Supportive Sunday: By Rotation

Happy Sunday! Sunday is now my favourite part of the week because of Supportive Sunday. Today’s feature is the true definition of an Internet friendship because well – we actually met on Instagram! We realised we had a lot in common (here’s to being raised in Singapore but settling in London!). For today’s Supportive Sunday, we have Eshita Kabra-Davies, apparent intern but also the founder and CEO of By Rotation.

I first found out about By Rotation when Eshita reached out on Instagram and since then, I’ve watched them grow from a mere 25 rentals to now even having Stacey Dooley’s wardrobe available to rent! By Rotation is the UK’s leading peer-to-peer fashion rental platform. Think of it as the Airbnb of luxury fashion. Eshita and ByRotation have had amazing press, with features in Vogue, BBC, Forbes, Refinery29, Glamour, to name a few.

How does it work” you ask? Well, it’s exactly like looking for an Airbnb property to rent on holiday. You hop on the app, put in the dates you need it for, size you’re looking for, and request for it. If the owner agrees to your request, you borrow it and return it cleaned. On the app, you’re even told the Impact Scale of your environmental positive savings from renting rather than buying! Snazzy.

I think it’s really important during this time to talk about sustainability. This lockdown has really made me evaluate how I lived: quickly, and without much thought to the humane nature of most businesses. Sure, we currently don’t have anywhere to go and won’t need any outfits, but one day I hope we’ll be able to go to parties, celebrations, and weddings again. There’s a real importance to examining what we buy, and where from – especially with fast fashion. By Rotation helps plugs a gap, flipping the idea of sustainable fashion as expensive fashion.

So, I get to wear something fancy pieces for a fraction of the price, while satisfying that desire to wear something new. But I also adore By Rotation because it’s the perfect marriage of fashion and tech, run by a diverse group of women with a huge emphasis on community. Which you know, basically tingles the spidey senses of of our team at WWQD.

You can read more about Eshita and her team on popsugar (where she talks about moving from side hustle to full-time role), Fashion monitor (about their business model) and also on their journal. But for now here’s our chat with Eshita. 👏🏼

Hey Eshita, tell us a bit about yourself

That creative itch never went away and soon enough I was up-I’m a ‘third culture kid’*, born in Rajasthan, India raised in Singapore and now live in the London with my British husband. After 6+ years experience working in investment management and inspired by a love for fashion that doesn’t weigh on my conscience, I founded By Rotation as a side hustle in April 2019 and have now taken it full time.

*A third culture kid: raised in a culture other than their parents’ or that of their country of origin.

How are you doing these days?

I’m doing good! These are unprecedented times so I feel very lucky to be able to continue working on By Rotation and focusing on our community. We’ve been able to use our platform for good, by offering free rental credit to NHS staff for when this is all over and partnered with TV presenter and journalist Stacey Dooley with 100% of rental proceeds from her wardrobe going to Refuge a charity tackling domestic abuse – this all makes me very proud.

Why did you start By Rotation?

I was planning my honeymoon to my motherland Rajasthan, India and turned to Instagram for inspiration – cities to go to, hotels to stay at, landmarks to visit, restaurants to eat at and… what to wear! That’s when I started thinking about fashion rental and the lack of options in the UK, a very first-world problem, and how pragmatic it would be to just borrow from someone else.

When I arrived in Rajasthan I was upset by the level of textile waste I saw everywhere. That’s when I felt compelled to change and decided to launch By Rotation, the UK’s first (peer-to-peer) fashion rental app. During the last leg of my honeymoon, I started inviting my friends to come over to my apartment for a get-together at which I announced the concept and intention of By Rotation. After this initial positive feedback, I created a beta platform over the weekend and started using Instagram to draw people in.

Within a month, it had more than 10 transactions and was picked up by a journalist at Refinery29, followed by a mention in the Guardian. The customer acquisition continued organically, the rental volumes began to increase and the press kept coming.

When I arrived in Rajasthan I was upset by the level of textile waste I saw everywhere. That’s when I felt compelled to change and decided to launch By Rotation, the UK’s first (peer-to-peer) fashion rental app.

What are you most proud of with By Rotation, to date?

Our very strong and diverse community, our ever evolving technology and the incredibly enthusiastic response we’ve had since launching in October 2019! 

On a more business-related note, we’ve received the Eco-Age brandmark for our sustainable business model, hit the 15,000 users mark and have seen 400% user growth quarter on quarter – making us the fastest-growing & largest fashion rental platform in the UK!

What keeps you going when the going gets tough?

Our community. They are all equally excited about the concept and that’s really what keeps us going when things get tough. We know they love the platform as much as we do and there’s a need for it.

What’s your ambition for By Rotation?

We want to transform the way that we consume fashion and disrupt the usual journey of retail through rental. We are setting out to convince everyone that we no longer need to buy fast fashion and can instead share quality clothing with each other. We intend to open up our app globally and have local communities, being self-sufficient and ‘rotating’ wardrobes with each other.

So while we’re all doing the spring clean in our houses that we all seem to be doing this lockdown, why don’t you have a look in your wardrobe at what you could rent out – I’d love to see some of your wardrobes on there. After all, #WhatsMineIsYours; come join me in this community!


