Grace Marshall Shares Her Expertise On Productivity, Burnout & More!

Hey everyone it’s Zainab here, welcome or welcome back to my blog! I’m super excited to bringing you guys another interview, this time I’m speaking with Grace Marshall who has 14 years experience in coaching in productivity and sharing advice with others. She chatted with me all about her ideology on productivity, avoiding burnout and her work. Let’s jump into it!



When we started our interview, I asked Grace to briefly explain the work she does, which I can imagine would’ve been quite difficult to keep brief as she has so many ventures! But, she created her productivity business 14 years ago, and often refers to her business as her ‘middle child’ as it was set up in the middle of having her two children. Along with her books, she mainly coaches and she shared that biggest problem her clients would face was that there was, ‘A lot to do, not enough time to do it!’ And that’s something she actually faces herself aswell as she describes herself as ‘naturally disorganised’ remarking that she often felt that ‘productivity picked me!’ rather than the other way around.

Photo From Grace’s Instagram (@gracemarshallninja)


With that history, I was keen to delve into her first encounter with productivity and how that influenced Grace into working in that field. Beginning her answer, she recalled that she was a straight A student in school and a typical people pleaser. Going back to the idea that Grace is naturally disorganised, in school she knew that there was enough structure in place to tell her when and what to do, but when she moved to University that was the first time in her life she realised that she had to get organised.

Grace actually spent two weeks of her life homeless, when she didn’t realise that she had to apply to stay on campus during University! And she wanted to share this background to convey that she was not always good at productivity, and she first needed it in her life as a necessity in order to get organised and learn – and learning is where a lot of her productivity came from, even now. As the person interviewing her, it was really comforting to hear that her productivity comes from learning experiences too – it was nice to know that it’s okay to learn and grow!

This background was super interesting to hear, and I wanted to know how she started a business about something that came as a necessity to her. Well, Grace studied International Management at University and ended up working in a very small start up after graduating. She described this as a, ‘cutting environment’ in which she described it as learning very quickly what you’re cut out for and what you’re not, challenging the people pleasing side of her! This is what she now calls her, ‘mid life crisis in her early 20s’ which triggered her to switch careers and end up in coaching, and through talking with clients she went into productivity as that was part of their biggest problems.


One thing that’s really unique about Grace is that she prides herself on the human perspective of productivity. She mentioned to me that sometimes productivity can be seen as an ‘extreme sport’ or even a ‘cult of productivity’ where you only do something for the sake of pursuing it. So Grace’s idea was to find out, ‘What’s this actually for?’ and to find out what the productivity is in service for. Because if you don’t do this, it can lead to: Perfectionism, Busyness and Burnout.

Grace shared that as human beings there’s something intrinsic about joy and satisfaction from work. But her perspective is finding out how we can engage in that in a way that allows us to get good results but also for ‘the experience of it to be good’

In the past, Grace has looked at productivity historically. She learned that in the time of Henry Ford (1800s) productivity was about efficiency but then as we moved into the 1900s, Peter Drucker focused on effectiveness rather than efficiency.
But for Grace, it goes a step further, which is experience of it. As Grace finds that this is the only way we can be sustainable in our productivity. A question she would ask herself to discover this was:

Am I doing work in a way that does me good as well as the good that I’m doing out there in the world?

Grace Marshall

When I asked her about why this was so vital, she described it as a ‘virtuous cycle.’ Feeling good about the work we do can benefit our wellbeing but then also gives us the motivation to do more, turning into a ‘joyful cycle.’ And she’s learned this from her experiences of being a perfectionist / straight A student, focusing less on perfectionism and more on what tools she has to ‘surf that workflow rather than drowning in it!’

One of Grace’s books, How To Be Really Productive, was offering a free chapter so I knew I had to dive in to read the start. And in this first chapter Grace mentioned 3 major values that helped with finding happiness with working which were: Meaning, Purpose & Joy. In her words, these 3 things help to give some ‘substance’ to your productivity. Purpose allows you to identify what you’re working towards, working without Meaning can give a sense of the work being empty or draining, and Joy makes the experience of work fulfilling.

Photo From Grace’s Instagram (@gracemarshallninja)


Of course I wasn’t going to chat to Grace without asking for a technique that she could share, and she really brought the best ones forward! Grace is filled with these, each with their own quirky name and to fit a different purpose to finding happiness or avoiding stress.

She shared that one of her favourite yet simple things to do is to write herself a ‘Ta Da List!’ Which comprises with everything she has done in a day. The act of stopping, reviewing and reflecting to find a win really helps. Grace shared a statistic with me that stated that human beings have 3 times more positive experiences than negative ones, but we have a negative bias so it doesn’t always feel that way. So that negative experience can overshadow everything else, so Grace found that a Ta Da List balances out that perspective because you’re solely focusing on the good things. It can allow us to learn what we’ve done well so we can thrive, but can also just help with accountability on progress. Helping to further , as Grace says, ‘motivation and momentum!’

Later on in the interview, we went on to speak about burnout and recovering from it. That’s when Grace mentioned another one of her techniques called a Pick Me Up Playlist, which is another amazing concept and also solidified my hypothesis that she has quirky names for all her techniques! It’s simply noting down all the things that give you joy & energy that can help to recharge you – so then you have a menu to choose from!


Grace’s business consists of her coaching clients as well as being an author of multiple widely read books focusing on productivity and other life challenges. When we spoke about coaching in particular, Grace said something that really stood out to me which:

Give yourself permission to explore

Grace Marshall

This is such a simple statement made by Grace, but one that’s so eye-opening to so many people. Grace did this personally when making her career switch to coaching, and now in her coaching sessions she encourages clients to treat the session ‘like a treasure hunt’ in order to discover some insight into what their next step is. And as a coach, Grace isn’t just about giving answers she says it’s about, ‘enabling them to be the expert in their life’ to create a space to explore.’ I think this is so reminiscient of her productivity ideology but is also a good reminder for us (me and you) that we should give ourselves the chance to explore and be okay with that, so we can find out what gives us our joy when being productivity.

After Grace discovered new things from working with clients for a while, she received the opportunity to write her first book. She’s written 3 since then: 21 Ways To Manage The Stuff That Sucks Up Your Time, How To Be Really Productive and Struggle. Yet, Grace thinks that she’ll always be a coach at heart and always wants to help people create the space to explore.


Going back to what I mentioned earlier about the free chapter of Grace’s book, she made a very bold statement towards the end of the chapter about success.

Success is something you do, not something you have


Grace acknowledged that most of the time, we see success as the outcome but actually we should take into account everything we’ve done leading up to that. From a productivity perspective, doing success means that you have more control over your success. Defining success in this very ‘tangible way’ can help you to see the building blocks and see success in the ‘doing’ rather than just the outcome.

Again, there was something really sympathising about this perspective on success. Grace really changed my perspective, and as someone who has public exams this year, listening to Grace was so impactful and I think she really helps everyone access a growth mindset in terms of success and how it’s a journey. One of Grace’s latest books: Struggle, has a really thought provoking quote about this.

Success is a labyrinth. Detours, dead ends, doorways, discoveries. We find our way; we lose our way. Along the way we discover guardians, teachers, tricksters, allies, mysterious keys and potent powers

Photo From Grace’s Instagram (@gracemarshallninja)


When I asked Grace to talk around the subject of burnout, I knew that it was going to be quite challenging as it’s now very prominent in our modern day society. In her words, ‘We never had it to this degree 20 or 40 years ago’ and she’s right. She did share with me some theories behind what may have caused it.

One thing being we now have an increase in abundance and choice, which can result in ‘Never feeling like you’re enough, there’s always more we can be doing.’ That’s why she always advises people to start with enough, when it comes to productivity, because if we feel like we don’t have enough it becomes an ongoing journey; turning into perfectionism. Because now,

The nature of our society is always more


But the key point she wanted me, and you, to take from this is that there isn’t more of you. Which can lead to stretching ourselves too much and burning out. Once that stage has been reached, she wanted to be clear that this can look different for different people – some having very clear effects (perhaps even physical symptoms) and some more subtle (which is the case for a lot of people). She prefers to refer to the latter as a ‘functioning burnout’ as it’s as if you can still function and work, but you’ve lost the joy in it. And as we’ve spoken about earlier in this interview, joy plays a central role in Grace’s productivity ideology!

For young people in particular, Grace went into quite a lot of detail at sharing the neurology behind it. When we complete a task and tick something off, we have a dopamine hit – and this is the chemical that can cause addiction. Kind of creating an addiction at getting things done, and when you’re young you can constantly be told that you have loads of potential and having this alongside the idea of abundance and choice can also lead to a burnout through the newfound addiction of getting things done and trying to make the right choice to reach that potential. But Grace also wanted to emphasise that this is also apparent in adults as well.


Something really unique about Grace is that every year she decides to take the month of August off from work. That’s actually the reason why this interview is being released now instead of the summer when I first spoke to Grace! I was super keen to hear about why she made this decision, as I’d never heard of anyone taking an entire month off from their work. When I asked her about this she let me in on her thought process.

Which was that if she recognised that she was constantly working, the quality of her work would deteriorate and she couldn’t come up with her best ideas. One thing that Grace explored in her book Struggle was that most natural phenomenons have cycles: seasons, hibernation, planting etc! But constant cycles can sometimes lose rhythm, and Grace wanted to restore that sense of rhythm in her work. This gave Grace her stopping point to rest & recover to fuel her her creativity and was also beneficial to her accountability and momentum.

When I asked her how someone who isn’t self employed to do this, she reminded me of the importance of actually recharging. Sometimes we can have time off, but we end up transferring all that working energy into new jobs such as house chores – and that’s not really resting. Her solution, of course, was choosing something from the Pick Me Up Playlist that we discussed previously in this interview. Doing something that can give you energy and joy, big or small, can make such a difference!

I had such an amazing experience speaking to Grace, all her advice and thoughts were so interesting – and I hoped you enjoyed this as much as I did! Let me know in the comments what you’ve learned from Grace and how you liked this new interview format. If you’d like to get in contact with Grace, just check out her links that I listed previously!


You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have a great day!


Rida Rashid Speaks Out On The Pakistan Floods, Climate Activism & More!

Hello everyone, it’s Zainab here, welcome or welcome back to the blog! I’m sure many of you have heard about the devastating floods going on in Pakistan at the moment, all caused by the climate crisis that’s been occurring for years. I wanted to do something to shine a spotlight on this issue, and I thought rather than just writing a post based on news reports, I thought it would be more effective to speak to someone who is experiencing this first-hand at the moment.

