa Sednaoui’s life might be centered around the glamour of the fashion world, with Christian Louboutin as her godfather and billboards of herself as Roberto Cavalli’s campaign girl placed all over the world, but her work and passions are not exclusively confined within the fashion industry. She is also the founder of the Elisa Sednaoui Foundation which creates creative learning opportunities for children, its first project being the building of a community center in Luxor, Egypt. Elisa’s personal Instagram account is like a visual snapshot of all these different parts of her life, as one day she might share pictures of herself on the cover of Marie Claire and the next, a photo of a minibus in Egypt, taking smiling children to the creative learning center, she has built for them. The beauty of this juxtaposition lies in the fact that it serves as a reminder that someone can have a multi-faceted life and does not have to choose between their different worlds.
MARINA KHOROSH ON LOVE AND TINDER
Marina is a born and bred New Yorker, who recently moved to Paris, the city of light and supposedly, of love. But it looks like the 21st century version of Parisian romance does not involve French-speaking men who will read you poetry, take you on wine-fuelled, romantic dates by the Seine and kiss you in a way that only the French know how to. Thatâ€™s why, when moving to the French capital, Marina decided to facilitate her dating life by downloading Tinder, our generationâ€™s answer to overcoming the obstacles of our busy lives and awkward social skills, stopping us from finding love. She usually records her refreshingly unfiltered, hilarious adventures on her blog, dbgadating.com, but here she looks back at the highs and the lows of her entire Tinder experience, exclusively for Miss Leader. -80-
Two months ago, I quit Tinder. No, this decision was not the consequence of some traumatizing dating disaster that caused me to abandon the app with a violent case of post traumatic stress disorder. Nor was it due to a succession of awkward first dates à la Local Attraction that left me in a state of surrendered fatigue. In fact, I just quit Tinder as soon as I realized how rapidly it was changing my approach to dating and interacting with men. I first heard about Tinder almost a year ago from a colleague, who advocated it as a surefire way to meet cool, “normal” guys in Paris. Given that “normal” is the height of the modern day compliment and that French men hardly approach you in public, I didn’t think twice before downloading the propitious app. Soon enough, the perky little flame icon was actively searching for eligible 27-38 year old males within a safe thirty-kilometer radius, allowing me to peruse my next conquest at a lightning speed. It felt like God’s gift to humankind, the Shopbop of dating, equipped with somebody for every shape and size, the gift that kept on giving! Granted, I made a few beginner mistakes, relying on pure attraction and not taking the time to get to know people before meeting them. Notable anecdotes involve the seven-foot-tall Godzilla of a man who, upon a quick Google search en route to the date, revealed himself to have a sexual assault record, an experience which, I promise, cost me ten grey hairs. Then, there was the handsome financier who refused to go on a Ferris Wheel ride, claiming that he had never stepped foot higher than the fifth floor. When I encouraged him to seek therapy for purely professional purposes, he called me an American, in a way that was clearly meant as an insult and never spoke to me again. Yet, even in the case of Tinder, practice makes perfect. After these few initial stumbles, I mastered the rules of the game and began navigating the Tinder landscape like a pro. I screened all potential prospects on Facebook, which allowed me to verify their circle of friends and sphere of interests – at twenty-seven years old, the pragmatic in me realizes that certain common ground is a must. Instead of overexerting myself by speaking French, I would make sure that the guys I met were actually TOEFL qualified. As a result of this elevated criteria, the quality of my dates started improving. Suddenly, there was the ruggedly handsome advertising exec, who would swoop me up like Prince Charming on an Uber and take me on adventures across Paris, or the gorgeous Latin photographer who taught me to improve my own Instagram game. While none of them had much lasting power, they allowed me to expand my worldview and explore my adopted city. Then, on one Sunday night in February, I walked into a bar in the 9th Arrondissement to have a drink with a cute Jewish restaurateur I had met on Tinder. Immediately, I knew I was hooked; at the end of the day, a girl just knows. By Tuesday, we were sitting at a classic Italian restaurant under the Eiffel Tower and by next Saturday, we were exclusive. He was sexy, kind and took care of me in a way that felt real
and familiar, erasing the Tinder skepticism in even my most old-school of friends. Suddenly, I was a Tinder success story, living proof that the concept worked. And yet, two months later it was over, for reasons that have nothing to do with Tinder and everything to do with the usual modern day circumstances, of conflicting schedules and priorities. We ended in that place right between casual dating and real feelings, leaving me saddened (not to be confused with heartbroken), yet eager to move on as quickly and efficiently as possible. And so, I threw myself back into Tinder, wholeheartedly, recklessly, in a way that a gambler tackles the casino floor at a moment of desperation. In search for a quick fix, I began dating the men who I have come to regard as my personal version of crack-cocaine: skinny, jean-donning, pseudo-intellectuals that most of the world refers to as dirty hipsters. First came the TV director who, at the age of forty, did not have a mailing address, then the skater who emulated James Franco in everything but the success and hard work. My breaking point came when my Tinder date, who’s beard smelled vaguely like a wet puppy, was asked beard grooming advice by his fellow doppelganger. At this moment, I realized it had gone too far. Like a junkie at the end of a long party night, I knew that the aftermath no longer justified the thrill. I deleted the app and stoically resolved to start meeting men in public, difficult as it may seem. Without the crutch of Tinder, I was forced to step out of my comfort zone: first by simulating a semblance of a social life and then by becoming a girl that men actually wanted to approach, a more social and dynamic version of myself. Before I knew it, I was re-learning the long-lost art of flirting, a skill once perfected by Scarlett O’Hara, but practically extinct now that our faces have been replaced by rows of winky, smiley and frowny yellow emojis. I would love to say that my Tinder cleanse worked and that I am now in love with a handsome stranger, who took one glance at me from across the room and proclaimed that I was his soulmate, just like my father did with my mother, thirty years ago. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In the two months since quitting Tinder, I have dated a socially inept young movie producer and a resident surgeon who may or may not also be seeing his ex. While I am proud to have met both men in “real life” settings, neither of the relationships seem to actually be leading to anything real. The truth is, men are no longer what they were thirty years ago; they are wary to approach, lazy to make grand gestures, and scared to stick around. Tinder, if abused, serves as a tool for proliferating these issues, providing an abundance of options for those stuck in a perennial case of dating ADD. However, if used correctly, it also presents an excellent way of meeting new people, a miracle for those who are too busy or too shy to hop into a bar and immerse themselves, in the scary endeavor, known as the pick-up scene. Just like with everything, the key to Tinder is moderation. And if you are mature enough to handle it, I encourage you to try. -81-
“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size But when I start to tell them, They think I’m telling lies. I say, It’s in the reach of my arms The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.” Maya Angelou