Supportive Sunday: PERCH & WILD

Welcome back to another Supportive Sunday! Today we have with us Emma from Perch&Wild. Emma’s got one of the biggest personalities I know – one of the many reasons I absolutely adore her (she also cracks me up all the time). This shows through in every piece of her work in Perch&Wild. Finding old pieces and breathing new life into them whilst reusing and recycling is core to Perch&Wild. The ethos: why buy new, when you might already have the perfect piece of furniture that just needs a creative update!

So here we go, Emma and Perch&Wild 👏🏼

Hey Emma, tell us a bit about yourself

After completing my degree in Politics and Philosophy and falling in to a series of corporate jobs (did not suit my hippy life at all) I ended up quitting my job and moving to Thailand! It was there that I realised how much I missed being creative and working freelance so on my return I took a job at a charity where I was able to be a little bit more myself. A year in aaaaand I fell pregnant at 25 with a beautiful little girl called Tilly who ultimately meant I quit my job and looked around my house for something else to do.

That creative itch never went away and soon enough I was up-cycling all of the furniture in my house and eventually that lead to me setting up Perch&Wild. It was so important to me that Tilly grew up watching her mum working and creating in our home and that brings me to where I am now. My love of patterns, colours and anything a bit quirky means my home is always full of my latest projects and eye catching designs which I’m so lucky to now be able to share with everyone else!

How are you doing these days?

I’m actually really good! I had a few markets set up before Covid-19 hit which sadly have now been cancelled but luckily they’ve been moved to instagram ‘virtual markets’ which have been great for spreading the word.

As a new business I was worried how the pandemic was going to affect me but I’ve actually been kept quite busy and I think that’s maybe down to more people being at home, and realising their furniture might need an update. Or perhaps they want a nice, colourful treat in their homes.

What are you most proud of with Perch&Wild to date?

I was most proud of my first sale. In the creative industry you’re quite literally offering yourself up on a plate and my taste in homeware may not be for everyone.

When I started Perch&Wild I was creating things that I loved personally, and for someone to buy into that image and want it in their own home gave me the confidence I needed to carry on. It’s hard not to feel down when an item doesn’t sell straight away but I realise that it’s just waiting to find the perfect person and home to love it properly.

When I started Perch&Wild I was creating things that I loved personally, and for someone to buy into that image and want it in their own home gave me the confidence I needed to carry on.

What keeps you going when the going gets tough?

My daughter. She really pushes me to do more and be better. When I’m painting she sits with me and helps and it brings her so much happiness that it’s infectious. She’s my little cheerleader and without her I wouldn’t even have this business.

What’s your ambition for Perch&Wild?

My plans for the future are to increase the amount of commissions I’m doing (I love to give someone something truly personal and seeing the joy on their face) and to start creating collections. Having said that this whole pandemic has really changed my short terms goals so I guess staying fluid and evolving with the times is where I’m at right now, and I’m ok with that.

Having said that this whole pandemic has really changed my short terms goals so I guess staying fluid and evolving with the times is where I’m at right now, and I’m ok with that.

You can reach out to Emma and find out more about commissions from her at her Etsy store. And watch this space: she’s planning some post-coronavirus workshops like cushion cover-making, upholstery basics and weaving so we can all get crafty together!


The Girl Who Did More Than Clap for the NHS

Happy Friday! We’ve started the day with some good news for a change, as we note London’s infection rate is starting to fall.* This headline’s overly optimistic, but the news in there is valid.

On that note of positivity, I wanted to share another uplifting Friday story: my sister’s! She surprised our family group chat last week, when she shared a few photos of beautiful, handmade cards and mini-care packs for her local paramedics.

She’s worked really hard on these quietly, so I wanted to surprise her by sharing her gorgeous art with you. She’d been telling me every week that while clapping was a nice way for the entire country to showcase their appreciation, she wanted to do something practical to help, no matter how small.

The level of detail and texture in these handmade illustrations…girl. I think anyone who receives these will be touched to see that effort and love went into making them. 👏🏼
She made 22 cards, and hand delivered them along with some sweets to her local paramedics in Epsom. 💚

…and that’s all folks! I wanted to share a sweet, positive Friday story to kick off your weekend on a good note.

– xoxo, aimen 🤓


Being diagnosed with endometriosis at 22

A bloody Monday

Hiya Monday. How’s it going? BoJo got us all confused last night eh. But basically, just stay home so we can keep the R number down.

Enough about Covid – it’s Monday and today is… THE FIRST DAY OF MY PERIOD. Even though I have cramps and am generally moody, I’m incredibly grateful that my periods now are no longer anything like the painful periods I once had. For context, I’m now on Microgynon and I know that I can stop having periods but that’s a whole other post as to why I still choose to have the break.

Anyway – it’s Manageable Monday. Today we talk about periods, and more specifically, what it was like to be diagnosed with endometriosis when I turned 22. Because there have been many Mondays that I wish I could be honest with others about why I wasn’t okay instead of grinning and bearing it.

So, how did all this come about?

When I’m on my period now, my palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy (sorry forgot to leave the Eminem rap at the door), but I generally feel like well, rubbish.

