You Don’t Need A Degree To Be Successful

Photography by Simon Creasey

After writing Monday's post I've come to realise that you guys enjoy reading about my experiences and not just a quick 'so, heres what I'm wearing' style post.  However I also understand that you do come to me for fashion so I'm going to be mixing the two together from here on in.  If you want to see an outfit or some high quality imagery to inspire you then that's what you'll get but if you want a little more insight on who I am, my thoughts, feelings and experiences then I'm offering you that too. If you're interested in both, well you've hit the freakin' jackpot here.

I started jotting down a few topics which I'd like to talk about here on the blog, and some of my own experiences which I want to share with you all.  Today I'd like to tell a story of success...

I think the title of this post will giveaway the direction in which I'm going to go with it but I can only speak about my own experiences.  I enjoyed school, it was fun, but I wasn't particularly academic in all subjects.  Some I excelled at, especially anything creative like Art and believe it or not I loved PE (Phys Ed I think you guys in the US call it) despite my current hatred of anything involving physical activity.  I enjoyed English, loved the Biology side of Science and didn't mind Maths, although never to this day have I used Trigonometry or Algebra.  I wasn't a fan of RE (Religious education) because even from a young age I decided religion wasn't for me, I was always very sure of this.  I enjoyed learning, and as lots of kids do, I would go home at the end of the day and tell my mum and dad about what I'd learnt at school.  As I got older the creative side of my personality really began to blossom, I get this from my mum.  But I also enjoyed sports, and this comes from my dad.  I was on the netball team, the basketball team, the hockey team, the track team (Long distance can you believe), I used to roller-skate, I surfed, I did everything.  Location might have something to do with that because I grew up in Cornwall, a beautiful place, but for a child or a teen there's naff all to do unless your 'outdoorsy'.  It's a tourist spot, so come Winter aka 'the off-season' everything even remotely fun closes so you had to be active.  I did ok in my GCSE's, some pretty good grades and some shitty ones, RE being one of them, but I didn't care about that, in my head I knew exactly what I wanted to do and these subjects were insignificant to me.


Emma Hill wearing Trench coat, light wash jeans, white ankle boots, Simon Miller tan nubuck Bonsai bucket bag, chic Spring outfit

For a good few years I was adamant that I wanted to be a Marine Biologist.  I was obsessed, and I mean obsessed with whales and dolphins and any kind of marine life.  In fact I still surprise myself when Simon and I are watching a bit of Dave (Attenbourough) on the the telly and I can still spew out all these facts about Sperm whales or the mating habits of the bottled nosed dolphin.  Honestly, if there's a marine-life based pub quiz, you want me on your team.  I was that set on being a Marine Biologist that I spent months researching how I could continue these studies in the US because that's where I wanted to be, with all the incredible marine life in Florida or San Fran.  After my GCSE's I chose to stay on at the Sixth Form at my secondary school, because I loved that school, I loved the staff and the familiarity.  I was studying English, Sports Studies, Biology and Art, quite a random mixture but along with the academic subjects I needed for Marine Biology I also needed to feed those creative and active sides to my personality.  We've all been teenagers so we all know what it's like to be that age and to change our minds at the drop of a hat, and that's what happened, I just changed.  After three months I dropped biology, I just didn't enjoy it any more and most students/my friends were only taking three subjects so they had more free time and more of a social life...I had serious FOMO.  As a 16/17 year old I wanted to be part of the mix, I didn't want to be missing out on social activities, even if it was just a celebratory drive to the local McDonalds because someone just passed their driving test, that was our tradition.  If I'm being honest at that point, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or what I wanted to be, I was living for the moment, enjoying being young and carefree, and those were some of the best days of my life.

I'm not quite sure how it works these days but when I was at school you only really started hearing about University when you started College or Sixth Form or at the very earliest, pretty damn close to taking your GCSE's in year 11.  Your choice of subjects at A-Level were dependant on what you wanted to study at University so you needed to decide on that pretty quick.  For some, choosing your life path at the age of 16 isn't easy, and as someone that thought they knew what they wanted to do but later changed their mind I would say don't rush into it, and don't be pressured to decide on a life just for the sake of others.  If you're unsure then take more time to figure it out. I know people who went to study History and Art at University and came out with the highest possible qualification, but they never did anything with that degree once they graduated because it wasn't what they wanted to do, they just got a degree because a degree means success (wrong).  Now they're stuck with a pretty hefty student loan to pay off and a degree which is useless, to them at least.  Just a bit of paper stuffed in a box in the loft because hanging it on the wall reminds them of a mistake they wish they hadn't made.  I know from looking at my blog analytics that my main age demographic of you guys reading is the 25-34 bracket, so I might be preaching to the wrong crowd here, but on the off chance I reach someone who is struggling to decide what to do with their life, take your time.  Maybe some of you even have kids of your own that might be soon approaching these life changing decisions, and I would just urge you to consider that not everyone is so sure on what they want to do or be.  My mum and dad were incredibly supportive, I never felt pressured into doing anything I wasn't sure of and that's why I never went to University.

It was in my first year of Sixth Form when people started talking about Universities, and I just went along with the flow, didn't really think about it to be honest.  I didn't even consider that there was an option of not actually going, it was just the done thing.  I got a boyfriend, my first love, and he wanted to be a Doctor so his path was very strictly laid out for him, there was no other alternative than to go to Uni.  He was in the year above me and when I look back I can bet his mum probably hated me, because I was a distraction at a time when he should have been studying for the most important exams of his life.  Even with this little blonde and tanned bombshell in his life he passed his exams and got into Southampton Uni, I went to visit him once and then our relationship fizzled out (ok not entirely accurate but that's another story for another time).  But what I do remember is that there were no other options for him, he had that life mapped out, I'm not entirely sure if he even wanted to be a Doctor, I never asked.  I don't have any contact with him but my mum has reported back that he is a Doctor, and I really do hope he's happy.

