INSPIRATIONAL FREELANCER - SABINE SAJJADI, THE LIFESTYLE CONFIDENTIAL

The Lifestyle Confidential has a unique origin story. Conceived from a personal journey and a shared belief, two friends decided to bite the bullet and publish their thoughts. 

The Freelancer Club have sought out a selection of inspirational freelancers, entrepreneurs, and passionistas to share their unique journeys of inspiration. To add an extra dimension, we decided to send an established speaker on entrepreneurialism, startup consultant, and director of Freelance Academy and The Freelancer Club, Matt Dowling, to conduct the interview. 

Sabine Sajjadi works alongside Manolo Blahnik, the shoe designer and visionary, on a daily basis and recently started a lifestyle blog with her friend Tamara Bungaroo-Valdes, however, her journey is far from straightforward. Sabine’s story includes a life threatening illness, a bottle of wine and a penchant for the spontaneous.

Having studied archaeology at university, Sabine was approached by Abercrombie to experience her first taste of an image based lifestyle. She worked at Abercrombie for 2 years when she was diagnosed with cancer and received treatment for a year. She spent a lot of that time held up in bed and used Instagram to keep tabs on her friends and industry peers. Sabine began documenting her own journey on health, life and happiness purely as a means of expressing herself and feeling connected to the outside world whilst enduring a pivotal moment in her life.   

 

 The Lifestyle Confidential

During this period in your life, did you ever have a plan?

No plan. My father had set up his own company so that showed me one way of working and I worked for him for a little bit. I also worked for him during university [as an operational analyst] but finance wasn’t really for me and I missed the fashion world. Once I was well enough to work again, I decided to return to fashion and was fortunate to land a role working alongside Manolo Blahnik.

 

What was it about fashion that drew you back in?

I’d always heard that it was cut-throat and full of back stabbing with little compensation but my experience at Abercrombie convinced me that it was worth pursuing. I work with incredible people on a daily basis and to see Mr. Blahnik design amazing pieces of art is inspiring.

 


You’ve clearly found inspiration from your dad and from Manolo. What other influences inspired you to start writing?

To start writing, that’s something I’ve always thought about from a young age. I was not allowed to watch TV. The amount of Disney films I’ve seen is about 4! I grew up reading books - so many books - and my parents are from very different cultures so I had access to a variety of literature. I had a British influence from school, Dutch from my mother and Iranian from my father. A lot of poetry from his side and a lot more philosophy from my mother’s side. I also enjoyed writing.

It often crossed my mind that I could write something. However, for me, there was the usual self-doubt mixed with the book industry slowly declining that made me think it’s not a good idea but having a lifestyle blog would be less pressure.

 

Did you consider writing professionally?

Yes. I interned at publishing companies and enjoyed it. All the steps I’ve taken have always been spontaneous and not very planned things out. I generally just like to just start things.

 

Has this spontaneous approach opened doors or gotten you into trouble?

If you don’t take a chance, you’ll never know. It’s cliche, but so true. I think the spontaneous decisions you make are probably the best ones because they can surprise and amaze you in ways you couldn’t have imagined.

 

Tells us about your lifestyle blog?

It’s called The Lifestyle Confidential. It was born from a discussion I had with a friend about health and fitness blogs that were all based on clean eating, cutting things out of your diet or having a green juice at 5am every morning as supposedly that’s the healthy thing to do. Instead of focusing on being a ‘perfect person’, I wanted to write about something ‘real’.

The blog discusses everything from the books I enjoy reading, places I have visited, the best cocktail bars - yes, I have cocktails as well! -  balanced out with fun gym classes and workouts. It’s more about a happy lifestyle than a conscientious lifestyle blog.

Having been sick, it’s so easy to panic and say I’m not going to drink again, I’m going to get 10 hours sleep every night and only eat green foods. I think you end up losing value in your life and some of these other blogs strip away the fun of life.

So it’s more like a life diary of things that make you feel happy and healthy.  

