Welcome to season 2 of Period Story podcast!
For the 11th episode of Period Story podcast, I had a wonderful conversation with Angelica Malin, the editor in chief of About Time magazine and the founder of About Time Academy.
Angelica talks about why she was so shocked and appalled by her first period and how poorly prepared she felt for it. She says for her, getting her period signalled the start of a horrible time of discomfort.
We discussed the shame Angelica attached to her period and how talking about periods at school almost felt like a curse word. She says that in her mixed sixth-form college, women’s hormones were used against them as a way to call them out as crazy and this created a lot of stigma and shame around periods.
Angelica says that the real turning point in her being comfortable talking about her period and menstrual cycle was in her last long term relationship. Have a listen to hear the very funny term her ex gave her period and how having a laugh about it made her feel much more at ease.
We also talked about creating safe spaces in the workplace and the need to have more senior women to help make decisions that are made with women in mind. Angelica says that she’s created a culture in her business and team where they can talk openly about periods and how they’re feeling.
Angelica says that big companies could do a lot more to make women feel comfortable at work and to encourage a happier workplace culture, like providing free tampons and pads at work and menstrual leave.
We chatted about all the innovation in femtech, including brands like Moody, Ohne, Daye, Freda and Elvie that are creating high quality female focused products. Angelica talks about her experience speaking to female founders who are trying to raise investment and trouble they have when speaking to male VCs. She says we need more women to be starting businesses and more female VCs. She says that it’s so important for us to define our own version of what success looks like.
Angelica says that it’s important for us to be a friend to ourselves and speak to yourself as you would a friend and I completely agree!
Angelica Malin is Editor-in-Chief of About Time Magazine and Founder of the About Time Academy. Angelica studied English and Drama at the University of Bristol, gaining a 2:1, before deciding to embark on a career in journalism. After a stint at a fashion and travel magazine, Angelica decided to pursue a career as an entrepreneur – craving the freedom and creative possibility of working for yourself. Angelica launched About Time Magazine in March 2014, having spotted a gap in the market for a really well curated, personal lifestyle site, dedicated to discovering everything it’s about time you tried in London and beyond.
Having launched her business straight out of university, Angelica has built up a monthly audience of over 85,000 readers worldwide, with 100,000 followers on social media. About Time has since grown to become one of the capital’s most-loved lifestyle websites, with a team of 90 writers across the globe. In March 2019, Angelica launched the About Time Academy, having seen the demand for high-calibre live events through her successful reader events and festivals over the years. The Academy hosts weekly panel talks and masterclasses, inviting entrepreneurs, experts and authors in to discuss everything from self-kindness to nutrition for mental health. In September 2019, she launched its first festival – #SheStartedIt LIVE, a one-day festival dedicated to the future of women at work. Angelica is passionate about female entrepreneurship and empowerment, and recently launched #SheStartedIt – a new podcast and platform to celebrate the success of female leaders in the UK. Listen here.
Le’Nise: On today’s episode, we have Angelica Malin, the editor in chief of About Time magazine and the founder of About Time Academy. After a stint at a fashion and travel magazine, Angelica decided to pursue a career as an entrepreneur, craving the freedom and creative possibility of working for yourself. Angelica launched About Time magazine in March 2014, having spotted a gap in the market for a really well curated personal lifestyle site dedicated to discovering everything it’s about time you tried in London and beyond. Welcome to the show.
Angelica: Hi. Thank you for having me.
Le’Nise: This is a question I always start each episode with. Tell me about the story of your very first period.
Angelica: So, my first period was when I was at school and I’m not sure exactly what age I was, but I remember being really shocked, really kind of appalled that I was like, what is my body doing? What is this? Being quite horrified. It felt quite violent in a way. That was kind of my first real memory of it.
Le’Nise: Why were you so shocked and so horrified?