During my second year of Sixth Form the emphasis on Universities started to get pretty real. 'Open Days' were arranged for our entire year at the two closest Universities, Plymouth and Exeter.  It was at an open day for Exeter University that I made my mind up, this wasn't for me.  We all piled off a coach onto a green common on the Uni campus and were split up into groups, each group with a student tour guide.  All I remember from that day is a whistle stop tour through the halls of residence, rushing past the facilities and then the look of sheer delight on our tour guide as he marched us into the Student Union, stood proudly in his domain and proclaimed "Pound a pint in ere".  It was as if that was the only information we needed and we should be 'sold' on Exeter University based on that single fact alone.  Well, that single fact was the only thing which stuck in my head and from that very moment, I knew University was not the place for me.  As some of you now know, I don't drink, I don't like alcohol, and yes I have had a drink in the past, definitely in my youth but I hated it.  I didn't drink much when we went out, I actually had an effective routine of accepting a drink when round was bought and passing it off to someone else and then acting drunk, I could have won an Oscar for my drunken performances, peer pressure eh.  Having said that, I never had to have my stomach pumped so I like to think that every cloud has a silver lining in this instance.  The drinking and the emphasis on drinking was an issue for me, a massive issue, it put me off University because I didn't want that life, I wasn't interested in that life.  Looking back now I'm actually quite proud of myself for not following the crowd and for being able to make that decision.

So what did I do instead? Well after Sixth Form I got a summer job in a surf shop as most Cornish youths do, spending the Summer on the beach, my favourite place.  I had a new boyfriend now, but he was a year younger than me so he was still in Sixth Form finishing off his final year.  After that I'm ashamed to say that I slipped into a routine of just 'plodding along'.  I was in a comfortable relationship, but I had no real ambition to do anything with my life.  It was like any 'get up and go' had been sucked out of me and I blamed that on the lack of opportunities that Cornwall had to offer but actually it was because I just became lazy.  I did a few random jobs for a year and then I started my own business selling luxury pet goods, so random I know.  That was short lived and I hated doing my own tax returns (oh the irony) so I decided to get a job in retail because I knew I could work my way up and it would eventually amount to some kind of career with a decent wage.  If truth be told at this point I was getting majorly itchy feet, I was bored and uninspired by my life, my boyfriend, and by Cornwall.

I needed more, I needed a city.  The closest you get to a proper city in the South West is Plymouth, so I got a job as a Visual Merchandiser in the Mall in the city centre.  I was on an 11K salary but I loved it, I felt inspired again, I felt a new lease of life.  A new place, new people, surrounded by clothes and a role where I could let my creative side loose.  From there I moved very quickly up the retail ladder thanks to some timely departures and maternity leaves which worked in my favour, and after three years I was a Store Manager earning 35K.  Whilst working in Plymouth I met Simon.  He had just finished his degree at Plymouth University but he was actually from South East London.  He was unlike anyone I'd ever met before, he was driven, ambitious and knew exactly what he wanted from life, and it rubbed off on me (not a euphemism).  What I didn't know is that he had planned to move back home in a few weeks as he'd finished Uni, but then we met, I worked my magic and I ruined that plan, probably causing yet another mother to hate me.  I bought my first property and we moved in together in Plymouth.  He got a job with his degree, also bought a property but rented it out as another source of income.  I started my blog not long after and then talks began of us both moving to London.

When it comes to the blog the rest they say is history. Without waffling on any more than I have to it just progressed, it took time, ten years to be precise to get to this point but I made that happen, without a degree.  I might have stumbled at the early hurdles in life, or maybe you could say I just walked around those hurdles but in the end I have got myself to this point.  I run a successful business, so successful that Simon left his job ten months ago to come and work in this business, and he will quite openly tell you that it's better than any job he's had from his degree.  Together we have now taken this business to another level, both creatively and financially and we're excited to see where it takes us next.  So to anyone that says you need a degree to be successful I call bullshit on that theory.  My mum would say that everything happens for a reason, she's more spiritual than I am, I'm a bit cynical when it comes to that way of thinking.  I believe that you make your own luck and that you're in charge of your own destiny.  But I do believe that surrounding yourself with the right people can have a major effect on your life, as it has done mine.  I'm not trying to discourage the youth of today to not go to University and to not get a degree but if you're just not sure, don't let anyone pressure you, don't let them rush you, don't let them decide on your future.  Think outside the box and surround yourself with the right kind of people.

Outfit Details

Trench Coat - & Other Stories

T-Shirt - Topshop

Jeans - Zara

Bag - Simon Miller

Boots - Dune 

Earrings - & Other Stories

Short Necklace - Holly J

Long Necklace - Cinco

Watch - Cartier

Sunglasses - Ray Ban (Similar here and here)

Shop the Post

Share this post


  1. Amy
    11th April 2018 / 7:52 am

    I enjoyed reading your last two posts. Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts.

    • 11th April 2018 / 8:21 am

      Thank you Amy, glad you enjoyed it x

    • Amanda Baldwin
      19th April 2018 / 10:36 am

      I love this post. I too don’t have a degree but I have managed to work myself up the employment ladder, learning from people as I go and now I am a Financial Controller for a large engineering company.

  2. Sophie
    11th April 2018 / 7:59 am

    I actually loved this post, I love all your blog posts but this one really struck a chord with me! I’ll be 29 in May and still have no idea what I want to do with myself, my older siblings both went to uni and did well and I was sort of pushed to go by my parents because that was the done thing, but I didn’t want to end up with debt for something I probably didn’t want to do so didn’t go. I’ve tried every different job industry you can imagine from healthcare to finance and I’m still not sure and have been feeling a bit panicked lately as I feel I should know by now and be working my way up some sort of career ladder. I feel like I’m letting my family and myself down a bit as I’m in a crappy badlynoaid job that I hate. It’s reassuring to know that someone as successful as yourself has been in a similar situation and that I’m not alone. Phew sorry for the long comment but I really enjoy reading your blog and watching your videos (and love your style) so just thought I would show my appreciation!

