• UO Interviews: The Working Women's Club

    A headquarters for creative LA women. That's the concept of journalist Phoebe Lovatt's new project The Working Women's Club, a pop-up work and event space housed in the basement of the historic Eastern Columbia Building in downtown Los Angeles. Since she didn't already have enough on her plate, Phoebe also launched a self-published book this month called The Handbook for Women Who Do Creative Work, and hosted an amazing event last week in the new WW Club space to kick it all off. Curious to learn more about what this cool California girl has up her sleeve, we asked her to tell us more about what projects she's working on, the collaborative West Coast spirit, and LA vs. London. 

    Can you share more about your background, work, and how the idea for the WW come came about?
    I’m a 27 year old journalist from London, now living in LA. I’ve been writing since I was 20, mostly on travel, music, and lifestyle, for publications including ELLE, Dazed & Confused, Harper’s BAZAAR, and GQ. The WW (or Working Women's) Club is inspired by my crew: a group of stupidly cool, talented, smart, creative, and successful women whom I met in my hometown of London. When I moved to LA in 2012, I realized how important these women had been to my personal, professional, and creative development, and how lucky I’d been to find them at such a pivotal age. The WW Club is my attempt to distill that spirit of support and collaboration for the benefit of women in LA, and beyond.

    Conceptually the idea is built around the best of London and Los Angeles…what are the best things about both of these places, creatively-speaking?
    London is where I was born and raised. Growing up there played such a huge role in the (ongoing!) development of my identity and outlook. It’s easy to take London’s creative energy for granted when you’re living there, but it really is something special. You have this crazy, condensed, multicultural city, where so many different types of people are crossing paths on a daily basis. There’s always something new to look at, a new place to visit, a new person to meet. On a practical level, that makes it easier to develop your ideas: you always know someone whose brain you can pick, or who might be able to help you out. On a creative level, it gives you a sharp critical eye. There’s a lot of talent and no bullsh*tting in London. If your ideas are subpar, people will let you know!

    Los Angeles, where I moved in late 2012, presents a whole different spectrum of challenges and benefits. On the upside, there’s such a vast amount of space. The quality of life is amazing and, crucially, affordable, which means artists can still thrive here in a way that seems increasingly difficult in super-expensive cities like London and New York. On the flipside, the LA sprawl makes it difficult to maintain a sense of pace and momentum when it comes to daily working life. Or at least, it has for me. In both cities, I’m privileged to be surrounded by really smart, ambitious females - The crucial difference is that in London we’re all living, working, and partying in the same places, whereas in LA it’s an ordeal just to coordinate a coffee date! For someone like me, whose ideas are stimulated by conversation, that’s been really hard. My hope for The WW Club is that it will be a space, both physical and virtual, for likeminded women to meet, network, and collaborate, whether they’re in LA, London, or elsewhere.

    Can you tell us more about the physical space that the LA club is in?
    The WW Club will be hosted in the basement of a stunning historic building in downtown LA. The space is totally bare, so I’m working with an incredible local designer called Adi Goodrich to fit it out from scratch. It’s a lot of work, but I love that we’re taking this totally raw basement (which feels like the type of place I’d go to a warehouse rave in London) and working together to add a little LA polish! Adi’s concept for the space is called ‘Mineraux et Roches’ (minerals and rocks) and it’s inspired by the idea of creating this beautiful subterranean lair for ladies, deep in downtown LA. 

    Can you share more specifics about The Handbook?
    I’ve written a lot of guides to travel over the years, so I figured I’d try my hand at a travel guide to life! The Handbook for Women Who Do Creative Work is the first in a series of portable, passport-sized guides, designed to fit in the palm of your hand (hence the name).

    Just as I email local friends for tips when I visit a new destination, I’ve called on my most clued-up female friends and collaborators to give insider advice for the book. I’ve also shared some of the insights I’ve gained in five years of working as a creative freelancer - everything from building an effective workspace, to keeping your energy levels up through the working day. In this day and age, ‘traditional’ wisdom and career advice often feels irrelevant—we’re much more likely to consult our peers for guidance, which is something I’ve kept in mind. Saying that, the women I’ve featured span the spectrum from rising stars in their early twenties to established leaders in their mid fifties. In putting together this book, I’ve learnt that being a successful woman in the current world isn’t about your age or location, but more about retaining a creative, curious spirit, and an empowered state of mind.

    Follow Phoebe's work on her website or on Instagram