As Editor-In-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and Mama-In-Chief of 2 year old daughter Leo (plus another bambino on the way), Louise mixes the demands of a magazine world with the sometimes equally challenging, if not more demanding, needs of a toddler. Stylish and sassy (her teenage nickname was actually sassy), Louise’s happy place with her fam is in Safa Park; feeding the ducks, playing on swings and chilling at The Archive Cafe.
Name: Louise Nichol
Children: Leo Nichol
How long have you lived in Dubai? Nine years.
1) Tell us about your business and why you started them.
I am the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.
2) What do you feel have been your biggest achievements both in your personal life and career so far?
Marrying Andrew, the perfect husband – and now father – was a start! And having Leo together, with a son on the way, is all I ever dreamed of.
On the work front, shooting a Middle Eastern-styled Rihanna for the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia this summer was a definite career highlight. Our upcoming December cover star is a personal icon as well (watch this space).
3) As a child what did you dream of being when you grew up?
A politician. Until studying politics at university put me off.
4) If you had three wishes, what would they be?
- For Leo to have the best education imaginable, and to grow up loving books as much as her mother and sport as much as her father.
- For us to find a family home that we love in Dubai to buy and make our own. (Where are Phil and Kirstie when you need them?!)
- For all my brothers and sister to hurry up and get married so they can produce some cousins for Leo and her brother-to-be.
5) What does being a Sassy Mama mean to you?
My teenage nickname was Sassy, due to a Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt I wore to death, which had it written on the front (Tommy was the height of cool in mid 1990s small-town England). There are people in my hometown who think it’s my actual name, so being a Sassy Mama is quite appropriate!
6) What’s a typical day in your life like?
During the week I get up at 5.30am and work-out for an hour with my personal trainer, Marlene, in the villa complex gym. We have some comedy moments adapting our usual CrossFit-style moves to accommodate my growing belly (burpees take on a whole new meaning when you have pregnancy-related reflux). I drop Leo at nursery at 8am on the way to my office in Media City. My job is far less glamorous than you might imagine. Most days I am chained to my desk working on pages, and if I don’t have meetings then the dress code is super-casual (this devil rarely wears Prada!).
I try to leave at 5.30pm in order to get home for Leo’s bedtime. That can be the hardest part, as my team often stay on and slog it out long after I’m gone, but I just have to think of Leo asking for Mummy when bathtime rolls around and that motivates me to hit the road. I interviewed Charlize Theron for our October issue and her words on prioritising her son above work have really stayed with me.
Once Leo’s asleep (usually after a minimum of seven books), I am exceptionally boring. As long as there’s no work events to attend, I’ll eat dinner (delivered by Daintree as I am too lazy to cook) and watch nostalgic TV like The Great British Bake Off (ironic, given my ineptitude in the kitchen) or, if Andrew’s not working in Saudi, a drama such as House of Cards. When he’s away, which can be four nights a week, I’m often in bed by 8.30pm.
7) What’s your guilty pleasure?
Reading fantasy novels, ideally involving dragons.
8) What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in your personal life and career?
Once I decided that journalism, and not politics, was what I wanted to do, I meticulously researched the best way in, from the right post-grad education to the most rewarding work experience placements. You have to soak up everything from more experienced people around you. In the early days, when your work gets slashed and burned, go back, read your original copy, and figure out why. Taking personal responsibility for determining what you want and how to get it is essential. Ultimately, I think I learned all of that from my dad.
9) What do you most enjoy doing as a family in Dubai?
Hanging out in Safa Park – feeding the ducks, playing on the swings, chilling at Archive Cafe. It’s our happy place.
10) Which three words best describe your personality?
Proud, enquiring (always helpful in a journalist) and ambitious. Kind of like Hamlet, but without the revenge!
11) What advice would you have for a new mama?
Don’t panic, there’s no right or wrong – you’ll get there in the end (even if it takes longer than you’d like) and every decision you make is right for you and your family. Most importantly, you will sleep again (although I can’t promise when that will be).
12) What advice would you give to a mama who wants to go back to work or start her own business, but is worried about juggling family and career?
If you’re going back to work, it’s really important to have a great relationship with your employer before going on maternity leave. Mine, ITP, was exceptionally accommodating when I requested six months’ maternity leave (a lot for Dubai!) and then facilitated a breast pumping room on my return, and worked with me on establishing hours that enable me to put Leo to bed. They knew how committed to the company I am and hopefully our mutual respect made my return to work successful for both sides. I consciously waited until establishing myself in my career and getting to a position of authority before starting a family. This might not be right for everyone, but it worked for me as it allows me to have more autonomy.
13) If you were on an island and could bring only three things (family not included) what would they be?
A fully loaded Kindle and PG Tips. Possibly a cow for fresh milk. Am I allowed family photos in lieu of family?
14) Top three books?
Seriously impossible question! I’d need 300, minimum.
15) Describe your style.
A lot less polished than it should be, given my job!
16) If there was a movie produced about your life, who would you choose to play you and why?
My husband would like Blake Lively. Why? Because he’s a man.
17) Tell us something funny that your kids have said or done.
I’m not sure I should put this out there, but since becoming pregnant my décolletage has expanded somewhat. Leo delights in loudly referring to “Mummy boobs” at the most importune of moments.