Today you're meeting the badass that is Emma Gannon, a country girl with a city heart who lives in Hackney, East London. By day, Emma is Glamour UK's Social Media Editor, and in the bits in between she's the author of the wildly popular Girl Lost In The City blog. Oh yeah, and she has a book coming out next year, casual, not to mention being a doppleganger for a 90's Drew Barrymore. What more is there to adore about EG? Now scroll down, take a walk down the street where she lives, and fall in love with her your goddam self.
On being a country girl with a yen for the big city
I moved to London five years ago, after I graduated from University. I’m not from here originally, I actually grew up and went to school in Exeter, Devon, where our house is close to the town but also a 15 minute drive to some gorgeous Devon beaches. But I always knew I was a city person at heart. Although Devon is totally beautiful and I feel so lucky to have my family living there, the pace was always a bit slow for me. I had to get to London!
At first, I moved to Stoke Newington with my bestest friend in the world and we lived there together for four wonderful years in domestic bliss. It was the best. We did all the rebellious things you do when you’re young and living in your own London flat, going out late, meeting boys, having parties, hosting boozy dinner parties, LOTS of funny memories and forming silly routines like always ordering too much Sushi for dinner on Sunday nights on the balcony, smoking Vogue cigarettes and watching tacky MTV shows. I fell in love with the area- all the cafés on Stoke Newington High Street are firm favourites, like Café Z and Lazy Social. I also loved the little vintage shops and all the different Turkish places for breakfast.
But in January of this year it was “time” for me and my boyfriend Paul of 4 years to move in together, and we bought a flat in Hackney that we love. Thankfully, we are still a 10 minute walk from my best friend so we still go over for dinner. It's just short walk through Hackney Downs park and I’m at her house.
On living in Hackney
I live in a apartment block in Hackney, on a corner that hasn't changed much over the years. This is home now. About 100 red London buses go by every day. Street music. Little shops. New things to discover around every corner. I live on Dalston Lane and it’s always buzzing. Even when I’m getting out of a taxi at 2am, lights are on, corner shops are open, people are outside smoking, playing music, having a good time. I’m a two minute walk from Hackney Downs park and my local is The Star by Hackney Downs for a nice pint in the sun. I also love the Pacific Social Club. The Pembury Tavern does good pizzas, too. And I go to the Pages of Hackney book shop a LOT. They always have amazing new reads but also second hand books in the basement too. I enjoy feeling all snug inside my house knowing that there are so many people in other flats around me. I like that everything is on our door-step. The train station gets me into central London in half an hour. It's crazy when I think about the countryside where I grew up- such a contrast! I love going home to visit my parents at weekends, but staying in a house that is quite remote from other people now freaks me out a bit! I immediately miss the hustle and bustle whenever I go back home. I wouldn’t change where I live for anything. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I feel so happy here. I often feel like I'm in my own little bubble.
On finding her home
It’s our own little nest. We haven’t been here long so there’s still so much we want to do - I’m getting into making Pinterest boards of interior inspiration for the first time ever! I am totally in love with our flat. We saw it being advertised one day when going past on the bus and wrote the number down on a scrappy piece of paper. Paul, my boyfriend, went along to see if we could put a deposit down, but they’d all been bought already! But then, luckily, at the last minute, someone pulled out so we jumped at the chance. My little sister is currently living in our spare room and I love having her to stay. I suddenly feel very grown-up, being able offer a spare room to someone. It’s also just so nice to have my very own space for the first time. Back in April this year, I organised a surprise party for Paul. I covered the flat in balloons and party-poppers, turned our kitchen table into a fully stocked bar and invited lots of our friends round. A mutual friend of ours took Paul to the pub across the road while everyone arrived, then when they came back, BOOOOM big surprise party with speakers and music and drinks. Realising we could host good parties in the flat was always an important thing to test out! The balcony with the view of the Shard and Gherkin is pretty nice for when people are outside mingling, too.
