“Somebody clever told me that the secret to a good night’s sleep is to list all your achievements that day, major or minor, at bedtime. Whether it’s spending quality time with your children, cooking something successfully, wearing an outfit that makes you walk tall, making someone laugh; having a really good conversation at work or seeing great progress with a project, it’s a great habit to go to sleep on positive thoughts. I think it helps motivate more positive action the next day,” says Dolly Jones, the impressive London-based Digital Strategy Director at Condé Nast and mother of two young children (Hume, 3, and Loulou, 1)...
As a child, Jones would plaster Vogue covers all over her bedroom wall. “I didn’t realise [fashion] was a career choice – I wanted to be a journalist and Vogue’s was the first work experience offer I received. I turned up to the interview in a pinstripe suit which sounds a bit nineties Dolce & Gabbana but it wasn’t remotely. It was awkward – tragic, even. I just thought that’s what you wore to job interviews. Once you’re working at Vogue, it’s hard not to become passionately interested in fashion.” Jones studied art history at The University of Manchester before arriving at Vogue for work experience. It wasn’t until she was later studying journalism that Jones was asked to interview “someone at the top of their game”. That someone was British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman. After her second internship with the magazine, she was offered the job of Vogue’s editorial assistant. “I’ve always been conscious that my parents worked hard for my education, so working hard myself seemed like a natural extension of that,” she says. “I’m naturally impatient and I think that drives what is perceived as ambition. I was lucky to land up working on Vogue’s digital development in the early days – affording me the opportunity to learn so much as digital really took hold of the world.” We caught up with the talented and stylish Jones to find out how she juggles her career with motherhood, what’s in her handbag, her beauty tips and tricks and what the future of digital media looks like… Photography: Lauren Michelle
Loulou wears La Coqueta dress
What is the best advice you’ve been given about motherhood?
I interviewed lots of fashion industry mothers for Vogue shortly after returning to work after my second baby and Charlotte Dellal’s “Happy mother equals happy child” has stayed with me. And my own mother has persuaded me that I’m not potentially ruining their lives with every decision – so I’m safe to follow my instincts.
Can you tell us about your childhood?
I was born in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland – we moved to Hampshire when I was two and I’ve always wished I’d brought an Irish accent with me. My childhood was very happy; pretty conventional – we lived in a village and my older brother and I would make dens in the woods. Then when I was almost nine my parents added a little sister and – three years later – twin brothers into the mix. It was perfect really.
Have you always been ambitious?
I’ve always been conscious that my parents worked hard for my education, so working hard myself seemed like a natural extension of that. I’m naturally impatient and I think that drives what is perceived as ambition. I was lucky to land up working on Vogue’s digital development in the early days – affording me the opportunity to learn so much as digital really took hold of the world -and as time went on I wanted to expand my digital experience so now I have the opportunity to work across all of our titles with so many different talented people in so many different fields. I love it.
Video is now seen as the most important emerging content form online – would you agree?
Video is a huge focus in terms of audience engagement and therefore potential revenue. You only have to see what Wil Harris and Danielle Bennison-Brown have done with video on Vogue and GQ in the last year to see how successful a strong video strategy can be. In such a crowded market place with content being driven at us from every angle, it’s been amazing to watch them cut through and hit headlines.
Where will digital media be in 10 years?
I wish I could predict. Ten years ago, we were tentatively experimenting with Vogue’s Twitter and Facebook accounts – in what felt like a matter of weeks we had hundreds of thousands of followers. Today it’s millions; the vast majority of whom are engaging with content via their phones and barely need a desktop computer. Hopefully I’ll come up with something that everybody wants and retire a gazillionaire.
What has been one of your biggest career challenges?
My father always said that if you remember you’re learning every day, then every challenge, every mistake and every problem is an opportunity. I try to remember not to be too offended by challenges but treat them like a step in the right direction, at least eventually. Sometimes I forget. And some days – I’ve learned – it’s better to give yourself a break and not try too hard to crack something. You tend to do much better work afterwards.
How do you juggle work with motherhood?
I wish I had a failsafe answer to this one – a colleague referred recently to the fact that working full time as a mother of young children means that, literally, every minute of every day is accounted for. I try to focus on the priorities – but I forget often! I have a brilliant husband who shares the family responsibilities equally – and we were very lucky to find a fantastic nanny (after a huge search!). The two of them make a strong foundation for my potential chaos. Going to bed as early as I can bear makes it much easier (I forget to do that too). I think you just have to breathe deeply and remember that stress gets you nowhere. Also, it helps to remember that some people have more children, less help, bigger jobs – talking to other mothers is always reassuring.
Do you think you’re born with style or it’s something you learn?
I think you can learn anything if you want it enough. And style is so often about confidence. Having said that, some people just have something enviously innate about them. British Vogue’s Fashion Director, Lucinda Chambers, is one of them.