    • 11th April 2018 / 8:19 am

      Hey Sophie, all I can say is, you are not alone. I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had with friends, family or even overhead conversations in bars from people who hate their jobs, the thing is their jobs are their careers and now they have responsibilities (families, mortgages, student loans etc) and they can’t leave, they need that income. A change of direction would mean a pay cut and they can’t afford it. Simon has only just paid off his student loan after 10 years and he’s now doing something completely non-related to his criminal justice degree. He’s taught himself video editing, he’s learnt the art of photography and lots of the other elements that come along with this industry. He didn’t even enjoy the jobs he had that came from his degree, his words were “I thought it would be different’. I have done the same, I learnt from experience how to run this business, there was no training and definitely no structured education involved. I think lots of people just know what they want to do and they do it, but there are a large percentage of us who aren’t that crystal clear and there’s a portion of those people who just get swept along in doing what you ‘should’ do, what parents tell you to do. ‘Degree = success’ is the mentality of a different generation, to me degree would have equalled misery. Only you know your own mind x

      • Merja Tammi
        11th April 2018 / 12:58 pm

        I’m outside your demographic (older), but I love fashion and enjoy your posts and vlogs–especially the ones with the fur babies as I’m super allergic so I get vicarious enjoyment from watching your interactions with them. I digress….I went to college and got a ‘serious’ degree. I worked in ‘serious’ jobs that I hated. Then a few years older and wiser, I did go to university, and I now have two additional degrees. I loved it! I loved the work, the people, and the environment (I was not with the group that drank and partied). Forcing a teenager to make a major life choice is a mistake, yet most educational systems worldwide are set up that way. I needed time to be in the world before I figured out what I wanted to do. I believe that formal post secondary school is not right choice for everyone, especially if you are following a creative path. Your story shows that while you followed your own path, you worked hard and I believe you would have been successful regardless of what field or educational choices you would have made.

  3. 11th April 2018 / 8:12 am

    I love this post. I went to university but the course I completed in no way prepared me for the work I’m doing now, and I think getting more experience in the field I was interested in (journalism) would have been better than studying theories and taking on any job just to pay for my social life. While I don’t regret going for the experience I had, stories like yours are so important to help people realise that a degree isn’t necessary for success!

    Keep inspiring others! I’m now off to buy those amazing boots…

    • 11th April 2018 / 12:56 pm

      Absolutely. I know lots of people go to University for the life experience as it’s often the first time away from parents and eases you in to living on ‘your own’ in the big wide world, and that’s great. I’m definitely not here to tell people not to go for that reason, but lots aren’t ready to decide what they want to do with their lives by the age of 16 and it’s definitely not something that should be rushed 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post x

  4. Sara Lopes
    11th April 2018 / 8:16 am

    As a student in her last year, I find your post as a stress relief. I feel so pressure to follow medicine, by my parents, and even though I love biology, I’m just not sure yet what pat I want to follow. Thank you for sharing your experience! It made me less fearful of the future. Kisses from Portugal

    • 11th April 2018 / 1:00 pm

      I’m glad you found this useful Sara. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful for anyone that decides to study medicine and also very in awe of them because that’s a dedication to years of hard work and it really does take a certain kind of person to do that. But you should always follow your own dreams in life, because it is your life x

  5. Julia
    11th April 2018 / 8:47 am

    I needed to read this , i am finishin a law degree in a couple of months . much like being a doctor it is a set path which i have decided to break and not pursue as i felt trapped . i am not going to be a lawyer and after feeling ashamed for a long time , i now embrace that choice and are using my creativity to design my own path . one shoudnt be afraid of walking off the curb .

    • 11th April 2018 / 1:03 pm

      Yes Julia! I admire you for putting in all that hard work and dedication, I understand Law can be damn tough. But I also admire that your following your dreams, because too many people just ‘settle’ for the easier route but sacrifice their happiness in the process. x

  6. 11th April 2018 / 8:59 am

    Hi Emma, I loved the post and I’d share with my sister as she is in sixth form and she keeps saying uni is not for her. My experience at sixth form was pretty similar to yours I loved the creative side so I did textiles and I picked 3 other more academic subject ( I later dropped English). But I’m in uni now doing fashion after taking a 2 year gap and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

    • 11th April 2018 / 1:06 pm

      That’s amazing news Timi! I’m so glad that you followed exactly what you wanted to do, sometimes you just need a bit of extra time to think things over right x

  7. Christine Coates
    11th April 2018 / 9:22 am

    What a great post Emma. It really struck a cord because, as an English language tutor in Italy, I’m often asked for career advice and the only advice I give is follow your dreams and passsions, definitely not those of your parents!! I’m going to share this post with my teenage students, as it’s so insightful. Thanks again.

    • 11th April 2018 / 1:05 pm

      Thank you Christine, I’m so happy to hear that outlook from a teacher, your students must absolutely love you…there should be more people like you teaching 🙂 xxx

  8. Sonja
    11th April 2018 / 9:29 am

    Love this post. Hope there will be more like this.

    • 11th April 2018 / 1:07 pm

      Thanks Sonja, they will all be about a topic from now on x

  9. Emma
    11th April 2018 / 10:05 am

    I left school at 16 because I hated it! Sometimes I wish I had gone to uni just for the experience, but I had my first house at 20, now have 5 others that we rent out and nothing that I have done in life required a degree! Mark studied for his degree whilst he was working a very full-on job because in France you had to have a degree if you wanted to progress up the career ladder (don’t even get me started on some of the people in these positions with zero life experience ). We’re all different, we all have different things that drive us and unless you need a degree to learn a specific skill set you can and will get where you want to be through your own hard work and determination. Here, here to this post!!

    • 12th April 2018 / 1:32 pm

      Exactly Emma, and can I just say…that is bloody brilliant!
      Also, I hope you’ve checked your notifications over on YouTube because I left you a special message 🙂 x

  10. Desiree
    11th April 2018 / 10:24 am

    Hi Emma

    I really enjoyed reading this. I don’t usually read blogs (not sure why), but this one sparked something in me as a must read.
    I can’t recall when I started following you on Instagram but loved and tried to keep up with every hm jumper you bought soon to realise I can’t keep up. I admire you even more now with your new disclaimer.
    As a child growing up with 2 sisters who were excellent at the academics I was pressured into thinking this is what i had to do. I was a natural at hair and styling but that just made me look like the dumb one. I left school with no GCSE and then decided I have to prove to my family I can do this so I then went back to school and completed a degree.
    I now work a 9-5 job which I don’t fit into and possibilities of redundancy is the latest gossip through the grapevine. My 9-5 meets the bills but does not give me any happiness. I have just started an Instagram page and hope that it takes me somewhere. Every time I post something and get a like I feel so happy but still not sure this is what i want to do full time. I will continue to pursue it as a sideline and see where it takes me.

