Photography: George J Rockett
Around this time seven years ago, I registered a blog domain and had a little idea.
I’d seen other blogs on the internet that were cool, interesting and a fun intimate portrait of a life of someone I’d maybe never meet. I read them intently, fascinated by how often soul baring and honest they were, with not a care in the world. They were diary entries, and I felt privileged to be able to read them, and read about people all across the UK with lives just like mine. Back then I was 20, turning 21, and my life was very different. I didn’t have much money to review a lot of beauty products, but I *wanted* to, so I did. And well, I always found a way. Gathering up my love for beauty products and my creative artistic side, thelondonlipgloss.co.uk was born in February 2010, and I haven’t looked back since.
It’s changed a bit aesthetically around these parts, but the ethos stayed the same.
I always liked that raw truth to blogging, even within the beauty sector, and I know it’s never left me. I used to read real honest reviews, sometimes good and sometimes bad, and I loved that. I would watch glossy ads for the latest mascara, but knew when I logged in to blogger and scrolled through the people I followed on Google Friend Connect, there would be people telling me a real honest opinion. It felt like being at the local coffee shop with a bunch of friends. I swiftly became fully immersed, but also terrified to start a blog of my own. I started reading blogs around Summer 2009, but didn’t actually start my own until February 2010. I was so scared of putting myself out there like that, I didn’t feel confident in myself nor my style, and I was sure I would get hate for uploading pictures of my face. For a long time I admired blogging and bloggers from afar, but felt too afraid to join in.
Eventually I plucked up the courage, and it was a road to self confidence.
I think i’m a super strange person because i’m very confident in my manner – i’ll speak in front of people, speak up, approach celebrities to chat to them.. i’m not really afraid of anything in that sense. I’ll confidently take on anything in my stride. I am however, very very un confident in my own self appearance. I worry a lot that people think i’m ugly, and I struggle accepting my own appearance. I don’t really understand if i’m honest how someone so confident in mannerisms can be so worried and anxious in their own appearance, but because I have a drive to learn, talk and meet people, I sorta shove my self body confidence to the side for the sake of learning.
Starting a blog changed everything, though. And I remember it so vividly.
When I started my blog, I was a uni student and I worked at GAP part time. I didn’t have much spare time, but I always found time to take some photos and write for my blog. It was such a release, and I used to sneak off the shop floor at least once an hour desperately refreshing my blogger homepage on safari of my iPhone to see if anyone had left a comment. I had like 500 google friend connect followers, and my posts would get maybe three comments each time. Every single one meant the world to me and I treasured that little number popping up on my sneaky trips to my locker. I hated my job, and my blog was a release from the real world, whilst connecting with those actually in the real world. It was amazing, and I enjoyed every minute of blogging. I still remember my first event invite – Sleek Makeup – and I honestly thought it was a joke. A prank. I couldn’t believe anyone, let alone a major brand, would want me, a shop worker, at their event. It was beyond a dream come true. Soon my confidence began to grow, and I started to feel immensely happier as a person. I cite blogging for this completely.
In 2013 I went full time blogging, and it’s still a pinch me moment to this day.
It was so hard at first. So hard. I left my job in January 2013, and I hadn’t any money saved. My friend and housemate at the time – Rich – let me off the first months rent to get me off my feet, and so I moved back to London after a period at home. I worked so hard in that first month to earn the money to get back on my feet and pay the rent, and i’ll never forget the kindness from Rich. Never. In May 2013, I met a sweet, funny and cute guy in a green plaid shirt at a club night in Guildford, and I just adored spending the evening with him. We laughed at our favourite old vintage emo songs, laughed even harder at the silly kids hardcore dancing, and his beautiful brown eyes had me feeling right at home. His name was George, and a couple of weeks after meeting him, he plucked up the courage to ask me out on a date. I accepted, of course, and met him at a bar in Shoreditch after a DJ set I had done in town. There was this most bright of sparks behind his eyes when I told him I blogged full time. When I ask him about that moment now, he says at the time he had never heard of anything so empowering and amazing, and he instantly loved me for it. I’d never had this treatment, with my abusive ex telling me I was worthless and that my blog would amount to nothing, frequently humiliating me in front of his friends, and telling me to get ‘a real job’, George was a breath of fresh air I didn’t know was out there.
My laptop was shoddy, my camera didn’t film video, and putting his full faith and belief into me – whilst telling me this every single day – George helped me out both financially in equipment, but mentally with self belief. I’d never met a man who had seen this potential in me before, and it instantly spurred me to work hard, and create a sustainable life not only for me, but for this man that I absolutely knew I loved with all my heart, even a few months in. Readers quadrupled, instagram likes doubled, and my Twitter page was bursting. My heart was full. I was finally home.
I know I was never meant to have a ‘regular’ job.
But here we are, in 2017, when having a regular job can be as regular as owning a YouTube channel. It’s just mind blowing how far the industry has gone from us all looking in bemusement at the odd £10 PR gift, wondering why we were chosen – to billion dollar industries. As I outlined in my previous post, I am worried, unsure and feeling a little old in this game now, but to reflect on just how far i’ve come is detailing a story in itself. A story of a girl who knew she was meant to make art, but just didn’t know or expect how the world would see it. I don’t regret a single thing, and i’ve grown so much in confidence, business acumen, artistic creativity and practical skills. I would never have believed a university drop out could achieve so much. If only the Zoe from February 2010 could take a glimpse at the Cosmopolitan Content Of The Year Winner of 2016, who has flown around the world and lived some of her wildest dreams.
Good lord, her charity shop wardrobe and hand me down makeup would have been blown out of her tiny flat in shock.
It consistently means the world and more to me that you all tune in to read my diary, same as I do, from corners of the world I could only ever google image search. You and your stories inspire me no end, and you will never understand fully the gratitude to which I am grateful that you care about me. Gosh, you really care. You email me, you message me, you DM me, you leave comments. You are selfless and loving, and you believe firmly in a stranger on the internet that you’ve never met. I can’t begin to tell you what that means to me, because I can’t fully put it into words. I am so lucky to have you in my life, and to have experienced the love in which you give me. You have made the last seven years truly unbelievable, and i’m proud to have brightened up your day, or helped show you something perhaps you’d never heard of. Or at least give you a glimpse into a life in London, England. Thank you. You are all friends of mine and I will always and forever try to interact with every single one of you. Keep reading, never let the fire in your heart burn out, and enjoy your favourite creators – and don’t let them make you feel inadequate.
You are amazing.