Naomi Mdudu, Founder of The Lifestyle Edit
Naomi, Founder of The Lifestyle Edit, has always been on our radar to feature. So when we reached out and heard back that she was opened to meeting, we were so thrilled! We love featuring women that do the same work as we do, in all, to promote that women can truly support one another. And that is what The Lifestyle Edit is all about - catering to women entrepreneurship and making real-life connections. Naomi, former editor and now running her own business, is the epitome of a boss and we are so excited to share her story today:
Naomi, did you always aspire to be a journalist as a little girl? If you dreamed differently, can you please tell us about those dreams and how did that changed as you aged?
I always knew that I wanted to work at a publication and that morphed from starting off as a stylist to be transitioning into journalism.
I studied law in university over something ‘vocational’. I was very academic growing up and came from a very academic family so studying something like journalism wasn’t on the cards for me. Looking back, I’m so glad that I did. Studying law taught me to think analytically, write succinctly and taught me to think in a much more expansive way – great foundations for everything I’m doing now.
Throughout school, I assisted a whole host of different stylists and magazine editors. As soon as my lectures finished, I’d rush to prep for a shoot or jump on the Eurostar to Paris for fashion week. I loved styling but after four years, I realised that I was more drawn to words as a form of storytelling.
Two weeks after graduating, I landed a job as a fashion editor of a financial newspaper (at the ripe age of 22) and worked in newspapers until I left in 2014 to start The Lifestyle Edit. Looking back, it was a huge amount of responsibility – in my first newspaper job, I was the their first-ever fashion editor and in all my roles, I was fortunate enough to be given free rein to shape the editorial tone and voice of the style sections. I learnt so much from how to craft a great piece to how to manage people. I’m immensely grateful.
After leaving the last corporate publication, you launched The Lifestyle Edit - can you tell us what inspired you to create this amazing platform and business?
The Lifestyle Edit was born because I wanted to create a platform that firstly, celebrates the incredibly dynamic female founders and executives that make things happen behind the scenes at the many of the businesses we all know and love. But more importantly, I wanted to create a space where these women could talk candidly about their journeys and share actionable advice that our community can take away and immediately action in their lives.
Looking back, entrepreneurship was always on the cards for me, but when I decided to take the leap, there was nowhere for me to turn. At the time, there were fantastic resources for women in the fashion realm – but when it came to unpacking the careers of prominent women and talking in-depth about the factors that have influenced their life choices – I couldn’t find anything out there. I wanted to know how these women navigated the professional realm but I also wanted to know how their approach to wellness and both physical and mental health feeds into that. I wanted to read stories that were honest and that reflect some of my life experiences.
Starting a business is scary and it can often feel isolating. The Lifestyle Edit was always designed to circumvent that by creating a community of women going through the same journey but from a wide range of different life stages, all rooting and supporting one another.
It’s funny because we’re often called an entrepreneurial self-help destination but we’re not about being preachy or prescriptive at all. Our mission is to use these stories as a vehicle to share different lessons women have learnt along the way.
What are some of the struggles as you faced as a new entrepreneur and how did you overcome those challenges and roadblocks?
Switching off is definitely a challenge as a business owner. To-do-lists are never completed – there’s always something you could be doing and there is never enough time in the day. I really began to make a shift in my business when I started becoming clear on distinguishing between ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’. I started honing in the jobs that I was uniquely positioned to do, and built a team around everything else.
It took me years to invest in outsourcing and I wish I’d done it sooner rather than struggling to do everything myself. I know, I know, you’re afraid of spending a lot of money, but the truth is, the more time you have to work ‘on’ your business, the more time you have to earn money for your business. If you’re doing everything, chances are, you’re dropping the ball on certain things and even if new business was to come along, you wouldn’t be able to take it on. When I finally invested in people, I started to enjoy a level of freedom I just hadn’t experienced before. In that freedom, I was able to think creatively again.
The more I outsource to people who are experts in the areas that I’m not, the more my business grows. Now, I’m constantly thinking about ways I can expand my team to add people who are passionate about the areas that most impact our bottom line.
Today, my days are guided by how I want to feel and not just feeling a slave to a to-do-list. I carve time for myself to pray, exercise, meditate, listen to podcasts and enjoy a cup of tea in the morning before even thinking about touching my phone. I make time for all of the things that make me feel good and balanced, which then makes me far better at my job.
After interviewing incredible women in different spaces, what is the best thing you’ve heard and learned from your peers? And what is your advice be for inspiring entrepreneurs?
It’d be impossible to pin point just one thing. I feel so fortunate that I get to meet and interview so many incredible women for The Lifestyle Edit. I always joke that every day feels like I’m getting an MBA in business – but it’s true. Those conversations are constantly teaching me new lessons about everything from leadership and strategic thinking to the power of self-care and setting boundaries. I’m forever in student mode and I love that.
My advice is to practice listening to your intuition – it always knows the way – and don’t allow self-doubt or imposter syndrome to hold you back.
And get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Growth means pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Remember, your dreams are on the other side of your fears. Courage isn’t the absence of fear but the willingness to feel fear but do it anyway. If I let fear rule my choices, I’d be in London right now working in a job that wasn’t right for me.
Given the successful track record of The Lifestyle Edit, how do you envision the brand evolution?
The core of what The Lifestyle Edit is will remain the same but I see our offerings scaling into new categories.
I’m really excited to announce that we’re hosting our first ever retreat late this spring in Hudson, New York for female entrepreneurs to connect with likeminded women and really narrow in on strategies to take their businesses to the next level.
Almost two years ago I started a really informal supper club in New York. I was meeting so many incredible female founders that I wanted to introduce to each other and it’s grown beyond my wildest expectations. The last one we did at Egg Shop in Brooklyn was pure magic, with 55 guests. We’re hosting another one in London next month to celebrate International Women’s Day and will be expanding to different cities across the States, which I’m really excited about.
One of the things our community has been asking us to launch for so long is online courses so we have ambitious line up of courses that we’re currently working on to delve deeper into the key areas business owners need to think about when launching or scaling a business. Our first course launches this month is all about how to create a PR, Marketing and Brand Partnerships strategy that converts so watch this space!
I’m very ambitious and have always been future focused but I’m learning to loosen my grip a little. Some of the biggest transformations for me have been when I allow myself to be open to new opportunities which, might feel like a deviation from the original plan, but end up taking me to exactly where I needed to be….
Interviewed by Chary