    • 12th April 2018 / 1:37 pm

      Hey Desiree. Everyone is different, some people aren’t academic, I know I’m not and I totally understand what you mean about being interested in fashion or hair/beauty…this instantly means your dumb to some people. Fortunately for those of us who are interested in these things, the world is changing, enter social media and the world of bloggers, youtube, instagram and influencers, who are now inspiring so many women out there to do whatever the hell they want. It took me over 10 years to know that this is what I wanted to do, and even then it wasn’t a deliberate decision. It is definitely important to think about what it is your interested in and then research the shiz out of that, you’ll have so many options, research those and then once you find one you love, go with it xxx

  11. Kari
    11th April 2018 / 10:54 am

    Hi Emma, as others have said, I have really enjoyed reading your last two blog posts. I think the honesty you have in your youtube channel is coming across here and that’s really refreshing. I home educate my three kids and totally agree that uni isn’t for everyone. Different forms of education suit different personalities and we all need to find what works for us and will get us to where we want to go!

    • 12th April 2018 / 1:39 pm

      Wow you’re like a super-mum! Power to you Kari, that’s so incredible 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed these posts, I’ve surprised myself at how much I enjoyed writing them haha x

  12. carmen
    11th April 2018 / 10:56 am

    Loved reading this blogpost , so good job on that 🙂 to be fair i have a bit the oppissit problem (i always knew what i wanted too be but my mom didn’t really supported that) story of my life. But anyway now i still know what the do (in my head it’s all worktout) but that says it all “in my head” because on how to start no clue what so ever

    • 12th April 2018 / 1:41 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that Carmen, I’m sure she only wants the best for you but sometimes it can be a generation thing, some parents don’t know of all the new opportunities and the new industries that we can work in these days. If you want this plan of yours to work out, you will make it work x

  13. Hélène
    11th April 2018 / 12:11 pm

    I loved reading that post, so thanks for making the effort. And nope, I don’t see blogs fizzling out that soon with contents like this!
    Now that you’ve told us about your experience, I guess I’d love to read about how your blog / business developed into what it is today, what stages you think were important, and also what it consists in, now.
    As a teacher myself, I often have a hard time answering students’ questions about what careers they could go for. Not to say that they’ll have to stick to the same type of job all their life – you’re great examples of that, but lots of them are interested in internet / blogging related jobs, and I find myself at a loss as to what to tell them.
    Si… Could you help with that ?

    • 12th April 2018 / 1:50 pm

      Thank you Helene!
      I have touched on a few of these points before, I actually have a whole series of Blogging tips videos on my YouTube channel which kind of gives you an insight into how much work goes into running this business. They might be useful for you. But I am planning on some more posts about blogging and the timeline of how mine evolved. Although the industry is a lot more established now than it was when I started. I wouldn’t want to use the word ‘easy’ but there are a lot more ways to get into it these days. x

      • Hélène
        23rd April 2018 / 9:06 pm

        Thanks, Emma. I’ll make sure to watch these videos, then.

  14. Kristen
    11th April 2018 / 12:53 pm

    I throughly loved this post. I am 22 and have completed a little over 4 years of college, off and on and have just decided to put school on pause, again. I hate school and have been studying legal studies, which is one of the few things I find even remotely interesting to study, for 3 years and I don’t even plan to become a lawyer. Although, my hatred for actually studying gets in my head and ultimately in my way of completing my degree. I too felt/feel insane pressure to complete my degree for no other reason that that’s what my friends are doing and what my family expects of me. Which is why the feeling of failure is constantly looming over me as I wait tables and constantly work my ass off to just do something with my life; but seeing everyone close to me graduating and moving out of the area and getting “real jobs” aka the ones you “need” a degree for. To wrap this up, I actually teared up at this post because of the direct impact it has on my life currently!

    • 12th April 2018 / 1:55 pm

      Oh Kristen, I totally understand what you’re going through. It’s so easy for some people to know what they want to do in life and then they just go and do it, but then there are people like us who are the opposite, and it’s tough. Power to you for doing 4 years of legal studies, I definitely couldn’t do that. Is there something else in the legal realm that you could do with this qualification besides being a Lawyer? The most important thing here is to follow your gut, sometimes taking risks can be scary but from my experience they pay off x

  15. Robin
    11th April 2018 / 1:00 pm

    Wonderful blog post. I so enjoy your content on YouTube, Instagram, and your blog, and I am a 50 something from Texas who is well outside your demographic!

    • 12th April 2018 / 1:56 pm

      I love all demographics Robin 😉 Thank you so much for reading and watching, both Simon and I appreciate all the support xxx

  16. Tany
    11th April 2018 / 1:39 pm

    I needed to read this blog. Thank you.
    I was so overwhelmed by my parents and I never had the opportunity to choose myself … I am now 35 and I live far away from them .. but nevertheless I can not find my way anyway. .

    • 12th April 2018 / 1:58 pm

      It’s the story of so many Tany, and I’m sure they did it out of love and just wanting the best for you. But you’re only 35, you’ve got a whole life ahead of you, make it count, do what you want to do x

  17. 11th April 2018 / 2:29 pm

    Emma – thanks so much for sharing this with us. I’m from the US and I remember at 18 thinking about how crazy it seems to have to try to decide what you want to do with your life. It’s encouraging to hear your story of growth and especially awesome that you had supportive parents on your journey. I’m lucky to have the same and know how much of a difference it’s made for me.

    I did go to a 4-year college and this is my third year out of school. I got a job last year after changing a couple of times that I finally feel like “fits” me and my skills and allows me to shine. I have also started a blog venture and am getting the itch to expand that and I’m anxious to see what kind of things it will do for me!

    You are always my favorite blog and Instagram to stop by so thank you for being you and for sharing your gifts with us 🙂

    Xoxo Jen

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:01 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story Jen! This blog venture sounds very exciting, let me know how you get on xxx

      • Jen Regimbal
        19th April 2018 / 2:14 pm

        I absolutely will! Thank you!

  18. Christina
    11th April 2018 / 2:52 pm

    Hi Emma,

    I love this post! It’s so refreshing to hear someone talk about not needing a university to be successful, I left Sixth form knowing that University wasn’t for me and I’m so glad I choose that route. I see people from school that have got University degrees and aren’t even in the jobs they studied for! I think it’s always a case of if you put the hard work in you can get to where you want to be! Also when you mention surrounding yourself with the right people, this is so true! If you have negative people in your life they just try to influence your decisions – which is never a good thing!