So today, I’ve had the honour of interviewing teen Pakistani climate activist, Rida Rashid, who will speaking all about what she’s seeing first-hand, sharing ways to help, sharing why this is actually happening and more. (If you’re interested in only reading a specific part of the interview, then use the list of contents below.) Let’s jump into the interview!



Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview Rida. For anyone that doesn’t know who you are, could you give a brief introduction to yourself and your work?

My name is Rida Rashid and I’m a 19 year old climate activist based in Pakistan, and I’m the founder of the non profit organisation: Impact. Which is working on adaptation to climate change with a team of over 300 students across Pakistan. And I’ve been doing climate activism for the last nine years, which means I was very young when I started! And I’m also a part of many national youth panels on climate change. So, I’m doing my A-Levels and climate activism, and that’s it!

Photo From Rida’s Instagram (@rida_ik)


Currently the situation in Pakistan is terrible, over a ⅓ is underwater, considering you are from Pakistan can you just describe the current situation in Pakistan? What are people waking up to, what’s on the national news etc. Please give us the breakdown.

Honestly speaking, I’ve lost quite a lot of extended family members due to these floods and the floods in 2010. So, the situation right now: 1/3 of Pakistani land is underwater right now, we’ve lost 1,300 lives out of which 33.3% were children. And we’ve lost 500,000 livestock, 150+ land roots have been washed away, hundreds of bridges and thousands kilometres of roads have been destroyed – displacing around 37 million people which is more than the population of Canada or Australia. And this has caused the loss of $10 billion to Pakistan’s economy right now, there is more to come.

That’s really upsetting and crazy that situations like these have happened for so long, and only now are starting to get recognition. So, could you explain the cause behind this, we know it’s happening but why exactly is it happening to Pakistan? Especially considering that Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of global emissions.

Definitely, I mean Pakistan is suffering basically due to it’s geographical location. There is no doubt about it, I mean my country is home to 7000+ glaciers, which is the highest outside the polar region, and they are melting at a very fast pace.
But at this point, with these recent floods, it’s a bit complicated. So, Pakistan this summer had temperatures going over 53°C, and that was the highest global temperature ever recorded. So, in science, warm air holds more moisture, and as it comes down, it’s damaging. And as glaciers are melting this is adding to the factors.
However, another added reason to this is lack of governance. After the 2010 floods, there was literally no plan devised (or even if there was, there was no implementation.) There is no transparency or accountability, which is needed in order to create a climate-resilient society, and we fail to do so.
So yes, while climate change has a large part to play in this, I think government incompetency has a bigger role right now with these floods.

Considering you’ve lived there and have had these lived experiences, how do you feel about how it’s being dealt with and the climate crisis in the rest of the world?

I think that we are not taking it seriously, after the climate movement that started globally, leaders said that they cared about it, but they don’t. Even in Pakistan, the government does not care.
I mean, we need to take it more seriously and take action. For them, it might just be promises and commitments, but for me, my country is underwater. We used to have four seasons a year, and now we just go from Summers to Winters.

For me personally, it feels very depressing and frightening and I feel that we need urgent action.


Speaking of action, how are residents and also the government in Pakistan dealing with this? What’s being done within the country?

Yes, there are NGOs and the people of Pakistan are very generous and have been donating to them. And all the relief work being carried out on the ground has been through NGOs.The government are not that active. The only relief has been provided by NGOs, non profits or the Pakistani army – they have been working really hard for this.

You’ve spoken about how long it’s taken for people to realise or provide relief, so why do you think it’s taken a while to realise this is a humanitarian issue rather than an individualist issue?

Yeah exactly, for me, climate change is no longer just weather events. It is our right to education, life, security, freedom and even food that’s being taken away right now!
I don’t know, I feel like we need to go back to our roots and see where everything went wrong and then fix it – because I don’t see what took us so long to make us realise that this is a humanitarian crisis

I know you said it’s going to cost over $10 billion. So could you share what people like me in the rest of the world can do to help Pakistan right now?

First things first, individual donations do work. You can donate to multiple organisations that work on the ground in Pakistan. And apart from this, once we’ve recovered, I’d really like citizens from other countries to be global activists and raise their voice about countries like mine. So, I want more people to talk about climate change, not just mitigation but urgent action.


Find A Full List Of Organisations & Fundraisers


You’re also the founder of Impact Pakistan, could you share a bit about Impact Pakistan and it’s cause?

Impact Pakistan is basically a group of children, we hold conversations around climate change and then we do projects around adaptation to climate change. Before these floods happened, we were working with the government of Pakistan on multiple policies, the water policy and other environment-related policies. For example, the plastic bag ban. So, we were trying to make sure that the policies that were already in place were implemented.
I mean, we started from planting trees and now we’re working on policy implementation. So, Impact Pakistan is a group of children working hard on policies and and also action on ground aswell.

Speaking of working on the ground, how does it make you feel knowing that it’s up to students/young people have to raise their voices now?

My mother’s village is underwater, so I do know that it’s really difficult. We are out of school, the schools in Balochistan are closed – it’s only Islamabad and some parts of Punjab that are still remaining where students are going to the schools. So, we’re out of school all year round because of climate change while advocating for it. Honestly, it’s painful. It’s not something we should be doing.

I’m so sorry to hear that, everyone deserves the right to education and it’s terrible it’s being taken away. Since you you founded the organisation: Impact Pakistan, what is the exact impact it strives to give Pakistan is this current period of time?

Alright, we are currently focusing on flood relief. But apart from that, we are focusing on rehabilitation from the floods from the damage done.
Impact Pakistan wants to be an organisation where we involve youth in: policy making, implementation of policies and we make sure the youth has a role to play in all decisions that are made.
So in terms of working on ground and with policy making, I really want Impact Pakistan to lead on this.

Photo From Rida’s Instagram (@rida_ik)


I’m sure it will grow to that! For any young person that wants to make a difference like this, all around the world, what advice would you give them? How can they get started and make their voices heard?

I’ll share this with you, when I started nine years ago (I was around 10 or 11) it was difficult, it’s not easy – even right now. But, you should never give up, you should keep raising your voice. There are multiple groups you can join, look at Fridays For Future! Just use your social media to raise your voice.

Write about it, speak about it – raise your voice. It matters, and it will be heard. Because we are the future and now we need to hold people accountable.

I love the idea of using your passions! What do you think is the importance of young people having a voice/perspective on policy making all throughout the world? 

I mean, we are the future. We are being affected. So, we are the best people to tell people how we want our future to look. So, youth should be given importance in policy making, everywhere around the globe. And people deciding our future, without us, doesn’t seem right.

I completely agree with you, have you ever been in meetings where you were the only young person in the room? Was it scary or intimidating?

Yeah, I’ve been in meetings where I’ve been the youngest person. It’s scary, but the fact that people in power think you’re a child and that your voice doesn’t matter – it took me a lot of time to make them realise that my voice matters and they should be listening. And now they do listen, it took me 9 years!

Yeah, I mean we have to do it as nobody else will do it for young people! You’ve obviously got your own organisations such as Impact, Project Aab, Fridays for Future & more! So, do you have any advice for young people wanting to start their own organisations?

For anyone that wants to start their own organisation in Pakistan or abroad, it’s about having the passion. Do not give up, it’s going to be difficult. It’s not easy to organise and lead a team all while facing the pressure. But it’s important that you don’t give up.

I’d say set up a social media, start it yourself (for the first three years I did everything myself. Graphic design, social media, collaborations etc!) And then when people see you doing it, they will want to join in and it will keep getting bigger.

And then it becomes a team effort! So how does it feel to lead a team as big as the one you do for Impact Pakistan?

Honestly speaking, it’s scary at times because you have responsibilities. You’re their voice and you’re leading them and representing them. So, it’s not easy leading a team, but I’m lucky enough to have this opportunity. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it!

Photo From Rida’s Instagram (@rida_ik)


I’ll end like this, what kind of future do you envision for Pakistan, and just the Earth’s climate as a whole?

One positive thing that’s happened because of these floods is that conversation has started. So, in Pakistan’s future, I really want the government to be transparent and bring accountability and put a system in place that can actually adapt to climate change.

What about yourself, once this situation hopefully ends do you have any future campaigns/projects planned?

Yes, I have a lot of projects planned. Through Project Aab, we were supposed to install filtration plants across Punjab to provide people with clean drinking water – so I’ll be working on that. And again, policy making and also making Pakistani climate activism active internationally aswell. Because I don’t see Pakistani activists given opportunities internationally. For example, at COP there were only 3 NGOs sending their representatives there so I really want to see youth at conferences like this!

Do you see yourself as an activist your whole life or would you want to go into the political field?

Yeah, I’ll definitely be going into politics. I was a child when I started this so my brain has been so emotionally involved that until I see everything fixed, I’m just not stopping. So, I think I’ll be getting a degree in political sciences or journalism and then pursuing a career in politics.

I think that was the best way to end off! Thank you so much for reading this interview, please go check out Rida’s links below to learn more about her and the incredible work she does. Also, please consider the causes I listed previously in the post for the Pakistan floods! If you’d like more information, you can contact with Rida and I’d also recommend this really informative article from the BBC. . Let me know in the comments what you found most interesting from this interview!

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have a great day!

Interview With Nadine Jolie Courtney – Talking Diversity, Muslim Representation, Writing & More!

Hey everyone it’s Zainab, welcome or welcome back! I’m super excited for today’s post, as it’s my final interview of the year. Today, I’ll be interviewing Nadine Jolie Courtney – best known for writing All American Muslim Girl. We’ll be chatting representation, writing and more, let’s jump into it!

Thank you so much for coming to chat with me for my blog, Nadine! To start off can you give a brief introduction of yourself?

Sure, I’m Nadine Jolie Courtney; I’m a novelist, a TV & Feature writer and also a freelance writer. I live in Santa Monaca.

My father is a Muslim – he’s Jordanian, Circassian, my mother is American. She was Catholic and then when she married my father, she converted to Islam. So, I grew up without very much religion because my father was very much focused on being American and trying to fit in, so I grew up with Christmas trees and my father drinks alcohol so he was very conscious of trying to embrace American culture (which I’ve talked to him about before, I’m not throwing him under the bus). And in All American Muslim Girl, the character of Mo is very much based upon him.

