Senior Shopping Writer at BuzzFeed
"Like most journalists, I get a dizzying amount of PR emails, but the ones that always stand out are those with a personalised element."
Please provide a brief introduction to yourself & BuzzFeed
I’ve been at BuzzFeed since they first launched a dedicated shopping team in the UK, so almost three years now. I come from a background in luxury jewellery marketing and retail, and before that, have always had an intense relationship with shopping (seriously, I’m told I could shop before I could walk) so when this role came along it felt like it had been tailor made for me. Over the years my focus has moved into developing our fashion, beauty, and small biz areas, all of which I’m incredibly passionate about.
Give us the inside scoop, what is your favourite part about working as Senior Shopping Writer?
Probably how creative and experimental I’m allowed to be with my features! I’m free to pitch pretty much anything as long as there’s enough demand and it fits with the BuzzFeed brand. Some of my favourite articles I’ve written have been on modest fashion and woman-owned brands for IWD. Our themes are also super varied – I can be writing about floral spring dresses in the morning and waterproof picnic blankets in the afternoon. It’s never a dull day.
What types of products and price points are you personally looking to feature?
Fashion and beauty-related products are my faves to feature, and I always have time for those from UK-based small businesses. In terms of price points, our readers love bagging a bargain through promos or cheap-yet-useful buys – but quality, investment-worthy pieces do well too! I’ve always found the key is value for money. If a product is on the pricier side, people want to know why – does it have multiple uses? Does it have a cult following? Does it *actually* work?
What advice would you give a PR pitching to get your attention and secure coverage from you?
Like most journalists, I get a dizzying amount of PR emails, but the ones that always stand out are those with a personalised element. So if you’ve read my recent article on sustainable fashion buys and have a relevant brand you’d like to put on my radar, put that in the opening line! I also love meeting people IRL, so a quick coffee catch up to discuss clients and exciting new products is always welcome (not to mention, after two years of virtual meetings and events the Zoom fatigue is kinda real!).
What is the best press event you have ever been to?
Definitely the preview of the Sex and the City apartment pop-up where I had Carrie’s iconic New York apartment all to myself for an evening! I could type at her lil’ writing desk and rifle through her drool-worthy wardrobe to my heart’s content. My inner ‘90s child was screaming.
What made you want to become a journalist?
Growing up, my all-time favourite film was ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days’, in no small part because I was obsessed with Andie’s job. All ten-year-old me wanted in life was to be able to take a bag of beauty samples to comfort my best friend/ colleague going through a break-up. After that I studied English lit at uni, loved it, and discovered I have a bit of a knack for writing in the meantime, so that definitely helped!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
I’m pretty sure I'm the only person in the world called Valeza Bakolli. As if I wasn’t already easy enough to Google!
Valeza’s recent articles:
Roundup of exciting new drops
Dedicated post on TikTok-trending jeans