Commuting: while not the most glamorous part of our daily routines, it can be a time to focus and set the tone for the day ahead. We turned to three creative women—Londoners Lisa Aiken (Retail Fashion Director at Net-A-Porter) and Pandora Sykes (Journalist and Podcaster), and LA-based Sophia Chang (Illustrator/Designer)—to find out what they do for their best commutes and how they keep themselves in the creative mindset throughout the workday.
Tell us about what you do.
Lisa: As the Retail Fashion Director of Net-a-Porter, I attend various fashion weeks around the world, working with the buying team to decide which are the key collections of the season, the trends that will become important, and the hero pieces we want to stand behind. I’m based in London, however, I spend about half of my year traveling.
Sophia: I specialize in storytelling. My tools of expression and translation include: advertising, print, web, ready-to-wear fashion, product to market visual campaigning. Anytime a brand has a product to bring to market, I help them weave that story either through illustration and/or design.
Pandora: I’m a journalist, consultant, and podcaster.
How do you gear yourself up in the morning for a day of thinking creatively?
Lisa: I am a morning person, and aim to get a lot done before making to the office or my first appointment. I work out most mornings, respond to emails, and always make time for a decent breakfast. A huge part of how I feel during the day is also what I wear, which is never decided in advance, but is really down to my mood.
Sophia: I don’t look at my phone until I’m ready to work.
Pandora: It varies depending on what I’m doing but largely, I do a sweep of the news and culture stories out that day across a range of websites, cruise through social media and screenshot interesting pieces or ideas that I may want to write about, or talk about on The High Low (the podcast I co-host). Occasionally (and the nicest way!) I go for a walk down Portobello to Golborne Road and check out the furniture and vintage shops, whilst drinking a coffee.
Tell us how you get to work.
Lisa: When in London, I travel from my home in East London to the office in West London by tube. It takes about an hour, and though public transport is definitely not the highlight of my day, it can weirdly feel like ‘me time,’ if you make the most of it. Reading, listening to music, and endlessly scrolling through social media are happy distractions.
Sophia: I have every day planned out on my calendar. Every minute, every list of personal to-dos, client work, email responses, and more are thoroughly marked in detail on my end. I wake up with a pre-planned plan of execution, so I know time isn’t wasted.
Pandora: I’m freelance so I get up and … walk next door to the spare room!
What’s in your everyday carry?
Lisa: Work phone, personal phone, headphones, keys, Nars Pressed Powder, Benetint cheek and lip tint, Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Lip Balm, and a hairbrush.
Sophia: Gym clothes, notebook, headphones and maybe some stunna shades if it’s sunny out.
Pandora: A brown Loewe bag as it can fit my diary (I am old school), a book, a bottle of water, and an umbrella. If I’m traveling lighter, a Louis Vuitton cross body bag.
What do you listen to when you’re at your most creative?
Lisa: Something pretty chilled out: HAIM, The Chainsmokers, and The XX’s are amongst the albums I regularly listen to.
Sophia: Trap music. The speedy pace helps me move quickly through whatever task I’m tackling at the moment. I turn it on once I already know what needs to be done so it’s a soundtrack during the execution and production [of my work.]
Pandora: Classical music! Old lady alert.
What advice would you give to your young self?
Lisa: I think just to not worry too much about what others think. Still working on that.
Sophia: You did great.
Pandora: You never know what is round the corner. Literally: never!
In terms of sound on your commute, is it music, audiobook, podcast—or something else? And why?
Lisa: It’s all about a great playlist. Music totally changes my mood; though I must confess that my taste in music is pretty eclectic.
Sophia: Just music, depending on my mood. Can’t get into the other forms of audio just yet at the moment, but hope to soon. Music is a great soundtrack to set the mood and tone for my work, whether it’s drawing, answering emails or working on web design. There’s a different tune for each item on the to-do list.
Pandora: I listen to podcasts—my favorites (aside from The High Low, ha) are The Guilty Feminist, Guys We F*cked, WTF with Marc Maron, The Longford Podcast, Fresh Air, TED talks —and I really need to get into Audible so I can listen to various audiobooks. The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson and The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown are both on my ‘to listen’ list.
I also love reading. I always read on the tube to meetings, and when I work I listen to classical music.
Tell us about your professional style.
Lisa: My style is about as predictable as my musical inclinations, so pretty difficult to define. I really admire those women who have a ‘uniform’ and every element of their wardrobe is a cohesive evolution of their style, but I get too excited (read: distracted) by the new ideas and designers I am surrounded by on a daily basis. I have, however, learned to accept what suits me and what to walk away from. I think this has been the single biggest shift when I look back at how my style has changed over the past few years.
Sophia: Be efficient, be mindful and considerate of others and be the best you can be. A game, always.
Pandora: Day to day, I keep it pretty simple: black skinny trousers or legging-type trousers, a pair of low pointed mules, Carel Mary Janes or ankle boots, a velvet or checked blazer, and a striped oversized vintage men’s shirt. There are normally some oversized earrings in there for a dash of fun.