Here at LIVELY, we’re constantly surrounded by swoon-worthy women that are killin’ it in their businesses. We're launching #WomenCrushWednesday to celebrate the boss babes who provide us with a constant flow of inspiration, support, and endless girl-crushes.
Up next, The Lifestyle Edit Founder, Naomi Mdudu
Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get where you are today?
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 in the cards for me. Looking back, I’m so glad that I studied law. 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 been rushing of to prep for a shoot or jumping on the Eurostar to Paris for fashion week. I loved styling but after four years I realized 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 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 learned so much from how to craft a great piece to how to manage people. I’m immensely grateful.
What inspired you to create The Lifestyle Edit?
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, more importantly, I wanted to create a space where these women could talk candidly about their journeys and share actionable advice.
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 what impacted their choices, I couldn’t find anything out there. I wanted to know how these women navigated the professional realm, but also how their approach to physical and mental health feeds into that. I wanted to read stories that were honest and reflected 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 in all different stages. It’s funny because we’re often called a modern professional self-help destination, but we’re not about being preachy or prescriptive. Our mission is to use these stories as a vehicle to share different lessons women have learnt along the way.
How did you know when to leave your fashion editor role and Start the Lifestyle Edit?
It just felt like it was my time to fly the nest. A friend sat me down and made me work through the worst-case scenarios for each of those situations.
What if the business failed?
I have a degree, countless years of publishing experience, and now know what it means to start and run a business, all of which would help me find something new.
And what would people think?
If they loved me, they’d support me as I figure out my next move.
Going through that process was a big lesson for me and one I constantly have to remind myself of. It showed me that the worse-case scenario isn’t all that bad. Knowing I’d always be able to survive, even if I did fail, took the fear out of venturing into the unknown.
What is your process when approaching your work?
The number one question I get asked is how I choose the women we feature, but it’s so difficult to articulate. As an editor, it’s my job to make sure that the stories we feature are inspiring but also tangible. I’m always looking to see how the experiences of the women we feature can provide a framework for our community. Honesty is really important too. Before I started the business, I struggled to find entrepreneurial stories that touched on the moments of self-doubt, and fear of missteps.
What does success mean to you?
It allows you to be the architect of your own destiny. There’s something empowering about having the ability to actively design your life rather than living by default. As a business owner, I have the space to create a definition of success on my own terms. I’m free to pivot and allow that definition to change just as often I am.
I think a trap that many entrepreneurs fall into is making their lives fit around their business when in fact, that the most incredible thing about running a business is that you can design it in a way that allows makes it serve your higher life goals.
What would you say is the biggest rumor about starting a business?
Today, I think entrepreneurship is glamourized. People don’t talk about just how challenging it can be. Switching off is definitely a challenge as a business owner. Your life tends to steer towards work, which is fine if you love what you do. Instead, I’ve made a point to set some non-negotiables in my life that I prioritize, even when things are busy with work. Sleep is a big one for me. I also need to eat well, have time to meditate, exercise and spend time with my friends and family. Most of the time I only manage to get a handful of those things right – it’s definitely not perfect but that’s life and I’m trying!
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure (life’s all about balance after all!)?
Travel. If I could work from a beach most days, I would!
What’s the best advice you've ever received?
It’d be impossible to pinpoint just one. 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 and life – 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.
What is your advice for other women?
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.
How would you describe your personal style?
It’s changed so much over the years. Now, more than ever, I know what works for me – pieces that flatter my body and make me feel most comfortable and confident. I’m drawn to pieces that don’t make me think in the morning – classic wardrobe staples but always with a modern twist that make me feel pulled together at a moment’s notice.
What are 3 things you can’t leave the house without?
iPhone, charger, flat shoes (comfort, always!)
Name one thing you are OBSESSED WITH.
TLE of course!
How are you #livingLIVELY?
By following my intuition and striving to be the best version of myself every single day.
Three of your favorite LIVELY pieces:
I’m crazy about all the bralettes.