Angelica: I think I wasn’t really prepared for what to expect, that was probably the main thing, no one had really told me what to imagine. And that was probably why, and also, I remember thinking that it wasn’t the colour that I thought it was meant to be. I remember it not being like bright red and me being like, oh, there’s something wrong with me because it was a darker colour and thinking I was broken. Yeah, some kind of shame in my mind, something had prepared me for it being bright red and it wasn’t.
Le’Nise: So, you were shocked, you were horrified, you weren’t prepared. What did you do in that moment when you got your period?
Angelica: So, I did a classic which is, I hate saying this as I’m 29, but it still happens, it catches me off guard and I shove some toilet paper down there and hope for the best. I got to the end of the day and at the end of the day, I think my mum must have collected me from school and I said, ‘this is what’s happened’, and she said OK. And we went and we bought a whole load of stuff and it was totally fine. But I was poorly prepared for what you actually do when it happens. I didn’t use tampons for years, actually, I only used sanitary pads because I was kind of scared of them, I didn’t really know how to use them.
Le’Nise: When told your mum, how did she react?
Angelica: Oh, I remember her being like, ‘mazel tov, you’re a woman’. She was delighted. And I was like, I hate it, it’s horrible, it’s so messy. I had really bad period pains the first few years. My period pains were totally out of control, it was awful. So, getting my period really signalled a horrible time of discomfort.
Le’Nise: And how did you learn about what was normal and what wasn’t normal with regards to having a period?
Angelica: I don’t have any strong recollection of an education in a formal sense at school about periods, to be honest. It might have been that when I got my period, I was at a mixed prep school and it wasn’t till I went to all-girls school that I started to get any kind of good education around female hygiene, about sex. So, I think anything I gleaned, was socially. I learned what was normal in a period and I learned how other people, other women had their periods through school. So, it came out of conversations rather than top down from any authority figures, really.
Le’Nise: And when you think about what you and your friends were talking about at school, was there anything that you think about now that like, oh, that was absolutely wrong or that was crazy that we thought that?
Angelica: I think we were all just quite confused by what was normal. There was quite a lot of panic and uncertainty in those years for me of like was I normal? was what was happening to my body normal? So, I remember kind of comparing how long my period was compared to other girls’ periods and things like that, ‘was my flow normal?’, ‘was it was normal that I got cramps in the way I did?’, all of that. And also, mood changes like, I suppose, you know, hormones are very off as a teenager anyway, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. And I think it is a bit of a rollercoaster because it is so personal and so different to every woman. And we do have the sense of like, is what I’m experiencing normal? I think that goes into adulthood because there’s not enough conversation about it. And it’s only for me really, the last few years that this kind of period awareness has happened. But I was kind of uneasy about myself because of it.
Le’Nise: Do you think that it had an impact on the way that you thought about your body?
Angelica: I think there was still for me, quite a lot of shame attached to it, actually. I remember when I went to mixed school for sixth form, having, you know, all-girls school for years. And I went to a mixed school where they only let girls in at sixth form. So, the boys were kind of not emotionally ready, quite emotionally immature. And I remember feeling shame around my period, I remember it being like, almost like a curse word, someone saying, ‘oh, you’re on your period’. And it was like women’s hormones were kind of used against them as a way to call them out as crazy. Yeah, there was a lot of a stigma attached to it. I felt like it wasn’t an environment where there was a real knowledge about female bodies, and they were used against them. I think girls are made to feel ashamed for what happened to their bodies.
Le’Nise: Where do you think that shame comes from?
Angelica: I think partly it’s a lack of conversation and a lack of understanding. I didn’t get the sense that the boys that I went to school with ever had an education about the female body. So, I think that’s quite a big part. It’s not only women not educated about their bodies or young girls aren’t, but men aren’t either. And I think for me, the real turning point was probably in my last long term relationship where I was with someone for so long that I was very, very comfortable talking about my hormonal cycle and my period and that was the first time, really, that I felt I had spoken to a man about it. And he actually said whenever I was on my period, he would say I was ‘on chess’ because it was like Chessington because it was a world of adventures. It was the first time I was able to kind of laugh about it with anyone and feel comfortable with, like, this happens to my body and like for a week of the month, I feel really low. This is just how it is for me and having this conversation with men, I felt more comfortable having that conversation with lots of friends and I have some friends whose hormones cycles are so bad that they are self-employed or freelance because they don’t want to work in an office because it affects them so much. It’s that extreme. And I only know that because I’ve been comfortable enough to actually speak about it with my friends now.