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:03 pm

      I’m so glad you made the right choice for you Christina. You’re so right, it’s about the hard work, whether you go to Uni or you don’t, either way hard work pays off in the end. x

  19. Minesha
    11th April 2018 / 3:26 pm

    Jackpot!! I love all your blogposts but I also love hearing your thoughts and your stories:) And boy I wish you were my mum!! Hahaha To be honest, I am in my 40s and still trying to figure out what I want to do. I’ve done, tried many things in life but moving and living in 12 different countries have made anything to be long term difficult. But watching you and Simon build your business has inspired me a lot over the past year. I feel like I still have a chance to build something that is mine… And you are absolutely right!! I have a degree but am I using it? Noooooo… hahaha Just like you say, I want the young generation to know that a degree is just a piece of paper… if it’s not for you, it’s totally ok. I truely believe that there is that perfect vocation for everyone, though I am still trying to find mine:) Thank you Emma for sharing your stories!! This is timeless and that’s why blogs will always be a favorite read for me:)

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:06 pm

      Thank you Minesha and thanks for sharing your story too. It’s never too late but by the sounds of it you’ve already had a life full of adventure, and that’s certainly not a waste in my eyes. Living in 12 different countries sounds like the goals of so many women I talk to, travel is a real eye opener and you’ve done that, it’s incredible is what it is 🙂 xxx

  20. 11th April 2018 / 4:57 pm

    I loved this blog post! I never went to uni I didn’t see the piont I didn’t know what I wanted to be I ended up studying art just to waste some time as I was young and no idea of career then I ended up a few years later studying childcare and working in that indrustry since then I found my dream job and gave up my job in childcare to become a full time blogger don’t get me wrong I not making anywhere near as much as I want to but that doesn’t matter I’m happy doing something I love and growing it into something * I hope*

    It amazing how well you’re doing and you have Simon working for you! I currently have my boyfriend filming content and taking photos of me at weekends to help a bit I do a lot on my own but there are just some things you need help with.

    Sophie //

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:10 pm

      We are all human beings and I honestly don’t see how at 16, 18, even early 20’s anyone knows exactly what they want to do with their lives. I also think that we don’t have to pigeon hole ourselves into just doing one thing forever, I mean Christ, wouldn’t that be boring AF! I think you’re right, it’s not always about the money as I think greed can really rear it’s ugly head these days more than ever, but it’s about doing what you love and enjoy. That corny phrase ‘money can’t buy happiness’ is so true. x

  21. Dorine Brussen
    11th April 2018 / 5:23 pm

    Hi Emma, thanks so much for sharing and well said. I love this post and I think that you are describing something very crucial here, and although my life’s journey has been quite different from yours, your post and the point you’re making resonate with me immensely. I hope it’s okay if I share a little bit of my own life’s story here? I’ve spent most of my adult life (I’m now 37) working as an academic researcher and university professor but last year I finally had the courage to listen to my gut feeling and quit my academic career (still deciding what I’m gonna do next but hey) because it just wasn’t me. In high school I’d always been the ‘smart girl’ with the good grades so, although no one ‘forced’ me to go to uni, it was in fact expected of me because it was just the ‘sensible’ route to take. So, I did go to uni – which, essentially, I do not regret – but I failed to consider any other options that were ‘frowned upon’ but may have suited me very well. At first I felt the pressure to choose a ‘sensible’ study such as law or business management but I did follow my gut feeling and picked a study that I really liked (history and archaeology – to the dismay of my school and some family members!). I never took part in the drinking and partying and just did my own thing. Then, people started suggesting that I should pursue an academic career and go do a PhD. Because I lacked the self-confidence to just take a step back and think about what I really wanted in life, I thought ‘okay’ and went for it. Now the PhD system here in the Netherlands is quite different from that in the UK: if you take a PhD here, you’re essentially getting your first paid university job and are ‘destined’ to pursue an academic career. Studying abroad would increase my chances to get a PhD position so it was ‘recommended’ I applied to Cambridge University to study there. I REALLY did not want to go, but I did. I felt so homesick, I can’t even describe it. Anyway, I came back, finally got a university job in the Netherlands, which should have excited me, but I was never truly happy (I just didn’t fit in on a personal level) and felt like giving up this job would be a ‘failure’ and I would be a disappointment to so many. Fast forward a couple of years to the Summer of 2017, when I was having a really shitty year, I finally got the courage to leave my academic job and to go explore what it is I really want to do! I have no clue yet but I’ll figure it out . I’m a tad bit scared about the future but also very excited, because I feel ‘free’ now (very broke, but free!!!)! In the Summer of 2017, I started following you on Youtube and you were like a breath of fresh air and such a source of inspiration to change my own life (I realise this sounds very sucky-uppy (is that even a word?) but it really isn’t intended as such). I’ve always been creative and have loved clothing, handbags, jewellery, nailpolish etc but that part of me was never ‘appreciated’, shall we say, at uni (I once wore bright red nailpolish and everyone automatically assumed I must be going to a special party, haha!).
    What I’m going to say next may really sound strange, but: what really bugs me is what many (most?) people assume about me just because of my academic titles and career…Personally I don’t give a rat’s ass about titles and status and anything like that (hell, that’s part of why I left the academic bubble in the first place! I used to talk about Hunkules in my classes instead of Hercules, haha!), but it is difficult to shake the image (I’m talking resume’). In this sense, I wish I hadn’t done the PhD and I sometimes even hide it from people because it really does not reflect who I am. But what’s done is done!
    Just one last remark: I’ve also worked as a tutor and mentor to students, and the pressure they are feeling to perform is unreal (burnouts and depressions are rampant). So I full heartedly support the point you’re making: just take your time to figure out what it is you want to do with your life. If that means going to uni then great, go for it! but don’t go do it just because everyone else is saying you should. Follow your own path! XXX
    (sorry for rambling on)

    • Esh
      12th April 2018 / 9:15 am


      I was going to leave my own comment but I read yours and it really resonated with me as a PhD student in the Netherlands. In my case, it is what I wanted but I still completely understand the pressure. I like your observation about it being thought that taking a PhD position is being ‘destined’ to pursue an academic career. I want the former but not necessarily the latter. So it’s really nice to see that you are defying the norm and doing your own thing 🙂

      To Emma:

      This is one of the best blog posts I’ve come across in a long time and was an amazing read. Thank you for sharing your story! I entirely agree with you that going to university is not essential and does not equate to being successful. A big part of the problem is that the (false) belief that you need to go to university to have a good job is very heavily impressed upon us as a society. I do hope your post encourages people to do what they want and not follow a set path to ‘success’.