Since I got my period at the young innocent age of 10, my periods have been ridiculously heavy, as if once a month my sole mission is to birth a demon baby. Add to that the crazy heat and humidity in Singapore, a general reluctance to talk about periods, as well as an all-white school uniform…I was a nervous wreck whenever my period came around for as long as I remembered.

It all came to head when I had a kidney infection, and through an ultrasound, they realised something wasn’t right. I opted for a laparoscopy and they confirmed I had endometriosis. Tada! Sounds pretty straightforward doesn’t it? But what I’ve brushed over is how throughout university, I’d get tired within about two hours and fall asleep wherever I was. Or that during that demonic week, some days I couldn’t stand or sit up straight and would break out in a cold sweat, even in the summer heat on the Central line. And how, for a really long period of time, I was told that this was normal and I should just put up with it.

The end of the matter, or start of another era?

In the first photo, you see me super happy at my graduation. This was me, a few weeks after surgery. It was the first time post-surgery that I could zip up my graduation dress because the nitrogen that got pumped into me during surgery had finally gone down enough.

I’d lost most of my core strength and couldn’t even sit up in bed – I had to roll out of it. I remember dozing off in the auditorium before we had to walk across it, because I was so tired from catching up with everyone and the adrenaline itself wasn’t enough to keep me going. I had to start work shortly after this.

So even though post-surgery my symptoms were no longer that debilitating, once a month when I had my bleed, my brain would get hazy, my body would feel heavy and feverish, and I’d be in a dark mood.

Some days, I could sleep for over 12 hours, and still go to bed six hours later then sleep for another 12. Other than dealing with myself, I also had to deal with others: colleagues and coworkers who couldn’t understand why I needed a random day off in the middle of the week, friends whom I had to cancel plans with suddenly, or strangers on the tube whom I couldn’t ask whether I could have their seat because I was feeling so weak.

“I had to deal with colleagues and coworkers who couldn’t understand why I needed a day off in the middle of the week, friends whom I had to cancel plans with, or strangers on the tube whom I couldn’t ask for their seat because I was feeling so weak”

Other than social interactions, I also lost the coping mechanism I had at unversity, where I could stay in bed for a week. I now had ~aDuLt~ commitments, like a full time corporate job, to answer to. And in a largely male team, how on earth could I talk to them about my period?

That’s also a whole other conversation. I would strongly recommend reading Emma Barnett’s insightful and well-researched book: It’s about Bloody Time. All about periods… and why we as women are so ashamed to talk about it.

How being diagnosed with endometriosis suddenly changes everything

I almost don’t remember a time where I haven’t had my period – I’ve had it for about two-thirds of my life. But having to face the diagnosis of endometriosis made me reflect on well – everything.

I’ve prided myself on being a ‘people person’ and having compassion and starting with kindness. But, I also used to represent clients in the Free Representation Unit where some of them had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or other illnesses that I couldn’t see manifested physically. I remember Googling it after the first meeting with them, and asking myself “Is this even real?“.

When they had to cancel our meeting on the day, I’d even ask “What but you don’t have to work, why are you so busy?” – what an absolutely privileged cow I was. Just because I couldn’t see their illness with my narrow world view, who was I to judge them and say that their illness wasn’t real because I couldn’t – or refused to – see it? I’m ashamed to say I only realised the impact of invisible illnesses when I experienced one. Even now, it is still something that I have to actively unlearn: that something isn’t not defined as an illness just because I can’t physically see it or tick boxes to define it. I am not the one to judge other’s bodies and what they are going through. When you have an illness that others cannot tangibly see, they brush you off and go “oh but you don’t look sick enough“, or they actually question you as to whether you have it. And then they ask you whether it’s gone away – many invisible illnesses do not just go away, we live with them every single day. As my endometriosis reminds me whenever I have a sneeze, I feel a bit of the adhesion come apart. Lovely.

When you have an illness that others cannot see, they brush you off and go “oh but you don’t look sick enough“, or they question you as to whether you actually have it.

This has been one of the hardest lessons I had to learn, and there is so much to unpack around invisible illnesses and disabilities that I’m not sure I could do justice by trying to cover it here. But I promise we’ll talk more about it in a few future posts.

Being asked to make a monumental decision in minutes

When they suspected endometriosis, my doctor also callously said “Well, if it’s affecting you so much, you could have a hysterectomy.” Excuse me, what. I was 22, I couldn’t even decide what I wanted to eat for lunch that day, what made him think that I was equipped to make a decision about removing my uterus? Put in that position, I went ‘ok no hysterectomy, IN CASE I want children.” But if I’d had time to decide what I wanted to do, perhaps the answer might be different, who knows.

Aimen talks about the choice of not having children in one of our previous posts. I on the other hand, want and love children that Aimen can be the cool auntie to. When I see children I feel a twinge in my heart and womb, and I cannot wait for the day I can hold my own in my arms and if I cannot have my own, then a baby that I will adopt and love as my own. But I’ve only come to this thought process because I was forced to reckon with these questions that no one should ever have to face when they’re not ready. After all, no conversation about whether you have to have children is a clear-cut yes or no. Having to face it at 22? That’s tough.

And other than reconciling it with myself, I, fresh-faced university graduate then had to start work. I remember being terrified in my first few months of work whenever I was introduced to someone new that they’d be like ‘So, what do you think you want to do in a few years?‘ (which they unsurprisingly asked all fresh graduates).