Le’Nise: So, it’s been a real journey for you, going from this feeling a sense of shame and stigma to now being able to talk about it with friends and partners.
Angelica: Yeah, definitely, and with the work I do, we host female empowerment festivals. And I think that was a huge thing that came out of it for me was that we were still not talking enough about women’s health and the emotional impacts of women’s health and women’s health in the workplace as well. And I think I felt like if I was going to host these festivals and I was going to fly the flag for female empowerment, I had to assess everything and all areas where we need progression. And actually, women’s health was a big one.
Le’Nise: So, what do you think that we can do, based on the conversations that you’ve had and the work that you’re doing, to progress the conversation around women’s health in the workplace?
Angelica: Well, I think the first thing that comes to mind is creating safe spaces where these things are discussed. I think a lot of the problem is top down leadership can be quite male heavy and the people that are making the decisions, often aren’t women. And so, they don’t connect, they don’t understand. I had a friend I was talking to the other night and she works for a law firm and she said that she tried to get her company to provide free tampons, it’s a huge law firm, she asked her company to provide free tampons in the loos and it was shot down by C-level. They said, ‘oh, it’s an expense that we don’t need and it’s not necessary’. Half the people that work there are women and obviously it would be great and a great benefit. But that’s a big problem, is that I think unless you have more women at the top, the decisions aren’t being made with women in mind.
And then I think it starts young, doesn’t it? I think that the conversations need to happen at a younger age about education, what’s normal? Just taking away so much of the shame is the secretive nature of it. I just felt like I had to, like hide that I was on my period. And even now, I sometimes feel uncomfortable saying it, but I’m trying to because I want to get past that. So, if I’m with a friend, I’ll say, ‘oh I’m knackered because I’m on my period’ and I’ll say that to male friends. And I just want to get rid of that embarrassment around the whole thing.
Le’Nise: Do you think that that sense of kind of secretiveness and shame still lingers for you? Is it around not really wanting to have those conversations with men or being uncomfortable with having conversations with men about it?
Angelica: I think I am a bit uncomfortable. I think there’s an element that feels like weakness, that is subconscious. I think by saying I’m having a bit of a bad work week because my periods just made me feel really down, I don’t know, I think maybe that’s a bit of me that feels a bit embarrassed by that because, I’m like this badass entrepreneur and I want to rule the world, but sometimes it just floors me and it’s annoying. I also feel like there must be something chemical that makes you forget because I swear every month I get really down and then 3-4 days in, I’ll get my period and then I’ll be like, ‘oh, it was my period making me feel like this’, but I seem to forget every month. So, like however many years, I’ve said that to friends, and they said, yeah, that’s exactly what happens to me. There’s something in our brains that just kind of tricks us to think that it’s just situational and it’s not hormonal.
So yeah, I am trying. I’m trying with my male friends, I like to just throw it in every now and then and just throw them off guard and be like yeah, I’m having a really heavy period and then they look really uncomfortable drinking their beer. But it’s important isn’t it, sometimes you have to make people feel uncomfortable.
Le’Nise: Yeah, absolutely. Because, you know, they’re 50% of the population. And, you know, they not only might have daughters or wives, but, you know, they have mums and all of them at one point will have experience having a period or will experience having a period.
