Ben Pechey and Norman the Cockapoo
Writer and LGBTQ+ activist, Ben, gives great career advice, and tells us what they’d do if they were Prime Minister for the day.
“Growing up, I had no role models, no one that looked or expressed themselves as I did. I want my legacy to be all about representation.”
On having a dog: Growing up we always had dogs, they were as much a part of the family as anyone else. Dogs are a force of love, that are always there for you. Dogs take you for who you are and love you for it. Norman is actually my sister’s baby, and so in a sense is my nephew. He is a huge part of the family and is incredibly demanding. Norman lives a food dependent existence. His very being is about food, especially things he knows he shouldn’t have. So a large part of living with Norman is resisting his cute ‘feed me’ faces!
On work: Wow, where to start. So technically it’s jobs plural, as a proud millennial I have many jobs! I am a freelance writer, activist, and I work in retail. You don’t need the back story of retail, that’s pretty simple!
In terms of writing, I started my own blog in 2016, actually as a response to the Brexit vote. I figured no- one was ever going to do anything for me if I wanted something I had to go out and get it. So I started writing my thoughts down, and from there I grew in confidence. I have written for press and online publications such as Goldie Magazine and Cosmopolitan.
I knew I wanted to cover real fashion, and out of the blue I saw on a Facebook blogger group that an online publication were looking for writers to help them cover fashion week. So I answered, and was chosen. That was a great first step, and from there I wrote more and more until I was given the role of Fashion Editor. I have covered LFW ever since, and produce a large amount of our weekly content.
From this and the other things I do online, I have done radio spots as a fashion expert, hosted fashion events and even had a Dutch production company make a video about me!
I love the flexibility of my working life, it varies week on week, and I am always busy, I pretty much work seven days a week. It is a great way to meet lots of people, both in person and online. There are downsides, yes you will quite often catch me on my emails at 11pm on a Friday night. Oh and free time, I don’t know her!
On career advice:
Be nice, and don’t expect anything to be done for you.
I started at the literal bottom. Stood at the back of runway shows. I took my notes and did my job, and did it well. The PRs loved it, and I built the relationships with them, which in turn turned into front row seats, and the opportunity to meet designers backstage.
Be professional at all times.
You never know who knows who. So don’t say anything that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
Reply to your emails.
I am horrific at emails, but I do always get back to people. It is so important to be on top of this. Oh and never write something in an email that you wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing face to face.
Keep the press releases.
There is so much information in that one piece of paper, that you really cannot afford to lose it. I can’t tell you how many emails I get during fashion week, from people asking If I have such and such a press release!
Don’t be afraid to talk about Money.
After I graduated from University, I soon realised that everything that I did for free was definitely something I could be paid for. So I spoke to my editor and asked about being paid and the rest, as they say, is history.
On being an LGBTQ+ activist: I think that a lot of the current representation for the queer community is queer people talking about being queer. The next step for us is to talk about all other aspects of life, whilst also being queer. My queerness is part of who I am, but it is not the only thing I bring to the party.
Growing up, I had no role models, no one that looked or expressed themselves as I did. I want my legacy to be all about representation. My life has not been easy, and growing up was tough. However, I have gotten to a point where I am incredibly happy with who I am.
There are children growing up today, that won’t have to struggle as we did. Just like I didn’t have to struggle as much as the members of the LGBTQ+ community in the 60s and 70s. I hope that by seeing me, I can make someone feel like they belong, deserve to feel special and allow them to celebrate who they are.
I am not sure where my career will take me, my only goal is to be happy with what I do, and to make sure that I am lifting other people up with my message of confidence and love.
On being Prime Minister for the day: Okay, this is a tough one because Politics is divisive. I would try and encourage people to engage with people whom they disagree with. I would seek that this is done in safe spaces, where the goal is not for people’s mindset and opinion to be changed, but for a level of acceptance that treats each side with respect. The memo here is kindness. Properly legislate to halt climate change. What we are doing to our planet is actually frightening. Drastically reform politics to favour all, and not the few it benefits currently.
On their daily routine: I am up by 7am most days, I have worked really hard to reduce my phone time, so I try to get out of bed and get on with the day without checking my notifications. The first thing I do is make a cup of tea, preferably Earl Grey. Then a spot of breakfast.
When I work from home I usually start around 7.30am, I research pieces, write articles, answer emails and always keep my eyes peeled for a good angle. I take a break mid-morning for a shower and to film my daily Instagram Story.
I will write until midday then I make sure I take a good 60-90 minutes to get fresh air to recharge my brain. Apart from immediate family, who all leave for work, I spend most of the day with Norman and other two furry babies. So this is the time we take together.
I take Norman, as well as our other two dogs, for their second walk of the day. We have a leisurely 20/25 minute stroll. Then lunch, with a break from screen time. Then back to it, writing until 4/5pm. The whole day is heavy lubricated by TEA.
7-8.30pm is the time I take DAILY for a bath and nothing else. I will maybe watch a bit of TV, my current obsessions have been Killing Eve, Fleabag and Pose. Or perhaps I will read, I do weekly book reviews, so I am always keeping up with content. I will do my skincare, and join my family for a bit of downtime, and perhaps a cup of tea (decaffeinated of course). I am always in bed by 10.30, I read, then I meditate for half an hour to fall asleep. I cannot sleep without meditation.
On the best piece of advice they have been given: I have a quote from F Scott Fitzgerald that I keep in any notebook I use, which is the following; “You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.”
On a favourite Normal ‘tail’: Norman is quite the opportunist/thief. He has eaten four pairs of scissors, a pair of pliers, countless tea towels, slippers, and so many other things. He is also a huge fan of sitting with his head resting out of the upstairs windows. He likes to watch the world go by, and bark at anything that moves.
On their favourite dog-friendly things to do: Post fashion week, you will always see me at the beach for a blustery reset. The dogs always adore splashing about in the sea and chasing the seagulls.
On one thing people should know about you: I cannot lie. As a consequence, I value honesty above anything else.