I stumbled through my answer, always worried I would let on that I had endometriosis and reveal that some days I’d be incapable of working. Or that when I do decide to have a child, the journey will be much harder. I’d feel the panic rise in my throat as I pretended to be the bright new hire, and pray that no one would ask me about my thoughts on maternity leave – which is something people still ask women candidates in interviews (wow shocker!).

What’s next?

So as I sit here wrapped in a duvet and can’t tell whether I’m cold because of the howling wind outside or because my body is prepped for that first drop of uterine shed-blood, what I want to say is: In a time where we all tell each other to #bekind and not judge others, we should stop to reflect on what we think we know about invisible illnesses and disabilities with no physical manifestations. When there’s something to see, we with our narrow world view can go, “Phew, yes they’re ill or disabled. They look ill or disabled enough.” There is no such thing as looking ill or disabled enough, there is only us questioning ourselves on whether we’re willing to put in the work to unlearn what our ableist society has ingrained in us.

Also stop judging people, it’s none of our damn business. Now let me just get through this Monday. 

– Q 🩸🩸🩸

Career Personal growth

Burnout: (The luxury of) prevention and recovery

What is burnout?

The WHO defines burn-out syndrome specifically in a work context with the following three characteristics:

  • feeling depleted or exhausted
  • mentally distancing, or feeling negative and cynical about your work
  • reduced professional efficacy.

In my case I learned about burnout while going through it. My experience of burnout was influenced by factors like gender, my profession and relatively young age, cushioned by class and my support circle.

I want to help women prevent and recover from the signs of burnout – we’re at a higher risk across professions. I can only speak to my experience as a creative and knowledge worker – a relatively privileged place to speak from.

Why do people burnout?

Speaking through my own lens: I’m 24. I worked full-time in product marketing and run a print & digital design practice on the side. In my pre-COVID free time? I DJ’d. I produced music commercially and for myself. I devoted my time to mentoring junior colleagues out of hours and helped friends with anything from their personal sites to semi-commercial ventures.

Here’s the problem: I can guarantee at least one person is reading this thinking “Coool. Juggle it all hun. American Dream”. That’s the attitude that left me emotionally depleted, cynical about my day job and unable to produce anything creatively in my passion projects.

Here’s how I went from faux cool “sorry I’m just too busy!!!” texts to having regularly scheduled 15-minute sob sessions at work:

I missed every opportunity to take holidays. I rolled over two years’ worth simply because I was too young and inexperienced to realize I didn’t need to be on every single new, exciting project at work to be successful

I monetized every single one of my hobbies. Having a side hustle is great. But creative work is ultimately work: it’s demanding and challenging. When I wasn’t at my 9-5, I was producing websites or making music. As a result, when I tried to enjoy making music or illustrating – I couldn’t. It felt reductive when I wasn’t being paid for it. This toxic attitude left me unable to undertake the exploratory ‘unproductive’ experimental work that is so crucial to creativity. I lost the ability to use my creative work as solace because I added the unnecessary pressure of making things “commercially viable” in an already competitive landscape.

I didn’t advocate for myself. I set unreasonable expectations in a bid to challenge myself. If I could produce a project in a day, I’d try to do it in half a day next time. I accepted more freelance projects than any reasonable one-woman setup could handle. If I could manage 4 people, I’d try to be responsible for 6. If I could go from working til 7PM to working a set til 2AM, I’d do it again. But my fuel tank ran empty eventually.

In short – you burnout when you regularly push yourself beyond a sustainable level of effort or stress.

When you do not balance rest, postpone fun and take on more than you can manage, you become depleted. When we read our maximum capacity for work as an inherent weakness, and try to bulldoze past it, we end up overloading ourselves. Incidentally, we also become completely unpleasant to be around.

When we read our maximum capacity as an inherent weakness, and try to bulldoze past it, we end up overloading ourselves.

How do you prevent burnout?

Balance. While working in a toxic culture or environment wasn’t a great starting point, I could’ve changed my approach.

I should have:

  • Taken regular breaks, even in the form of single days off
  • Taken at least one extended holiday a year
  • Fully switched off from work at some point in the day
  • Been mindful in accepting a sustainable workload
  • Been careful about monetizing my passions
  • Acted my age!

That last point is interesting. By this, I mean I should’ve realized that our twenties are when we can afford to spend time figuring out what we enjoy. By pressuring myself to “Be PuT tOgEtHeR” by the arbitrary deadline of 25, I set up a destructive environment where nothing felt fun unless it was advancing me in some capitalist, quantifiable way.

Finally…realise if you’re a young woman in rooms full of men, you’re expending a great deal of energy fighting to be taken seriously whilst not being ‘too assertive’. This is draining. Find allies. Delegate and share this burden.

Well, thanks but I’m already burnt out. How do you recover?

Recovery is harder than not being burnt out in the first place. While what you actually do is going to vary, you’ll need to introduce balance and restful activities into your life.

If you’re a fan of extremes…

I quit my job and factored in two weeks of free time before starting another. I spent these two weeks accepting zero freelance projects, making absolutely no music and producing nothing of value. I went to a lot of museums, slept and actually spoke to my cat instead of treating him as furniture. I had my husband cook me fresh, delicious meals and spent time with him. I drank my tea while it was still f*cking hot. In short, I healed by quitting cold turkey. I took this newly-gained habit of slowing down into my next job, so I was able to avoid full-blown burnout next time.

