Most side hustles stem from a hobby, but for Lauren Mahon it came from a diganosis. Breast Cancer, to be exact. Having the grit to begin your side gig is already a major step in the #girlboss direction. But doing it with Cancer, for Cancer, while holding down a 9-5pm in the high paced world of Social Media Management, well, that's just something you don't see everyday, but neither is a girl like Lozza.
With one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer each year, it’s a disease that has undoubtedly touches many of our lives. But after receiving her news it proved difficult to find a space sans pink ribbons with some #RealTalk. It was then - coupled with Lauren's social media and blogging expetese - GIRLvsCANCER was born. Working as a community for women and loved ones of those faced with the blasted c-word, #GIRLvsCANCER provides everything from the right numbers to call to a play by play take on cancer treatment. Not forgetting the tips and tricks learned throughout the way (and a handy hashtag to boot!)
Now Lauren is in full recovery, don't think ya girl's stopping there! Continuing her freelance work all while spilling the T on cancer and raising money wherever she goes is just a day in her life. Which is exactly why we wanted to find out just how she does it...
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I'm Lauren aka Lozza and I reside in the city in which I was born and raised - London. I currently work part-time at premium handbag brand Radley as their Social Media Manager as well as running my own cancer community and charity store GIRLvsCANCER.
How did you get into this business?
Having worked in digital marketing for approx. five years and with social media becoming more prevalent within digital I found myself becoming increasingly interested in this channel. I decided to go freelance and used this as an opportunity to accelerate my experience in Social Media working as a Social Media Specialist for Sophia Webster before landing my first permanent position in a pure Social Media role at Warehouse.
When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2016 I decided to put my Social Media expertise to good use and began sharing the tales of my treatment across my personal Social Media channels under the hashtag #GIRLvsCANCER. One year later and GIRLvsCANCER has grown from an emotional outlet to an established community supporting those touched by the tumorous terror, and beyond. It’s a place for fierce women affected by the cretin that is cancer to feel empoweredto deal with the trauma that a diagnosis means. I’m working hard to change the way people perceive cancer and opening a dialogue on this sensitive subject.
What's been your general career path?
I began my career as a marketing intern at Firetrap following a Marketing Management Degree at London College Of Fashion and was promoted internally to web assistant at a time when online was still in its infancy. I was part of a tiny team of three and it was all hands on deck. From here I moved into an Online Marketing Exec role at BHS where I assisted the Online Marketing Manager in maintaining all digital marketing channels from PPC, SEO, Affiliates, CRM Email Marketing and of course Social Media. Following this role I side-stepped into a similar position for Molton Brown but soon found myself in a funk which is when I decided to do a bit of travelling and go freelance.
My Social Media Specialist role at Sophia Webster gave me the confidence to apply for pure Social Media roles and when I got my position at Warehouse as Social Media Exec I was beside myself. Having carved a role from scratch at Warehouse over a couple of years when the Social Media Manager position opened up at Radley I was ready. I'm a one woman show managing everything form content creation to scheduling and copywriting. I am responsible for delivering on our Social KPI's as well as developing and implementing a Social Media Strategy for the business.
It's a huge role and thanks to the skills I've acquired it enabled me to build GIRLvsCANCER into the brand and community it is today.
If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?
If I wasn't doing digital I'd probably be doing traditional marketing or working in retail. I absolutely loved working for Topshop throughout uni and during my internship. It's hard graft but I adore people and really enjoyed being on the ground with the customer and learning what makes them tick.
Do you have a life motto / mantra?
It used to be - Love all. Trust Few. Do Wrong To None - but since my diagnosis I think I can safely add Carpe Diem.
Take us through a typical day. What time do you get up at?
If it's a day that I'm at Radley I'll usually get up at 7.30am-8am and shower, get dressed. I usually jump on my social channels for half hour and reply to DM's or answer emails. I'll also drop off GIRLvsCANCER orders to the Post Office on my way to the office where I begin work at 10am. I'll always eat breakfast at work at my desk. I'll usually have meetings with my team and check on the social posts performance for the previous week. Being part time means that every second in the office counts so I'll stick on my headphones and zone out to get things done.
I make my lunches the night before so will take my lunch away from my desk and jump on my iPad (I know old school) to catch up on any GIRLvsCANCER business and often will post to my instagram or make any important phone calls.
I finish work at 5pm and will head straight home where I make dinner and get stuck into packaging GIRLvsCANCER orders - usually until the early hours. I find it really difficult to juggle time packaging customer orders with getting content up on the website but it's something I'm working on. This is all very new I got breast cancer and ended up with a business!
The two days I have off I do my best to get rest, see my family and work on outstanding GIRLvsCANCER to-do's.
How do you keep yourself organised?
LISTS! I have a notebook that I carry everywhere and make a weekly to do list and then before bed each night I create a to-do list for the following day. Chemo really messes with your cognitive function so I struggle with my short term memory. I also keep my google calendar synced with my small Moleskine so no matter where I am I can organise myself with ease.
I'm working hard not to overfill my time which I'm terrible at doing. My body is still recovering and last year I almost burnt out. Planning my time and tasks ensures I don't find myself manic and unable to manage.
Do you have an idol?
I have so many. The women in my life are pretty epic! My Mother is a powerhouse and the reason for my resiliency - it's been instilled form birth. My sister is the most nurturing human I have ever known and an amazing mum to my nephew. If I can be half the women these two are in life I'll be lucky.
I also take inspiration from my peers who spin so many plates and make it look easy. We're all finding our own place in this crazy world and I buzz off my birds who are carving their own way with such grace and gumption.
How do you keep yourself going through a humpday?
Music usually gets me through. Headphones on loud and my GIRLvsCANCER playlist. Exercise really helps me to zone out too. Getting some headspace in the day makes me lots more productive. When all else fails cuddles with my nephew does the trick!
Biggest misconception about the job you do?
That it's just posting pretty pictures to channels. So much work goes into a successful Social Media program. Tone of voice and aesthetic to segmentation and paid posts. Everything is born form a strategy and framework that takes lots of work and time to test and perfect.
How do you wind down?
Having been through chemo and spending all my time in bed I genuinely do love my own company. I adore getting into bed with a chick flick or a good book. I also love hanging out with my family. It refuels my soul.
What's your favourite thing about what you do?
That it's a mix of creative and commercial. That I get to come up with cool ways to tell the brand and product stories but can analyse to prove ROI. It's the best of both worlds.
Any advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Think holistically. Social Media is ever-changing and you need to have your finger on the pulse with technological developments and the latest trends. Follow brands you think does Social Media well and see if there is opportunity within their business, Use your own channels to understand how the customer will engage with your content. The main thing is to enjoy what you do. If you genuinely have enthusiasm you'll go far!
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