It’s weird to think that there are young girls today who aspire to work in the world of social media once they finish school. But when we were growing up social media didn’t even exist – or, if it did, it was Myspace and MSN Messenger. Lucy Nicholls, the Social Media Content Producer at Boden, certainly didn’t grow up daydreaming about crafting engaging tweets and planning Instagram campaigns. But that’s exactly where her creativity led her, and here she explains exactly how it happened..
How did you develop an interest in fashion? And what did you study?
My dad is an interior decorator, and he always recognised that I was naturally creative. He used to tell me, “You’d be amazing doing something creative when you’re older.” And the older I got the more he told me, “I can really see you working in fashion.” So from a young age I always had someone encouraging me.
But I didn’t study art at GCSE or A-level, because I never believed that I was very good. I think the trouble is, when you’re at school you’re not really taught that there are other ways to be creative. So I struggled because I knew I was creative, but I didn’t want to paint or become an artist. However, I’d heard on the grapevine that you had to do an Art Foundation course if you wanted to study something creative at university. So I cobbled together a portfolio and used all the money I’d saved from my shifts at the local pub to pay for a couple of week-long short courses. And luckily I managed to get onto the Art Foundation course ay UCA Epsom. And from there I went on to study Fashion Promotion at Middlesex University in North London.
How did you get your start in the fashion industry?
Well, I started my blog Shiny Thoughts just before I went to university. And through the blog I met Carrie from WishWishWish, who quickly became one of my best friends. After I graduated I did a bit of freelance work, which I was able to get through the connections I’d made whilst blogging. But freelancing was incredibly anxiety-inducing, and I thought, I’ve got to get a full-time job because I don’t know anything about being a real adult.
Carrie was working at ASOS at the time, and she tipped me off about a position that had just opened up. It was the first job I applied for and miraculously I got it! It felt like some kind of ridiculous fairytale. So I started working on Fashion Finder as the Merchandising and Editorial Assistant. And when Carrie left ASOS to blog full-time I also took over her job at Marketplace and started designing graphics two days a week. I just said yes to any opportunity that came my way!
But after about a year-and-a-half Fashion Finder closed, and I was made redundant. Luckily I managed to wrangle myself another position at ASOS, and started working in the community team running Access All ASOS, which is an influencer community programme. I stayed at ASOS for about three years in total, but eventually fancied a change. And that’s when I moved over to Boden to work as their Social Media Content Producer.
What does your typical workday look like? If such a thing even exists…
Every morning I get up with about five minutes to spare and run straight out the door. It usually takes me about an hour and a quarter to get to the Boden offices in North Acton. And I always have breakfast at work – it’s the same every day: muesli with some sort of milk substitute because I’m trying not to eat so much dairy. Then I start the day by running through my emails.
About a quarter of the emails I get are from influencers, and the other 75% are internal, discussing upcoming events or website features and organising how the social media team can contribute. There are just two people in the social team at Boden – Kieran and myself – and we sit within the brands team. We usually have meetings with the brands team members during the morning to pinpoint what’s coming up for womenswear and childrenswear and come of with a strategy for social marketing.
And in the afternoon I’m usually kept busy with a mixture of tasks. It could be anything from updating the Boden Pinterest page to writing and scheduling tweets or prepping for a shoot. We also commission photographers to create content for our Instagram account, and I work quite closely with Xanthe Berkley, a prominent Instagram influencer, photographer and videographer who regularly creates content for us.
How do you unwind after a long day?
I’m not very good at relaxing. I usually just hang out with my boyfriend. And I live with Kristabel from I Want You To Know, and we always do a zumba class on a Thursday night and dance around like loons. Zumba is a big love in my life. I don’t really watch much TV, and prefer to just potter about at home – which must make me sound like such an old lady!
What are the biggest challenges you face in your 9 to 5?
It’s very difficult to balance my job with my blog. And it’s becoming harder and harder to do. But I saw this coming, to be honest, because it’s only natural that the more involved with work I become the more Shiny Thoughts is going to suffer. And I often lack the motivation to blog, because I’m either too tired or just need some time to myself.
I don’t want to feel like I’m always working. The joy has to be there. So I can only blog if I love it. There’s no point if I’m just going to resent the fact that I’m working on my weekends. So I’ve got to a point now where I won’t blog unless I feel motivated to.
And, on the flip side, what are the biggest perks of your job?
The big perk of my job is that I get to be so creative. And I think that’s such a luxury. I know a lot of people who are going freelance just so they can make their own creative decisions, so I realise how lucky I am at Boden. I have such a huge amount of creative freedom – if I have an idea it’s more than welcomed, and I can really carve my own way because we’re such a small team.
How do you manage to juggle a full-time job with your blog and stay creatively motivated?
Well, I’m actually finding that I feel less and less motivated at the moment. But I think it’s just a process of allowing yourself to see, read and experience things that you know are positive for your creativity. And then avoid looking at things that you know will have the opposite effect and make you feel jealous or like you’re not doing well enough. It’s really important to know which buttons to press for yourself.
Personally, I’m so much more inspired when I surround myself with creative people. So whenever I find myself in a creative slump I visit Carrie, because I know she’ll be able to perk me up. And, at times, I just have to force myself to be efficient. I’ve conditioned myself to dedicate one day of the weekend to creative work. And as soon as I get into it I start having fun.
Which other women working in the industry inspire you on a daily basis?
I’m lucky to know so many creative women. Xanthe Berkeley is such an inspiration, and my little group of blogger friends keep me inspired too. So that’s Olivia from What Olivia Did, Carrie from WishWishWish, Kristabel from I Want You To Know, and Dunya from Dearest Deer. Dunya doesn’t really blog any more, but I still find her incredibly inspiring because she works for Amnesty International. She goes through a hell of a lot psychologically to do her job and still manages to stay sane. I don’t know how she does it.
And, finally, what advice would you give to your teenage self knowing what you know now?
I spent a lot of my teenage years worrying and stressing about things that I look back on now and think, that was only a tiny little bump in my whole life. So I would tell myself to chill out and try not to take everything quite so seriously. It’s important to trust that you’ll learn something new from every experience. And, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s all relative. Something can seem like a massive deal at the time, but when you look back you realise it wasn’t really that important. So I’d tell myself to calm down and try not to worry so much.