Quitting my job to build an empire

If I ever wrote a memoir, I imagine that I would recall this very moment: sat in my bed on a Friday night with my laptop, spending hours trying to find the right words to reveal my worst kept secret and anxiously hoping that those words will somehow give me closure for what can only be described as the most tumultuous, exhilarating and empowering time of my life. 

When I really think about it, most of you know exactly what this post is going to say. The last six weeks have involved a series of incredibly challenging conversations - with friends, family, colleagues, important business people and my boss. However, as it turns out, the hardest conversations have been with myself - and blogging is essentially a very public way of doing just that. 

There was a time not so long as when my life was on fire. Every single aspect of the life that I'd spent years building came crumbling down: my relationships, my home, my health and my career. I wouldn't wish that level of sadness or despair on my worst enemy, whoever that may be.

I became a professional at putting on a brave face to the world and falling apart when noone was watching.

Until one day, when I was having a dinner meeting for a project close to my heart, which ended in me spilling my secrets, my sadness and my tears to the woman on the other side of the table.

"You're not alone," she said. "You've got the Brighton Girls."

Photography by Lucie McAdams

Photography by Lucie McAdams

She was right. Whilst the life that I knew was falling apart, the life that I wanted was getting stronger - and Brighton Girl was the only place where I didn't feel like that brave face was a mask. 

To give you some context, Brighton Girl is a project that I created back in October 2015. It started as a magazine for twenty-something women living in Brighton, but has since evolved into a huge community project with a magazine running alongside it, following my decision to run events that helped me to "meet the readers" back in March. 

Those readers became my motivation, my inspiration and, most importantly, my friends. 

Taken at our first ever Brighton Girl meet up in March 2016

Taken at our first ever Brighton Girl meet up in March 2016

It's hard to describe the intrinsic power of Brighton Girl, but it's become a community that's genuinely helping hundreds of women in Brighton to feel inspired, empowered and supported - which has been built through people, rather than money.

Around the time of my life's impending blaze, two of the Brighton Girls, Kim and Victoria, decided to leave Brighton and start new lives in Edinburgh and Berlin. For various reasons, their time in Brighton had come to an end, but didn't want to leave Brighton Girl behind. 

They asked if they could take it with them.

Whilst Brighton Girl is location driven, the concept of the project is that it's bringing together young women from all walks of life who have decided to call Brighton home. The same could be created anywhere in the world - and many of my friends living around the world have voiced their envy that they don't have anything like that where they are.

I had been dreaming up the idea of building an empire of girl gangs across the world a little before these conversations, but Kim and Victoria made me realise how possible that could be.

So possible that by the end of both conversations, the wheels were in motion.

A few weeks ago, Kim launched Edinburgh Girl, with 124 members at the time of writing this post. 48 hours ago, Berlin Girl was launched, which now has 20 members - and we haven't even formally announced it yet.

Brighton Girl, Edinburgh Girl and Berlin Girl are all run under the same company - my company - the City Girl Network. The woman who held my hand when I cried over my Gammon dinner and told me everything was going to be ok is my business partner, Sofaya Hussein. 

Together, and with the expertise, enthusiasm and support of the most incredible team I've ever worked with, we're going to build that empire.

Photography by Cara Ghoshal

Photography by Cara Ghoshal

When you go through a hardship that can only recover through rebuilding parts of your life, you realise both how fragile and how capable of change life really is. You also realise that life is yours - and your gut knows how to live it, even if you don't. 

I've followed my gut on every single aspect of this rebuild: through the creation of the City Girl Network, the new flat that I live in, the new relationships I've formed and the direction that my blog has gone in. 

There's just one more change that was left to make. The biggest, hardest, bravest change - to quit my job.

The City Girl Network has enormous potential. It's the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. For the last three months, I've been working an average of 110 hours a week (with my full-time job included) in order to get it off the ground - and a lot of the other girls have given a huge amount of their time too.

We can do this. This business can grow. I just had to make that last jump.

I won't sugarcoat the fear of handing my notice in at a stable job. I felt like I was stood at the edge of a cliff, rocks falling beneath my feet, knowing that I was going to jump into the glistening water, but hesitating through fear that I may have forgotten how to swim.

I hadn't forgotten and the cliff wasn't as high as I thought.

My last day is the 27th January.

Now that the secret - which most of you knew, anyway - is officially out in the open, I can start sharing my journey as an entrepreneur (which is harder to come to terms with than you think) and the growth of the City Girl Network on Pippa Says.

The City Girl Network will be officially launched on Sunday (4th December), and I'll be flying out to Berlin with Victoria next Friday (9th) to host our first Berlin Girl coffee meet up on the 11th - beautifully, Edinburgh Girl will be hosting their first meet up and Brighton Girl will be having a meet up too.  

In a similar fashion to the power of the City Girl Network, I'd like to say an enormous thank you to my own support network, who helped me to put the fire out all those months ago, empowered me to build something far stronger and gave me the courage to accept, love and be proud of who I am - a writer, an entrepreneur, and the founder of the City Girl Network.