Photograph by Eugenia Weinstein
Fashion Writer Titi Finlay tells us how she went from being miserable and stuck in a dead-end job, to getting her dream job at ASOS – all in the space of one year. How? She manifested it, of course!
When it came to making plans post-university, unlike other graduates, money and a stable career were never high on the agenda for me. I’d studied Fine Art, and in my last year of uni I had become close with a group of women who championed “the 70s lifestyle” – in other words, being artists, smoking weed and following our hearts rather than the status quo of society. Reading Kerouac and listening to Patti Smith, it was easy to get lost in that dream and convince myself that money wasn’t important and that I’d never have to get a 9-5 job. I was blissfully happy at that moment in time, living frugally, painting and protesting against conventional norms – and I planned for things to stay that way.
6 months after graduating, I decided (on a whim) to move to London. I had absolutely zero money to my name, and hadn’t actually thought about how I was going to pay rent or, you know, eat, let alone any kind of career plan. My dad gave me enough money for my first month’s rent, but after that I was on my own. Reality soon kicked in, and I spent the next few months going to the Job Centre and living on a diet of peanut butter and celery. Still, I refused to apply for a 9-5 job, for fear of selling out my artistic dream. I spent every day painting, starving and reminding myself that Patti Smith once survived on celery sticks alone so that she could afford to live as a poet in NYC, so I’d simply have to do the same if I wanted to survive London.
Eventually, I settled for a job at a local tequila bar. At least I could drink and eat for free, and still have time to paint and write and “be a hippy”. At the same time as all of this, I was also becoming increasingly obsessed with the London fashion scene, which I was primarily digesting through Instagram. I kept seeing all of these cool fashion journalists, who were doing the whole ‘free clothes/influencer’ thing (which I wasn’t so keen on at first), but they were also enchanting writers with credible journalistic experience behind them. I knew I wanted to do the same, but I didn’t know how. Scrap that, I didn’t think I was good enough.
I spent the next 2 years feeling that way. I was moving up the hospitality ladder (if that is even a thing) into restaurant management, and as I did that, my confidence depleted. I was 25 years old by this point, and while my friends had all gone on to become successful lawyers and teachers and whatnot, I hadn’t done anything except fail at being an artist and work in restaurants. I had started a blog on the side, but I never had the money, time or confidence to actually work on making it any good, and comparing myself to other successful fashion journalists just made me feel even worse. I had really hit rock bottom in terms of my confidence, and I remember just crying and feeling hopeless every single day.
It all came to a head around this time last year. I had just thrown myself into a new, demanding restaurant management role that required me to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week which made my relationships suffer and caused me to become ill and exhausted. What’s more, is I knew this wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life, and that made me miserable. My boyfriend sat me down eventually and told me that I was meant for greater things, that this needed to stop now, and that he would support me until I found a job that would make me happy. I suddenly realised that this wasn’t the be all and end all of my life, that I could actually make a change, and that I had it in me to just go for it and chase my dreams – as corny as that may sound! I decided to quit my job and I took a part-time role as a waitress to pay my rent while I built up enough experience in the fashion industry.
This is where manifesting comes into play (and I have to state that I did not believe in any of it until very recently)
The day that I quit my job, I made a Trello list of my long-term goals (my dream career, my dream future, and the steps required to get to that stage). At the time, I didn’t know I was manifesting, it just seemed like the best way to track my progress. I had given myself a one-year deadline to get a job in fashion, and I didn’t want to lose sight of that, having taken such a risky pay cut. I also made an agreement with myself upon writing this list, that nothing was unachievable, and that I was not going to let my low self-esteem get in the way of anything this time.
My first move was ballsy, but I decided to email fashion journalist Katherine Ormerod, whom I’d looked up to (via Instagram) for a while, and whose writing brought me a lot of comfort, as she’d been through similar career challenges before finding success. I pitched myself as an unpaid intern in exchange for her advice and expertise, and miraculously, she accepted! Meeting her (a famous influencer!) completely re-installed my confidence, and gave me the push to start reaching out to more people I admired. I realised if I worked for them for free, there was so much I could learn from them – I had nothing to lose!