On my mother’s side, she came from a typical American family where there was almost a sense of disappointment that my mother had married a Jordanian. I like to follow the royals, so like with Harry and Meghan and what baby Archie would look like: that’s something my mother’s family said about me. Like, ‘What is she going to look like? She’s marrying a Middle Eastern.’ So, even though my parents were wonderful, I always grew up with this sense of not fitting in with the other American kids and in my dad’s family, not being able to communicate with my Teta (grandmother) as I couldn’t speak Arabic – but I did eventually get an Arabic tutor.

So I never really felt like I belonged in any room I was in. And that sense of not belonging but desperately wanting to is what I put into the character of Allie in All American Muslim Girl. And a lot of the situations and characters is true to my life. My upbringing really influenced how I write and what stories I’m interested in – which led me down the pipeline to All American Muslim Girl!

Photo From Nadine’s Instagram (@nadinejoliecourtney)

That’s so interesting – when reading the acknowledgements I noticed some of the characters are based off of people in your life. So, could you share a brief premise of the book?

So, the book is about a 16 year old girl called Allie Abraham – Alia Abraham – and she lives in Georgia with her parents and she is new to a large public high school, she is used to moving a lot because of her father’s job as a professor. Allie is used to trying to change herself to fit into new situations because she doesn’t feel comfortable in her own skin and ultimately doesn’t feel she’s good enough. And that’s because she comes from a family where she’s told she’s Muslim but doesn’t know what that means because her father wanted her and her family to be as American as possible.

While she’s at this school, she decides to learn more about Islam and explore her heritage, and the book is about her internal exploration and how that changes her and about how that effects her external relationships with her new friends, as she join’s the muslim study group, and also how it effects her brand new relationship with a boy she started to date, and wonders if she’s even allowed to date as she learns more about her religion.

So, you just talked a lot about how the book has a lot from your own life but where did the original idea spark to write the book? Was it more a lightbulb moment or something you’ve wanted to write for a long time?

It was something I had always wanted to do – I had always had a character called Allie Abraham in my head. And I first started writing about her when I was around 25, and at the time I made Allie a similar age to me, where I envisioned a scenario where she visits her family and is then thrust into that world. Then, I thought: no one would publish this and thought nobody would be interested in reading about this girl. But, the industry has really changed in what they’re willing to publish, so I kind of shelved it – yet she was always in the back of my mind.

And then, after Trump got elected and after the Muslim ban, I watched the protesters and l literally started to cry as it was the complete opposite of what my father had always told me to do. He always said to not tell anyone I’m Muslim as I look American. Number one, it’s a really screwed up thing, but Number two, it’s a really damaging thing to hear. I grew up feeling I was shameful from my own father, while I was also getting this from society. Therefore, it was so impactful seeing people willing to identify with Muslims and embrace them and to ‘take the metaphorical bullets for you.’

So, I literally opened to old word document I had and started working on it that day and made some changes evolving her into the character there is now.

That’s really cool that you wrote it from activist spirit. So, you mentioned she went to the Muslim Study Group at school, so if you could put yourself into the book – let’s say you were a member of staff at Providence High, what piece of advice would you give to Allie and her friends?

Oh my goodness, I think that I would just encourage them to keep exploring. When you’re that age, you’re so susceptible to what everyone around you thinks. And I’d just want to wrap them up in a little cocoon and tell them,

‘Even if you’re getting any negative feedback from anyone in your life, just keep your head down and continue your exploration. And know what you’re doing is the right thing, and know you don’t have to get any external validation from people in order to know that it’s okay to do or explore something that maybe seems scary.’

It’s cheesy but, just because is popular, doesn’t make it right. So, if you’re doing something that might seem uncool it doesn’t make it wrong. I’d tell them it’s wonderful what they’re doing – so keep at it!

What lessons would you want young people to take away from the book? (Readers, other young people, Non-Muslims, etc!)

So, I think with this book there were 3 trains of thought running through my head as I was writing it.

On the one hand, I wrote this book for girls like me. Girls who never grew up seeing themselves on the page, girls who always felt like they were hidden – even in their own families. Where there would be literally no room they could ever fit in, even within their own community.

Number two, I was writing for other Muslim girls (or boys!) Just wanting to add another reflection onto the page of our community, and how amazing I think it is to be a Muslim and to be exploring your religion. Because I know (at least in America), we live in a society that’s so much more progressive and tolerant than it used to be – but there’s still Islamophobia!
And because I have light skin and look stereotypically American, I’m subject to the mildest microaggressions (I call it ‘death by a thousand cuts’) where because I look like someone else, people feel safe saying really offensive things to me. Which is a very different thing, than someone who wears hijab, or someone with much darker skin, etc! They have to face things incredibly different, which is incredibly horrifying. But, it’s a very damaging thing to go through the world like that.
So, there’s still a lot of room to grow – so I wanted to reflect this Muslim community that I love and to put that on the page.

And then number three, you want to have the widest possible audience when writing a book. So, I wanted to pour all my love into this, but for an external-facing audience as well. Like, when I first started writing the book, the first half has any Arabic in italics (as Allie doesn’t know any Arabic) and then in the second half, none is in italics anymore, because it’s kind of become part of her by that point. So, at the beginning I do explain some Arabic words and phrases but it ends up where, I don’t think any part of it is othered and I hoped non-muslim readers would walk away understanding a little bit more what it’s like to be Muslim.

That’s what’s really gratifying to me, when different readers from different backgrounds say they really identified with this book – so that’s what made me really happy!

So, with the Arabic, it’s as if the reader is going on a journey with Allie?

Yes, that’s exactly it!

Why do you think that more good muslim representation is needed in the world?

I think more good muslim representation is sorely needed, I think we’re so lucky we’re seeing more and more if it (such as books and TV shows), I don’t think there’s many movies though, so that kind of needs to be resolved. Yeah, I think it’s so important to see ourselves on screen, it makes us feel seen and respected – because Hollywood and books have so much power. And I think it’s so important to see other stories (from all different backgrounds) not just for us, but for other people, to recognise the world is so diverse. Which can lead to more tolerance, more understanding and more empathy.

Photo From Nadine’s Instagram (@nadinejoliecourtney)

I totally agree, I want to talk to you more about All American Muslim Girl in a little bit, you were formerly a beauty editor and writer for many publications (Vanity Fair, Vogue and Oprah to name a few!) , so what was your journey to becoming an editor for a publication like?

Sure! So, I went to college in New York, and while I was in the city, I tried to take as many internships as I could. Basically, I gathered as many names on my resume as I could, so when I graduated I applied for many magazine jobs – and I was lucky enough to get an interview for one of them, called Lucky Magazine (which sadly isn’t around anymore). Which allowed me to kind of get my foot in the door, as Lucky Magazine was part of Condé Nast (a media company) it grew very quickly, and it became a really good name to have on my resume. Which then I started swinging from job to job, magazine to magazine.

Then, in my mid-twenties, I started a blog about the beauty industry called Jolie in NYC. Which became very popular, very quickly. And I was saying things about the beauty industry that were secret at the time. I wrote about things such as photoshop, basically behind the scenes industry secrets – yet it was anonymous. So, it quickly became like, ‘who is this secret blogger?’ and the New York Post did an article about that, Regis and Kelly had talked about it.

So, I ended up getting a book agent from that as I was one of the first beauty bloggers, and I was doing more beauty blogging and freelance writing. And then I ended up writing my first book which was a non fiction beauty guide called: Beauty Confidential.

I was actually about to ask you about Jolie in NYC (but you got there before me!) Since you were an original blogger, and this is being published on my blog, do you have any advice for bloggers?

I think honestly the most important things are: consistency and a point of view.

When you’re starting a blog (or social media) the most important thing is consistency. If your readers know what to expect e.g every Monday you have an interview series or every Friday you have advice posts, they will start to expect that from you and come back, and maybe forward it to their friends! You could be the most genius writer in the world, but if you post once and then don’t post again for another three months, your readership will fall apart.

Then I would say, it’s obviously important to have the point of view. You have the strong voice. And what you’re putting out there is top quality.

I’m sure my readers will be thankful for this, so I want to talk a bit about TV writing – which you’ve mentioned before! So what do you think is the biggest different between writing for films and shows compared to books?

So, I think that publishing is obviously a business, but when you write a book, you write whatever you want to write. You start sending out to agents and editors, and then the editor can work with you if they’d like to, and help to edit. But, it’s basically free, the book editing process doesn’t cost a lot of money.

But, with TV & Film, it is first and foremost a business. Because it costs millions and millions of dollars to make TV shows, and even more to make movies. And yes, the foundation is the script. So, I have faced a higher barrier of entry to TV & Film, even though you can write a script much more quickly then you can write a book. You could, theoretically, write a TV Script in a day – it is impossible to write a book in a day.

So, it’s much easier to create a TV script, but in my experience, it’s much harder to get it made. There are much higher barriers to entry, because of the high costs involved and so many people behind the scenes. But, it’s been a fun challenge – and then you have to start thinking about casting challenges.

For example, I really want to put out characters that we haven’t really seen before, and I want to write Muslim girls and Middle Eastern Girls, people who represent me and my experiences. And it’s hard, because it’s a business, and nobody is going to hand you millions of dollars for a movie to star some girl that nobody has ever heard of. The problem is, there aren’t that many A-List actresses that are Muslim or Middle Eastern that age that people would be willing to green light a movie for. Obviously, people want authentic representation too, so it’s a really difficult challenge – so casting directors also need to do a better job of getting out there and finding people from all around the world.

Photo From Nadine’s Instagram (@nadinejoliecourtney)

I guess that’s why there’s so much more need for open call auditions from all around the world?

Yes, that’s a conversation I’ve had where I’m in meetings and a question that’s always repeated is, how could we cast this? What about casting? It’s almost like a double-edged sword because when they do take a chance, but the actor isn’t perfectly representative of that character, people will get upset – because people are allowed to want proper representation.

But the executives will then got spooked, thinking they shouldn’t do anything then. Where they’re already so terrified of getting a foot wrong, but also scared of spending money. Like I said, it comes back to the casting – I think we are making baby steps but it just needs to happen faster.