If you’re mellower…

Introduce boundaries and acceptance into what you do. At risk of sounding fluffy – really do one restful, peaceful thing a day. Gradually accept the idea of time off as a necessity instead of an option. Learn when to stop working against yourself. Give yourself control. If it feels like you’re forcing yourself to do something, question the necessity of the task instead of yourself. If you’re balancing heavy personal circumstances with a demanding job, prioritise your energy. Take back your hobbies. You don’t need to start an Etsy for your embroidery – you can just enjoy it.

The luxury of burnout

I know, oxymoron. But it’s easy to read points of view like mine and think they’re the only lived experience of burnout.

Being able to identify and plan recovery from burnout is a luxury in itself. Simply by being in the UK, having internet access, three meals to eat a day and a roof over our heads: we have an immense degree of control in determining how our narratives go. It isn’t quite as simple with factors like poverty or immigration status at play. Being able to think about a work-life balance is a luxury.

Being able to think about a work-life balance is a luxury.

Some professions demand a high degree of emotional labour and place us at higher risk of burnout: healthcare and service work included. The language and tools available to us in combatting burnout are a luxury. We should respect this.

If you’re a healthcare worker, we’re working on a piece specific to you soon.

xoxo aimen 👽


How to be a good (?) friend

It’s been 50 days since I hugged a friend

It’s been nearly 50 days since I went into lockdown. Nearly 50 days since I hugged a friend. I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships and how they’ve evolved in the last few weeks. We’ve all started to explore our relationships and friendships more and figure out how we communicate through this because as humans we are so resistant to change: in a time where everything is changing, we want to know that nothing has changed.

As we all struggled with staying home and social distancing, some of my friends and I have somehow ended up spending more time talking to and supporting each other (probably because there are no pesky managers looking over our shoulder while we WhatsApp on our laptops…). I’ve supported my friends and they have supported me. We’ve cried over losses, celebrated accomplishments, and sure as hell held on to each other. We’ve experienced friends who’ve stepped up, and friends that suddenly weren’t there. We’ve been a lot more open and forgiving because guess what, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and now isn’t the time to centre yourself in your relationships.

We’ve been a lot more open and forgiving because – guess what – we’re in the middle of a pandemic and now isn’t the time to centre yourself in your relationships.

Regardless, I’m so grateful for all my friends – those I talk to every day, and those that I check in with once every few weeks, and those that I know even when I haven’t spoken to them since I went into lockdown we will still be as close when we come out.

After all, every friendship is different and they don’t all require the same amount of Houseparty interaction. But I’ve also had to go through a friendship breakup at the start of the lockdown and that really really hurt and I’ve started looking inward within my friendships.

What is a ‘good’ friend?

The question I’ve really grappled with is “How do I be a good friend?” But it took me bumping my head a few times to realise, guess what, that’s me putting myself at the centre of that friendship again. What I should really be asking is “Is my friend getting the support they needs from me?”

A “good friend” isn’t an award you can achieve by clearing level 29 of the Friendship Chain, then moving on to claim the “best friend” badge by keeping to a 542 day streak. Some friends almost immediately become a good friend, and others just stay as best friends, whereas others over years become a best friend. So why are we be so fixated on trying to be a “good friend”? Let’s focus on being a better friend.

Being a “good friend” isn’t something that you can achieve by clearing Level 29 of the Friendship Chain, then moving on to claim the “best friend” badge by keeping to a 542 day streak.

Friendship can’t be sustained at the same level all the time, it needs to ebb and flow. It’s not just about being there for your friends when they’re having a tough time – it matters when they’re in a good place too!

If you’re in a position to be able to support your friends in this time (because YOUR mental health come first), then there are a few things that you can do when your friend shares something with you:

  • Put down what you’re doing – don’t multitask: if your friend has come to you with something that they want to share with you, good or bad, they’ve taken the time out of their day to tell you something because you are special to them.
  • Listen but truly listen to hear – Stephen Covey said “The biggest problem in communication is that we don’t listen to hear – we listen to reply.” The first time I heard this, I wrote it down in my notes app. That was in 2015 and I haven’t deleted it since.
  • Take the moment to spend it with a friend – you don’t have to give advice right away nor should you feel like you have to. Only offer it if your friend needs you to do so. Otherwise, take the moment with them and be present for your friend.

Friendships require nourishment and care

A friendship is like a plant: you have to look after it, you have to nourish it, you have to make sure it stays hydrated (water is the source of life). And on that, here’s a #science fact: the first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. And on the planet of your friendship:

  • The energy needs to flow between you two, it doesn’t go anywhere else so when you receive some, give some back
  • If all one of you do is take without giving… that’s not a planet that’s a black hole and try not to get sucked in!!

Know that when you are friends with someone, friendship is a true gift. Cherish it, enjoy it, and remember to get that energy flowing! A bit of a rambly one but felt I had to put it on a page.