On loving what she does:
I love love love my job. I work at British Glamour magazine which is a pretty amazing place to work, and I’m surrounded by brilliantly creative people. My “job” as a whole seems to have gathered quite a lot of other moving parts along the way however, mainly because I’m a firm believer in having “side-hustles” and gathering new projects. I have a blog which I adore and I post whenever I possibly can. It brings me lots of fun opportunities. I’m also writing a book which is out next year, so I have lots of different things going on but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I get bored very easily (hence why I’ve moved around and freelanced in so many places) but I just love dipping into different projects. No day is the same at Glamour and I love that.
On how she got there, and the importance of following your heart:
I zig-zagged my way in. I read Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” recently and her advice for getting your dream job is not to think of a “career ladder” but a “career jungle gym”. That’s exactly how I’d describe my career as I’ve done a whole lot of side-stepping. My first job was interning at a global PR agency in Soho and I realised that I loved the digital side of things and so worked my way up in social media marketing. I moved up quickly, and by 23 I had a senior position managing a team of five people with a salary I could never have dreamt of having. However, plot twist: I was miserable, I didn’t enjoy managing people, I missed doing the writing and creating myself and I didn’t enjoy having to tackle spreadsheets. It wasn’t me. I wasn't being creative. So I took a bit of a “step down” in responsibility and salary to go and find myself a job in digital journalism so that I could create things again, and it was the best decision I ever made. I was writing and building up a portfolio the whole time I was working in marketing, so by the time it I wanted to make the side-step I had a lot of writing and social media skills to show magazines. Now I’m exactly where I want to be, for now. So for anyone considering a career change I’d always tell them to just do it as soon as possible. You can always go back to your old job, but if you don’t make the move you never know what could have been. It's scary, but usually worth it.
On travelling solo, but not alone:
I am really lucky to get to travel for work and for my blog. I love discovering new cities and new places and although I do sometimes take my boyfriend, I’ve learned to really enjoy travelling alone too. I feel like as long as I’ve got my little Macbook Air with me I'm good. Last weekend I actually went to Ibiza for work and although I was totally on my own I still felt totally connected- blogging and Whatsapping with my friends from my outside desk. I think social media is amazing for that; we no longer feel too far away from anyone. As for when I return, I always get that “back in London” buzz and I look forward to a cup of tea and sleeping in my own bed. I love our bedroom and having all my things around me.
On loving East London:
The plan was always to move to London with my best mate from home, though I had no idea just how much I’d fall in love with East London specifically. But this place does get a bad rep at times. People hate East London because of all the hipster bullsh*t. There’s always one part of every city that gets ripped apart for trying to be too cool. And I totally get why: the bloody Vape shops and all the novelty cafés (Cat café, Cereal café, the beards, the over-priced vintage, and the guys in tweed who ride Unicycles to work), but I still just love the vibe round where I live and I kind of love how bonkers it all is. People long for the good old days of East London, before Shoreditch got too hip, but I just love it because I’m near my mates and there’s so much creativity all around me.
Describe your street in five words.
Busy. Diverse. Loud. Comforting. Home.
When you walk down your street, what do you feel in your heart?
I feel like I definitely belong in London. When I’m walking down my street I’m normally on my way to work or a book meeting or meeting with a PR so I normally feel excited and happy at how much I love my job. Or I’m walking home from a busy day and looking forward to getting into my pyjamas and snuggling up on the sofa with my boyfriend or cooking dinner for a friend.
On her perfect day in Hackney:
Normally it’s going for eggs and a latté at a nearby café, going for a stroll through Hackney Downs, picking up the newspapers and then coming home and listening to a podcast while I tidy the flat and then pop over to a friends or go to the cinema at Hackney Picturehouse, my favourite cinema in London.
Thank you sweet E! I want to run off into the sunset with those leopard print trousers right now! For more Emma, you can follow her on Instagram here, Twitter here, and read her fabulous blog, Girl Lost In The City, here.