I am big fan of The Lifestyle Edit so when founder, Naomi Mdudu agreed to collaborate, I was ecstatic.
Naomi’s journey is very intriguing. Only a few years ago she was in, what she thought, was her dream job—she was a fashion editor at a big newspaper in London.
She travelled the world, interviewed influencers and celebrities, and had a very comfortable living. It should have been enough. Only it wasn’t.
Then in 2015, Naomi left her cushy corporate job and created The Lifestyle Edit to offer what she thought was missing in the media world—a space that truly celebrated the dynamic women founders operating behind the scenes of some of the most interesting and forward-thinking businesses.
Naomi believes that as women, it’s time to stop dreaming about cultivating a life on our own terms. We need to start making things happen. She encourages her clients and her readers to choose more.
Please enjoy 10 Questions with Naomi Mdudu, the founder of The Lifestyle Edit.
1. In the beginning, what motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
The Lifestyle Edit was born because I wanted to create a platform that firstly, celebrates the incredibly dynamic female founders and executives that make things happen behind the scenes at many of the businesses we all know and love.
But more importantly, I wanted to create a space where these women could talk candidly about their journeys and share actionable advice that our community can take away and immediately action in their lives.
Looking back, entrepreneurship was always on the cards for me but when I decided to take the leap, there was nowhere for me to turn.
At the time, there were fantastic resources for women in the fashion realm—but when it came to unpacking the careers of prominent women and talking in-depth about the factors that have influenced their life choices—I couldn’t find anything out there.
I wanted to know how these women navigated the professional realm but I also wanted to know how their approach to wellness and both physical and mental health feeds into that. I wanted to read stories that were honest and that reflect some of my life experiences.
2. What problem are you solving?
Starting a business is scary and it can often feel isolating. The Lifestyle Edit was always designed to circumvent that by creating a community of women going through the same journey but from a wide range of different life stages, all rooting and supporting one another.
It’s funny because we’re often called a professional self-help destination but we’re not about being preachy or prescriptive at all.
Our mission is to use these stories as a vehicle to share different lessons women have learned along the way.
3. What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as an entrepreneur?
It took me years to invest in outsourcing and I wish I’d done it sooner rather than struggling to do everything myself.
I know, I know, you’re afraid of spending a lot of money, but the truth is, the more time you have to work ‘on’ your business, the more time you have to earn money for your business.
If you’re doing everything, chances are, you’re dropping the ball on certain things and even if new business was to come along, you wouldn’t be able to take it on. When I finally invested in people, I started to enjoy a level of freedom I just hadn’t experienced before. In that freedom, I was able to think creatively again.
The more I outsource to people who are experts in the areas that I’m not, the more my business grows. Now, I’m constantly thinking about ways I can expand my team to add people who are passionate about the areas that most impact our bottom line.
Today, my days are guided by how I want to feel and not just feeling a slave to a to-do-list. I carve time for myself to pray, exercise, meditate, listen to podcasts and enjoy a cup of tea in the morning before even thinking about touching my phone.
I make time for all of the things that make me feel good and balanced, which then makes me far better at my job.
4. What is the best thing that’s happened in your business so far?
One of the most rewarding things for me has been servicing our community. It was always my mission to create a platform that lifts women up and helps them navigate through entrepreneurship.
Reading their emails about how a story has sparked them to leave their 9-5 jobs and go full-time with their side hustle, or has helped them take their business to the next level is something I’ll never tire of…
5. What is one challenge in your business that you did not anticipate?
I don’t think anyone can ever prepare you for just how difficult it is to switch off. To-do-lists are never completed—there’s always something you could be doing and there is never enough time in the day.
I really began to make a shift in my business when I started becoming clear on distinguishing between ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’. I started honing in on the jobs that I was uniquely positioned to do, and built a team around everything else.
6. What advice would you give to another person wanting to start their own business?
Wow, where to start? I could be here all day but first things first, it’s so important to do your research.
Ask yourself why you’re starting your business. Is there a real need for it? What gap in the market are you trying to plug and what kind of resources will you need to get it off the ground?
It sounds obvious but it’s one of the things people don’t do enough of when it comes to starting something of their own.
Working through these sorts of questions in your mind before taking the plunge will show you whether your idea is worth taking the risk for and will also help focus your thinking if it is.
It’s also so important to get financially prepared too. As a rule, I’d say aim to have at least six months’ worth of savings put to one side before leaving your job.
That amount should be enough to cover your bills and living costs and will take the pressure off in those initial months when you’re still finding your feet.
Be prepared to roll your sleeves up and put the hard work in. For at least the first year of any business, you should be prepared to work long hours, on weekends and more often than not, without paying yourself.
In the beginning it will be challenging but if you really invest, you’re bound to see the rewards. Stay positive, work hard consistently and it will happen.
7. How does your background influence your work?
I studied law in university over something ‘vocational’. I was very academic growing up and came from a very academic family so studying something like journalism wasn’t in the cards for me.
Looking back, I’m so glad that I did. Studying law taught me to think analytically, write succinctly and taught me to think in a much more expansive way—great foundations for everything I’m doing now.
8. How do you unwind and relax after a long, busy day?
I don’t think there’s such thing as a work-life balance. Particularly as an entrepreneur, your life tends to steer towards work, which is fine if you love what you do.
Instead, I’ve made a point to set some non-negotiables in my life that I prioritize, even when things are busy with work. Sleep is a big one for me.
Some people pride themselves on how little sleep they get, like it’s a badge of honour. Not me. I need sleep. I also need to eat well, have time to meditate, exercise and spend time with my friends and family.
Most of the time I only manage to get a handful of those things right—it’s definitely not perfect but that’s life and I’m trying!
9. What do you consider to be a life well-lived?
For me, a life well-lived is all about having choices. The most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur is the ability to be the architect of your own destiny.
There’s something empowering about having the ability to actively design your life rather than living by default.
As a business owner, I’m creating a definition of success on my own terms. I’m free to pivot and allow that definition to change just as often I am.
10. How do you want people to remember you?
As someone who championed women to cultivate lives and businesses on their own terms.
Images via Naomi Mdudu/The Lifestyle Edit