Domestic Sluttery is a daily newsletter that makes our life more fun, more beautiful, more delicious and more interesting and guarantees to brighten up every day with our favorite things: design, food, fashion, travel and excellent women past and present.
Let’s introduce Sian Meades who has never turned down a chicken wing and firmly believes the Piña Colada to be the greatest cocktail ever made. As per career she is a fab writer who regularly writes for MADE.COM, The Simple Things and The Times. We are super excited about her upcoming novel about women in 1950s London!
And here comes Laura Brown! She is a freelance writer and editor, noted Jeff Goldblum enthusiast, and scotch egg superfan. She worked in the magazine industry for 11 years, most recently as Editor-in-Chief of the Beano and, before that, Editor of Shout.
1. What was the inspiration behind choosing writing as a career?
Sian: I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was little, but I fell into freelancing rather by accident. I started writing for websites on my lunch when I worked in advertising and then the work became paying gigs and I got a big enough job to leave full-time work. Obviously that was a disaster – the job lasted three months and I didn’t have anything else to backup what was a pretty poor hourly rate. I didn’t know how to pitch. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I had to scrape and claw to get more work. That was ten years ago and I haven’t really stopped.
Laura: I trained as a painter, and then I spent a few years mooching around Europe before it really was time to find some sort of proper job. It just so happened that one of my best friends saw a tiny advert in the paper for an editorial assistant on a magazine. I had always loved writing but hadn’t really considered it as a viable career until then (because I had thought I would be an artist). I went for the interview, which turned out to be for a teenage girls’ magazine, and realized that this was the life for me. I left my full-time job as an Editor-in-Chief to go freelance just over a year ago, and I still say sporadic thanks to that friend who found the advert, because he inadvertently steered me towards a career I adore.
2. How do you both feel being linked with Domestic Sluttery? What it entails and what was the reason that drove you in?
Sian: When Domestic Sluttery originally launched in 2009, there wasn’t a blog in the UK that covered food and interiors. That seems unimaginable now, but the blogs were just starting to take off then. I was delighted to be part of that. We wrote a book, I appeared on Women’s Hour and we had a fab time. It was wonderful, but it was hard work – we had a lot of writers and they were all paid. It took over my life, to be honest. When the site closed in 2014 I was sad, but I was relieved as well.
Relaunching as a daily newsletter was a big deal. I wanted to make sure it would work without being 24/7. I’d been writing a weekly newsletter for a year and it paid for me to go back to university to do an MA in English literature. I knew the idea was scaleable and a late night conversation with Laura led to us writing a business plan. Now we write a daily email that covers women’s history and culture, food and drink and fashion and it reaches thousands of women every lunchtime.
Laura: Domestic Sluttery brings me untold amounts of joy and pride every single day. When I wrote for the original blog, it was a dream come true for me because I was an avid fan of Sian’s site (every so often she likes to forward me the email I first sent her – telling her why I thought I would be a good addition to the team – and it makes us smile because we didn’t know then that we would, years later, embark on this massive adventure together). When we decided to relaunch as a newsletter, I had already decided to go freelance, so the timing was perfect for us both. Being able to write about the things I love and the subjects that interest me every single day is wonderful, and I love working with Sian.
3. To Sian: Tell us a little about your upcoming novel based on women in 1950’s London.
Sian: It’s a love story about friendship. I’m so interested in relationships and bonds between women and although there’s more than one love story it’s all about the women. My gran was the main inspiration for one of the main characters and that’s where I started. I didn’t really have a plot, just a bunch of really kickass women in an unusual setting – it’s set above a wool shop in Fitzrovia. I wanted to write about the time after the war when everyone was hoping for a change. Writing a novel is a huge thing, so it’s not going to be ready for a while! I’m on my eighth draft.
Laura: I have read it and I loved it so much I stayed up way too late to finish it, and also had a few cries throughout.
4. To Laura: Give us an insight about your journey with the magazine industry so far.
Laura: I love magazines and the magazine industry, although times are a little tougher now than they were when I started. I was fortunate enough to have a variety of roles on a range of different publications during my 12 years working full-time on magazines, working up from editorial assistant to eventually becoming Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of several titles. When I started out, it was the glory days of big budgets and huge circulation figures, and I had the most fun job in the world. I interviewed celebrities, wrote the horoscopes, went on exciting press trips, and got A LOT of free make-up. When I became an editor for the first time, the real downturn in magazine sales was just beginning, so I had a challenge on my hands, but in a strange way I’m grateful for that. It forced me to try new ways of doing things and to learn new skills. I don’t think print media will ever die (but, y’know, if you’re reading this in the year 3082, I admit I might have been wrong). The magazines that adapt and give readers what they want will always succeed.
