Occupy Me


This article was written on 05 Mar 2015, and is filled under Blogging, Fashion, Modelling, Multi-tasking, Writing.

Current post is tagged

, , , ,

Rosalind Jana: Model, blogger and author



English literature undergraduate Rosalind Jana certainly defies the lazy student stereotype. When not studying, she’s written for publications like Vogue UK (she won the Vogue Talent Contest for Young Writers) and The Guardian, as well as collaborating with her family on a play for Radio 4. She’s the junior editor for Leith Clark’s latest magazine project, Violet and writes her own blog, Clothes, Cameras and Coffee, a savvy mix of feminism and fashion. 

Rosalind is currently working on her book, Notes on Being Teenage , looking at fashion, body image, friendship, family, the internet and mental health for young women today. We spoke to her about the reality of blogging and modelling at the same time as studying and writing a book, all before her 20th birthday.

OM: Can you describe an average day’s work?

RJ: It depends on where I’m situated, and the context of the day. If I’m at University it will mainly be spent in the library reading or in a cafe, composing essays. But for the purpose of this, I’ll assume a time when I’m more career-focussed; usually during the holidays (although I will work during term-time too, tailoring it around other commitments). This is when I regard myself as being self-employed, so there’s an interplay between responding to deadlines and working on longer-term projects or pitching new things. At the moment, a typical day would involve spending the morning writing my book or researching or articles or a blog post, and the afternoon responding to emails, sending proposals, organising schedules and doing other admin. Right now I’m balancing several different strands of communication, ranging from my blog to conversations for my book to other writing jobs to miscellaneous requests for interviews or travelling to London for meetings or modelling.

OM: Have you always wanted to do what you do now?

RJ: It’s been a roundabout journey. I started off loving writing stories when I was very young; I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household full of books and words. But over the next few years I was more interested in nurturing fantasies of being first a wedding dress maker, then an actress, then a fashion designer, then a photographer. A lot of these elements do remain interesting to me – particularly the fashion and photography, as both are integral to my blog which I began when I was 14. However, the realisation that I was particularly driven to write was precipitated by undergoing spinal surgery aged 15 for scoliosis – a curvature of the spine. I wrote a lot in the following months, partly to make sense of what I was going through, and realised at that point how much I enjoyed crafting and working with language.

OM: What was the hardest part about becoming what you are now?

RJ: Probably resigning myself to a lot of rejection – and a niggling fear of never managing to get anywhere. Anything like writing or blogging requires a huge amount of commitment and tenacity – often with no immediate or obvious sign of reward. You end up pitching so many articles that get nowhere, you have to learn to deal with the fact that just because a newspaper or magazine doesn’t want to publish something, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. I’ve also had to invest a lot of time in building up a CV – kind of viewing it like a series of freelance internships that have then become more professional (and paid!) work. On that last note, pay can also be low to non-existent and getting comfortable with asking for money is a skill I’m still finessing, although I’ve got much stricter in which jobs I will or won’t do dependent on fees.

OM: And what are the best part of the jobs?

RJ: With writing, it’s knowing that your words have resonated with others or forced a reaction. I wrote an incredibly personal essay for Vogue UK last year on the whole experience of scoliosis, and the messages I received as a result were overwhelmingly wonderful – particularly those from young women who were going through, or had been through,something similar. The other brilliant part is getting madly excited over having the privilege to discuss or pull apart particular ideas. Being able to dissect fashion or body image or books always keeps me on my toes in terms of how I’m thinking about and responding to things around me.

With the book I’m writing for Hachette, the absolute best part has been talking to all the young women I’ve been interviewing. With such diverse backgrounds and life experiences and opinions, it’s been nothing but pleasure to discuss their insights and stories.I adore conversation and am eternally intrigued by people, so essentially have been paid to do what I love best.It’s the element that gets me most excited.