I want to go back to what you said about the hormonal cycle and what you said about this shame, because you feel like you need to be always on like this badass entrepreneur. I interviewed someone last year and she was talking about how she was speaking to another entrepreneur who had real shame around having her period because of what you said, this feeling like you have to work in a very male way where you’re always on, like that kind of hustle culture. Can you just speak a little bit about the work that you’ve done with female entrepreneurs and whether you think this is a common theme that you see?
Angelica: I think it depends, really. I think for me, one of the reasons that I seem to have only hired an all-female team is because we connect with this stuff loads and we have a culture where we can say, ‘I’m just not feeling great, so I got my period, can I work from home?’. And that stuff is so much easier to talk about because we are all women. I think there’s two schools of thought with it, I think some women feel like they don’t want things like their period to define them and their hormones and they just want to power through as it were. Ignore that it’s there, go to work as normal, be a badass. For me, that attitude feels like suppression a little bit. Not that I need to totally give in to it, but I just genuinely I’m not willing to push through certain emotions. Sometimes I want to just sit with how I’m actually feeling. So, I don’t really subscribe to school of thought of being super strong the whole time, I try and track my cycles, so I know when I’d be more up for certain things. I try and plan my schedule in a way that’s gentle and soft for me. But that’s taken me years to kind of hone to get to a place where I actually even understand my body to that extent and when I’m on good form and when I’m not. So, I think it’s all about awareness. I found apps are a really good way of trying to get in touch with what’s going on in the body.
Le’Nise: What apps do you like?
Angelica: I’m currently using Moody Month, which I’ve used for a while, which I really like, but anything, I’ve used Clue in the past as well. Sometimes I felt like I don’t really understand when I’m up and when I’m down and I often know when the down bits were because I know that around my period, a couple of days before, I would feel really low, sometimes a couple days after, and that bit I’d understand. I think the other side of that is, when my hormones are up, when am I feeling good? I didn’t really understand that side of my cycle at all. And now I know that there’s a week in particular where I feel really strong, really confident, I just feel good, and that’s when if I have a big meeting, I’ll take it or if I have a big event, I mean, I totally ruined next month because we have our festival over the first two days of my period. It’s like, why am I doing this? I think that that’s really healthy. That’s why fem tech is so amazing, because for years none of this stuff existed that actually allowed women to understand their bodies more. I want to see more of these tech solutions to women’s health.
Le’Nise: So, you said that using apps like Moody Month help you understand that kind of full hormonal cycle that happens across the however long your menstrual cycle is, it’s changed the way that you plan your life. What else has it changed?
Angelica: There’s certain things that I didn’t realise were linked to my hormones that I only realised when I started jotting down symptoms in the app, for example, like noise sensitivity. Its funny, noise sensitivity affects me during my period, which I didn’t realise, and I started to write it down and I realised that street noise would bug me. But then on the other side, I also found that during my period, I really, really connected to music in a way that I don’t for the rest of the month. Just very strange, but I get for a week, I constantly want to listen to music, when I listen to music, I feel really good, I feel really connected to it, it really moves me. It makes me realise that women are just magical, we’re these magical beings. Like, what is this? It’s so cool.
And I remember once, I was on my period and I was feeling so low. My boyfriend at the time came over and I was sitting on my sofa, I was so, so low. And he came over with a bar of chocolate and he made me a cup of tea, and I got a little bit of chocolate and I went and sat on my floor and I dipped my chocolate in my tea, the chocolate melted and I had a little bit and my face was just like beaming and I was radiating, I was so happy. And he looked at me and he is like, it’s unbelievable. Like the way that women from one moment to the next, like your moods can change so much. He was like, it’s really special, but it’s just not something I ever experience. I never experienced that high and that low where I was on my cycle. I was just, you know, a bit crazy in a way. And he’s like, it’s really quite cool. And I was like, yeah, it is quite cool. But it’s also quite crazy that this is what happens to us. And for men he was like, I wake up and most days I’m the same. You know, day to day,
he was the same person. And that’s not how I feel. I feel like I’m on an emotional rollercoaster most of the time.
