Meet Socially Savvy Founder of The WW Club, Phoebe Lovatt
In a world run by social media and social networks, Phoebe Lovatt knows that there is power in who you know. After working as a journalist in the creative fields of style and music, Phoebe wanted to create a space for working women such as herself to form a community and inspire one another in the workplace. Since its inception in 2015, The WW Club has become a global platform that hosts events worldwide and partners with major brands such as Nike. Check out our interview with Phoebe and get some work-life tips from the Working Women's Queen herself.
You've seen a tremendous growth within your business and movement, The WW Club, over the years. Can you describe to us how this journey of taking this grand concept to the top has been for you?
Incredible. Challenging. Surprising. Emotional!
I started The WW Club as a passion project in early 2015, with the goal of creating a community for professional creative women in Los Angeles (where I was living and working as a freelance journalist at the time). By no means did I plan for, or even envision it becoming what it has today. That said, it would be disingenuous to claim that I didn’t feel in my gut that I was creating something that was desperately needed. There are tons of professional women’s groups now, but there wasn’t anything out there that spoke to me or the women I know at the time, which is why I think it was so well-received from the jump.
While I wouldn’t say I’m ‘at the top’ nearly three years on, I’m certainly proud of the growth of the Club over the past few years. I’ve had zero investment, and aside from my part-time admin assistant, I am still a team of one - handling everything from production, to hosting the events, to creating all the content, to social media. It has been a phenomenal amount of work, but it’s the most enriching and educational work I think I could have done at this point in my life.
LA was your first choice when you relocated from your hometown, London. What made you move to New York? How does the city of New York influence The WW Club?
I originally moved to LA from London in late 2012 because I wanted a complete change of pace. Even though I was only 24 at the time, I felt that I needed to switch up my environment and challenge myself with a new way of life. I certainly did that! I lived in LA for three years, until late 2015, and I made a lot of amazing friends and memories in that time. But ultimately I’m a big city girl, and I needed to be back on my actual feet (I hated having to drive everywhere!) in a fast-paced metropolis to feel like myself again. New York is the ultimate hustler’s city. It can be exhausting, but it’s also very motivating to be around so many ambitious, intelligent people from around the world.
You've mentioned that The WW Club came to you at a time where you felt isolation while living in LA. How important is it for you to continue to preserve this ever-expanding network of women?
I think the most rewarding thing about the work I’ve done over the past few years is that I don’t need to actively ‘preserve’ its results - so many connections and friendships have been fostered through the Club through my events and online community. Certainly, I’d like to continue to help that network expand, but it’s already way bigger and broader than just being about me and the sum of my efforts.
The WW Club now offers official membership to the public. What motivated you to launch this sector of the brand?
It was partly a business decision, and partly a way to extend the Club to better serve those who are most invested in it. The official membership comes with additional benefits, access, and content for women who really want to engage with each other and the wider community.
In between getting more exposure, have you faced any challenges in staying true to your brand's authenticity?
Not really. As I said, I’ve had zero investment or direction--all of this is just me, trying to figure out the next step. If anything, I’d say the challenge is being too personally authentic. I’ve had to be mindful of finding ways to move beyond my own perspective and voice to ensure that I’m speaking to women of different backgrounds, who might be facing different issues. That said, I think that the fact that so much of this comes from my personal perspective - and that I try to be very honest and open about my own challenges, and ask my interviewees to do the same - helps women to connect with The WW Club in a way they might not otherwise.
"The people I admire are not those with the highest net worth, but those who find time to be present in all areas of their lives and invest time in stuff beyond their own professional status."
What's the most important business lesson you've learned as a freelancer that applies to your brand today?
Clearly, I’m a big believer in the power of the network. I don’t mean that in a cynical, “How can I use you?" way. I mean it in the sense of actively growing and cultivating a supportive professional community. So many of us are working alone or from home now, but we’re still human beings with tribal instincts at the end of the day. If you’re going to forgo the structure of a regular job, you have to be proactive in finding other ways to stay connected.
How do you maintain a good work/life balance?
This is something I’ve struggled with but also grown better at. It helps that I really enjoy my work, but I’m not completely obsessed with it. I don’t actually want to work every single hour of the day! I also want to read, and travel, and dance, and spend time having conversations with people who are smarter than I am. Could I make more money and have more followers by working a hell of a lot more? Undoubtedly, but I’d probably be miserable and a really boring person to have dinner with. The people I admire are not those with the highest net worth, but those who find time to be present in all areas of their lives and invest time in stuff beyond their own professional status. You have to make peace with your ego to do so, and that’s a much greater challenge than slamming through some crazy to-do list, day after day.
You've held The WW Club events in numerous cities since its inception. Where do you find inspiration on how to curate your next event?
I’m a journalist by trade, so I’ve developed a gut instinct for finding interesting angles and narratives. This could begin with an individual, a brand, or a place. As I write this, I’m en route to Mexico City to host the final event of my book tour--a cocktail party and panel conversation with some of the city’s most interesting creating women at the Habita Hotel. I’ve only been to Mexico City once, but I found it so inspiring and was especially intrigued by the lives of the young creatives I met there. It feels fresh and dynamic in a way that a lot of other places don’t right now, so I want to learn more about everything that’s going on! The journalist in me will always want to know--and tell--the story.
What piece of advice can you give women who are looking to build a brand or business out of freelancing?
To be conscious of the difference between the two. Being a self-employed freelancer and being a business owner are not the same thing! I actually have a whole section on this in my book, because I think it’s an increasingly common area of confusion. Freelancing means working for yourself as a team of one, taking on clients on a project-by-project basis. Building a brand or business is about scaling something beyond yourself, recruiting a team, and engaging with a much broader market (among many other things!) Turn to page 81 of The Working Woman’s Handbook for more on this :)
Name 3 hidden gems in New York City.
Golda, a new coffeeshop and cafe that just opened near my home in Bed Stuy. They have a delicious Middle-eastern inspired brunch menu and the best pastries (and I don’t even like pastries).
Picture Room, a super-stylish and well-curated store/gallery in downtown Brooklyn that sells really cool prints and special editions.
The infra-red sauna at Sky Ting Yoga. The best place to sweat out your city stress.
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
Girls in really cool sneakers, making really cool sh*t happen.