Most pop stars relax the morning after a sell-out gig. Dua Lipa, however, is not like most pop stars.
Instead, she busily plots the next steps in other parts of her burgeoning career — chairing editorial conferences for her nascent newsletter or interviewing another luminary for her podcast.
Her newsletter, Service95, launched in February and has already acquired thousands of subscribers. Far from running an amateurish blog, Lipa, 27, whose hits include One Kiss and Levitating, has poured resources into the venture.
She employs about ten people, including Funmi Fetto, who is a contributing editor at British Vogue and the Observer magazine’s beauty director, as editorial director.
“She runs a Service95 meeting every week, wherever she is in the world,” said a source. “These aren’t short meetings either, they last a long time.” Journalists who have written for the newsletter speak highly of the “above market rates” that the newsletter pays for their work, up to $1 (about 82p) per word.
Lipa is the latest celebrity to attempt to carve out a niche as a lifestyle guru, following the lead of the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, who has become almost as well known for Goop, her wellness and lifestyle brand, as for her acting.
Lipa’s decision to name her brand Service95 is perhaps easier to understand than Goop or Kourtney Kardashian’s Poosh. “I was born in ’95, and I have always seen myself as someone who is of service to my fans and followers,” she said. Lipa promises writing on “fashion, beauty, arts, politics, global issues and tons more from incredibly talented writers”.
What marks Lipa out is the fact that, unlike her celebrity peers, her newsletter is not full of fluff. Each issue, which is sent to subscribers every Thursday, opens with words from Lipa, be it on the women’s protests in Iran, misogyny in the music industry or sex. Often it comes with a list attached: for example, her skincare tips and the best places to eat in Rio de Janeiro.
Readers are then offered thousands of words from leading journalists such as the award-winning author Oliver Bullough on kleptocracy or the Guardian columnist Arwa Mahdawi on feminism.
“I think it is incredibly impressive because she could be spending her time in Mykonos and not engaging with any of this at all,” said Bullough, who was asked to write about how the West allowed Russian oligarchs to launder their billions shortly after the Ukraine war started. Much of the commissioning is done by people such as Fetto, but Lipa is said to “decide on everything”.
The seeds for Lipa’s journalism were sown when she was a child, as she would “obsessively make lists” of things she enjoyed, from restaurants and art galleries to books and films. Lipa says she has “been my friends’ and family’s go-to for recommendations” ever since.
After the coronavirus lockdowns grounded the tour for her second album, Lipa decided to turn her lists into an enterprise to try and “find order in the chaos”.
Her podcast also began in February. In Dua Lipa: At Your Service the singer interviews fellow A-listers in her own way. Guests have included the film director Greta Gerwig reflecting on how failure can help a career, Monica Lewinsky meditating on feminism and Sir Mo Farah talking about how he lived for decades with the secret of being trafficked to the UK from Djibouti.
Lipa does her own research before her interviews and has done podcasts on how to roast a perfect chicken (the key is to put a lemon inside and keep the skin of the onions on). She has also led a guided yoga session.
The second series of 12 episodes finished this month, giving Lipa the opportunity to finish her third album. The podcast is also professionally slick and is produced by Dino Sofos, the brains behind the BBC’s Newscast and Americast podcasts who launched his own company, Persephonica, this year. His other show is The News Agents, the new venture by BBC alumni Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall.
Lipa was born in London in 1995 after her parents, Anesa and Dukagjin, fled Kosovo during the Balkan wars. When she was 11 the family moved back to Kosovo but she insisted on returning to London four years later to take GCSEs and try to forge a music career. She attended Parliament Hill School in north London and took Saturday classes at the esteemed Sylvia Young Theatre School, which has produced graduates such as the actress Keeley Hawes and the late singer Amy Winehouse.
“She was always driven and had a phenomenal work ethic. She would not sit back and wait for things,” Young, 83, said. “We knew she was very intelligent and would be successful in anything she did.”
Some eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Lipa was going to give a speech at October’s Booker prize ceremony, when the Queen presented the award to Shehan Karunatilaka for his book The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. The singer had read all six shortlisted novels and opened up about how immersing herself in books affected her.
“Sometimes, just to survive, I need to adopt a tough exterior,” she told the audience at the Roundhouse in north London. “And at these times, it is books that soften me.” One of Lipa’s next stops is the Hay Festival, the literary jamboree in the Welsh borders in May.
Lipa’s idea to branch out appears to have been a savvy move. “Nowadays it is not enough to just do music,” said Mark Borkowski, the veteran PR man whose clients include Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.
“It’s arduous work to stay at the top. It also allows her to be less reliant on doing endless interviews. This content defines her authenticity. She is a very clever woman.”