All of these teenagers (and a few twenty-somethings) totally transcend the negative stereotypes levelled at young people. They’re articulate and thoughtful, and speaking to them has challenged me in my own preconceptions and assumptions too. So it makes me incredibly cross to see older generations being so snide about teenagers – because they’re obviously not talking (or, more importantly, listening) to any of them.

With modelling, there are plenty of negatives I could reel off about the industry itself (and some of my own experiences), but the best part is the opportunity it has afforded me to meet driven, intriguing, interesting creatives and collaborating on some wonderful images.


OM: Do you feel you’re treated differently in your industry because you’re a woman?

RJ: I think I’m fortunate at the moment to have not really been made aware of my gender in my work – age has been a much more significant factor in how I’ve been treated (I’m still only 19, and have certainly been on the receiving end of a fair amount of patronising). Modelling is female-dominated – and although there are issues there, particularly surrounding photographers’ coercion and manipulation of models, it’s not something I’ve had first-hand experience of. With writing, it hasn’t really registered (yet) in how I’ve been treated – although it’s certainly informed the topics I have written and blogged about. I write a lot about feminism, and the book I’m working on right now is aimed at young women, so I’ve been thinking a lot about gender and gendered expectations.

OM: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given? And what other advice would you give to anyone looking to do what you do ? What qualifications and experience do you need?

RJ: It’s actually something my dad lives by – which is that you’re more productive when you’re doing other things that make you happy alongside your work. Whether that’s seeing a good friend for a conversation or hanging out in a cafe or revelling in spending the whole evening reading, it’ll mean you return to work with a refreshed mindset. This obviously isn’t always best when you’re under an impending deadline, but it remains a suggestion I’ve found to be invaluable for knowing when to step back. It’s very easy to ‘go, go, go’ until you reach the point of exhaustion or burn-out, but that’s an unhealthy way to live and work. There always has to be time for good coffee and bouts of binge-watching Orange is the new Black.

Advice? You have to make it yourself. There are no shortcuts.

 Writing (or really working in any creative industry) now requires a number of different tools; from the craft, tone and topic of what you’re writing about, to using social media effectively, to knowing how to network, to constantly putting yourself forward for things and trying out new ideas.

Even though I’m doing an English degree, it’s not a qualification I need for what I hope will end up being my full-time employment. Experience is all, really, and as I said above – often you have to make that for yourself. I did really seriously consider not going to university and launching into work straightaway, but ultimately chose to do my degree for a love of learning and literature. I have learnt skills as a result though, such as developing strong arguments and working to incredibly last-minute deadlines..

OM: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in the workplace or in your career?

RJ: I think I’ve been fortunate in not (I hope!) making any massive mistakes in my career so far. Small slip-ups are inevitable when you start out in something like writing – contacting people at the wrong time, or inadvertently sending the wrong emails, or making faux-pas because you don’t understand some of the structures or codes of how things work yet. But the advantage of being young is that you can shake this off. I always tend to try to be conscientious, hard-working and respectful and ready to listen, which works marvels.

OM: What does success mean to you?

RJ: Being content or satisfied with my working life, but never complacent – always thinking about what’s next to create or collaborate on or explore. Ideally I’d like to get to the point where I could fully support myself financially through working in a variety of creative fields. Writing will always be my main focus, but there are plenty of other mediums – especially visual ones – that I remain interested in. Some recognition or appreciation of my work would also be great, but that’s something you really have to earn.

OM: What’s your feminist wish for the future?

RJ: That’s a big question! I could easily come up with ten or more feminist wishes. For now though, I’ll stick to a still quite idealistic one – a wish for every child, no matter where they’re born, no matter what financial background, no matter what gender they are, to have equal access to education and other opportunities.

You can pre-order Rosalind’s book ‘ Notes on Being Teenage’ here.

Tweet Rosalind here.

One Comment

  1. Williamsola
    19th May 2016

    I loved your forum.Much thanks again. Really Cool. Zic

Leave a Reply