Whistles Women: Phoebe Lovatt
When Londoner Phoebe Lovatt upped and left her hometown for LA in 2012 she did so for adventure; “I did it for the challenge” she says. “I wanted the opportunity to start afresh and try something completely new.” She admits she had actually only been once before she moved, a brave step, but Lovatt has conviction.
A journalist by trade, she flourished professionally in the city, but missed the connections the closer-knit community of London had afforded her. So rather than pack her bags and come home, she decided to kick-start the community she desired by organising a programme of social and educational events in LA under the moniker of the Working Women’s Club.
A year later and Lovatt has put on WWC events additionally in London and Paris, relocated to New York, and worked with the likes of The Ace Hotel group and Nike. The vision is as straightforward as Lovatt is straight talking; “my focus is the new way of working,” she says. “It is about giving women the careers they want by providing the information that they need to build new lifestyles for themselves.”
Lovatt took time out to tell Whistles the story of the WWC, divulge future plans and explain how she maintains a burgeoning career and a sense of balance.
Tell us about your office?
It’s pretty small, but it’s the first office I have ever had. Having worked from home or from coffee shops, it’s nice to have a place to come every day. When you work for yourself it is hard to put the laptop down but when I come here I work and when I leave, my laptop stays. I share the office with my friend Madeline, who is a nail artist. We work well together. She is so creative and visual and I am the words, so although we work on different things we can collaborate and help each other out.
Do you have a daily routine?
I live in Brooklyn so I get the B train into the city every day. You can see the skyline, the sky is usually blue and I find it so inspiring. It’s nice to have that mental departure from where I live to where I am going. I try and do yoga most days to stay sane. Often I get a coffee at Gasoline Alley down the street. Then I am just here, in the office as much as I can be. Obviously like anyone who is self employed it changes a lot. Some days I am doing events, some days it is interviews, and some days I am being interviewed.
I am a proud Londoner, but my friend said to me she thinks New York suits me more than London, and I think she is probably right.
What brought you to New York?
I was in New York for a couple of months last year working on a project for Nike, and halfway through I decided I was going to not go back to LA. I first came to New York when I was 17 to do an internship and I thought then ‘I am going to live in this city one day.’ I came on my own for 2 weeks; can you believe my mum let me? People were surprised that I moved to LA before here, but I am glad I did as my experiences there inspired what I am doing now. LA was amazing, but in terms of how I want to live, it didn’t suit. I am city girl: I grew up in the middle of London.
Tell us about how The Working Women’s Club came about?
I was living in LA, living and working alone, and I found the city to be isolating. I felt my brain and work wasn’t developing the way I wanted it to – I needed a passion project to inspire myself. Girls would always be emailing me asking me how I was self-employed? How did I live in America? Both my parents were self-employed growing up, so I had all this knowledge from watching by example. In London I had been part of a network of women, in a great creative community. So I decided to take all the amazing advice I had been given and all the information I had learnt into a book.
I made the book, paid for it all myself and wanted to launch it with a community initiative. A friend loaned me a space in downtown LA and in it I opened a workspace for a week. I did the book, space and event in 2 ½ months.
Aside from events, are there any digital developments you are planning?
I’ve just recorded a podcast called ‘Make it Work’ which expands on the concept of the book by sharing real career stories and words of wisdom from brilliant creative women. I love doing it and the feedback has been really positive, so I’m excited to develop that. There’s also a more ambitious online platform in the works but I’ll have to stay tight-lipped on that for now.
You have lived in London and New York. What are the differences?
Pace. It is so quick here. Everything is fast and I am a fast person, possibly I am a tiny bit impatient! So New York is gratifying for me. I can get a lot done in a day and I love that about it. It is city with a capital C in every respect. It is deluxe, you know? You really feel like anything could happen here. I am a proud Londoner, but my friend said to me she thinks New York suits me more than London, and I think she is probably right.
What is next for The Working Women’s Club?
Taking it global. I have had amazing feedback, and so I am trying to find ways, whether it is personally or indirectly, to build the community globally. As much as I am happy to serve the women of New York, London, Los Angeles or wherever, there are a lot of women looking for support in parts of the world where this shit is really hard. However there is a reason why I can’t jump on a plane to Lagos and do an event right now, as much as I would like to. I am a baby brand, so it is one step at a time.
Why not stop at the book?
The Internet afforded me the opportunity to, at 24, pick up and move my career to another country, whilst maintaining my connections and clients. And though the events are hard to produce, they are seriously so rewarding. Women coming together and helping each other out generates warmth and good vibes in the room. It is such a positive experience. It is one of the most joyful, validating professional things I have ever done.
How would you describe your style and has New York changed it?
I have always had a strong sense of personal style, and I suppose it has always been a bit minimal. Growing up I felt a bit boring compared to all my friends in London, who are really into fashion. I wear a lot of white, black, denim, and I like a clean silhouette. There is a sportswear element; growing up on a council estate I always liked a fresh pair of white trainers. Practicality is key in this city, as you walk so much. People are quite smart and polished here.
How do you like to switch off from work?
I love the separation of living in Brooklyn and working in Manhattan. I live by Fort Green Park, so I walk there to get away from the madness of the city. You can actually see downtown Manhattan from the top of the park, so I know it is just there if I want it!