Le’Nise: But you seem like you become quite positive about the changes that happen to you.
Angelica: Yeah, I think so. I think the thing with being on a roller coaster is that you get these amazing highs. I think that’s sometimes what we forget is, yeah, we get PMS and we get really down. But then when our hormones are up, we feel amazing. And I think the thing with periods is it makes you want to connect with your body a bit more. I think it forces you to practice more self-care, it forces you to be kind and gentle, like making myself a hot water bottle, getting my favourite thing on Netflix and having a cup of tea when I’m on my period. That’s an act of self-love. And I don’t think I would do those things if it wasn’t for my periods. I think being grateful for that is quite nice.
Le’Nise: I love that. I think that more women could look at their period like that because I think a lot of women, they tend to just focus on the week of the period or the few days before their period where things for them aren’t great. And then they define their menstrual cycle like that. And putting it on its head like you’ve done, is really positive. And I love what you said about, you know, the magic of having a hormone cycle. But I wanted to just also go back to what you were saying about the way that your team adapts to having a period and you kind of work around your teams’ period. Maybe that’s not the best way of putting it working around their periods. But you’re flexible. You said that the week you have a week in your menstrual cycle where you feel really strong, really powerful. Does that change? Do you find that you changed the way you relate to your team during that time?
Angelica: I don’t think I change the way I relate to my work in that time. I have to be a bit careful sometimes because it can make me feel so confident that I’ll take meetings and walk in and just say yes to stuff that a week later I’m like, ‘oh, I can’t actually do that, why did I promise that?’. I have to be a bit careful with it. I think the thing is, I don’t necessarily work around the periods of my team, but we talk really openly about it. And I think just having a culture where, if I know that they’re really tired, I’m going to go a bit gentler or I’ll let them work from home, I think that’s important. There’s a fine line, I think, as an employer between pandering to certain things and being a bit too pampering and being respectful and understanding of where someone is at. So, there’s a fine line in it. But I think big companies could do a lot more to make women feel comfortable at work and to encourage just a happier workplace culture. But like I said about the tampons thing, I think even just an employee being like, you have a period and I know that, in itself is empowering.
Le’Nise: So, having free tampons, menstrual leave, what else do you think employers can do to be more flexible around menstrual health?
Angelica: I think there’s a big link to menstrual health and mental health. And I think the whole thing is just about creating a culture of openness and conversation and dialogue. I never learnt how to be a boss, I just had to work it out in the years I’ve run my business. I think one of the hardest things I’ve learned is that you have to have the uncomfortable conversation sometimes and you have to make yourself a bit uncomfortable to get the best out of your employees. So I try as much as I can to sit down individually with them, be like, ‘how are you feeling and how is your head?’, ‘how are you feeling about this work?’ and all these kind of questions that maybe make us a bit uncomfortable, like we’re British, we don’t really want to talk about our feelings very much. They are there and they matter. It’s all related to me, mental health, menstrual health, and also a few people that work for me do suffer with mental health and it very much flares up around their period. So, for me, it’s something to keep an eye on.
Le’Nise: You mentioned the importance of femtech. You talked about Moody Month which is an amazing app. What other examples of femtech have you seen that you think are important to be aware of?
Angelica: There are a couple of things that I think are really cool. Elvie is another great brand that lots of people are talking about. They have a breast pump and they have a pelvic floor trainer and they did an incredible raise of investment, which was history making. And then I’m seeing lots of new young tampon and sanitary product brands. One called Ohne, another one called Daye that does CBD tampons. I’ve seen quite a lot of innovation in that space. And again, not a conversation I’d had when I was younger, but I’m starting to realise that we need to look at the quality of the products that we’re putting in our bodies. And I just blindly picked up Tampax because that’s what everyone did for years and sometimes, I still do. But now I’m starting to question, is these the best quality products I could be using? And it’s like going inside me, like what am I putting inside me, and I just didn’t know at all. So that’s really important. And then I’ve got friends who are experimenting a lot more with how they manage their periods and friends that love moon cups, so are using those as a more sustainable option. And I have a friend who free bleeds, who uses period underwear because she finds that tampons make her period pans a lot worse, so just for her whole cycle, she wears period underwear and free bleeds. I’m enjoying seeing people try these things because that shows that we’re progressing, because we’re willing to question what we’ve been doing, basically.