5. What are both of yours go-to brands or designers for some retail therapy?
Sian: I’m a little bit smitten with the trousers in Oasis at the moment (as a dress wearer, they are something of a revelation). If I had all of the money in the world I’d be in head to toe Erdem every day. I tend to buy pieces that go with what I’ve already got, I shop a lot less than I used to and save for things I really want.
Laura: I have recently been loving Warehouse midi dresses. I get lots of lovely comments about my outfit when I’m wearing one, and there are always great deals to be had in the sale.
6. Do you both follow trends? If Yes, what according to you has been your favorite fashion trend from 2017. If No, what would you term your style quotient as?
Sian: I guess quirky classics are my go-to. And massive jewellery. If I have to take my earrings out when I’m running for a bus I’m happy.
Laura: I am not a trends person, I prefer to wear vintage-style dresses most of the time. The man who owns my local corner shop told me I dress like a stylish Land Girl. I’ll take that – life achievement unlocked – but it did mean the next day I had to go to a different shop because I was wearing a hoodie with a bit of egg smeared on it.
7. To Sian: Tell us something about Laura that people wouldn’t otherwise know.
Sian: One of the best things about writing Domestic Sluttery each day is that I’m still finding things out about Laura that I didn’t know. Little snippets in her copy that surprise me each morning. Her weird obsession with celery, her love of Westerns and ballet, she doesn’t really speak without at least two cups of coffee in the morning. A lot of people think we’re sat side by side but we’re opposite ends of the country –Laura’s in Dundee so I learn a lot of Scottish words from her.
Laura: She can use “och” in a sentence really well now. So proud of her.
8. To Laura: Tell us one of the most annoying habit of Sian.
Sian: Seriously, how long have you got?
Laura: Ha ha ha, well, where do I begin? No, I’m kidding. We both have different quirks and hang-ups and habits – everyone does – but the great thing is that we complement each other, and I think that our individual weirdnesses and foibles help us to be a better partnership and run a better business, because if something matters a lot to one of us, it matters to us both, and we work hard to improve or solve the problem. Above all else, we are kind to each other, always, and we cut each other some slack when we’re having a bad day or life is getting in the way. Do you see how I totally flipped that question around so I didn’t have to answer it? I might change careers and become a politician.
9. One color you both swear by…
Sian: I can’t wear yellow – I’m blonde and too pale – but I can and will wear bright yellow accessories at every opportunity. Purple, pink and red feature heavily, too. Usually at the same time.
Laura: Green is my favourite colour, but I love them all really. I’ve been getting really into orange recently. An underrated colour.
10. What advice would you like to give to someone who wants to became a writer/ editor?
Sian: WRITE. So many people tell me that they want to be a writer but they don’t have a blog, they don’t have a platform. They’re waiting for someone else to give them a chance and it just doesn’t happen. You don’t get better without writing. It doesn’t happen because you wish it to happen. There’s so much talk about writers who are an overnight success and it’s just not true. Those out of the blue success stories are the work of years and years of hard work. If you want to write, you make the time to do it.
Laura: I agree with Sian’s advice. You can always fit writing into your day, even if you have to work at another job to support yourself, but it’s important to keep at it. Being an editor is slightly different – unless you start your own magazine/website/newsletter/whatever, you’ll need to start at the bottom and work up. And while you’re working your way up, pay close attention to what the people in the job you’d one day love to have actually do on a day-to-day basis. You might be an editorial assistant on a magazine thinking that cover price strategies and paper stock and routes to market don’t matter to you, but if you absorb even a little knowledge and make an effort to understand the complexities of an editor’s role, it will set you in good stead for the future.
11. The most inspiring quote you’ve heard to date.
Sian: I’m really not one for inspiring Pinterest quotes and sound bites. Our Monday edition features an excellent woman from history and we always start with a quote but I need the rest of the story. That said, Martha Gellhorn saying “why should I be a footnote to somebody else’s life?” definitely sticks with me. She fought so hard to be appreciated for her own work, rather than who her husband was. Badass quotes have a story behind them.
Laura: I am similarly allergic to inspirational quotes, but I often remind myself of something Françoise Sagan said: “Whisky, Ferraris and gambling; aren’t they rather more amusing than knitting, housekeeping and one’s savings?”. That’s not to say I’m sitting here gambling away my pension fund, but it’s a reminder to have fun. Life is short and sometimes you should choose pleasures over practicalities. Having said that, I disagree with her on the knitting. I love knitting.
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