Arabella Peterson Founder of ladies network - Interview
Meet Arabella Peterson
Model and founder of The Ladies Network #OHGInspired
Please tell us a little about your back ground, where you grew up, what your family life was like and where you have lived?
“I was born and raised in the North-West suburbs of Sydney, Australia and I now live in Sydney's inner-west. I've been lucky enough to do a fair bit of travelling and I’ve done a few months in London and a few months in New York, but as far as where I’ve lived permanently, I haven’t gone very far at all! My parents are the best anyone could ask for, I feel so lucky to have them. My siblings are my best friends too, we’re all a bit obsessed with each other really. My younger years were pretty idyllic and my parents equipped me with the skills to be resilient when things got harder. I’m so blessed that I have such a supportive and loving family, it puts everything in perspective and its such a privilege.
I’ve been passionate about working in the media for as long as I can remember. I started interning at newspapers and publications when I was 15, I would actually spend my two week holidays in the newsroom shadowing reporters, it was pretty dorky. I did a communications degree and The Ladies Network started in my final year of university. Since then I’ve worked in content and marketing roles and do freelance writing and social media management on the side.”
Please tell us a little about the Ladies Network
“The Ladies Network is a project that a few of my friends and I started in 2015. It started with art exhibitions for women and non-binary people to show their work in an open and inclusive environment and we later moved on to run a website and online store and put on different events. It’s been ever-evolving since then and we’re currently in the stage of figuring out what our next steps are.”
What do you love about ohheygirl
It’s always great to see entrepreneurial young women succeeding at what they’re doing. I love that the product is fun, unique and eclectic!
What are your favourite styles of ours?
What have been the most significant moments in your career so far?
“I’m so lucky to have had so many incredible opportunities in my career so far. I think the highlights are always the encouraging messages from people who have either read my writing or like what I’m doing. It’s always amazing to think that people are reading and connecting with your work. Being featured in Nylon Japan, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and other publications that I love have been highlights, too!”
What inspired you to start the ladies network, and what is your overall vision for the platform over the next few months/years?
“We were inspired to start it because of the overall lack of representation in the creative fields for women and non-binary people. A lot has changed in the past three years and it’s hard to believe that around the time we were starting out, there wasn’t a whole lot of attention given to gender imbalance in the arts compared to today, and people certainly weren't held as accountable. We started it because there was nothing else quite like it at the time in Sydney (that we knew of, anyway) and we felt that it was something that the creative scene needed to get more women involved and feeling confident. It just blew up quicker that we could have ever anticipated.”
We’ve tried a lot at this stage—art exhibitions, workshops, music gigs, online content, an online art store—but I think it's better to do one thing super well than a bunch of things half-hearted, so I think the next step is figuring out exactly where we want to go or whether it's ready to move on to the next adventure. I was 21 years old and finishing my degree when we started TLN and as time has gone on, the creative scene and political climate has changed and so have we. I think it's so important to be adaptive and receptive and to feel comfortable with what you’re putting out into the world. I’m excited to see where things go in the future!
Why did you find it important to give artists a platform to be seen?
“A lot of the women and non-binary people I knew when we were starting out were very reluctant to show their work. A lot wouldn't label themselves artists like their male peers would, even if they were studying fine arts or producing amazing work, and would rather call their work a ‘hobby’. By creating a group show full of other women, I think these artists felt more comfortable to show their work, especially as our exhibitions have always been casual and fun with an encouraging and supportive atmosphere. We focused on combining established and emerging artists in our shows so those barriers were removed. This lead to us profiling artists, musicians, performers and other people on our website and Instagram so more and more people could get their work out there.”
What advice would you give to your younger self, or someone starting out on the same career path as you?
“Brace yourself! Firstly, seek training and advice from people you admire, mentors are really important. Write a lot and pitch your work to publications you’d like to align yourself with. The nature of the industry means that you might sometimes work for not a lot of money—or it might mean volunteering or contributing to a not-for-profit publication—but know when to be grateful for an opportunity and when to recognise that your skills are being exploited.”
Try as hard as you possibly can not to get too caught up on everyone else's achievements, it’s good to draw inspiration from people in similar fields and to have some healthy motivation, but comparing yourself is dangerous. We’re all on different paths and this is something I’m still reminding myself of daily. Support others and offer words of kindness and encouragement to your peers. Be amicable and easy to work with, but don’t let yourself be walked all over. Sorry, that’s a lot to take in!”
How do you Juggle both of your jobs? Both the ladies network and Marketing and content for Bailey Nelson?
“It happens less often now that I’m better at managing my time, but people have often mistook The Ladies Network for my full time job. It always surprises me. I’m like, nope! I work a full 9 hour day 5 days a week then make time for the side hustle!
To be honest, I got to a pretty dark place in terms of my mental health for a while there. I had no work-life balance because I thought that it was my obligation to reply to every message and assist every single person who asked me. It became a bit of a compulsion. It took my anxiety reaching an all time high to realise I was driving myself into a terrible state and only I had control over it. It is possible to successfully juggle multiple jobs, projects and volunteer roles, but you need to actively prioritise these things in order to maintain your wellbeing. We can only do what we can do, and if you feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to finish off everything, you’ve got too much work! As women, we’re under a lot of pressure to please and excel, and for me this manifested in a totally unsustainable work load. It’s important to give your time and energy to other people, but we can’t give everything. This is where prioritising is important. To get the balance right these days, I give myself a checklist. How many times have I called my parents this week? How many times have I exercised? How many healthy meals have I cooked? If these areas are lacking, the balance is off.”
Tell me what a typical day looks like?
“I wake up at 6.45, check my Instagram, emails and messages in bed (I don’t advise this!) then try to get out the door in half an hour to take the train to work. Depending on how productive I’m feeling that day I either answer emails, listen to a podcast or watch reality tv on my phone on the train. I’m lucky that my job is very diverse so it's never boring. I’m doing anything from attending photoshoots, writing pieces and conducting interviews to planning events and activations and managing social media. I do yoga at lunch as many times during the week as I can, for a while there I was eating lunch at my desk which is super unhealthy, so I need something to force me to get out of the office. I get home around 6pm, cook dinner and answer more emails, then I’ll either finish some work or watch a film (usually a B grade horror) with my housemates. I either read a book or listen to a podcast or audiobook on sleep timer before bed and try to be asleep by 11pm every night.”
Which resources (books/Instagram's/podcasts) would you recommend and why?
I read a lot of thrillers, some people say they're a bit pedestrian and formulaic but I love the escapism! I’m definitely having a fiction moment because this year I've read about 15 female-driven thriller novels, my favourites were “The Child" by Fiona Barton, "Sometimes I Lie” by Alice Feeney and "Everything is Lies" by Helen Callaghan . Also, “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” is a really sweet book I read this year about loneliness and kindness. Where Should We Begin with Esther Perel is a really beautiful podcast about psychology and relationships. I consume so much media that I'll probably remember a bunch I should have said later! A few friends and I are also in the process of making a podcast about Adam Sandler films, so I would of course recommend that as important and essential listening.
How can others get involved with the Ladies Network?