If you want to chat, my inbox is always open, or you can ask me on @whatwouldqueeniedo Wednesday. Sending love out to you, through the screens and I hope it brings a little bit of light to you. If you’re reading this and you’re one of my friends, know that I love you and even if we haven’t spoken, I’m thinking of you. One day we will meet again and you will get the squishiest hug.

– Q 💌


Supportive Sunday: WeCook London by Chef Jen

As I was brainstorming on what I wanted whatwouldqueeniedo to be like, one thing that I always wanted to include was features on female led brands, organisations and charities that make a difference in the communities they work in. So here we are for our first Supportive Sunday! Today, for our first feature I’m really proud to introduce one of my best pal’s businesses.

Jen (aka Chef Jen) started We Cook last year and all she’s done is driven it from strength to strength regardless of what the world’s thrown at her. She pivoted and tried a completely different business model as we went into lockdown. Now, she not only looks after the chefs she works with, but also restaurant suppliers. I love that Chef Jen places such an emphasis on food that nourishes you yet is accessible, even for kids. Food holds a special place in my heart – it’s nourishment, enjoyment, culture and most importantly, family. 

Chef Jen of WeCook London

So, who is Chef Jen and what is We Cook?

Chef Jen created We Cook from her love of cooking for people who would prefer not to.

Jen and her team of professional chefs prepare fresh, healthy meals from the comfort of your home kitchen. Your chef will work with you to design you perfect menu each – the ultimate personal service.

Since the team can’t cook from your home right now, they’ve launched a new home delivery service – By Chef Jen – to keep cooking a repertoire of healthy dishes, for busy families in London. We Cook by Chef Jen delivers across London on a Monday evening, so you can fill your fridge/freezer with healthy meals so you have dinnertimes sorted.

Chef Jen creates a brand new menu each week, including a selection of meat, fish and plant-based options – plus kids Mini Meals!

Hey Jen, how are you doing?

Mostly great thank you! I would be lying if I told you I was 100% positive all of the time – but then again who is, even without Coronavirus causing chaos.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a teachers pet with a love for anything creative… I love painting and have a music degree (the dream was once to be a singer songwriter!) I also had 3 competitive Muay Thai fights as this was a huge passion of mine for years, and I’m still really into fitness now!

My proudest (and most stressful) moment, was being a part of BBC 2 Chefs Brigade last year, where I got to travel around Europe with Jason Atherton and a team of chefs, to compete with Michelin starred restaurants!

With We Cook, you get gorgeous home cooked food like these “Beef Chillin’ Wedges”

Why did you start We Cook?

I started We Cook as I was determined to start my own business that addressed two important problems that I could see a lot of people had, when I moved to London last year.

  1. Everybody in London is just so busy! I couldn’t believe just how much everybody relied on Deliveroo, Pret, Meal Deals – even myself at times! I realised that if even I was struggling to cook fresh meals for dinner every night, people with children to feed too must be struggling to juggle everything.
  2. Everybody’s tastes are very different. Working previously running a meal prep business, the biggest problem we faced was customers with dietary requirements, or simply being able to please everybody. I love feeding people more than anything, and so I wanted to create a service that meant I could get it right for everybody, no matter what their tastes or preferences.

What are you most proud of with We Cook, to date?

Honestly just bringing it to life. I took baby steps last year, applying for part-time personal chef positions and posting local ads to test the waters but since then I’ve really gone all in. I designed my own website (twice thanks to Covid-19!) and have a base of regular clients whom I love cooking for. I now have a team of 3 chefs and despite the lockdown, have successfully managed to pivot the business so that everybody still has some work, and all of our clients can still be fed!

What keeps you going when the going gets tough?

My clients. Even when it gets tough, I find it easy to keep going because this is my ‘baby’ so to speak. I’m sure any mum would tell you that even when things get tough with their children, nothing would make them want to quit being a mum – at least not for long anyway!

I love making people happy with food, and that will never go away. For years its been my ambition to successfully grow my own company and I always knew that would come with a lot of challenge and responsibilities, so I try to roll with the tough days and love the process of it all. (I also listen to a Gary Vee podcast when things get really tough haha – he always pulls me through!)

What’s your ambition for We Cook?

I have a lot of different ideas that I want to test out with regards to growing We Cook, before I commit to a long-term ‘goal’ as such. I say this because I believe business is all about evolution and adapting to the world around you so that you can continue to solve people’s problems. Just look at the current situation – if you had ambitions before coronavirus I’m sure for many people they will have changed significantly since.

I believe business is all about evolution and adapting to the world around you so that you can continue to solve people’s problems

– Chef Jen

Generally speaking, however, I want to grow my team of chefs so that we can cover as many clients in London as possible and then look to branch out into other cities across the world. With the deliveries, we’re reaching lots of new customers and gaining so much insight into what people want and need at dinnertimes, so I’m using that to steer my vision for the future, in particular looking at children’s ready meal options and retail avenues.

You can reach out to Chef Jen and find out more about We Cook at their website. You also get 2 free mini meals on orders over £25 with the discount code KIDS25. Chef Jen cooks, so you don’t have to!

Personal growth Relationships

Don’t ask women when they’re having kids

As a woman in your twenties, it’s likely you’ve been asked when you want to have kids. It might be something you’re thinking about, exploring or even trying to do. It might also be something you really don’t want to do. 