You also created the Crescent List which highlights Muslim TV writers in Hollywood, so why do you think it was important to highlight them? (You kind of touched on this with the acting side)

So, many writers were asking, how can we find other writers like us? How can we champion writers, that maybe nobody has even heard of? So, Twitter became a great mobilising force for underrepresented writers to put their foot forward. So I decided to put together a list of Muslim TV Writers, because I wanted to connect with other writers like me. So, I put a call out on Twitter for people to send me their bios and links to their scripts, and I put together this list. Which is exciting, because now you can kind of get yourself out there.

I think that’s really cool, and I can’t wait to hear more about them, so as you are a TV Writer – just to round this off – could we ever see a TV show or Movie of All American Muslim Girl, or a branching of the story?

Stay tuned!

Thanks so much to Nadine for agreeing to be interviewed, it was so much fun to chat to her and her answer to the final question was so exciting! And thank you so much for reading this interview. Let me know what you learned from Nadine and check out her links below!

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have a great day!

Interview With Myra Ali – Talking Journalism, Body Positivity & More!

Hey everyone, it’s Zainab here, welcome or welcome back to the blog! Today’s post is an interview that I’m super excited to be doing, I’ll be interviewing entertainment journalist: Myra Ali. I had a great time chatting with her about body confidence, journalism advice and more. I hope you enjoy reading the interview below – let’s jump into it!

Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed on my blog! For anybody that doesn’t know who you are, could you give a little introduction to yourself?

My name is Myra Ali and I’m an entertainment journalist! I write for the BBC, The Metro, Glamour Magazine and many other publications. I’m also a BBC Guest Editor as well!

Photo From Myra’s Instagram (@myraaliedit)

That’s really cool – a lot of big publications there! I want to start by talking about your journalism career and going back to the beginning. So, when and how did you start developing a passion for journalism?

So, I’d say I always known I was a good listener and after university I worked as a translator for pregnant women in a maternity hospital. And patients would end up telling me their stories and open up to me. While I was doing that job, I was also on social media talking about my skin condition – I worked with a few charities as well.

I’d kind of always known I wanted to be in media. But about 4 years ago, I wasn’t sure when in media I wanted to be. Whether it was presenting or journalism etc! It took some time, but then an opportunity came with a charity where they asked me to interview a celebrity in London, and I said yes to it. It was all on camera, and while I was there, the photographer was actually Tom Holland’s mum! She said I was really good at interviewing and asked if I’d like to interview her son (Tom Holland) for the next Spiderman film and I said definitely! A couple of months later, it actually happened and I got to interview the other actors too.

After that, there was a really good response to the interview, because they put it on their Youtube channel so I just reached out to a lot of outlets asking to be an interviewer for them. And a few months later, I was interviewing for the London Film Festival (which was my first red carpet event I did) where I interviewed Timothee Chalamet along with other actors, producers and directors, Then after that, I was approached by Marie Claire Magazine to write an article about myself and my journalism. I wrote the article, and it was published. And I carried on reaching out and just built good relationships with publicists. I think it was January 2020 when I interviewed Michael B Jordan and Jamie Foxx for their new film

Then, covid hit so I just carried on writing articles for different publications and in that time, a Netflix movie called 365 Days came out and I got to interview one of the actors with The Metro and it really helped my social media as it got me a highly engaged audience and enhanced my work in terms of interactions with people. At around that time, the Black Lives Matter movement happened at around this time as well and I did an article about the lack of diversity in journalism and wrote it with Stylist magazine and it got picked up by the BBC and they asked me to guest edit one of their programmes. To be honest, I didn’t know the article was going to be that popular, I just wrote it and then saw the response.

A lot of other interviews happened after that as well! I also wrote for GQ, which was more of a fun article about Christmas drinks – so my work is really varied.

I actually heard about you from your Spiderman interview, and it was really good! So, it’s clear from what you said, that being proactive is really important – why is that?

Journalism is a very competitive field, most people would want to do journalism because they think it’s very glamorous and that you can meet a lot of celebrities. That is true, but there’s a lot of hard work that goes with it, and if you don’t have that work ethic to put all the hours and effort of building relationships with people. You’re not going to get very far with it! And you need to be a real people person, because you will come across people who are downright rude. Unfortunately they can be assistants, agents etc who are very busy people and you can write a polite long email, and you can get a one word answer. Which I’ve had many times, but you just have to get on with it. You’ll even get people saying, ‘you won’t be able to do that!’ or ‘oh, that’s too big for you!’ but you have to have that drive and confidence within yourself. So, by building relationships with other people and other journalists it’s always good to get advice on how to enhance your career.

I would say it’s so important to know your ultimate big goal and smaller goals as well. Because if you don’t have that, then you can feel all over the place because journalism is so big!

Yes I do agree that having an ultimate goal really keeps you n your path towards your dreams! So you mentioned that there are many different fields of journalism: Sports, Political etc! You mentioned you’re specifically in entertainment, so have you ever branched out into other fields? And for anybody that’s unsure of what field of journalism they want to go into, what advice would you give them to pick a field?

I would say to think of what you’re really passionate about because it will be very obvious what your likes and dislikes are and what excited you. Will you write an article in the early hours about politics? If you can’t or you won’t, don’t do any kind of political journalism. However, if you think that you want to write about sports, and you can write about sport any time of the day, that would be a clear indication that you really like it! Because, of course, I do entertainment journalism and I got given an exclusive story which I sent to the BBC and they said I could write about it and it was about a whole load of Hollywood starting a petition for disabled people in entertainment getting the same rights as them – and I was up till 4am finishing up and it cam out at 7pm the next day. So, you have to work really fast but the reward is I wrote for BBC News. So, you have to be passionate about whatever subject you’re writing!

A lot of people say to try a few areas, you can do that but I think deep down people know what they like. You might also come across a certain area you might want to try out while working on another area already and you could get introduced to it. So, you don’t know what happens but I think deep down you’ll know and make that your starting point!

Photo From Myra’s Instagram (@myraaliedit)

I agree passion is super important! Interviews and writing different pieces are key parts of journalism as well, which you’re very good at – I love watching your interviews! So, what are your go to tips for preparing for interviews, or writing articles?

For interviews, your editor will be someone who will guide you because they will want a certain piece. So for instance, you should have an idea of what questions you’d like to ask the person, and then work with the editor to get their angle to get what they want – so you kind of work together. Then, you will do the interview, and after you get the answers and the conversation from the person, your editor will read the transcript and they can say what’s a good angle to do the article on and what the headline would be. But you will also get the gist of that as well and you can always say to your editor what you think is a good angle and if they don’t agree with you that’s fine because at the end of the day they’re your boss so you have to go with what they say. It really depends, but if you have any idea on how you’d like to do your article, you can always cater your questions.

When I did my article with The Metro with the actor from 365 Days the editor said the headline would be about ‘controversy’ and why the film was a bit controversial so I had that in mind that it was the main question which is why that was at the top to start the feature. Then, you can pair it with other films and actors that have been a bit controversial. So, there needs to be a good flow and you need to be good at writing, essentially essays as they’re really similar to articles. So you need to learn how to do this, which you can learn through doing a journalism degree or workshops set up by other journalists – you can learn via those as well!

That’s cool! Would starting a workshop ever that you’d maybe be interested in?

Maybe in the future! I don’t have time, presently. But definitely in the future.

I want to move onto a topic which I think is super important, but isn’t talked about enough: Body confidence and positivity. You’re a huge activist for this! So, do you mind giving us a brief description of your story and journey in terms of your body?

So I have a skin condition called Epidermolysis Bullosa and it’s like having permanent burns. I kind of show and write what my condition is about because it’s unpredictable and has given me a lot health issues. But what I show is, it doesn’t matter what you look like and what you’ve been through – with passion and positivity you can get through it! It doesn’t really matter what your circumstance is. So, despite having a lot of plastic surgery and operations, I feel that it’s a part of life and I get on with it – it doesn’t stop me from work or anything.

I think you have to try and show if you’re comfortable within yourself and confident, other people will see that and they will respond to you the same. Whereas, if you say and show how much you lack confidence, people will pick up on it, and reflect that back. So, I’m a big believer of putting out what you want!

I saw a very similar quote – and your motivation is really inspiring! Many teenagers (especially girls) can struggle with body positivity and confidence, so just for you personally, when and why do you think you truly learned to love yourself and how do you think that happened?

I would say it’s probably when I started working as a journalist, because probably in the early days, in the back of my head I would think there are not many other journalists that look like me – so would I get what I want, in terms of my ambitions? Then I thought, ‘No don’t think like that!’ because it’s not very positive and you’ll hold yourself back. Just be confident, and you know you’re talented at what you do, so just go for it!

And really what gives you confidence is your talent and if you’re good at your work. If you know you’re good at your work, then it will be obvious! That’s really what matters because it doesn’t matter what you look like (it’s not going to get you so far) but if you’re good at your work, you know how to build relationships, you’re confident and you have a strong work ethic that is what will get you far!

Photo From Myra’s Instagram (@myraaliedit)

Yes work ethic is super important! So, could you share advice for anybody struggling with confidence to do with their body?

I would say if you feel something is really holding you back, you may need some extra support in terms of counselling – and there’s nothing wrong with that because everyone has therapy these days. But, if it’s a bit of low confidence, you’re not alone at all because everyone feels like that. You could watch TV and see a girl that’s absolutely perfect, and she will have the same insecurity as you – so you’re not alone. And in this day and age of social media, it’s harder for young people who struggle with body positivity.

But, the media is becoming a lot more diverse so what sorts of images are mot accepted? But, again, if you don’t love yourself and embrace yourself then no one else will. If you don’t, then that lack of confidence in the area of what you look like, that will stop you from excelling in other areas!

Yeah that’s so true! So, why do you think it’s important that body confidence should be talked about more and there should be more activism around it? 

Well, there has been a lot of talk about it because of artists like Lizzo and Ashley Graham etc. But, I think why it should be a topic that it should be continually talked about because, people need to see themselves. So, no matter who you are, everyone wants to be part of the conversation, nobody wants to be excluded. People want to feel they can relate to people.

So, I hope the conversation keeps going and bigger brands help people no matter their ethnicity, weight etc all have a platform so everyone feels involved, and feels that their beauty is shown. Because, we can’t have one type of beauty because it’s also very boring as well. Everyone is unique and everyone likes to see bits of themselves on the screen or on social media.

For the final part of this interview, you’ve already accomplished so much in your journalism career, but could you share some of your future plans, and goals with us?

