How did you first start your blog What Olivia Did? Can you remember where you had the idea, was it a slow process dream or an epiphany? How did it evolve for you?
I wish it was a romantic as an epiphany! I started it when I was in sixth form- and it had a couple of different lifes before it took on the What Olivia Did that it is now. It went from a music blog, to a bit of a sixth form photography portfolio-cum-diary which then just became a full on diary blog, which over ten years became what it is now. It's evolution has been purely based on experience, a love for documenting and sharing stories and obviously growing as I go.
How long did it take in your journey to realise that What Olivia Did could be a business/career? What was your vision? What did you want to gift to the world through WOD?
Honestly, perhaps this makes me sound like a terrible businesswoman (which I feel very strangely conscious of) but it was such an organic progression from being a hobby that I did during university (my few months there anyway), working in retail and then freelance. When I started, blogging full time wasn't really a career 'option' and there wasn't the culture of brands partnering with individuals in the way that it is now. I think it took a couple of people wanting to work with me (which in itself was a very surreal concept) for me to believe that actually this is something I could do more as a career. I'd also been doing a lot of internships and working in a lot of fashion cupboards, and whilst I loved fashion and journalism, I wasn't sure if I'd ever quite get a career in that, so this almost felt like a space to channel the things I loved on my own terms, which is a huge privilege.
Community plays a huge role in what you do, how did you initially gain the trust of your community and what do you find effective at managing this relationship?
I don't think there was ever really an active notion of thinking 'oh I have to get my readers to trust me'- which perhaps in itself is how I've gained trust, just by always being honest. When you meet a new friend you don't necessarily go in thinking 'how will I get this person to trust me?' and I think writing a blog for me, is the same in many respects. I've always been incredibly honest about my experiences, what I'm going through and the things I like and I like to think that's translated over the years into something that is authentic.
When brands began to reach out to you to work with you on a contractual basis, how did you approach the process on your worth in an industry with greyer areas to others?
I think knowing your worth in an industry that can be quite unregulated has been a challenge for me in some ways. In many senses I've been incredibly fortunate to have the helping hand and guidance of management, who have helped me know my value and worth when it comes to collaborations and partnerships, but on the other hand- you shouldn't necessarily have to have management to be able to figure that out successfully. I think it's something this industry is definitely working on, and there's some really exciting conversations going on about unions at the moment which I think will be nothing but helpful in making sure people are fairly valued and rewarded for their time and effort.
I’m sure there’s been a few teething problems along the way, share any here which you feel would help another avoid!
I suppose in an industry that's built on sharing so many parts of yourself, know that you don't owe everyone everything. You don't have to disclose every experience, every vulnerable moment and every down day if you don't want to. It's fine and good to keep parts of yourself private if that makes you more comfortable. One thing I've also been thinking more about recently, is how important it is to not continually feel the pressure of what other people are doing and reflect it on to yourself. It's so important to also consider that perhaps you're already doing enough, and that maybe what you're doing already works- you don't need to continually change just because others are if you're not ready to or don't need to. Give yourself a break (and a pat on the back too)!
When did you have the idea for your recent venture of IGC? It’s such an incredibly empowering, supportive community which is helping so many. How did the idea for the book come about, were you approached or did you pitch? How long was the process and what were the challenges?
Thank you so much! I think the idea was a cocktail of conversations I'd been having with friends- from friendships, comparison, work and other niggly insecurities that we all endure but don't necessarily give space to- whether that's because we think of them as being 'trivial' or 'unimportant' or just don't feel confident enough to share them. I'd been touching on these topics a little online, but really wanted to create a space that felt like it could host a bigger conversation on these things, and feel like a place online where people could really give time to these things, and talk about them together.
In regards to the book, I'd had a couple of meetings with a literary agent, and we'd discussed ideas for a very different book (which never came to fruition for a number of reasons), and then the idea for The Insecure Girls' Handbook followed- as cliche as it sounds, it did feel like a bit of a 'bolt out of the blue' moment- like 'oh my god I could really do with an insecure girls handbook', but I really wanted the book to be an extension of these conversations when you don't want to be scrolling on your phone for answers. In terms of the process, it took around 6 months to write it- but I was also mindful that I wanted the book to be filled with lots of powerful and inspiring voices, so talking to other women was an essential part of the process and an enormous part of what makes the book what it is.
