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Arts + Lifestyle

From The Desk Of… Alice Casely-Hayford

NET-A-PORTER’s Content Director, Alice Casely-Hayford joins us for the latest instalment of From The Desk Of...

Sharing details of her standard nine-to-five, in this Q&A Casely-Hayford speaks to the rewards and challenges of working in media and the amazing industry disruptors she’s had the pleasure to meet and work with to date, in line with the launch of the Incredible Women ‘Disruptors’ podcast series.


How do you start your days?

Before my son wakes up, I might try and take a moment to myself and read or have a go on Wordle before it’s up for cuddles and getting everyone out the door punctually.

What’s your go-to uniform?

I’m most often in jeans and tailoring but love to mix things up with vibrant dresses from brands such as Simone Rocha, Proenza Schouler, or J.W.Anderson.

Describe your workspace/ workplace…

I prefer an uncluttered desk as I find anything else very distracting. At home, my desk is under the window which has a beautiful aerieal view of my tree-lined street. The sun streams in (not ideal for my Zoom silhouette) but it’s incredibly uplifting and tranquil.

Identify something in your workspace that’s special to you… 

I have a stack of my notebooks from over the years and looking through them really takes me back to different moments in time. It’s fascinating to be reminded of what 25-year-old me was penning and prioritising and see the journey I’ve made.

What are your work place essentials? 

A good playlist; plenty of coffee; snacks.

What time of day are you at your most creative?

I try to log on before the workday officially begins so I can tackle at least some of my to-do list before emails and meetings are in full flow. I’m definitely a morning person in terms of productivity and creativity. That said, I can be bad at leaving certain tasks to the last minute so burn the midnight oils occasionally. Especially when it’s a two-hour transcription to plough through…

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

It’s always an honour to provide any sort of support or guidance to those starting out in the industry, whether emerging design talent or potential collaborators within the workplace and wider industry. I am so excited to be a mentor in our Vanguard Fashion Fund scheme alongside some industry greats like Eva Chen and Christopher John Rogers. Personally, it’s so important to be able to encourage more diverse talent into the fashion industry by supporting these talented applicants from a broad range of backgrounds at the very beginning of their careers.

… and the most challenging?

I have quite a large team and it’s essential for me to make time to check in with everyone and have a moment each week to catch up with them all. Balancing a hectic schedule including lots of meetings and still making time to meet external collaborators, see things, and be inspired can be very challenging.

What did you study at school/university? 

English Literature at UCL.

Where are you from originally?

London.

What was your first job?

A fashion assistant at Tatler.

What sparked your interest in journalism and media?

I’ve always been fascinated by storytelling and delving into people’s individual experience. On Saturday mornings when I was little, my father would make up these stories around these two characters he’d created called Zelda and Belda. I was completely captivated and fell in love with books, storytelling, and writing then.

Do you have a mentor or an inspirational figure who has guided or influenced you? 

My parents have been the biggest inspiration to me. They encouraged me to reach for the stars, always be curious, and work hard. Their passion was passed down to my brother and me, and they also taught us to always stand up for what we believe in and push for positive change.

What are some of the hurdles you had to overcome in the early days as a journalist? 

When I started out almost 15 years ago, fashion and the media landscape were a very different place. Certain titles were very one-dimensional and really lacked a diversity of perspective, so it was rather difficult to get a foot in the door. Thankfully, the industry is opening up and there is more opportunity for a broader spectrum of people.

What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?

You can’t do it all. Trust and empower your brilliant team and learn to delegate. Collaboration is everything.

The best advice you’ve ever received… 

You never know the secret battles that people are fighting, so always be mindful and kind.

What are you working on right now? 

Some very exciting campaigns for NET-A-PORTER, some brilliant PORTER cover stories, and interviews and the next series of our Incredible Women podcast.

What’s next for you and NET-A-PORTER?

We are thrilled to have just launched the next series of the Incredible Women ‘Disruptors’ podcast, where we have spoken to some amazing industry disruptors such as Laverne Cox, Arlo Parks, and Supriya Lele.

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