I’d like to have a platform where I can interview whoever I like, and I don’t need a publication to back me up. And there are a lot of journalists who do that, but it takes time. Because normally you have to be approved by an editor and the publication, whereas on my own, I can just go to the agent/manager of the artist, and it’s done. I have done that before with some other actors and models, but with A List actors, you have to have that publication backing because they’re so big. So, that is my aim, to make my own platform even stronger!

A big thank you to Myra Ali for agreeing to be interviewed! Let me know in the comments what advice you took away from her – and make sure you check out her social media and her spiderman cast interview below!

Myra’s Links

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have a great day!

Interview With Catherine Jane – Young Environmentalist & Founder Of The Ecolytical

Hi everyone it’s Zainab here, welcome or welcome back to Zainab Chats! Today’s post is another interview with my good blogging friend Catherine (I actually interviewed her a year ago, but we both thought it would be fun to do an updated interview!) It’s actually fitting to do an interview now, as Catherine has done a huge brand revamp from Cath Jane Blog to The Ecolytical which I’m so excited about. We’re going to be chatting all things the environment, her revamped blog and more. Let’s jump into it!

Hello Catherine, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed! For anybody that doesn’t know who you are, could you please introduce yourself and explain what The Ecolytical is about?

Hi! Thank you so much for having me Zainab, it’s an absolute pleasure to be here. My name is Catherine, and I’m a teen blogger from the UK. I live in just about the middle of England – not quite north or south. The Ecolytical is my passion project. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to share with the world in one online space. The combination of the prefix eco- and the word ‘analytical’ in the name summarises what it’s all about: picking apart environmental news to be more digestible and accessible to everyone.

Photo From The Ecolytical Instagram (@the.ecolytical)

That’s so cool! So how long have you had the idea in your mind to start The Ecolytical?

I had the idea for the name in January of this year but I only started writing content for it in around April. So, it’s been a long time in the making!

I’m excited to see it! Before we get into chatting about The Ecolytical in depth, I’d love to talk a bit about your blogging journey. So I’m curious to know what inspired you to start blogging, is it something you’ve always wanted or did you decide to do it ‘in the moment?’

It was a very spur of the moment decision. I have to admit, Zoella was my largest inspiration to get started! Once I had finished reading her Girl Online book series I went straight to my parents to ask if I could start a blog (I was quite young at the time) and to my surprise they said yes almost immediately. Anonymity was part of the deal but I wanted to have an alias anyway so it worked out really well. The first few years of blogging were hit and miss, just posting whatever I wanted, until last year I tried to make it as best as possible and then just a few months ago I decided to pursue this niche.

That’s quite similar to how I started blogging! Obviously you started blogging quite a while ago, for anybody that’s apprehensive or doesn’t really know where to begin with blogging, what advice or tips would you give them?

It’s the most basic piece of advice but it’s incredibly true: just do it! Don’t be afraid to try out different formats! In the beginning you don’t have much of a following to restrict you to a certain niche so this is the time you can experiment and see what feels right for you. Then as soon as you start building followers you can stick with a certain niche.

So what kind of things did you try out, that you wouldn’t normally post, when you started blogging?

I did lots of Q&As and things similar to that which I wouldn’t really do anymore. I tried to focus on lifestyle and even though I still talk about that sometimes, it’s not really what I want to do anymore. The same with fashion! I think I had a couple of moments where I wanted to do Outfits Of The Day but that’s not really what I’m interested in anymore.

Yeah I do notice a few lifestyle posts on your Intagram sometimes but it’s much more related to your current niche! Now moving onto The Ecolytical, the mission is to ‘help everyone to live consciously: of themselves and their world’ which is such a powerful statement. What gave you the idea to revolve The Ecolytical around this, and what made you start it in the first place?

So, I really believe if you’re not aware of what your world is going through, there’s no incentive to take action and participate in these larger conversations. The climate crisis is the most pressing global issue facing us at the moment, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it. 

On my Instagram recently I have spoken about the idea of ‘reconnecting with nature’. Not only does it do wonders for your wellbeing, but it brings you closer to the Earth so you can hopefully gain a bit of empathy towards it. When you’re closer to the cause, it makes you more likely to take action. 

Photo From The Ecolytical Instagram (@the.ecolytical)

Love this perspective! So would you say that someone like Greta Thunberg is one of your role models, or do you have any other role models and could you share them?

Greta is one of my hugest inspirations, but I also love David Attenborough of course. I also love Steve Backshall, I went to go see him once and he was really cool!

One of the other aims of The Ecolytical is to help people live more eco-friendly lifestyles. Is an eco-friendly lifestyle something you’ve always had or something you’ve implemented over time?

I can’t say I’ve ever been perfectly eco-friendly (and I still am not now) but growing up semi-rural, I do have an understanding of the importance of caring for wildlife and nature. My parents always made me get outside and I was subscribed to a lot of nature magazines. One thing that’s always been drilled into me is to make use of everything: don’t buy anything for the sake of it and to be as conservative as possible about what you buy!

That’s really good advice! You always stress the importance of small changes and how they can create big results. So why is it vital that everyone knows this and plays a part in a small change , and how will it help the environment?

I don’t know whether you have seen this idea floating about on Instagram, but I’ve seen a graphic where, in quotation marks, it says ‘just one plastic bottle, says 8 million people’. Now that’s quite a negative take on the idea. But look at it this way, what if 8 million people refused a single use bottle?

Even though we aren’t world leaders with big companies and sums of money at our disposal, but there is power in the people. And the more we speak up, the less the Governments can ignore us. Even just a small change can create a ripple effect and I think it’s important that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the crisis otherwise you won’t feel as inspired to take action!

Photo From The Ecolytical Blog

So when did you start learning to take action, and when do you think is the right time to start?

Obviously just as soon as possible (as soon as you can talk) you want to be kind to your planet. But, I’d say around 6-7 years old, I joined an eco club at school and we made art out of litter and then I started going to clubs such as Wildlife Explorers. So, that’s when I started being aware of climate change.

Then in recent years, with the rise of people like Greta Thunberg and her speeches, I realised the severity of it and why I need to talk about it myself.

You mentioned young people, so how do you think parents and schools can implement activism and changemaking spirits into young people?

I think it’s good to have small conversations and not be too overwhelming. So, just pose a simple question like, ‘Are you sure you want to buy that drink when you could just take a bottle with you?’ Don’t try to overwhelm children on a large scale of this, because it can cause some anxiety and that’s not necessary. But if you speak about the bees in your garden for example and explain the issue in a simple way it could be much simpler. So, just try to thread it into conversation where appropriate to avoid confusion and overwhelming children.

Making things simple is a great way for young children to understand! Speaking of simple, for anybody that wants to shift their lifestyle to make it more eco-friendly could you give us some examples of simple changes you can make to have good effects on the environment?

Of course! Buying in bulk, taking your own cup, buying second-hand, eating meat-free (even for just one day a week), signing some Greenpeace petitions. Next time you have to replace your toothbrush – go for a bamboo one (but check the bristles are biodegradable too). Resuable masks are also great (buying them from a small business is even better, my favourite is @namishopuk)

Even just talking about the climate crisis more within your school communities or sports clubs. I want The Ecolytical to have a ripple effect. I want to start conversations that will be continued, and continued, and continued.

You mentioned buying second hand, do you mind sharing some examples of where you could buy second hand clothes, items etc?

Go to charity shops – they’re the best because there are so many in the UK! Car boot sales are great for more practical items and E Bay is also great as you have to buy locally to get quicker delivery. Also, a lot of my clothes can also come from family which is another great source!

Family is a great one, there’s also an app called Vinted where you can buy second hand. So, what’s your final statement about The Ecolytical or piece of advice you’d like to share with my readers?

One last piece of advice, because I don’t want to sound egotistical and talk about myself! Don’t fall for the eco-friendly ‘aesthetic’ because it’s progression over perfection! Use up what you have, and repair what you already own before you go on a shopping spree for metal straws or glass food containers! The whole idea is to push against capitalism, not drive it. Doing your best is the we can do!

Thank you so much to Catherine for taking the time to be interviewed! I learned so much from listening to her, so make sure you comment what you learned and check out her links!

Catherine’s Links

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have a fantastic day!

Interview With Angel – Founder Of BlogR

Hello everyone it’s Zainab here, welcome or welcome back to the blog! For today’s blog interview, I’m joined with a lovely girl called Angel who founded the amazing blogging platform: BlogR which is working to have a positive impact on the blogging community with this unique idea. Let’s jump into the interview!

Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed Angel! For anybody who doesn’t know about yourself and BlogR?

Thank you so much for reaching out, it’s always a pleasure when people like to find out more! And sure, I’ll do a brief intro for both 🙂

So my name is Angel, I’m 21 years old and I’m a Business & Management university student. I started BlogR in my placement year and I’m really excited to continue it in my final year, and if all goes to plan, after uni too!

BlogR is a blog discovery platform, to allow users to find more of the content they love. We’re currently working really hard behind the scenes on the site and I’m really excited to reveal everything to you. The support we’ve had so far has been incredible, so I just hope everyone loves it!

Photo From BlogR Instagram (@helloblogr)

Thanks for the introduction, I can’t wait to see the site, so before we talk specifically about BlogR, I want to talk a bit more about the idea, so where and how did the idea spark for you to create a platform such as BlogR?

The idea for BlogR came from wanting to find an inter-railing blog. I wanted more information on an itinerary for travelling Eastern Europe, and it suddenly made me realise that I didn’t know of any up to date platforms that were exclusively for blogs.

We know there’s Instagram for pictures, Tiktok for videos, Snapchat/Whatsapp for instant messaging, Medium for writers/journalists etc, but nothing exclusively for blogs. I knew then that I wanted to explore this space and create a platform for bloggers and readers, so I got to work!

Did you ever own a blog before, and if you have would you say that definitely helped you come up with the idea for BlogR?

No I haven’t! So even when the idea for BlogR came about, I was coming from the angle of a blog reader. I wanted a central location to sift and sort through content I actually wanted to read. Whilst waiting for my web developer to start, I decided to create an Instagram blog to start reaching out and forming relationships with bloggers. Pretty much a year later and we have a small (but global!) community of 1,700 bloggers and readers.

I have always loved reading a good blog, so I have actually recently started putting together my own personal one!

