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In Conversation With: Millie Cotton

Author Editor - 5 minute read
Tell us about your career to date. How did you get into your chosen career?

That’s a tough one! I’m always told I have my finger in many pies and honestly, that’s how I like it. Every day is so different to the next.
Back in school, I originally became interested in fashion journalism when I realised I wasn’t very skilled at and didn’t have the patience for textiles. I was desperate to work in fashion and realised I’ve always loved reading and writing. It made more sense to focus on those than me accidentally pricking myself with needles on a daily basis.
I tried and tested different areas of fashion. My first internship was in PR at a major British heritage brand. I then interned at Wonderland, who quite literally threw me in at the deep end. I spent a week in their office during my first year uni easter holiday and come September, I was sitting front row at Christopher Kane and behind One Direction at Topshop. It was my first fashion week and even though I was covering up to seven shows, filing show reports at the end of each day and had never known exhaustion like it, it was exhilarating. I did it all for free too, of course!

During this period, I’d begun blogging because I was utterly bored with my journalism course. My blog, plus what
 must have been a killer cover letter– I once sent Vice an email saying I’d love to intern at Elle and they sent it back to me with Elle in red, bold font – was what landed me my internships. That, plus being willing to give up my time for free during my holidays, when I had my accommodation paid for by my student loan.
The music side of my career was more gradual. I grew up performing on stage, singing and playing instruments but it wasn’t until my early twenties, sitting in my bedroom making mixes on my laptop, over and over and over again, that I realised how much I loved music. I abused the titles I’d freelanced for (sorry!) to get into gigs to see DJs and artists when I couldn’t afford the tickets. I quickly immersed myself into the electronic music scene and made friends with the guy who did the Boiler Room list ( –to be one of those people– this is back when Boiler Room was ‘underground’) and saw everyone from James Blake to Bonobo to George Fitzgerald perform to a room of thirty people. There weren’t many female DJs/producers so it wasn’t until I started going to fashion parties and I saw young women like myself behind the decks that it occurred to me that it might be something I was able to do.

Are there any cultural, political or news-worthy moments that have inspired or impacted your work? 
With so many female empowerment movements happening at the moment, the more we hear of others’ experiences, the more this encourages us to share of our own. In the world of the internet, there is no need for anyone to feel alone. These campaigns have created a vast community of strong women, lifting each other up.

What keeps you going and what makes you jump out of bed in the morning?
Can I say all of it! There’s nothing more satisfying than when you’re mixing a new track in, in a club, and the crowd goes wild for it – that’s a lot of fun. I also get the same gratification from creating digital content too; whether that be a podcast that people really relate to or, what I believe to be, an aesthetically pleasing and creative photograph. I realised quite quickly that I didn’t have the same sort of desire to blog or write for other publications so, at the beginning of last year I decided to take the leap and focus on the podcast and DJing.
For me, every email or DM from someone saying they’ve enjoyed a DJ set or have listened to the podcast and it helped them in some way is a proud moment. I feel privileged to have a platform where I can speak and be listened to.

Have there been any particular high points in your career? 
Throughout my Undergraduate and Master’s courses, I was studying, blogging, working with brands on collaborations, freelance writing and also nannying part-time. It was a lot to juggle so, I think my proudest moment was being able to quit my part-time job to become self-employed. That’s the weird and wonderful bit about what I do; you never really know what’s around the corner and it takes some time getting used to, both mentally and financially.

What five words would you use to discuss your career path? 
Up & down but always interesting!

What is the most valuable thing you have learnt from your career?
Tenacity is important. All of the hours of interning for free weren’t easy but they were worth the priceless skills I learnt and they opened a lot of doors to greater opportunities. It was tough and I could have quit at any stage but I didn’t. 

Are there any particular women or female entrepreneurs that have inspired you and why?
There are so many! I can’t not mention my wonderful mate Lauren, aka Girl Vs Cancer, here. Lauren was diagnosed with breast cancer at 30. You can’t imagine something like that actually happening to you – god forbid it never does, but for Lauren it did. And what she did next was utterly inspiring. Whilst powering through her treatment, Lauren set up Girl VS Cancer, a t-shirt brand where 25% of the profits go to four separate cancer charities, which has raised £45,000 for those charities to date. She’s gone on to raise awareness around what cancer is really like and silence taboos via her podcast ‘You, Me and the Big C’ with co-hosts Deborah James and Rachael Bland. Rachael sadly died in September last year but Lauren and Deborah have bravely continued the podcast on.

And finally, how do you think female entrepreneurs should be helping each other? 
I'm so lucky to be surrounded by women who are supportive and look after each other. However, society teaches women to be competitive with one and other from a young age. It's a difficult thing to unlearn but I think we're slowly getting there. There's enough room for everyone and it's imperative to remember that, should you ever find yourself negatively comparing your achievements with other peoples.