When I got married, I noticed people asked me one thing a little too often: “So, when are you having kids?” I’d been asked this before, but never so persistently. As it turns out, there’s a whole lot of reasons this question is at best: stupid, and at worst: really damaging to ask. 

It’s asking when, never if

In my experience, the question is always “When are you having kids?”. Not ‘if’. When.

This assumes the person you’re asking wants kids. Bit presumptuous. In the year of our lord 2020, motherhood is still seen as aspirational and expected for most women. This loaded question makes it harder for me to go “Actually – I don’t want kids”. 

While we should’ve moved past an institutionalized desire to reduce women to walking wombs, this hasn’t happened yet, so it’s still unsettling to society when women simply don’t want children. Our reasons don’t matter because they’re not really listened to. 

9/10 times I’ve told people I don’t want kids, it’s a dice roll between the following responses. Seriously.

  1. Is it because you’re overweight / have PCOS / have endometriosis / your husband’s infertile?
  2. Is it because your husband doesn’t want kids?
  3. You’ll change your mind. It’s different when its yours! Just wait and see
  4. Don’t you feel bad for your husband / parents / next door neighbor / Mark Zuckerberg who’s entire social network is now based on moms posting photos of their kids, and mom memes?

While I would love to talk about this with a trusted friend, or even a respectful stranger – the overly casual “When you make babies?” doesn’t lend itself to warm, friendly discourse on such a personal topic.

So: you shouldn’t ask when, because you’re throwing a bunch of societal expectations at someone who may well not want to stick to them.

What I always want to see on one of these pee sticks

It’s personal and invasive

Picture this. You’re at a family barbecue. You just grabbed some juicy wings fresh off the grill. There’s sunshine and good music. And then, your great aunt walks over with “Hey so, when are you getting your front butt waxed?” 

Hopefully, you’re thinking “Woah, that’s really personal and invasive, Auntie! My butt waxing routine is totally not your business! Let me eat these wings in peace, damn!

While butt waxing stands out as an invasive, rude and downright inappropriate topic for family conversation, the same scenario with the question “So, when are you having kids” really doesn’t. I’ve been in that scenario at least fifteen times. I’ve always had to justify a really personal decision that ultimately is for my partner and I to make. And really, it’s mostly mine. How. Uncomfortable!

While the butt waxing stands out as an invasive, rude and downright inappropriate topic for family conversation, the question “So, when are you having kids” really doesn’t.

It doesn’t affect anyone whether you decide to reproduce or not (barring your partner and other children, if they exist). The ferocious determination aunties pour into this question might make you feel like their entire happiness depends on your vagina – but it really, truly doesn’t.

The extent to which this question is so normalised (and usually well-intentioned) really belies how much of a personal decision it is to have children. I feel as uncomfortable discussing my reasons for not having children with my extended family, as I would discussing a butt-waxing routine. 

It’s insensitive, and potentially triggering

I have PCOS and endometriosis. With 1 in 5 women diagnosed with PCOS in the UK, it’s really not so uncommon. Both conditions affect your fertility. Here’s the thing: I’m grateful for this because its nice to know I’m less likely to fall pregnant accidentally. 

But if you’re someone in your twenties struggling to conceive – this question really rubs it in. While working in fertility telemedicine, I was lucky to speak to women from all walks of life, struggling to conceive. A huge trigger for lots of them: being asked when they’re having kids, or whether the “plumbing is faulty”.

Especially around Christmas, I’d see a spike in demand for mental health services, as women were asked invasive questions at the dinner table about why their bodies were failing them. Our service received several questions on how to cope with this triggering time, where it seemed like everyone and their mother was quite literally asking women when they’d produce children. 

So. Imagine experiencing the grief of miscarriage, or sinking thousands of pounds into IVF while trying to conceive. Dealing with this incredibly, lonely and private issue. And while trying to eat your sprouts in peace, being asked why you haven’t yet accomplished what you’re so desperately trying to. 

Don’t be insensitive. As with all things, you don’t know what someone is experiencing. So, don’t ask when they’re having kids because for all you know – they’re trying really hard to. With 1 in 7 couples struggling to conceive in the UK, you’re likely to really hurt someone’s feelings when they’re already low.

It’s not just infertility that could make this triggering. Reasons like being a trans woman, being gay and struggling to adopt, having too low an income, having a disability…there’s a laundry list of why this question can be so hurtful.

Normalise our power to choose what we do with our bodies

If you’re feeling bad because you’ve asked your friends when they’re having kids – don’t. Feeling bad is besides the point, just don’t do it again. 

However, knowing my own group of loving friends where nothing is off limits – TALK ABOUT IT. Really, ask your friends if they’re okay to talk about wanting children. Accept it (really, accept it) when people don’t want kids, but let them talk openly about their reasons if they want to. Talk to other women about the expectation that if women want children and a career, they’d better grow 8 extra limbs and train themselves to sleep an hour a night because “men simply aren’t the primary carer”. When we talk respectfully, and really listen, good things happen.

And that’s a wrap. I hope you can kindly call out great aunt Beverly next Thanksgiving when she whips out the ol’ “When are you spawning?” over the turkey.

xoxo, butter girl 🥞


How to Focus

Following on from wanting to be more present in everything I do, I thought it’d be useful to think about focus. This is in line with Manageable Mondays over at @whatwouldqueeniedo – where all you need to do is get through the day.