Le’Nise: So, have you changed the menstrual products that you’ve used?
Angelica: Yeah, at the moment I’m using Daye, the CBD tampons and they also have regular ones as well. Also, because they’re like a young start-up run by a woman, I just wanted to support an independent brand. I was like, why am I giving so much money to Tampax? There’s another great brand called Freda that does similar and they have a subscription service, which I think is really cool. For a while, I used Pink Parcel, which is a period box delivery company and every month they would send you things for your period like products, tampons, sanitary pads, etc, as well as things to make you feel good, which I think is quite nice. But I found that actually sometimes we can play into a bit of a cliché with periods, and I don’t think necessarily think that tea and chocolate is always what we need.
I would say on the femtech front, having hosted so many panel talks about it, I think one of the really big issues that I’m seeing is that basically when a lot of women are going to get investment for these kind of companies, they’re sitting in a room full of men and the VCs and the investors or private equity, they don’t connect to it, they don’t get it. And then they’re not willing to put the investment money forward. So, I think what’s really impressive about Elvie, is they raised a hell of a lot of money. There’s a lot of difficulty because very often I’ve heard these anecdotes about men being like ‘oh, we don’t really get it because we don’t get where it’s for, we don’t understand it because they don’t have periods’. They don’t understand why you’d need this kind of business. So, this is a real problem I’m seeing, is that fem tech can’t get past a certain stage. In the UK, 40% of female businesses don’t get past the stage after they get investment, they just burn out really early. And I think this is one of the reasons is that men aren’t connecting. So, we need more female VC’s, or we need more aware men.
Le’Nise: There’s a big movement in the US where there are a few really prominent female VCs and I think there is a big female focused VC. What do you think needs to happen in the UK for that to take hold over here?
Angelica: I think it’s similar. We do need more female VCs. It’s all problematic because, you know, often VCs are people that have started businesses and then sold them and then gone on to be an investor. So, we need more women to be starting businesses and they need to be successful in selling, you know, said success rates. And it’s also a cultural shift. I think usually I find that the cultural shift happens and then the policy shift changes and then you see it kind of reflected in the corporate world and in policymaking. So, I’m hoping that the more that we talk about it, the more light that you can shed on the issue that the better the situation will be, I hope. I’ve noticed a lot more female only VC companies popping up. But I mean, women do more crowdfunding for their businesses, partly for this reason.
Le’Nise: So, tell me a little bit about the festival that you’re putting on. When is it?
Angelica: The 13th and 14th of March. So, it’s in a couple of weeks’ time and it’s to celebrate International Women’s Day, which is on the 8th of March. And we’re putting on a two-day festival, it’s called She Started It Live and we have 75 speakers across two days. And it is absolutely everything to do with female empowerment and entrepreneurship. So, everything from starting your own business and getting investment, to having healthy hormones and healthy relationships, it’s just a real mix of different things. I think for me, female empowerment isn’t just looking at the world of work, it’s the interrelation between everything, like how does our health affect our work? and how do we feel about ourselves? So, it’s a mix between kind of intuition and mind body stuff as well as practical career knowhow.
Le’Nise: What made you decide to set up this festival?
