Pandora Sykes wanted a life full of joy and learning. So she created one.
A born writer, she began her meteoric career as a London journalist, contributing to publications from Marie Claire to The Cut and holding positions like fashion features editor and “Wardrobe Mistress” columnist at The Sunday Times “Style” magazine. Though she has continued working in fashion journalism—currently as a contributing editor at Man Repeller and Elle U.K.—she has also branched out: Sykes co-hosts what is now iTunes’ no. 1 women’s podcast in the U.K., The High Low (the first podcast supported by Google, among other partnerships).
That platform has cemented her status as a kind of culture expert and speaker, tapped as everything from a consultant on Peroni’s fashion council to a panelist at The Saatchi Gallery and WGSN. This year, she also contributed to Stylist’s essay collection, Life Lessons from Remarkable Women (Penguin).
Here, Sykes talks about what sparks her joy:
Live The Process: Have you always been interested in fashion and writing?
Pandora Sykes: Yes, always! Much more obvious was my love of writing. There was never any question in my family that I would be anything else. One of my earliest memories is being aged 7 and writing a nine-page story about a hot air balloon. I remember feeling like I’d written War and Peace, it felt so long
I’d always loved the combination of “things”: I was forever moving the furniture around in my room, titivating my trinkets (still my favorite endeavor) and trying on my clothes late at night. I’d only wear pink from the age of 18 months; my mother says she frequently caught me readjusting my pajamas aged 5, so that they would hang “just so.” But I never specifically meant to work in fashion. For a while, it was my main job, as an editor and columnist on The Sunday Times “Style” and a blogger. Now, it’s one part, and not the largest part, of a portfolio career—and that actually suits me better.
LTP: As your role in these worlds evolves, you seem to participate more and more in fascinating collaborations, podcasts and talks—what is it like to blend your cultural interests with these diverse mediums?
PS: I am hugely grateful to the opportunities The High Low has opened up for me. When I started the podcast with my co-host, Dolly, we didn’t intend to start a business. But now it’s the biggest women’s podcast in the UK and it’s upheld by some major partnerships—like a six-month sponsorship by Google—and that’s led to me doing much more in the arena of panel-hosting and speaking, covering topics like the evolution of language in the digital age, Instagram marketing, whether selfies can be feminist and the difference between fashion and style. I like discussions where a lot of my interests intersect: fashion, feminism, social media, celebrity culture, women’s bodies.
LTP: What’s upcoming for you?
PS: I recently had a baby girl, and it feels like my work life has changed a lot in the six months since I had her. Perhaps I’m more sure of how I want to spend my time; I follow my gut now and trust my instincts. I’m really excited about my new roles with Peroni on their creative council, alongside some fashion stalwarts like Jonathan Saunders. I’m excited for my new contributing editor gig at Elle UK and I have a raft of other projects I’m looking forward to, like hosting a panel at WeWork and having my home shot by House & Garden. I decorated the whole place myself during a turbo-charged third trimester nesting period, and it feels fun to be giving my love of interiors a bit of light.
LTP: You’re obviously quite busy. What are some current rituals that keep you feeling balanced and healthy?
PS: I’m obsessed with reading. It is therapy for me. I read 14 books this last month that I took off to be with my baby. I read every night and all Sunday if I can help it. Books that recently rocked my world include Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Normal People by Sally Rooney, Educated by Tara Westover and Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford. Other current favorite things that keep me balanced include antique shopping (it’s so methodical and calm and singular), whether online or IRL, and riding my new mint green bike.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
PS: My baby girl.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
PS: I think, for me, to “Live The Process” means being present. I’ve really tried to understand what that means, this year, as my time becomes stretched like taffy: I airplane my phone a lot and I think really hard about what sparks joy in my life and then I go for that, whether it’s in work or play. I’m no Marie Kondo (though I do like a clear-out), but I think that’s a pretty good approach for keeping your life one of joy, fulfillment and learning.