I used to think that if I didn’t achieve anything on a Monday, the week would be wasted. What I realised was: I was achieving lots of different bits, but couldn’t finish or follow through (whoops).

So, how to focus?

I’ve tried out some techniques to help me finish whatever task I’m trying to complete. Here’s what I do:

  • Get to the root of what distracts me most: Most of the time it’s Instagram. When I’m bored I pick my phone up and… off I scroll. Before I know it, it’s a full hour gone and I’ve got a powerful right thumb.
  • Remove that distraction: I put my phone in another room or behind me where I can’t see it! Out of sight, out of mind (just like the f*ck bois)
  • Turn off pop-up notifications: Especially for emails! Whenever I get an email I’m like ooh gotta read it now (yep I’m one of those people that have no unread emails). Without it popping up on my screen means I can keep my focus and only go seek that distraction when I need to check it
  • Unsubscribe from notifications: And when I check my inbox, I want it to only be full of things that I care about! How many emails do each of us receive in a day that we can delete without even reading? If I find myself constantly deleting emails from the same source, it’s time to unsubscribe!
  • Be honest with yourself: How long can you focus for, and how long will each task take? If you can only focus for 25 minutes, then make those 25 minutes count and stop forcing yourself to sit still for 3 hours. Also, if you know how long something will take you, you’ll be able to plan how much you can do, and therefore feel motivated to keep going because you know you can do it!
  • Find some apps to help you: I use Flora (iOS only) if I need a short focussed burst. This is based on the 🍅 Pomodoro / Timato Timer technique 

Processed with VSCO with a1 preset

Now, make the habit stick

These tips are only useful if you’re able to use them constantly, otherwise… what’s the point?

  • Know that the hardest bit is starting: Once you start on something, chances are you’ll keep going. So don’t think too far ahead, just think about getting started. You know what you need to do once you get going!
  • Keep it fun for yourself and make it a game (similar to how my mum is addicted to Candy Crush and can do it for hours on end): If you set an hour long limit on the apps you spend too much time on, how many days can you go without hitting the limit? Start your own leaderboard!
  • Practice, practice: If you don’t practice focussing on what you’re doing constantly, it won’t happen when you need to summon it suddenly

Did you manage to read this through without distraction? In my previous post, I talk about listing things we want to do differently when lockdown ends: improving our focus could go on that list!

In the words of pop queen Charli XCX, I just want you to focus.

– Q 🤓

Personal growth

What am I doing differently when lockdown ends?

Since the UK went into lockdown, the narrative has gone from “Ugh I miss doing this” to “Mmmmm look at what I’m doing now“. Slowly but surely, I’ve allowed myself a glimmer of hope that we will one day be able to go out normally, when lockdown ends.

This time has made me pause. You know when someone tells you to take a deep breath in, and just before you exhale there’s this moment where your breath hangs in the air? That’s what this lockdown has been. The air feels stiller, and even the light feels like it’s at a standstill sometimes.

When lockdown ends, what parts of normal are worth returning to?

I’ve started to think about the things I want to do when lockdown ends. That ended up being a really long list of things (inspired by Dolly Alderton). Ultimately, I realised I wanted to do was change the way that I behave, interact and live, because I know that we can’t keep going the way the way we used to. After all, where your attention goes, your energy follows.

After all, where your attention goes, your energy follows.

So I want to pay more attention and spend my energy more in:

  1. Having way, way, way, less screen time and actually lifting my head more to observe and be curious
  2. Engaging in quality over quantity when I spend time with myself or with others
  3. Being braver, in speaking up for what I believe in
  4. Doing less multi–tasking: I want to devote my energy and purpose to each task
  5. Giving my time and love more freely.

TLDR: I’m going to stop taking life at speed, and actually slow down to enjoy it fully, and I’m going to start now!

The power of lists: Make your post-lockdown list

I think it’s a brilliant thing to write a list of things you can’t wait to go out and do again when this is over. I’ve made my own list, and it’s made me really appreciative of things that I used to take for granted…

  • Going to a cinema and enjoying all the adverts before the movie starts
  • Taking my time in supermarkets while grocery shopping deciding which brand of pasta you could buy because there are so many to choose from
  • Exploring farmer markets and wanting to try everything
  • Trying all the food samples in Whole Foods and trying to find the most bougie thing they sell
  • The breath of “fresh” air when you come out of the Underground during rush hour.

Practicing gratitude when things are good

Why is it that it always takes something bad to happen for us to appreciate things in life? We’re constantly told to practice gratitude and be grateful for what we have, but sometimes the hand we’re dealt with really sucks. In situations like that, it’s hard to be grateful and hearing ‘oh but at least you have xyz‘ just isn’t helpful. Practicing gratitude when things are good, could be how we teach ourselves appreciation

How do you reconcile practicing gratitude, in a tough situation? I’m going to read some more and share my thoughts maybe in a new post soon. Let me know what your thoughts are on gratitude.

In the meantime: what’s on your list of things you can’t wait to do when we come out of lockdown? More importantly, have you paused to think about how you’d like to live differently?

– Q 🌱