It’s a mix of both. We both have full time jobs. I sometimes work to 9pm at night and can’t go to the gym or make a Quinoa salad every night! It’s about mixing practical and real solutions that are achievable in people's everyday life.

 

You better tell us about your partner.

Her name is Tamara. We worked at Abercrombie together. She now works in luxury travel and she adds in that aspect as she gets to go on fabulous holidays and test them out. She is of the same mind-set as I am. [From a beauty perspective] Her main focus is more to do with skin care. She focuses on different products or regimes in that area.

   

Did you both align with the ‘real’ concept?

We went to dinner, there was a lot of wine involved, and realised that the health guides out there were so ‘perfect’ and difficult. There’s a focus on being one thing or another. There’s nothing wrong with that but are their readers following their advice for the right reasons or is it more a panic if they don’t they’re missing out? We thought it would be fun to write about an approach that’s less pressured, more relaxed and natural.

 

What’s the dynamic between you two? How do you work together?

The imagery is from both of us but Tam travels so much she gets amazing photos. My photos tend to be more shoe and gym based! We both write posts, sometimes together, on different topics that interest us. I’ve a couple of posts pending, she reads over them and adds her interpretation.

 

How do you come up with your topics and how structured is it?

Some of it is planned out, for example, we may say we want to do something on a skin care regime. She [Tamara] is very knowledgeable about this area and I know nothing. She would tell me I need a toner, for example, whilst I have no idea what a toner’s actually does! We thought, does everyone know what a toner is or are people buying them as they’re told they need it? We decided that should be a topic.

Then there are more spontaneous decisions. We recently went to Fare Healthy festival to see what it’s actually like. It was such a fun and interesting experience. Again, on Instagram, we see posts about all the fit people who go there and we wanted to see what it was like. It was fun but really emphasised how fixated it is on what the fads are. There wasn’t a single piece of meat in the entire place! I found that bizarre.

Veganism is in right now, which is fine, but I don’t see why you should cut a major food group from your diet unless there is an ethical, health or dietary reason behind.

 

You mentioned happiness and a diary that looks at that. Is that what you’re trying to do?

I think the aim of happiness is more about how we’re trying to find happiness for us in our lives and if that inspires, that’s great. I wanted to try out some new fitness things - I’m so bored of the gym routine -  and wanted to try something different every week from aerial silks to acro yoga. It’s brought so much laughter because it’s completely new and, obviously, we are both pretty terrible at it. Then you try something and want to try it more often. This has brought a lot of happiness in our lives. Maybe it inspires others, maybe not.

   

Have you planned anything out? Has there ever been a business model?

It’s been very loose and spontaneous. If it’s something people like then we can continue with it. There isn’t the pressure to have to make a living as we’re both working. It’s a fine balance to dedicating enough time so that it could become a success without losing out.

 

Do you have deadlines or structure?

I’ll normally write something and make sure it gets out on time. It’s not too regimented. If I’m away, Tamara will pick up the slack and visa-versa. We meet most weekends to discuss it.

 

Practicals and social media.

Regarding social media, we post a few times per week on the Instagram account and also post on a daily basis on our personal accounts. Blog work, we try to produce at least 2 articles per month.

 

How do you promote an article?

We loop in friends with lots of followers and ask them to mention. It’s all through Instagram. We post a lot on our personal accounts. We both love what we can do with photos and imagery so it made more sense to use that. It’s more interactive too.

 

What’s next for you and The Lifestyle Confidential?

We’ve made holiday plans for a trip to Mauritius and a yoga retreat in Greece as we think these places may be interesting. That’s about as far as we’ve got. If it exploded and got huge, we would not be expecting that. It’s not just about the travel for us, it’s about the everyday. The whole point is to be realistic and real. If it were to come to that point [become very successful], we would have to be careful that it wouldn’t lose that aspect.

 

Follow the exploits of Sabine and Tamara via their Instagram account or via The Lifestyle Confidential.

 

Instagram:

@sabine_sabine

@thelifestyleconfidential

 

The Lifestyle Confidential Blog:

https://thelifestyleconfidential.wordpress.com/

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