Angelica: So, we did our first one in September. We were doing similar stuff, but we are spreading it out across a number of weeks. But we’re doing lots of panel talks about female entrepreneurship. And I thought, wouldn’t it be great just to bring all those panel talks into the one day? And that’s what we decided to do. So rather than have it spread out across the season, we put it into the one day and, you know, it wasn’t actually different, it was something I had mentally had to get over because it scared me to be honest, I was putting on a festival, it felt like a much bigger thing. We did our first one which was one day and now we are doing our next one which is two days. So, this is how we grow as businesspeople. I just think that it’s really important to create physical spaces for women. Like I love having digital communities. I think it’s great that we have Instagram and that we have all these social media platforms to connect with other people. But I don’t think that should be at the cost of the physical. What I’m trying to do is bring everything back into the physical space because there’s something very powerful when you get women together in a room and take it off the Internet, into the physical space so they can network, they can connect, they can chat, they can make friends like god making friends in London is hard. Anything that we can do to bring women together and to empower them, really.
Le’Nise: So, you had your first festival in September. What were some of the outcomes that you saw from that festival?
Angelica: I mean, it was amazing, we’ve had so many women contact us afterwards saying, ‘I launched my own thing off the back of it, it gave me the confidence I needed’. We had a lot of people coming who I think where just at that sweet spot of being almost ready, but not quite ready. And then they kind of took the leap, having heard from an inspirational speaker or met someone on the day. So, we had lots of people contacting us afterwards.
But it was also a great opportunity for us as a business to listen to our audience and to learn what it is that they’re struggling with, what it is they want to learn about, and the barriers in place for them. So, one of the things that we’re offering at this festival is that we have free childcare for both days. And that really came about from having conversations, the last festival where women were saying to me, ‘oh, I had this friend that she wanted to come, but she’s got a kid and she couldn’t bring the kid along’ or ‘I came but I had to leave my kid with my husband and he’s annoyed at me’, whatever it is. And I just thought, well, there ought to be some solutions to this, so we really quite easily sorted out childcare for the festival. And I was almost embarrassed by how easy it actually was to sort out. We worked with a great company who are providing it for us and that was a big thing. And I’ve realised that this is what needs to happen, basically, the structures need change around women so that they’re able to progress, there aren’t just these barriers that are stopping women at achieving this full potential or even just coming to an event.
Le’Nise: So, you’ve launched this festival and you launched the website in 2014 and the academy. What are some of the lessons that you can share with female entrepreneurs who, as you mentioned, are in that sweet spot of being on the cusp of starting their own business?
Angelica: Look, it’s a scary time and I think that nobody goes into anything feeling 100% confident. I think that we need to rewrite the rules with business a bit. That the attitude that you’re always going to feel totally committed to what you’re doing, full of bravado, full of confidence. That’s for me, quite a male energy, it isn’t how I’ve done business. I’ve done the journey and I’ve been full of self-doubt at times and I’ve wondered whether it’s going to work, that’s what helps you build up your resilience, really, because you sit with that discomfort and you do it anyway. And I think if more women could understand that that is totally normal, like, I’ve run a business for six years and I did an interview yesterday where she said, ‘do you have to have moments of self-doubt?’ And I was like, ‘running your business is hour by hour you’re flipping between, I’ve got this, to oh I don’t know if I’ve got this’. And that is what it is and that’s totally fine and everything you’re feeling is so valid and is so normal. But the thing is, is that you don’t have to act on it just because you have a moment of panic, it doesn’t mean the project’s not right, it doesn’t mean it’s not working.
The other thing I would say, especially to women starting their own businesses, is work out what success looks like to you, because I think for women, it’s a very different set of ideas often. And we don’t have one single yardstick to measure success. It may be a certain number that you might want to make with your company or a certain number of employees, but it might also be, being able to only work three days a week or look after your kids, it might be a totally different thing. And I think getting rid of some of the structures in place that tell us that this is what success looks like, will be really beneficial because I think you have to be gentle with yourself. For me, it’s being able to do this podcast at home wearing my running kit so I can go for a run afterwards. Like that for me feels like success because I’m able to look after my schedule and do what makes me feel good. So, you know, be honest with yourself and work out what those values are to you.
Le’Nise: I want to go back quickly to what you said about self-doubt and being able to identify it in the moment. What would you say to women who do experience that self-doubt and they actually find that it cripples them?
