Fashion editor Navaz Batliwalla launched Disney Roller Girl back in 2007. Whilst working as a fashion director on a magazine, Navaz used her blog as an ‘anonymous fashion insider’ site.
She now has almost 25,000 followers on Twitter, works with big high-end brands and is even writing a book. The editor and blogger speaks to List for Life about working in fashion, and why journalism isn’t simply about writing anymore.
1. Did you always know you wanted to work in fashion?
I always loved style, clothes and drawing. I thought I would become a fashion designer because when I was a kid I don’t think we were aware of any other kinds of fashion jobs. But eventually I discovered fashion illustration and thought, ah that’s what I want to do. So that was really my first ambition. I studied fashion promotion and illustration at college but couldn’t find much illustration work when I graduated so I took a side-step into magazine styling.
2. How did you get involved in blogging?
I started blogging in 2007 when I was working as the fashion director of a teen mag. I had always enjoyed online communities since working for Handbag.com back in 1999, so blogging was almost a continuation of the fashion conversations I’d have on discussion forums. I think I just liked the informal, conversational tone. During the course of my work as a fashion editor, I would read blogs like Fashionista and Jezebel and I just decided to have a go writing about the kind of stuff I had access to as a fashion insider. I did it anonymously at first and then that became part of the USP. It was nice because in those days it was very quick and raw. You didn’t need to retouch your pictures or spend ages on social media. Your posts would get read by other people in the blogging community and spread organically from there.
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3. Talk us through a normal work day – what time do you get up? When do you finish work?
I tend to work late so I have a leisurely morning starting around 10am doing emails and admin for an hour. Then if I’m on a copy deadline for one of my freelance writing jobs I’ll go for a coffee near my house and try and work solidly for a couple of hours. I write everything in longhand first because it’s easier for me to get in the zone. Otherwise if I’m on the computer I get distracted by the internet. I’ll have lunch around two or three and then do more emailing and writing. Like most media people, a lot of my time is spent on email. I’m usually working on several projects at once and I’m currently working on a book too, which involves coordinating shoots in different parts of the world. After 6pm I will do my blog posts or go to an event. If it’s a busy period though, sometimes I won’t start blogging until really late as it’s the only time there are no distractions. I will devote one or two days a week to back to back meetings and appointments in town. This is the most efficient way to manage my time and as a freelancer it’s important to keep up that face to face contact with publicists. Those relaxed conversations are usually when you get the scoop on things happening in our industry.
4. How do you chill out? Do you turn your phone off at night?
I try to turn off my phone around 10pm and i don’t have my laptop in the bedroom. I agree that it’s not good to have your mind constantly stimulated, even though it’s really hard for me to drag myself away from that stream of information! But I love watching classic comedy like Fawlty Towers and Seinfeld and I’m getting back into reading books again. I like oral histories. At weekends if I’m not working I see films or exhibitions, there’s always something amazing on and by then I’m desperate to get off the computer.
5. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Have an open mind and don’t be scared of taking a risk. Every time I have gone out of my comfort zone it has been for the good. It pushes you to do better.
6. What are your tips for aspiring fashion bloggers?
Try to write every day. Always reread your post after you’ve published it to check for typos
Read as much as you can, it’s the best way to expand your vocabulary. And don’t forget that fashion is about everything, so read up on news and current affairs, not just shoes and handbags.
Don’t get all your news from the internet, go out and look for stories. Be nosy, listen to conversations and ask questions.
Stand by your convictions. Practice having an opinion and sticking to it (and don’t worry if it’s wrong. I contradict myself a lot, but I believe what I’m saying at the time.)
Don’t worry too much about what other people are doing – be a goat, not a sheep
Journalism isn’t just about writing any more. So build up your other skills too – photography, film making, social media and networking skills. All of those things will help get you into fashion journalism or any journalism (why limit yourself?).