So I did exactly that, and reached out to Willa Burton, a creative director whose style I really liked. I wanted to know what she did for a living and if there was a possibility I could learn from her as an unpaid intern again, but this time I wound up with a gig rebranding her fashion/beauty hot-spot The Braid Bar, and I was getting paid for it this time. I’d been teaching myself graphic design with all the spare time I now had, and I was lucky enough to rebrand a whole company, with complete creative freedom. As well as the design work, Willa also sent me to blogger events to produce content for The Braid Bar’s social media channels, and she introduced me to her contacts across the fashion and beauty industries. I was able to start making real industry connections, as well as learning how the digital and production side of the fashion industry works.
By this point, I had become a real opportunist. Anything that might give me a little more experience across the creative industries, I’d jump on instantly. So when Sarah Akwisombe mentioned on her Instagram story that she was looking for an assistant, I got in touch immediately. I wasn’t entirely sure that I had the right skills for the job, but learning from successful women had served me well thus far, and that’s really all I was interested in doing. Luckily, Sarah saw potential in me and hired me to help create social media content, and assist her with ad-hoc tasks.
Working for Sarah, I not only developed a new passion for business, but I suddenly became interested in money (hippy? What hippy?). I was also learning about the power of speaking things into existence, and I remember standing on my balcony on New Year’s Eve with this in mind saying, “This 2018, I am going to make at least £27k!”
Then came an unexpected spanner in the works…
By January 10th, I had been laid off by The Braid Bar (due to lack of budget) and all of the money-making opportunities I had planned for 2018 had fallen through due to budget cuts as well. I realised that I still didn’t have a job in fashion, I still had basically no money, and that it wasn’t going to be as simple as just asking the universe for a sum of money. That became apparent when I found myself, once again, standing outside the jobcentre – except this time I didn’t go inside. I remembered that in order to GET what you want, you had to BE what you want, and I didn’t think this was the best way of attracting abundance. So instead, I went to the coffee shop next door, scraped together some change for an Americano, and did three things: I made a new list of goals and deadlines, I channelled all of my energy and confidence, and I contacted Flossie Saunders at The Sunday Times Style, to see if she might take me on as an intern. I’d always wanted to work there, as it’s my favourite magazine, and Katherine Ormerod had given me her contact details several months before. When I emailed previously, she didn’t reply, but I had to give it another shot. It felt like a sign from God when she replied moments later saying she’d be delighted to take me on – I guess the experience I had built over the prior months had definitely put me in a stronger position than I was in before.
During my 2 weeks at The Sunday Times Style, I was in 7th heaven and devoured every bit of information about fashion, PRs and brands that I could. My fellow interns were younger and less serious about the role, which made it easy for me to stand out as a grafter. I somehow managed to prove myself enough to be given a stack of front row tickets to Fashion Week and to be put forward for two more internships at Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. I chose to go to Harper’s and was interning there 2 weeks later, but by this point, I actually had no money left, and was borrowing from my boyfriend and my dad to make ends meet – which isn’t a great feeling when you’re 26 years old and supposed to be financially independent! While I was at Harper’s, I was applying for fashion jobs left, right and centre. ‘Surely by now, I have enough experience to get hired in a fashion role?’ I thought to myself, yet I was being rejected by job after job. On my last week of interning, I completely broke down, as I just couldn’t take the rejection anymore. I had one more interview with ASOS lined up and I was so nervous that I was going to blow it like I’d clearly done with all of the others. The pressure was so intense that I burst into tears in the fashion cupboard and they sent me home for the day. I was starting to lose my positivity, so the night before my interview I reminded myself of the power of manifesting, and I went through the job description telling myself I was more than capable of doing it. I then sat at my desk and said out loud, “I want this job. I want to work at ASOS and I am perfect for this role.”
If it wasn’t down to the universe, then it at least harnessed enough of my confidence to go in and totally smash the interview. It was the first time I had come away from an interview feeling fully confident that I was good enough for the role, and one week later they called and told me I got the job. Starting next week I’m in charge of writing fashion content for their global Instagram channels, a job that encompasses all of the experience I’ve gained over the past year, a lot of which happened accidentally. I didn’t originally plan to go down the route of social media fashion writing, yet I had been open to the universe leading me on a path of exciting opportunities that eventually landed me here.
I realised while writing this that in exactly 1 year I have manifested my dream job and checked off countless milestones and experiences I could never have imagined doing along the way. And, I calculated that I will now actually make that £27k I asked the universe for 4 months ago! I look back at the person I was a year ago: under confident, directionless and lost – if she could only see herself now! Maybe it was coincidence, maybe it was desperation or tenacity, but one thing’s for sure: manifesting truly works, and I hope that my experience can serve as proof of that to those still trying to make it through.