Angelica: Yeah, it’s difficult because I think a healthy amount of self-doubt is good because it makes you question things, it makes you push yourself harder and ask yourself questions. But then you don’t want so much self-doubt that you’re just unable to do anything. I find often that self-doubt with women is linked to imposter syndrome, so not feeling like what they’re doing is valid, feeling like they’re fake or a fraud, that they don’t have all the tools in place to do the thing.
What I’ve learned kind of anecdotally with women, is that they often don’t want to do things when they don’t have everything in place, or they don’t feel like they’ve learnt all the skills yet. Whereas men will very often just want to throw themselves into something and are quite happy to learn on the job. And I think that we have to have an element of that, like I’m going to just figure it out and I know I’m not ready but that’s OK, you can kind of get too prepared and then you kind of freak yourself out. So learn about your industry but even if you’re trying to do something totally new, like I didn’t know anything about running a magazine and like, I’m 6 years in and I’m still learning new stuff by having that attitude of playful curiosity, you’re willing to be curious and learn to pick stuff up like that. So, you’re not going to have arrived yet, you’re never going to have arrived.
Le’Nise: Playful curiosity, I love that.
Angelica: Yeah. And also, I think that’s important for what direction you end up taking stuff in? Because we ended up going down this route of doing festivals that six years ago, I had no idea that that’s what I would end up doing. But it kind of came out of a bit of a curiosity where I was like, ‘oh, there seems to be that there’s not enough conversations happening about what it’s like to be a woman in business, we will put on an event and then a we’ll put on 6 events and then we’ll turn the events into a festival then we’ll turn into a two day festival’. And now have plans next year to do festivals all over the UK. And I think that only happened because I was quite playfully curious. I was like, let’s follow where this little seed of excitement goes and when we talk about purpose, I think that’s what purposes is, is that it’s kind of following breadcrumbs a lot of the time, rather than waking up and having some lightning bolt that is like, this is my purpose in life. Now I feel like I have a good sense of what my purpose is. I don’t even know that a year ago I did, so like just being curious and allowing yourself to question and to follow your instincts.
Le’Nise: You’re 29 years old and you’ve accomplished so much already. If you think back to where you were, say, 10 years ago, or even when you got your period, what would you go back and say to that young Angelica?
Angelica: I think I tell her to be a bit more gentle with herself. I think I wasn’t kind enough to myself; I think I rallied against my body quite a lot. I also had problems with food when I was at university and I went off to university, I was overwhelmed by the experience. I felt far from home and I just didn’t eat for a year, I wouldn’t say I have an eating disorder, but I felt disordered with it and it felt like something that I was trying to control to make myself make sense of the world, if that makes sense and that had an effect on my hormones for six or seven months, I didn’t have my period because I was underweight basically. And I wasn’t treating myself with love or respect or kindness at all. And I’ve now come to really love what my body does. Like when I get my period, I feel grateful for it, I feel thankful that my body is able to have a period. I think going through that experience and getting to a place that I so wasn’t caring for myself, that my body just didn’t have it. It was a wakeup call, actually, of what love and nourishment looks like.
Le’Nise: If listeners take one thing away from what you’ve said on this podcast, what would you want that to be?
Angelica: I think we just like to say that I think you need to be a friend to yourself. Is that going through life and having a voice in your head that is one of friendship to yourself and kindness and softness is so beneficial for everything, for work, for relationships, for your hormones and that’s what I’m really trying to do, is speak to yourself as you are a friend.
Le’Nise: That’s really lovely. Be a friend to yourself. I think a lot of us really need to take that message on. So where can listeners find out more about you, the festival, the magazine?
Angelica: So, they can find out more about the magazine at abouttimemagazine.co.uk and we’re abouttimemag on all social media platforms. And then the festival is called She Started It Live and you can find that on Eventbrite.
Le’Nise: Thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you.