Photo From BlogR Instagram (@helloblogr)

I think it’s so cool you’re coming from the angle of the reader, because I actually always thought you had a blog previously! Now I want to talk more about BlogR itself, so BlogR’s main aim is to bring together the blogging community which I absolutely love, what has been your favourite part or feature of BlogR so far?

One of my favourite parts about BlogR is the amazing friendships I’ve been able to make with some incredible bloggers, such as yourself! The online support I’ve gained has honestly blown me away. If I’ve had a mini social media break to work on product development, I will sometimes get DMs from people checking in and asking if I’m okay. Before BlogR I had never had exclusively online friends, so it’s definitely shown me the positive side of social media and I can’t wait to see how many new relationships are formed through the platform!

That’s so sweet, and I agree with you! I’ve made so many amazing friendships through my blog! BlogR has started branching out so much more on social media from doing interviews to doing advice posts, would you say BlogR is a community you wish you could’ve had if you were a blogger?

I think whatever space you’re in, it’s always nice to feel part of something bigger and to know you always have someone else you can turn to. As I mentioned, I am in the process of setting up my own personal blog, so the community has been a great support system as I know if there’s anything I am struggling with, there’s always someone I can ask for help.

Yes the blogging community i such a great support system! So, the big question for this interview is, why do you think people should come check out BlogR’s social media and what do you think other bloggers can learn from it?

BlogR’s pride and joy is our community, and I really think that is what you’re going to gain when you join the platform. With the year we’ve had in lockdown and the fact that more people are working from home, it’s more important than ever to foster and nurture online relationships.

I’d like to think that BlogR isn’t just the same as other online platforms. At BlogR, we’d love for you to really connect with a piece of content you’ve read, and for it to inspire you enough to come offline and try it yourself! Whether it’s a recipe blog, or a productivity one, we’d love to help people develop both on and offline

Photo From BlogR Instagram (@helloblogr)

That’s why I love BlogR so much – I’m looking forward to the site coming out! It’s already growing so much, I know that you have the official website and platform coming out soon but could you share some of your future plans for BlogR? Maybe share where you’d like to be within the next few years and give us a tease of what’s to come!

Thank you! It’s been harder work than I originally anticipated, but I honestly love what I’m doing! To start with, we will be working on getting our first users on and gaining initial feedback. Overall, we want to make it easier for bloggers to share their work and be discovered, and for readers to find content that will benefit them. I’d absolutely love to get some big names in the blogging world involved with BlogR and on the platform!

I’m not really one to share business goals as I get nervous for some reason (probably because I am a little scared of being vulnerable and to let people know I failed at something ahah) but for those of you who followed us in December, you may remember we trialled our Partner Programme. This is definitely something I’d like to role out again on a large scale within the next few years.

I have BIG aspirations for BlogR, and I hope I can be the one to fulfil them. I guess only time will tell, so you’ll have to stick around and stay tuned!

Make sure you check out Angel’s links listed below! Also, we are super close to 400 followers so please write some Q&A questions for me to answer in the comments!

Angel’s Links

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have a lovely day!

Interview With Carmen Applegate – Founder Of The Girly Girl Podcast

Hello everyone it’s Zainab here, welcome or welcome back to Zainab Chats! Today, I have the privilege of interviewing Carmen Applegate, she’s the host of the highly successful Girly Girl Podcast. In this interview, we’ll be chatting about how to create and grow podcasts, her advice for you guys and more. Let’s jump into the interview!

Carmen, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed on my blog, for anybody that doesn’t know about you could you explain a bit about yourself and your content!

I’m Carmen and I host The Girly Girl Podcast, which is pretty much a teen advice, very chill podcast. It talks about anything and everything each episode has a different topic ranging from anxiety and periods to self confidence and summer glow ups. Literally anything, and it’s really fun!

I also have an Instagram and TikTok where I try to upload uplifting content (body positivity, self love, etc).

Thanks for having me, I’m really excited to chat with you!

I love all those topics! So we’re going to start off talking about the Girly Girl Podcast, could you talk a bit about how and why you started the podcast, what was your ‘lightbulb moment?’

So I started my podcast in August 2020. Around that time I had a blog, but I just was not really feeling it anymore, it was making me feel burnout and I didn’t enjoy the process anymore and also at the time I had been listening to a lot of podcasts. So I thought ‘Hmm how hard can that be?!’ and I love learning new things so I literally got on my laptop and googled ‘How To Start A Podcast?’ and maybe two days later, I had posted my first episode albeit it wasn’t great – but that’s okay it’s a learning process!

I want to say there was a big reason why I was like ‘Yes I’m going to start this!’ But honestly, I was just bored and needed something to do, it was the end of Summer and I’m so glad I started it, it’s had a very positive effect on my life, and I get a lot of DMs about other people’s lives so it’s been very rewarding and a really fun experience!

Photo From Girly Girl Podcast Instagram (@thegirlygirlpodcast)

You’ve had such a positive effect on others lives, listening to the podcast, I can definitely tell! One thing I love about your podcast (and is kind of different to other teen podcasts) is that you don’t hold back! You’re willing to talk about issues some other teens may be scared talking about and sharing real storytimes which is what’s so unique about your podcast! Why do you think it’ so important that teens (especially teenage girls) have a platform like this to be able to know they’re not alone?

Well I know for myself, when I was growing up, I didn’t know where to look, and I didn’t feel comfortable asking my mom or one of my friends because I thought that would be too embarrassing. So, I always looked at Google, Youtube etc. And I don’t know if you guys have looked but, on these platforms it’s pretty hard to find advice from people that actually relate to us – so I just imagine myself from when I was younger and didn’t have anyone to turn to. I just wanted to be that person, I guess for my younger self, or for people that need a friend that they can turn to when something happens.

And honestly, once you talk about something that you may find uncomfortable, the more normal it will be because a lot of the things I say, I’m like ‘Should I be saying that?’ but it brings yourself out of your comfort zone, and you have to think about the impact, on people’s lives and think about whose on the receiving end and may need help.

Yeah you’re right we need to normalise being open to talk about any issue – which is what I love about your podcast. Speaking of the podcast, you’ve grown yours to over 300K Downloads, what advice could you give to anybody out there whose looking to start or grow a podcast? What are your must-do tips?

Yeah of course! So I think the biggest thing is staying consistent. I know that seems pretty basic, but it’s quite hard to do, you have school (maybe a job) you have other things going on in your life, so it’s easy to push something off. But I think consistency lets people know that they can rely on you, and honestly, it depends on if you want it to be a hobby or a job, for me personally, I view it as a job. But if you view it as a hobby, that’s great, you can post whenever, it can be very chill.

Also, another thing that helps is utilising social media, just trying different things, interacting with other creators, posting things your audience would relate to (not just promotional stuff). Whatever your audience, whether teen girls or boys, post something they would want to know!

Photo From Girly Girl Podcast Instagram (@thegirlygirlpodcast)

Yeah I think that’s great advice not just for podcasts but any form of content creating. So I want to touch on your blog you mentioned earlier, which wasn’t really the right fit for you. So why do you think you prefer having a Podcast to a Blog or YouTube Channel?

Honestly for me, a blog felt really impersonal and I thought it would be easier to share things going on my life by talking to a camera and actually being able to hear my voice and I personally enjoy the process a lot more, it’s very therapeutic and really great for my mental health to be able to talk things out so the blog didn’t really fit with me. I think for a lot of people, it just depends on your style and what you’re going for, for me, a podcast was more personal

I never really thought about YouTube, I think the thing about that is I’m a fairly lazy person. So I don’t think I could go through all the editing. And I pretty much saw YouTube as the video form of a blog where it’s like ’10 Tips For Summer’ or something like that! Like I said previously, that wasn’t really my style and personally I can talk for a while, so it’s been fun!

It’s been really fun listening to the podcast! So I notice quite often you open the floor to your listeners and ask them to submit their stories. So why did you want to showcase other people’s storytimes aswell?

Well, I’ve only had so much experience, I’m 17, and my podcast is about giving advice and sharing life experiences. And I think it’s really great for building a community too, to hear what other people have gone through and to be able to say ‘I relate to that too!’ because a lot of the stories I get, are all super similar, and when I read through them, I think they’re all super funny! It’s really fun to share people’s stories and also as a listener to think ‘What is she going to say about my story?’ and it’s a fun community thing!

I saw on the What We Said Podcast that they had a storytime episode and I thought that was a great idea. So I try to do one usually the first week of every month and it’s gotten a good response and I really liked it!

Photo From Girly Girl Podcast Instagram (@thegirlygirlpodcast)

Speaking of advice, what would be your go-to piece of advice that you would give teenagers or kids about to become a teenager?

I’d say the biggest thing would be to do whatever you want! As I remember when I was younger in middle school, I’d be so worried about what other people would think about what I was doing. And honestly that stopped me from trying something new whether it was trying a sport, talking to someone, posting something etc. I would always stop myself thinking ‘Wait what if this goes wrong?’ It’s so important to remember literally nobody cares, everyone is so focused on what they’re doing they won’t care. So, if someone is making fun of you, they’re wasting their time sending their energy to you, when they could use to do something cool – which you’re doing and they’re not! Most people think whatever you’re doing is cool anyway or they’ll just be like ‘Good for you’ so it’s not as big a deal you might think.

Yeah I saw a quote that said, surround yourself with people that have the same energy as you – and it’s so relevant to what you just said! So going slightly offtrack, can you share some of your own favourite podcasts?

This is so hard because I go through phases between which podcasts I listen to. But right now, I think my favourite one is Wild ‘Til 9 which is slightly inappropriate if you’re younger, but it’s honestly so funny and I really like it. I also really like Call Me Candid they’re not posting anymore but it’s really good for businesses, Check Your Aesthetic is also business-type podcast. I like the Seriously Not Serious podcast, which is similar to mine!

They sound so cool! Your podcast and your content have already grown so much but where do you see yourself in the next few years in terms of your podcasts’s growth, or even your own personal development?

That’s a great question! I do the podcast for fun, I do see it as something serious that I put a lot of time and energy into, but for me it’s not healthy for my mental health so think about specific numbers I want to hit. So, I just want to stay consistent, have it remain a positive impact on my life. So, if it turns out to be toxic, I’m not having fun, or getting burnout and overall makes my life worse, that’t not something I’d want to be doing. Yeah so not a serious goal but to try and effect people and see what I can do and see the impact I can make!

Honestly everything you just mentioned is much better then numerical goals anyway! Thank you so much for coming Carmen! Where can everyone go to find out more about your podcast and yourself?

