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Lina Esa is taking an active role in leading the next generation of writers.

Lina Esa is taking an active role in leading the next generation of writers.

We’re talking about the real people who inspire us—those who are always trying to make the world a better place. They may motivate us in our professional lives, our personal lives, or the things we do in our community circles. 

Read on as they share a bit about themselves through our Q&A lightning-round.



Please tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi! My name is Lina and I’m just someone who’s trying to keep it all together, really! I’m a mum to my amazing son Ayden, and I was in the publishing industry for a very long time. I was the Editor for the magazine CLEO Malaysia since 2016, however earlier this year due to COVID-19 our publication had to cease. During my time off I’ve been learning, relearning and unlearning so much — I’ve been working on so many exciting endeavours that have made 2020 really such an experience!

 What was your first job, and how did you land it?

So, my first “real” job was at a boutique legal firm in Melbourne where I was an admin staff. I did a lot of the typing and file management and taking calls. Honestly, I was having trouble securing work experience during my Uni years so I took night classes with an “agency” that also hooked up law firms with admin staff. One of my Uni friends recommended it to me and it was a clever way to get my foot in the door and at least do some part-time work while studying. So when cold-emailing and applying directly to companies didn’t work out for me, I realised I had to take action and change my strategy.


What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

This is an interesting question, and I don’t want the advice to sound too cliched. But I would tell my younger self that there is no timeline to life, and that I should never compare my journey with someone else’s or to what society expects. I found that I was rushing myself and pushing myself to stick to the “milestones” in life when actually, there is already a plan for you. Trust the timing, it really does all work out.


"I’d have to say also that there’s way more value right now in pieces that can outlast trends or seasons and will take you everywhere the next few years, rather than just a phase in your life."

How do you think we can take an active role in mentoring the next generation and being a role model?

I believe to never hold back or be “berkira” with anything until and unless it really matters. So that applies to knowledge or anything else you can impart: if there’s something you can do to help, educate or mentor someone else that needs or wants to know more, try to do it for free where and when you can. The reward comes back in spades. And try to take in, observe and learn what’s the very best for the situation, so that you can always work to your best ability and pass on that knowledge.


Which brings to your new project! What can you tell us about this new direction?

Yes! So basically when BluInc (CLEO’s publisher) ceased operations in late April I had a lot of time on my hands and needed to get back on my feet. I put together a portfolio website and it got a lot of responses, and I realised that there were a lot of people who were writers and were out of jobs, or wanted to write on the side and earn an income. I created a community of writers which is currently still growing and I’m working to get them writing gigs from publications. Anyone who is keen to join should check out HERE :)


What advice do you have for someone who's dream job is working in fashion?

So far, since I’ve just been the Editor for a magazine, I’d say that there’s so much more in owning your own style and not following the trends too much. I’d have to say also that there’s way more value right now in pieces that can outlast trends or seasons and will take you everywhere the next few years, rather than just a phase in your life.


What has been the most useful fashion tip that you've received?

I don’t think I’ve ever been given “tip” per se, but can I just say what I’ve observed since being at a publication like CLEO? We were always advocating people to be their own whole selves so that was great, so we removed language that would require people to look a certain way. Like “Here’s how to make your legs look longer” or “How to look thinner in photos”. It’s unhealthy to have certain body image ideals yet it’s such a part of our discourse growing up. We need to unlearn this and adopt healthier languages when speaking about our bodies and dressing up. So I would say that being comfortable is definitely a defining requirement for your clothes — but while also staying respectful of the situation or occasion. For example you can be comfortable in workout clothes but it’s not respectful to wear it to a meeting or to someone’s open house.


What's something your social media followers don't know about you?

I’m a certified introvert! I’m an INFP on the Myer-Briggs personality type indicator. It’s strange because I know I’ve lived this life where it’s about getting up and going out, events, meeting people, interviews, shoots, and all that glitzy stuff, but it was a journey for me to get out of my shell. And it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that my energy gets drained quicker than most when I’ve done that whole social thing. It’s interesting that I could observe this of myself.


 The person you wouldn’t mind being trapped in an elevator with?

Honestly, don't have an interesting answer for this because I'm extremely claustrophobic. I'd want to be trapped with the elevator technician who'd be able to get me out!



Who's your everyday hero... and why?

I would say parents are everyday heroes. My parents are my everyday heroes, and seeing parents and what they do for their children — are all acts of heroism. Another type of everyday heroes I would say are those who take on jobs or tasks that other people are resistant to — such as cleaners, garbage collectors, security guards, etc. We’ve realised how important these people are, and they were basically front liners during our lockdown and fight against COVID-19. Unfortunately our mindset is shaped in such a way that we forget about how pivotal their roles are in our everyday lives. I’d say these heroes are definitely the unsung ones and they should be recognised as such.


{Lina is wearing the Laila Set from Whimsigirl}


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