What is your favourite social media platform?
They all have different advantages – from a personal, or a brand point of view. Instagram is the one I use most for myself.
What is your approach to health and wellbeing?
Some days it’s all green juices and a run home from work. Other days it is literally leftover fish fingers and wine with a girlfriend. The first is health; the second does wonders for my wellbeing. I’ve run the London marathon a couple of times and am hoping to run again next year – so with luck that will keep me focused on the first.
What are your daily beauty essentials and how long does it take you to get out the door in the morning?
I can be up and out in half an hour if I’m alone. But I tend to have a one-year-old on my lap who is as keen on make-up as I am, and a three-year-old who likes to choose my underwear every day – it slows me down somewhat. I LOVE Apivita beauty products which are naturally and sustainably sourced and really make me feel like I’m doing myself a favour.
How do you treat yourself?
Green juices and running. Or fish fingers and wine.
Do you prefer to text or call?
Whatsapp. You know if you send a single red heart emoji it beats like a real love heart? (Sorry if you all knew that; it’s new to me and I am over excited).
Coffee or tea?
Camomile tea please, if you have it. Or maybe a decaf latte.
Your role model is?
So many people – my parents for their marriage; my husband for taking on ours; lots of colleagues who are fun to work with and doing exciting things. I’m interested in [Facebook Chief Operating Officer] Sheryl Sandberg at the moment – she is so vocal about what she learns as she learns it, which helps inspire so many other women. And I’d love to be able to sing like Adele but sadly that is not to be.
What did your own mother teach you about life and motherhood?
She always said “if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” – and she warned me about the guilt of motherhood appearing the instant the baby is born as you worry that you might not be doing the most perfect job in every aspect. It helped prepare me to ignore the nagging self-doubt (some days more successfully than others). She also taught me that a bowl of Shreddies with milk, topped with double cream and brown sugar, solves almost any problem.
Hume wears Clarks boots, OshKosh dungarees and Bonpoint shirt. Dolly wears Stella McCartney dress and vintage denim jacket
What’s your approach to interiors?
Not unlike my approach to fashion: haphazard, and instinctive. I like putting things together that don’t officially “match” – to mixed results. And I’m very sentimental so there is a lot of stuff around that came from my grandparents or friends.
Are you tidy or messy?
Tidy, then gradually messy. Then frantically tidy again.
What do you love most about raising children in London?
The variety of things to do on your doorstep. Last weekend we picnicked in Green Park and were surprised to find ourselves watching the dress rehearsal of the Trooping of the Colour; then we went foraging in the park for stones and leaves to paint and stick on paper crowns (my son has been learning about the Queen at nursery). We can swim, go to the cinema, make dens, play poohsticks or explore a museum without having to get in the car.
What will we find in your handbag?
If I’m without my laptop, which is rare, then I try to just stick to a little Anya Hindmarch studded credit card wallet and my phone. When I do carry a bag, the laptop is surrounded by Laura Mercier make-up, whichever Condé Nast magazine I’ve got to that month, and generally a pair of heels to change into once I’m at the office. When I’m with the children I have a brilliant Prada nappy bag that we could probably quite happily survive with for some time if we were ever stranded. It carries everything.
What was your last investment purchase?
A blue silk Hillier Bartley top with short tassel sleeves.
What are your fashion essentials?
I have managed to collect quite a selection of little black dresses over the years. They are my failsafe.
You can never have too much of what in life?
Hugs from your children. And time.
Dolly’s little list of loves:
Made.com for great furniture. We recently bought some Mini Kitsch Chairs for the children. The Acey.com and Revenvert.com for beautiful clothes responsibly sourced. Little Circle for gorgeous children’s clothes that you can then resell in the ReCircle collection. I’m reading Who Cares Wins by David Jones – about how social media is forcing business leaders to be more socially responsible. We’re watching Billions – great escapism without being too violent or scary. I’m a terrible weed about watching misery of any sort. I’m always interested in recipes that are interesting for us but simple enough for the children to eat and this chicken one is a new delight (so easy – particularly if you don’t bother with the sauce). For grown up dinners, I’m loving Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. The rack of lamb with mint, coriander and honey is so simple but makes your friends think you’re a pro. This year and last year all my school contemporaries are turning 40, which has been fun for parties and for getting back in touch with old friends. 40th birthday parties feel just like 21st birthday parties – so it gives us all a boost to realise we’re still having as much fun as we did then. Two girlfriends of mine recently launched an app, Mush, for new mothers to meet other like-minded mothers – it’s only been live a few weeks and already has thousands of members. Early motherhood is wonderful and thrilling, and discombobulating and potentially lonely – they are so clever to have such a brilliant idea and do it so well.