You can find my podcast on any podcast streaming platform, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and also on YouTube. My Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest is @thegirlygirlpodcast

Thank you so much for reading this post everyone, be sure to check out Carmen and The Girly Girl Podcast! Let me know in the comments your favourite podcasts or if you’ve heard Carmen’s before!

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have a lovely day everyone!

Interview With Flora’s Week Show – Collab

Hello everyone it’s Zainab here, welcome or welcome back to Zainab Chats! Today I’m super excited for this post as it’s a collaboration with Flora from Flora’s Week Show where we have interviewed each other. Make sure you check out her blog, for now let’s jump into the post!

Flora, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed, could you please introduce yourself and your blog?
Hello my name is Flora from @florasweekshow. I am a proud blogger with a big imagination. I LOVE blogging and writing, I find them amazing!

My next question is, when and why did you start blogging?
I started blogging in late October of 2020 but I didn’t post my first blog post until November (I hit my 6 month anniversary a few weeks ago!)

Have you ever faced a time in your blogging career where you hit writer’s block?
I haven’t really hit a blogging block, but for a few days in April I didn’t have the urge to write any posts. Hopefully, I don’t hit one any time soon!

Where do you find your motivation to write blog posts?
My main sources of motivation are from my followers and also my writing goals. I think of what I want to achieve and try to achieve them.

What is your writing process and plan for writing blog posts?

I usually plan-ish (make a note) on what I’m posting. Sometimes, if I come up with lots of ideas, I write them down with a rough date to go out.  I also write the intro, then the subject and an outro!

Thank you for reading this blog post everyone, be sure to check out Flora’s blog and comment what you’d like to see next!

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have a lovely day everyone!

Interview With Ella Harmony – Young CEO and Founder Of Stylish Study

Hi everyone it’s Zainab, welcome or welcome back to Zainab Chats! Today, I’ll be interviewing a young entrepreneur: Ella Harmony. She’s the founder of the brand: Stylish Study which you guys know I absolutely love! So I’m super excited to talk all about her success story and her entrepreneurial dreams – let’s jump into the interview!

Thanks so much for coming! For anybody that doesn’t know who you are, do you mind explaining a bit about yourself and your company?

Of course! I am Ellla Harmony, I’m the founder of Stylish Study. We are an online platform where we teach predominantly young women how to revise, but all about how to live your best life. So in terms of personal development, mental health. All these things are really important to us, as well as the academic side, so you can get your best grades and go onto live a life where you feel really good about yourself and feel like the best version of yourself!

You got roughly around 4s in your GCSEs (Ds) but raised them to A*AA which is just so inspiring! Can you just give a rough idea to what your action plan was for this and how you managed to make such a change?

Definitely! When I opened my results on results day I was so upset, I literally cried – I was so devastated. I really thought I would do so much better by just winging it! So, I was having a sink or swim moment, ‘Am I going to do it?’ What am I going to do?’ So I really just set about trying to Google and doing as much research, look at tutoring, courses etc. But I didn’t really find anything that was all in one place (which is where the idea of Stylish Study kind of came about) but I really needed to to work on my personal development and HOW do I revise. As I feel like at school your teachers will say, ‘Okay tonight class go and do an hour of revision for a test tomorrow’ but they never tell you how, or what the steps are for this! As yes, it’s easy to say, ‘revise!’ but unless you know what to do, or the techniques to effectively (because when I first started to take school seriously I would spend all my time revision missing out on everything)! So I was like, now that I know how to do this, I needed to work on how to revise smart rather then revising hard all the time!

That was another step to the journey really, it was all about doing my research and refining my techniques, this is kind of where everything was condensed into one place so people didn’t have to look left, right and centre for it!

That’s such a great idea, I can relate so much to when teachers just tell you to revise! So, I also saw you had made a pact with your friend to make this change, how important is it to have supportive friends during a time in your life when you’re trying to make such a big change? Because unfortunately some friends might not be as supportive as you think.

Definitely, I had a fair share of people around me that were really negative at the end of my GCSEs and the start of my A-Levels, and honestly, I just had to suck it up and cut them off, because I really didn’t want to associate myself with them. But you have to just focus on yourself, and the end result, because now when I’m out of sixth form it just doesn’t matter! I know in the moment it does matter, because in school you’ll probably see them every day, but in terms of real life situations it’s really important to surround yourself with those supportive people. You don’t necessarily have to cut them off if you’re not comfortable with that but maybe just see them less, but yeah having a supportive friend around me was really helpful!

But remember, you can also do this on your own, there were obviously times where my friend wasn’t around – we both took very different subjects so we only had one class together – so it’s really becoming your own best friend as well! As cheesy as it sounds, enjoying your own company because I realise now that when you leave school and you’re out into the ‘real world’ it is very much you fending for yourself, you have to keep self disciplined and being accountable for yourself! So whilst it’s great being with your friends you can definitely get around it if you are on your own!

Photo From Stylish Study Instagram (@stylishstudy_)

Your perspective on this is so great! You have mentioned before that when you were in the process of improving your grades for A-Levels you were working smarter so you actually got more free time to work on well-being, go to the gym, see friends. Why do you think it’s still important you get breaks and live your life when you try to make such a big change? I feel like the stereotype is you work hard, don’t see friends, get your grades even though it can cause burnout.

Definitely! I’m a big person that would rather do a sprint in a marathon with work so I go really fast and then I feel really exhausted but I’m still learning to pace myself. In terms of working smart and not hard, I view it as ‘would I rather spend 3 hours doing work, or the whole day doing some work?’ As I said,I do prefer doing a sprint, so I’d rather do a sprint for those 3 hours so then after I can turn my brain off from revision and not think about work, because when I relax, I want to relax – I don’t want to be watching Netflix thinking, ‘I should be doing work!’ For me, that’s not helpful, but when I started things such as the Pomodoro Method and spacing my work out so that I was working smart bur not working to the point of burnout, was a huge game changer for me!

It’s really all about thinking about how you want to spend your time, would you rather get it done really fast and quick by working smart or would you rather drag it out and spend the whole doing it?

Yeah I’ve actually used the Pomodoro Technique, and some of your tips on Instagram which really have been useful! After getting these grades you decided to create Stylish Study, just before we get into that, did you always have something similar to Stylish Study or just a way to help other people in the back of your mind or was it an impromptu decision to start it?

So, during lockdown I was doing some things to do with Youtube, I was always passionate about social media so I started a blog (multiple actually!) when I was around 12, and I started creating general Youtube videos, but it was never something that stuck, because I felt that there was no real purpose to it, like yes it was entertainment but I needed something bigger and something that could give value! So, I had the idea to document my University journey, that didn’t actually work out, but I realised I had started sharing these tips like a studygrammer, and I thought ‘let’s carry this on!’ because I had a decent following of around 10K so this can help people and it ended up continuing. Now, I’m doing this full time!

Well you’re definitely helping so many people! Moving on now to Stylish Study itself, as it says on the website and social media, ‘Stylish Study is here to break down the smart stereotypes’ which is shown throughout the whole company, can you share why is it so important that these smart stereotypes are destroyed?

When I was at school, I looked at a lot of studytubers, and the stereotypical thing they say is that they will sit down and revise for 13 hours, but I don’t identify with that! I personally can’t sit down or work for 13 hours, I’m sure if I’m really motivated I could, but am I going to? No, because life carries on! I feel like there’s the stereotype that you’re really smart or you don’t care (because you focus on your appearance or whatever it is!) So, I think the turning point for me, was I went into a lesson at school and I got my first ever A on my exam and I was like, ‘oh my goodness, wow!’ and my teacher turned to me and said something alone the lines of that because of what you look like, you’d never be expected to get that grade! I thought that was rude, and does that really matter?!

So, I think it’s really important for us to have more of an open approach to studying – so we talk about how to make revision cards with research I complied but now we’ve got expert’s advice and tips and condensing it into one place that’s so accessible for students! Whether it’s a TikTok that brought you value, or our membership or product, we want to make sure everything is as valuable as possible and link back to the reason of why we’re doing this: which is to help you grow with your grades and future!

Photo From Stylish Study Instagram (@stylishstudy_)

Going through the Instagram, I love how the core values are throughout – Valuable, Visually Pleasing and Community, why did you pick these values and how have the helped and benefited people who have used Stylish Study?

So, we’ve added a few more since then but yes these are the main 3 core values!

We want to be visually pleasing because we want to have everything appeal to everyone because most of the time when you see academic posts they’re just in black and white and times new roman. But you should be able to get study information and study value from things that look nice so that this is the same ball game!

In terms of community, I feel like the studying journey can be quite isolating. For me, I had to obviously shed some people and I felt there was no one else that was like-minded except that one friend and I know for some people they might not even have that one friend so I really wanted to able to create it as a space where everyone is in the same boat. You could comment on one of our posts and you could get a response from someone who’s in exactly the same position. Especially during corona times where we’ve all been working on our laptops on our own and not being able to see people – which makes it even more important that we focus on the community aspect of it!

For valuable, we just want to make sure everything we do is super valuable, whether it’s that you order a planner and it’s really good quality and you actually use the things on there (we don’t want to create products or services which aren’t going to be used by students). We want to make sure all our resources are really valuable, we started off with my tips and research but now we’ve got experts and trained specialists that’s in one accessible place for students. So whether that’s a TikTok you get value from, or a membership or a product we want to make sure everything is as valuable as possible and linking back to the reason of why we’re really doing this: which is to help you grow with your grades but also with your future!

Yeah they’re definitely all really helpful, especially the valuable one – because I’ve used the products myself and they really have helped! So, Stylish Study has grown so much from when you started it in July last year, everything from memberships to the shop, I’m curious to know, what has been your favourite part about the process of growing Stylish Study, is there anything you’ve done or created that you’re particularly proud of?

I think that I do love our products because I remember when the first shipment of them arrived I was like, ‘oh my goodness, this is real!’ They were something I had thought about for ages, I designed and put them together and they’re now here!

But I think really our membership is the thing that I really do love the most just because it’s everything I wish I could’ve accessed at school, everything I wish I could’ve seen and had all in one place and at the moment we are in touch with so many experts on habits, UCAS Applications, teachers – people that really know their stuff. So now, it’s really like a collaborative effort from myself, and these experts and I always actually learn something from these experts too, I’ll be putting things together and I’d think, ‘oh my goodness I really like that, I want to use that in my life!’ So I think the membership is something that’s my little baby, I love adding to it every week and getting great people on board, so yeah that’s like my real love!

