• About A Girl: Olivia Fleming

    Olivia Fleming knows a thing or two about travel. Born in New Zealand, the writer now calls NYC home, and has made a name for herself by knowing how to, as she puts it, “find secret stuff” for places like Vogue.com and Elle.com. We spent the day with her to get the inside scoop on what (and where) is inspiring her right now.
    Photos by Matt Rubin

    Above: BDG Nubby Stitch Sweater, Annie Bowler, Converse High-Top Sneakers

    Describe your path to doing what you’re doing now — can you share more about your upbringing, and what led you to moving to NY to be a writer?
    Like a typical girl growing up in a small country (the population of New Zealand is a very chill four million), I craved big cities. I felt so detached and far away from the action, and I longed to be at the forefront of everything that piqued my interest as a teenager: fashion, art, photography…and magazines. I have a very vivid memory of being 12 years old, after watching an episode of Friends, opening my dad’s laptop to look up how much an apartment in New York would cost. I Googled, or actually probably Yahoo’d back then, the best neighborhoods and decided I would live in the West Village, just like Rachel. 

    At university I studied journalism and interned at New Zealand’s equivalent to Vogue, Fashion Quarterly, until they hired me as a fashion assistant. In 2008, three days after my last exam, I flew to New York to work for an Australian publishing house that had an office in Manhattan — on Wall St., actually. But nine months later I lost my job thanks to the recession, so I hightailed it to Sydney in 2009. (The thought of ‘failing’ and having to go home was not an option for me!) So I spent three years working  as a Fashion Market Editor there, where I learned everything I needed to know about being an adult from two extraordinary women, Judith Cook (Australia’s own version of Grace Coddington) and Helen McCabe, the smartest and savviest editor-in-chief I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

    In 2011 I received an offer from Teen Vogue for an assistant position, and without really thinking about it, and without a real plan, I quit my job and moved back to New York a few weeks later. I was very fortunate to have an army of support, from friends both in New York and back in Sydney, who housed me and helped me secure my first O1. Without them, there is no way I would still be here. 

    Above: Levis Trucker Jacket, Urban Renewal 517 Jeans, Olly Flannel 

    You just started a line of mood rings — tell us more! 
    I sure did! I launched the line about a month ago.  I had always wanted a grown-up mood ring, one made from real gold with a real semi-precious gemstone — but all of the mood rings I could find were made from brass using a plastic (or ‘acrylic’) stone. Frustrated, I was lamenting the lack of high-end mood rings during a dinner last summer, and a family friend told me to just make them myself. I’d never really thought of that being an option...what did I know about making mood rings? Nothing. But she sparked something in me, and so I spent an entire year determined to figure it out.

    You spend a lot of time in Upstate NY — can you share more about what takes you there? 
    I’m from New Zealand — there’s your answer! But really, I think after living in New York for two years, the romanticism I had attached to it for so long had begun to wear off. I suddenly missed the sound of birds, the smell of fresh air, and that magical feeling you get when you’re in the middle of a forest. Around the same time, I fell in love with the guy who photographed me for this story (shout out to Rachael Yeager’s The Working Pair), and it turned out we both really valued the same things: the beach, swimming holes, and running around in a field. Going Upstate is like pressing a reset button; falling asleep to crickets, watching the leaves change color during the fall, having space to breathe — literally and figuratively. It may sound cheesy, but it enables me to come back to the city, look at the Manhattan skyline, and feel excited rather than overwhelmed. 

    Above: Co-op Corduroy Jumper, Striped Tee

    Lately I've been inspired by...
    Usually it is people that inspire me the most, whether it’s because I admire their dedication, their willingness to follow their dreams, their creative energy, or just their ability to wake and try to be the best person they possibly can on any given day. Two of my best friends back home who have completely shaken up her lives to go back to school are examples of this. One is studying nursing (after having graduated in 2008 with a fashion degree) and the other is studying homeopathy (after graduating with me in journalism, and then sailing around the world for five years). I have so many friends working their butts off to achieve great things, or things they really believe in. There’s no better motivator than that.

    What's your daily routine like?
    My boyfriend and I wake up early, around 7am. We spend a good chunk of time in bed together, reading the news and catching up on emails with coffee. But each day is different. Sometimes I’m on deadline rushing to finish a piece, sometimes I’m chasing people for an interview, or walking around the jewelry district for mood ring stuff. It usually revolves around lunch, though — what I can fit in before or after it. Food is very important to me! 

    Above: Overalls, Nubby Stitch Sweater

    What’s your fall uniform? 
    A cashmere sweater with trousers, jeans, or a skirt, all with loafers or oxfords of some sort. 

    Describe your style in 4 words.
    Um, “I like my legs…”? Ha. I do wear a lot of mini skirts, but probably: predictable, relaxed, comfortable, polished. 

    The best advice I’ve been given is…
    Take life one day at a time, and take each day one step at a time...from my very wise mother. 

    Above: Nubby Stitch Sweater, Midi Dress, Jean Jacket, Felt Bowler Hat 

    Something few people know about me is…
    Die Hard (the first one) is my favorite movie of all time. 

    The last great book I read was…
    The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante.  They’re addictive, I highly recommend them!

    The last great film I saw was…
    Celia Rowlson Hall’s Ma, which just had its official premiere in Venice this month.

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    Read Olivia's Guide to Upstate NY