      • Dorine Brussen
        12th April 2018 / 3:23 pm

        Hi Esh,

        thank you for your wonderful comment on my comment (:-)): glad to hear that it resonates with you. All I can say is: follow your heart! There’s nothing wrong with doing a PhD if that’s what you really want! But is is totally okay to not want to continue in academics, too. And remember: in a sense, a PhD technically is a job just as any other (although I know it doesn’t always feel like it – it’s a very personal thing, too). Once you’ve finished, you can go do whatever you want! Good luck with your PhD journey X

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:20 pm

      Oh Dorine I am so happy that you shared your story, and I hope so many others read it! I don’t think it’s sucky-puppy at all, but I do vote that we make that an actual word haha 😉 x

      • Dorine Brussen
        12th April 2018 / 3:14 pm

        Yes, let’s :-), and I guess you just coined another word as well, haha ;-)! X

  22. 11th April 2018 / 6:01 pm

    This is such a fabulous post babe! So many kids these days get pressured into going to university and getting a degree but they never get taught that you really dont need it! Uni is not for everyone and its so true that you dont need a degree to be a succes

    Ellie x

  23. 11th April 2018 / 6:38 pm

    What an amazing post! I too was a Visual Merchansise Manager for a big retailer after a few odd jobs, after “High School” as they call it here in “The States” – I’m getting the sense that High School is equivalent to College in the UK? which funny enough, when I lived in Peru I went to a private British school called Newton College, which now makes sense. It went from kindergarten all the way through to the end! I still have my insignia badge we had to wear with our name on it :). I think this is why I’m so obsessed with the Brits, since it was all I knew starting at kindergarten to grade 3. (Now I’m waffling, ha, ha) At that point, I was 9, our parents uprooted us to the US. I was always obsessed with fashion, basically out of the womb, but I came to find after high school that my brilliant parents had “overstayed” their welcome here and I would have to fend for myself to figure out what to do in my life – being illegal here (now I’m a permanent resident) I didn’t think I could finish college, so I went to college for a while to take lots of classes thinking it was my safety stable zone just in case. I got jobs in corporate America to make sure that I got the best pay I could get for stability. I became a Senior Business Analyst (again no Uni degree, just my brilliant smarts (haha)) and the last 5 years were so unfulfilled that I started a blog in 2013 and loved it, burned out, started another one, got laid off after 11 years and now I am slowly getting back into it. I thought being free from corporate would make me this amazing lady of leisure as I like to call it – work out every day at the beach, blog my little buns out and have this amazing care free life. Well, it’s been tough to have such an enormous change in life I didn’t expect it to bring on depression. I’m overwhelmed all the time, but now finally getting my groove back and starting small with Instagram so that I can get a schedule going. I am not good at managing myself – it’s super tough to be your own boss! I am also a personal stylist in my area (which I am OBSESSED with doing – LOVE helping people style themselves). So slowly but surely it’s coming together.
    So in conclusion, after this long ass essay (sorry), I wanted to say that I appreciate you sharing your path (thanks Emma!) as it really resonates with me. I loved the Fashion Week post and this one makes it that much more encouraging. I too don’t believe everyone needs a degree. I wasn’t able to get one for unfortunate reasons but I still got to the top of my game in the corporate world competing with younger kids with masters and PHDs. It’s definitely who you surround yourself with and who you know.

    Barefoot in LA | Instagram | Bloglovin’ | Facebook | Pintrest

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:28 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story Brenda! You’ve had quite the journey eh, and you know what, no it’s not easy being your own boss. My time management skills aren’t the best either, some days I sit here with a to-do list as long as my arm and I pick up my phone to reply to some Insta comments or DM’s which should take me 15 mins and then before I know it 2 hours have passed and I haven’t put down my phone…I’m easily distracted haha. But I think happiness is so important in life, and so many people don’t give it the time of day for so many reasons; gotta pay those bills, fear, family pressure etc but I would hate to one day wake up and realise that I’ve spent half my life not being happy. Life decisions are tough and we need to cut ourselves some slack and just take time to figure out what we want from life x

  24. Esher
    11th April 2018 / 9:45 pm

    I must confess, I rarely read posts, but when I got to the bottom of your blog I was like, Holy crap! Did I just read that whole thing and not even realize it? Not only did I read it all, but I enjoyed it too! I love a great success story that was found unconventionally. Well done.

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:29 pm

      haha thank you for reading Esher xxx

  25. 11th April 2018 / 10:34 pm

    I’m younger than your demographic (16) and this was helpful to me! I have 2 years of high school left, but college search ultimately begins next year. I’m sure I want to do fashion, but not sure where or exactly what. I’ve been letting the pressure of figuring everything out get to me for years, until just recently actually. This further convinced me to let myself breath, and take time to figure it out. Thanks from New York 🙂

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:31 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that McKenna! You’ve got to take time x

  26. Ellie
    12th April 2018 / 12:50 am

    Yesss I can relate to this so much! What a great post. I am 27 and felt the uni pressure back in the day. Apart from not knowing what I wanted to do, the drinking put me off as well. It all is one big party which just isnt my scene. But the pressure was strong from college in terms of going to uni so I went through the motions, got a few offers, was about to start English at some uni and pulled out the week before. Having 3 months off after college made me realise it wasnt for me at that point in time and frankly the pressure from colleges/sixth form that this route is the be all and end all of our existence is quite intimidating really. There should be more emphasis on choice and information about the various life paths and options, especially in today’s society where jobs like yours are more popular for example. Thankfully I managed to get a job & I started as an office assistant instead and am now finally a deputy manager…not as fab as your job of course 😉 but you are so right that going to uni isnt everything and life experience or just going with the flow is just as good. Even now when I have to recruit staff, if they have experience it is much more valuable to us than just a degree. The only downside to this job is even here they are so obsessed with drinking, but like you I dont drink. Dont like it, never have and never will but each to their own… Would rather spend money on handbags than wine haha!! Of course I am seen as the boring one yadda yadda…so glad I’m not the only one and you don’t hide such facts anymore. I am not stopping them from drinking but when they try to make me drink, even spiking me on some occasions, it is not ideal. It is kinda a sad world when peer pressure is still strong in my late 20’s and I wish more people realised that everyone is different…from career to lifestyle choices, they think we are just meant to conform to the idea of normal. So glad to see you are staying true to yourself and you have encouraged me to stay true to myself too and you are testament to the fact that we can do anything if we can put our mind to it! Sorry for the essay…Now back to stalking your outfits!!!

