Interview – Poppy Dinsey
Poppy Dinsey, founder of WIWT.com, takes a breather out of her busy schedule to talk to Aviator.
Wow, after the whirlwind that was London Fashion Week earlier this year, I can honestly say that I feel very, very privileged to have had the opportunity to cover eight seasons to date. I?ve loved switching between the fashion and hair angle, you really get to see a show through from concept stage all the way to the final catwalk (and not forgetting the media scrum afterwards!). It?s always a crazy and busy time but when someone video bombs your interview and you turn around to find it?s Cara Delevingne, you realise you?re pretty lucky.
It?s the fashion and hair that in my opinion really complete an outfit. Hair styles are something we can all take inspiration from regardless of budget; whilst I may not be able to spend £5,000 on a dress, I can definitely copy a designer hair do! Perhaps I needed to have told myself that when I was younger! My first memory of designer fashion was persuading my parents to take me to Harrods to buy a Dior top which I?d saved and saved for. I didn?t know how much it would cost, but had a picture of Martine McCutcheon wearing it and had saved an enormous £40 to buy it. My parents didn?t know much about designer fashion and presumed £40 would be more than enough for the top. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was more like £300 ? needless to say I left empty handed.
I couldn’t have turned What I Wore Today (WIWT.com) from a jokey blog into an established global site if it wasn’t for my business background.
I used to get a lot of hand-me-down clothes when I was younger and whenever the big bin bag of stuff would arrive from family and friends it was the most exciting thing in the entire world. But at that age, I never really made the connection between fashion and a career. I went on to study Economics, Business and East European Studies at UCL, so no fashion training other than the glossies and the internet! My degree was very hard and taught me a lot, I had to juggle so much work to do such a demanding course and it gave me such a good grounding when it came to balancing workload and working with people from other cultures ? all very important in fashion and in business generally.
I couldn?t have turned What I Wore Today (WIWT.com) from a jokey blog into an established global site if it wasn?t for my business background from university and from my experience working in tech start-ups after I graduated. I?d have never been interested in studying fashion at degree level, my predominant passion is still business really. I?m just very lucky that I?ve managed to create a business out of something I love!
I expected fairly high traffic when I started the blog, as I thought it had some decent novelty value ? you have to remember that ?fashion blogging? didn?t really exist back then. But I didn?t think the interest would be sustained, let alone come from national press. I waited until I was being approached with commercial opportunities and that, coupled with being emailed daily by other girls wanting to feature their own outfits, made me realise that a social network version of the site could really work. It was at a time when Twitter and so on was really taking off for people ?outside of tech? I wanted to tap into this new trend of sharing content.
But, believe it or not, I actually started blogging in 1999 when I was 11! Back then I was definitely just doing it as a fun creative writing thing, for my own entertainment rather than anything else. I blogged more regularly throughout college and uni but only ever about what my friends and I were up to. It wasn?t until I started working for some tech start-ups focused on the property market that I started blogging professionally. I became a fairly successful property blogger and was able to write for US publications on European property news, but it was always ?part of my job? as opposed to my actual job.
I still had all the day to day business development projects to work on! I quit my job in 2011 so have been writing full time and running WIWT.com since then.
I?m always asking designers what inspires them and often hear amazing stories of art and history, but I am more inspired by the every day. If I see something I want I?ll usually obsess about it until its mine! You see I?ve always been fascinated by other people?s success and how they achieve it ? if someone?s driving a Ferrari, I want to know how they got rich! I?ve never been someone to read books or self-help guides on time management and business skills, I much prefer learning from being around other creative people and simply witnessing how they go about their lives.
And I think this relates to the celebrities I meet, which I get to do fairly often. I?m not sure who has been my favourite, I worked with Christopher Kane on some brand projects a few times and he was really lovely. I guess there?s always something particularly exciting about interviewing people you grew up obsessed with ? meeting the Spice Girls was a highlight. I?m generally totally comfortable interviewing huge ?names?, yet I know if I had the chance to interview someone like Beyonce or Tyra Banks, I would just turn to jelly!
I work from home so I escape to coffee shops whenever possible, mainly just for a change of scenery and to actually have some background noise rather than mind numbing silence! I go to the Chelsea Harbour Club most days as I can work there with decent coffee and escape to the swimming pool when I want a break from my laptop. There are lots of very trendy coffee shops in central London which I go to for meetings, but I can?t bear the hipsterfication of coffee shops ? I really don?t get it. I?d much rather have a cup of tea and a slice of Victoria sponge!
When do get a moment to myself and in my spare time away from fashion I do try to use the time doing what I love ? whether that?s swimming, watching films, eating out or travelling. I took up open water swimming last year and loved it. I?m just waiting for the water to warm up a bit so I can get back in the lakes! With a house move and wedding coming up though I feel like they?re all I think about in my spare time, luckily it?s a lot of fun though.
I wish I had more time to read, I think because I read and write all day long I just want to be away from words in my free time. I get completely absorbed by books on holiday ? thrillers and crime are my genre ? but day to day I don?t read books. That goes for magazines too, I don?t really buy glossies month to month. I have a subscription to H2Open, which is an open water swimming mag, but the only fashion mag I read weekly is Sunday Times Style.
Mind you, I?m not that fussed about wearing current trends. I have to be aware of current trends for my work so I can appreciate most aspects of fashion, but won?t always want to wear it all. It?s important to dress how you feel comfortable and in things you know suit your shape AND your personality. The most stylish people I know may dress with a nod to current trends (it?s hard not to with such a trend driven high street) but generally they dress in a style they?ve developed for themselves over time. As a general rule of thumb I prefer ?fierce? to ?frills? ? I don?t really do girly girly. I love bright colours, bold prints and interesting cuts. I see clothes as an opportunity to make a statement, so I don?t really own anything plain ? it just seems like a waste!
But we?re so demanding these days, everyone is so in tune with what is happening at the fashion shows and in celebrity culture ? and they all want a piece of it ? so I do worry about people ignoring the provenance of their clothes. People are well aware of the problems in the garment industry these days, but the desire for cheap fashion seems to supersede their guilty conscience. I personally think it?s a bit of a shame that the high street is now so trend led; outfits are so well put together within the stores that there?s a risk that people won?t develop their own sense of style and everyone will just look the same. But saying that, more and more people seem to be interested in fashion and the abundance of cheap fashion on the high street makes it easier than ever for people to copy catwalk styles, which is great.
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