I’ve heard so many amazing things about the membership and it sounds great – you must be proud! So i want to sidetrack a bit off of Stylish Study and more about your entrepreneurial journey – you’ve also created a personal Instagram account all about your entrepreneurial journey, why did you want to do this and what do you hope other people can learn from this?

So I just started it to document the journey, I haven’t done the most documenting, but I have about 5 vlogs on my laptop ready to go – but honestly I’m a bit scared to post them. I’m sure by the time that this goes out they will be posted, hopefully. But I think for me, it’s been such a weird journey and it’s been something I’ve always wanted to do, but as I said it’s been really weird so I felt really lonely and I don’t really think that’s something you should shy away from (if you’re feeling that, express it)! Because everyone my age is at University, moved away from home, got that independence and I’m sitting on my laptop 8-9 hours a day working on study stuff – which I do love but at the same time when people aren’t here it does get quite lonely.

So I thought there must be other people thinking the same, so I did join a few entrepreneur groups but none of them were young – they were all around 30-40. So that was what I wanted to document and I also wanted to have it to look back on as I’m quite a sentimental person (I love taking photos and looking back at them) and I think one day it will be really cool to look back and see how far I’ve come. I think when you’re an entrepreneur, your worst enemy is yourself in a way because you put so much pressure on yourself, as much as it pains me to say as I’m trying to be positive, I can definitely be hard on myself, so just to remind yourself ‘that went really well!’ so I can replicate it again. Just the highs and lows really and being honest about it because a lot of people will sell you the entrepreneurial dream, but when it actually comes down to it, there’s so many things that can go great but there are a lot of hard things as well.

Yeah I love that, as someone who doesn’t really understand the life of an entrepreneur, it’s nice to get an insight into that life. How has the change been from going from a student to entrepreneur, do you have any advice to people who would like to grow their business or what the change is like?

Yeah so the first thing you’ll need to know is that you’re going to have to be willing to go through the hard times and also I heard something an entrepreneur say something that’s really been on my mind which is: when you’re an entrepreneur the one thing you can do, is hold on when everyone else is letting go. Obviously, right now is not the peak time for the study community but you have to be willing to get through the hard things!

So the transition has been very different, obviously I don’t see my friends everyday, I don’t go into a building to actually work, all my deadlines and work are my own. Originally, I thought yeah this is going to be great, I’ll have so much freedom I’ll do what I want everyday but it’s kind of the opposite, you could go do whatever you want but at the end of the day, you’re sacrificing your own success – it’s literally, purely yours. One thing I found weird is that you’re not marked anymore! You might do a piece of work that’s brilliant but you might not post it at the right time, it might not attract the right people or you might not have put the right hashtags – that doesn’t mean you didn’t do a brilliant piece of work, that’s life! That happens sometimes, so you have to make sure you don’t drive yourself into a hole and go crazy about how you think your work is doing and not measure it that way all the time.

So yes it’s been a bit of a weird one, I’m still learning along the way, everyday I learn something new which has been amazing because I do love to do new things, but it’s definitely been a weird one, I don’t think I can put it into words to be honest!

Yeah that’s understandable, just on the topic of procrastination, when you create your own deadlines, did you ever feel like you’d push them because you would only be answerable to yourself? I’m sure a lot of other students or business owners might be the same!

I think this has been something that I’m really toying with at the moment as well – I’m someone that naturally puts pressure on myself for example, I think something will take 3 weeks so I give myself a deadline of 2 weeks thinking it will be fine! Then you get to it, and if you haven’t done it you feel really behind, when actually the deadline didn’t matter, you still have time for it to be done – so it’s fine.

It’s a tricky one, you have to set a deadline making sure you’re lenient with yourself – but you have to know yourself! If you’re someone who sets deadlines that are too short, give yourself that extra week! However, in terms of if you’re someone that procrastinates, make sure that deadline is not forever or you’ll leave it to the last moment and you’ll freak out.

In terms of this, you can also think of why:

  • Is it too hard?
  • Am I too burned out?
  • Or do I need to just kick myself to do it?

Sometimes you might be wrong – but it really is trial and error, I wish I could give a straight answer, it’s all about knowing yourself and giving your best judgement from that!

Photo From Ella’s Instagram (@ellaharmony_)

I’m relatable too – I think like you said it depends on the person! On your bio it says ‘Learn how to live the life of your dreams’ do you feel like you’re living a dream life now, or are you near, or do you still think you have a long way to go?

Ooh that’s a tricky one! I think that I’m getting there. I think that as a young person, I feel like you can tread about and get where you want to be or you’re someone that wants to hit as many goals as possible. For me, I love doing a good amount of work and then taking the weekend off to chill! I also try to take more breaks which I’m definitely working on.

So, I think, no I’m not living the life of my dreams – which I’m going to be really honest about – but I know that the sacrifices I’m making now and the work that I’m putting in now is building me to my dream life, because I think sometimes in terms of dream lives people on the sides of: no days off ‘hustle culture’ or only doing something they like. And I really think we need to find an in between because obviously there will be things you don’t like sometimes but that doesn’t mean you hate your job.

Overall, I really enjoy my job and the freedom it gives me, but I’m nowhere near where I want to be in terms of the success and the financials to be honest! But I know that this is all coming in good time, and I’ve got to realise I can’t do everything in the space of a year! So yeah, I’m not living my dream life, but I know as I get older and tick things off my list of goals then I will be – but you also have to live in the moment!

Yeah, but with what you’re doing right now I’m sure you’ll get there eventually! For the final question, could you give us a little tease or tell us a little bit about your future plans for Stylish Study or your Entrepreneur Journey? Where do you see yourself in the next year?

So, in the next year I’d like to have a lot more products out, carry on with the membership and some amazing experts for the membership!

In terms of bigger goals for Stylish Study, I would love to build up a really big team (I’d really like to make it a collaborative effort as I’ve been training up followers who have been helping), I’d love a Stylish Study Book which I’m outlining at the moment – sort of a ‘how to revise’ book or guide for students, I’d also really like to do in-person events so we can really build that community aspect. I’d also really like to have an app which I have no idea where to start so I’ll have to find someone to help! So yes there are a lot of things on the cards it’s just about making an action plan for them all! So yes, massive things for Stylish Study it won’t just be an Instagram, it’s gonna be big!

Thank you so much to Ella for agreeing to be interviewed and taking the time out of her day. Check out Stylish Study, Her Instagram, The Stylish Study Podcast (which I’ll be on soon!) and thank you so much to you for reading this blog post, let me know what you thought of Ella and who you would like to see me interview next!

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have a fabulous day!

Interview With Lily D Moore

Hello everyone it’s Zainab, welcome or welcome back to Zainab Chats! For today’s blog post, I’m very excited to announce I’m going to be interviewing Lily D Moore! She is an advocate for Down Syndrome Awareness as well as an actress who you may know from the Netflix show, Never Have I Ever. In todays interview, I’m talking to her all about her advocacy, her message of positivity and more. Let’s jump into it!

Hey there Lily, thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed! For anybody that doesn’t know who you are, could you please explain a bit about yourself?
My name is Lily D Moore and I’m a seventeen year old American actress who is best known for her recurring role as Rebecca in “Never Have I Ever”. I’m also a model and You Tuber. I’m passionate about helping the homeless and started a ministry called “H.E.L.P.” four years ago. I also enjoy swimming, horseback riding, cooking, cheerleading, music, and playing games! Finally, I’m also an advocate and ambassador for not only the Down Syndrome community, but for all people with disabilities. I believe that everyone is Unique, Beautiful, and Brave!

On all your platforms, you talk very openly about how you have Down Syndrome, why do you think it’s important to spread awareness and why do you personally find that you’re happy to advocate about it as some people may not want to?
I think it is important because we live our lives just like everyone else! We have the same interests and desires, so why make sure everyone knows what all we can do!  I love being a voice for people with disabilities.

Photo From Lily’s Instagram (@lilydmooreofficial)

There are not a lot of young actors and actresses that have down syndrome on big streaming platforms such as Netflix, why do you think it’s important that there’s representation of this and how do you think the acting and media world could become more diverse and inclusive?
I think it’s important because it gives hope to young parents and families to see that everything is possible!  No matter what your dream is, you become what you want to be!

You’re also an ambassador for Special Olympics (a movement that promotes inclusion in Sports, Education and many other fields.) Why do you think Special Olympics is such an important organisation and do you have any upcoming campaigns with them?
The Special Olympics has such an awesome reputation and they help not only inspire people with disabilities, but inspire “typical people” to coach, cheer lead, and teach “typical” people about people with disabilities!  Nothing is impossible if you believe!

Photo From Lily’s Instagram (@lilydmooreofficial)

Now onto a bit more about your career, so you play Rebecca in Never Have I Ever! What was your favourite thing about being on a Netflix series and what is it like being on a film/tv set?
I loved it because I am alot like my character: fun, sassy, and confident!  I loved getting to know the other people in the cast and crew.  I also loved travelling to LA! 

I’ve seen from your social media that you’re also really into modelling, what’s your favourite thing about modelling and why do you enjoy it?
I love being able to transform into a different character. I also love having my hair and make up done.  And, I love trying on the fun clothes!

Photo From Lily’s Instagram (@lilydmooreofficial)

What are some of your other interests outside of modelling and acting and how were you drawn to them? 
I am  passionate about helping the homeless and started a ministry called “H.E.L.P.” four years ago I also enjoy swimming, horseback riding, cooking, cheerleading and make up, I also love  playing with my pets: Charlie (my dog), Lester (my cat), and Hazel (my other cat). 

Thanks so much to Lily for taking time out of her day to do this interview with me, I really appreciate it and I loved her answers! If you want to learn more about her check out her Website, Instagram and YouTube Channel and check her out in Never Have I Ever on Netflix (season 2 is coming this July!)

Thanks so much everyone for reading this, let me know in the comments who you would want to see me interview next and what your favourite part of this interview was!

You want to see more of me and get exclusive updates on my blog? Well check out my socials!
Instagram – For exclusive updates on posts
Goodreads – You can see any books I’ve read or even recommend me one!
Contact Me if you would like to collaborate or have any other inquiries
Any suggestions or feel like chatting? Comment down below!

Have a lovely day everyone!