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:41 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences Ellie. I completely agree, I think schools aren’t educating young people with all the options and life paths available these days, the world is changing and there are so many amazing things to do with your life but I feel like we’re still focused on all those common careers that form a drop down menu on an insurance form. I know exactly what you mean on the drinking front, it’s that look you get when you say ‘No thanks, I don’t drink’. It’s like ‘oh, you’re the one that doesn’t have any fun’, well I think it’s sad that someone has to rely on an alcoholic drink to have fun, what does that say about them. x

  27. Julie Bosgraaf
    12th April 2018 / 1:14 am

    I totally agree with you. This world is filled with diversity and it should be celebrated. Growing up my Mom pushed me so hard to go to University that it actually made me not want to go. I am still a disappointment to her and I am now 50. I have done things in my life I am very proud of but I have never heard, I am proud of you, cross her lips. I raised my 4 children to follow their own path. They are now adults and so different from each other but I am so proud of them all.

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:42 pm

      I bet your kids are proud of you Julie, I would be…just for following your own heart and head and not pleasing someone else x

  28. Shereen
    12th April 2018 / 1:16 am

    Loved this blog post. This is why I love blogs, you can’t express all this info in an Instagram post or a vlog. I went to college and got a degree in Pyschology (didn’t work in this field) but I loved the experience of college meeting new/different ppl. It shaped my personality (coming from a conservative background). How interesting we have different points of view on certain topics but truly enjoy you’re content and feel you are a very genuine person (hope to meet you one day). I hope you consider making you’re blog post topics on life experiences and YouTube more vlog and fashion videos.

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:44 pm

      I think that’s definitely what I’ll use the blog for now going forward, of course there’s some fashion here too for anyone that wants it. And I have you guys to thank for that from all the comments on my previous post x

  29. YS
    12th April 2018 / 5:26 am

    As a teenager about to complete my diploma and about to make university choices, this blog post really spoke to me… almost everyone i know that are in the same situation are aiming to go to university but when i ask what will they be pursuing, most of the time the replies would be ‘i don’t know’ …we are just aiming to go to university for the sake of a ‘successful’ life and our parents’ expectations….this post gave me a lot of food for thought. Thank you xoxo

    • 12th April 2018 / 2:32 pm

      I’m glad this had that affect on you YS, take your time, just think about what makes you happy x

  30. Laura
    12th April 2018 / 12:27 pm

    Your last two posts have been absolutely amazing reads Emma x

  31. 12th April 2018 / 5:53 pm

    Love reading more about “Emma” than just what she’s wearing 🙂

    I’ve always thought there’s got to be a better system than kids trying to decide their education/career path while still teenagers…and then spend loads and loads of money on school for that…when SO few people will end up doing what they THOUGHT they were going to do from an early age.

    I actually went BACK to college at the age of 37, after finally being on a career path that excited me, but needing to complete my degree from almost 20 years earlier to move forward. So now at 57 (oh my gosh, that was 20 years ago???) I have an incomprehensible student loan that I am sure I will die with (ugh)…and that new degree never did really help me. So. Yay. Ha. Life, am I right??

    I guess there’s really no “Right Way” – so much of life is timing and luck of the draw.

    I was happy to see updated posts and I hope you do more like this!


    • 23rd April 2018 / 5:58 pm

      Thank you Bettye, and thank you for sharing your story too, I really enjoy learning more about you guys as much as you enjoy getting to know me x

  32. Paula
    13th April 2018 / 3:51 am

    Thanks for sharing that with us Emma. I too never attended uni but have friends that have degrees and either have made good careers or are totally not using their degree. I guess it comes down to knowing what you want from a career.
    I myself have had the opportunity to make a career from what I do (baker) but am completely disinterested in climbing that slippery corporate ladder *vom
    I see my job as just that, work that earns me cash so I can travel and collect different experiences. I’m lucky that my partner is on the same page and my friend lives just around the corner to look after the cat

    • 23rd April 2018 / 6:00 pm

      I love that ethos on life, travel really does make the soul richer. Always a bonus to have a cat sitter close by too 😉 x

    • 23rd April 2018 / 5:57 pm

      Thank you for reading Chloe x

  33. Liz C
    13th April 2018 / 6:12 pm

    Hi Emma,

    As a teacher, I loved reading your post. I’m trying to find ways of enabling my class to blog as I feel it’s such a great way for them to express their individuality. I want them to find their passion, as you have, and let this drive them forward. It’s exciting that they’ll be doing jobs which don’t exist yet but they need to feel freedom in order to pave their own way as you have done and make this happen. Your post has helped me refocus on this as I plan my days with my students (not to mention helping me plan my wardrobe at the same time!). I just need to learn some blogging basics now but they can probably teach me that themselves!
    Thankyou for your fabulous content.

    • 23rd April 2018 / 6:08 pm

      Thanks Liz and that’s really refreshing to hear that from a teacher x

  34. Kirsa Foldrup
    13th April 2018 / 8:47 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your post and i think it is wonderful how you show people that you dont need to get a university degree to have a good life and an interesting job that you love. Personally im from a family where we all have eduvations varying from barely any to doctors. I was the first child and granchild to gratuate from sixth form and the first granchild to get a bachelorsdegree (BA sience of nursing – the only way to become a nurse in Denmark) but before i did that i had two whole years where i worked. Im dyslexic and so is my mother somy parents were always very supporting of any educations i dreamed of but also very realistic when we discussed what ecucational options i had. I hope that every parent would listen to their kids and support them in their dreams and help them to make the right choice wheather thats a university degree or worklife.
    Thank you for beeing an inspiration.

