interview w/ Lola Hoad
This interview was first published in our Summer 2018 newsletter. Subscribe here.
From the One Girl Band coworking space in Brighton, England, to it's podcast, to helping female entrepreneurs with their businesses, Lola Hoad does it all. We got to talk to her about reflection, time management, and how she keeps moving forward.
Tell us the story of how you got to where you are today.
I moved out of my family home at 17 and relocated 2 and a half hours away to Brighton with my partner. We both decided to shun university and move there instead - everyone thought we were crazy but there’s not one part of me that regrets not getting a degree or moving out so young, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if I had. My dream from a very young age was to become a photographer — I always had a camera surgically attached to my hand and spent all my money on getting film developed every week, so the plan was to study at a local college and figure it out from there. I was there for a year before realising I’d fallen out of love with it all. Ultimately, I dropped out and then worked numerous retail jobs that made me cry in the stock room at any chance I could get until I landed a graphic design job for a small company. Because it was such a small independent company, I ended up not just being the graphic designer but the social media manager, salesperson, photographer. It taught me a lot, and I’ve definitely taken some of the lessons into my own business today.
When I was eventually made redundant, the skills and interest in small business I had built up from having my fingers in all of the company’s pies made me realise I didn’t want to go back to a conventional office j.o.b. I’ve struggled with my mental health from around 11 years old and having a 9-5 job exacerbated my depression and panic disorder, so I spent a little while searching for a new job until I had an epiphany that I could create my own career. I’d been hand lettering since I was an angsty tweenager writing out song lyrics (mostly because I couldn’t draw very well!) and had been introduced to Etsy by a friend — it all just made sense so I opened up my first business, LH design, a paper goods design studio selling hand lettering greeting cards and prints in 2014. I spent a lot of time building connections and an audience on Instagram and I’d say the ‘big break’ with LH design came when I designed a graphic saying ‘Shop Independent This Christmas’. It went ‘viral’ as it were (still makes me cringe, that word!) and my audience grew into the thousands overnight. That was definitely the turning point when I realised something was happening. After a year of growing the brand, learning and adapting every single day, I started One Girl Band. I was writing a blog series called ‘Being the One Girl Band of your small business’ that documented all I was doing in my day-to-day, what I was learning and how I was overcoming certain challenges and it began to pick up some traction. With Instagram, I was discovering all of these badass women who were doing their own thing but were also feeling just as lonely and isolated as I was - spending long hours at home working by yourself can be pretty detrimental to your mental health and confidence.
Self-doubt was rife and I knew I needed to get these women in the same room in real life to show that we were all in the same boat. So, I started hosting a monthly meet up in a tiny restaurant in Brighton. They’d sell out every time in a matter of hours which just proved how much it was needed, how much people were craving support, connection, and empowerment. In 2017, after a year or two of growing One Girl Band to a huge online/offline community full of absolutely wonderful female entrepreneurs and creatives, I opened the coworking space. I decided to shut LH design in September of that year so I could focus on OGB and my coaching practice (which I had started to dip my toe in at the end of 2016 and is now my other full-time business) and now we have the podcast too. It’s been an absolute whirlwind with lots of twists and turns, good days and awful days that make you think ‘what the hell am I doing?’ and a tonne of mistakes but that’s self-employment. It’s not linear - there’s no way you can predict it and that’s why I love it.
How do you manage your time with One Girl Band, its podcast, and your own coaching business?
t’s funny, I shut down LH design so I had more time to run the other things but now it feels like I have less time than when I had three businesses! Prioritising is vital to managing time. I ask myself ‘if I could only sit at my desk for 3 hours today, what should I do?’ and that helps me to whittle out the unnecessary filler tasks. My week is also set out in batch days; Monday’s are for admin, Tuesday is for content (the podcast, newsletter, and blog), Wednesday and Thursday are for coaching clients and Friday is for One Girl Band. This means it all keeps moving and I can focus on each particular stream knowing the others will get seen to at some point. I’m a massive advocate for ‘busy doesn’t equal success’, so it’s incredibly important to me that I schedule in white space to just be. No work, no emails, no clients. Just me-time. It’s vital that we stop wearing burn-out like a badge of honour and start prioritising ourselves and our wellbeing
What does progress mean to you? How do you keep moving forward?
It’s being vulnerable, being patient, being kind. It’s letting go of the past and accepting that the only thing you can control in life is your reaction (that was a big one for me). It’s standing up for what you think is right and sticking to your values. It’s not worrying about other people’s opinions or striving for perfection. ‘Perfect’ does not exist and that’s ok. The only thing you can do is just get started, show up every day with your best intentions and try. I make sure to give myself little moments throughout the day where I can appreciate how far I’ve come.
Find more of Lola and One Girl band on their websites and on Instagram at @lolahoad_ and @onegirlband_.