What have been your highlights in your career so far? What are you grateful for? How would you describe your brand in 3 words?
Honestly there have been so many, and even thinking about some of them makes me go, 'what?!' Because I know 16 year old Liv wouldn't believe some of the things that that little blog has done for her. I think meeting some of my best friends, and some of the most inspiring people is the number one highlight- writing online has presented me with connections to people I could have only dreamt of, and I feel so lucky to have some incredible things through writing WOD. I'm also incredibly grateful to be able to travel, to have so many amazing conversations daily and be able to have created a space for women to be vulnerable and forge connections too, that feels really special.
Describe your brand in 3 words...
Oh god! Describing my brand in 3 words- full of love (which sounds a bit soppy- so maybe I'd say thoughtful, messy and spontaneous).
Tell us your highlights over your time running WOD and IGC?
I think one of my favourite early highlights from WOD, was winning the Cosmpolitan Blog Award for best newcomer, right when I started my blog in 2011. Although there shouldn't be too much weight put on winning awards, for me it was such a moment where I felt people were listening and paying attention - I hadn't even known they existed, and when I found out I was shortlisted I was in my university bedroom and couldn't believe it. I was doing a course I didn't enjoy, so far from home and it was a real moment of 'perhaps I could be doing this?' which was really magical. In terms of IGC highlights- I feel so lucky that not only did the page grow and garner such a special community so quickly, but seeing so many of that community at the book launch this year felt like a true highlight. I couldn't believe that so many people were there to support something that initially I had no expectation for- so I think for both WOD and TIGC it's definitely been about belief- both from others and yourself.
What is your best advice to other entrepreneurs with a brand like yourself?
It's boring- but just do it! Give it a go. You can't get better at something if you never try it, and you'll never ever be perfect straight away. So starting is the biggest hurdle. Whether that's a hobby, a business or a skill you want to perfect- the only way you'll get better and grow is by dipping your toe in and following your nose.
What would you tell anyone who has a dream and unsure whether to go after it?
Completely- I know so many factors play into this, and I know it's not as easy as saying 'drop everything, go for it!' but even if there are small ways you can start building towards it, I'd never tell anyone not to without giving it a go- because you never know what's waiting on the other side. Does that sound a bit 'woo woo?' haha!
I couldn’t do an interview without talking about your incredibly beautiful wedding, that dress, location and little touches! No interview here... just interested to hear any lovely extracts of your special day!
Oh thank you so much! We were so lucky to have such a magical day - and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat!
What are your little moments of happiness throughout the day? What’s your happy place?
I love waking up in the morning with Joe and Maggie, and that first cup of tea. I also love slow afternoons on the sofa, watching a film if I'm able to and totally escaping. This also sounds really lame, but just putting on an album I've been dying to listen to and replay and getting on with really boring chores around the house makes me quite happy. Which is when you know you're an incredibly boring person indeed!
When did you last feel brave? How do you define bravery? What do you wish to see more of in the world?
For me, being brave is leaving your comfort zone, no matter how vast or small that may be. Sometimes the bravest acts can be confronting things within yourself, changing the conversation and standing up for what you believe in. I'm not always a very brave person at all, but I'm definitely trying to become braver, because I know that so many people exercise bravery daily and it's such a powerful and important thing.
What inspires you?
Long conversations with my friends on the phone. At the weekend I was feeling in a bit of hole, and having a long, meandering conversation with somebody who knows you better than you know yourself can be the biggest pick me up and burst of inspiration. Also everything Haim do. Always.
Favourite adventure you’ve ever had?
I think one I always come back to was visiting LA with my friend Carrie a couple of years ago. We explored the city, visited places we'd never thought we'd see and saw a show at the Hollywood Bowl which was one of the best nights of my life- I just look back on it with this truly nostalgic cinematic glow and would do it again and again and again.
What do we need to show more of in the world?
Kindness, a willingness to learn and change and empathy.
What do you wish you’d known when you were young?
What's for you won't pass you by.
What’s your dream?
Now that would be telling!
Follow Olivia's adventures on @livpurvis, read her wonderful posts at www.whatoliviadid.com and explore her incredible, wholesome community space to support other women www.theinsecuregirlsclub.com.