    • 23rd April 2018 / 6:09 pm

      I hope that too Kirsa 🙂 x

  35. Gemma
    15th April 2018 / 10:12 am

    I have a History of Art BA and an MA. Both useless. I was told a degree was everything (by my parents and teachers) and it opened doors to good careers (it didnt/doesnt). I ended up retraining to be a PA as it was the only way I could get paid work. The Arts are heavily biased towards posh girls and boys who can work for free in non paid internships for years whilst being supported in their city pads and lives by wealthy parentals. Not me. I have two kids and I’d only want them to go to Uni if they were coming away with a vocation, otherwise it’s a lot of debt for nothing practical.

    • Ama
      15th April 2018 / 11:20 pm

      There is nothing wrong with uni. You just chose the wrong course! However you could still use your degree to become an Art Teacher? Nothing learnt is wasted 🙂

      • 16th April 2018 / 3:52 pm

        Ama, no one is saying there is anything wrong with University. But that is my point, so many people choose courses that they aren’t even interested in because they feel pressured to, and for lots of people that’s just not right and to get yourself into 10-20K+ of debt for that isn’t worth it. I am successful and I have no degree, so going to University isn’t the only option and that needs to be made clear to people.

  36. 17th April 2018 / 4:53 pm

    I think it’s so important to let people know that there isn’t just one path that we all need to follow. Your story is inspiring and I hope people see it and It resonates

  37. Meg
    18th April 2018 / 2:24 pm

    Bit late on the uptake but loved this post! I’m just finishing my degree after 4 years! And have had a lot of the same experiences as you! …. when I was 17 I was convinced I wanted to move to France and study there just to be different! I didn’t like drinking as much as my friends which had always been an issue and the thought of going away to uni in England and having to do that all the time worried me! In the end I ended up not getting into uni in France and spent two years completely lost in the UK! Not doing anything with my time, I knew I wanted something different but I just didn’t know what to do! …. fortunately like Simon, I met my boyfriend who was the most forthright, driven person I’d ever met and he really helped me develop my confidence and realise that I could do something more! By this point I had started uni in my hometown but fortunately that meant I could Live with my boyfriend and not be involved in the drinking culture as much 🙂 … over the next few years we’ve worked tirelessly to start up our own business and had a few failures! But now we’re about to move to the south of France and work full time on our business whilst all my other student counterparts are looking at getting jobs! It’s been difficult at times getting people to understand I don’t actually want to do anything with my degree, apart from the fact I’m moving to France (my degree is French haha) and I have the constant questions of; oh don’t you want to be a teacher?! And I feel selfish telling them no, that I want to build something for myself and be my own boss and have more freedom! So it’s refreshing to see posts like this!!

    • 23rd April 2018 / 6:07 pm

      That is incredible Meg, thank you so much for sharing your story! My mum always says if you want something that much it will happen because you will be determined to make it work and it sounds like you’re making it happen. I think that French degree will definitely come in handy for this new venture 🙂 “Mange tout Rodney” (really hoping you watched Only Fools And Horses or that reference will have gone straight over your head haha) x

  38. 20th April 2018 / 1:05 pm

    Hello Emma,

    While I am most likely not in your demographics, being a 46 year old and all :-), I do like your blog a lot,both for the style as well as for your more personal insights (and vlogs!). As a mother of a 16 year old son (and a 12 year old) I have to say I agree with this blogpost: that age is way to young for most kids to decide on their future. My son does not like school very much at the moment but has gotten excited recently about fashion business management studies so fingers crossed he still feels the same way in a year’s time when he actually has to make a decision. Most of his friends have no clue what they want to study when they leave school. That said: even if they do figure it out, that is no guarantee they will actually do something with the study once they graduate. I know this from personal experience: both my husband and myself went to university and studied American Studies. He is now a restaurant owner and I am, besides a blogger myself, a social media manager and keto coach. Not exactly professions the study was intended for ;-). When I went to university, social media did not even exist lol!

    Keep doing what you are doing!

    • 23rd April 2018 / 6:13 pm

      haha yes the world of social media and just technology in general has opened up a whole new world of careers for the next generation and I for one think it’s really exciting. It’s wonderful that your kids have your support and understanding 🙂 x

  39. 28th April 2018 / 4:46 pm

    I really enjoyed this post, a University education is treated with such esteem when often the degrees people complete don’t stay relevant. Its interesting, as someone who has a degree, to see the different career paths those I graduated with have taken from our subject of study.

    Side note, the first job I loved was in the same mall the you mention here. I worked in a phone shop, and the proximity to the mall helped me branch out and discover that as much as I loved the same stores as much friends (Primark, New Look) that more “adult” stores like Wallis and Monsoon really matched my love of classic vintage style.

    Well done on what you have achieved so far, both off your own back and with your partner x

  40. 18th May 2018 / 11:57 am

    Hi Emma,
    This post is truly touching and a real message that is so relevant to me.
    I am currently 17 (I understand I’m not quite in your target audience, hehehe!), but I absolutely love EJ Style and find your content so inspiring.
    This post rings home on so many levels – I have about 6 months left of my high school education before I enter to big wide world so to speak, and quite frankly I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed and insecure – who knows what the future holds….

    However I am also very excited about finding and/or creating a job I love (who knows what the future holds).
    I’ve been running my own little blog and Instagram (very basic at this point) on WordPress for nearly three years now where I share everything I’m loving and inspired by and am truly enjoying this experience. I would love to turn this passion into a career in the future. I love the online community and connecting with like minded individuals and would love to experiment with more of my own photography skills in the future.
    My passions lie in all things creative, so I’d love to do something like blogging, digital marketing, media, YouTube, etc in the future. With so many exciting advances in technology, the opportunities seem endless. By the way, I’ve been loving your blogging videos – and have found them very helpful and inspiring for future endeavours I hope to focus more on once I’ve finished school.

    Also, on a side note – your thoughts on alcohol could not have come at a more appropriate time for me.
    A lot of my friends have been turning 18 lately and I feel like everyone is changing a bit, whether it be with alcohol, rebelling, partying, boys, etc. It’s so lovely to hear someone else doesn’t like to drink. I sometimes feel like an early grandma, but I hope that I’ll meet more people like me in the future.

    Sorry for such a rambly comment – thank you if you made it to the end of this thesis!
    I look forward to what you write about next.

    Daisy xxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.