"Never use the fact that you’re a girl as an excuse for not trying something. We’re all capable of anything… it’s just a matter of setting your mind to it. Whether you’re a boy or a girl!"  - Charly Lester

Charly Lester is a UK based Dating Expert, Founder of the UK Dating Awards and the voice behind the popular 30 Dates blog. Having lost both of her parents at the age of 19, she decided to make the most of her life and follow her passions. From a obtaining a Master's Degree to traveling the world to launching her own company, it appears Charly is doing just that.

Every Ella: Tell me about yourself.

Charly Lester: I grew up in Reading, England. My Dad was English and he met my mum, who was Romanian, when he was traveling around the world. Sadly they both died when I was 19, which has affected my approach to life a lot.

Where did you go to university and what did you study? 

I did an undergraduate degree in Law with Mandarin at the University of Cambridge. I then did a Masters in Broadcast Journalism in London.

You've spent a good amount of time traveling. Did you find that was important for your growth?

I guess traveling was in my blood. My Dad traveled a lot before I was born, and I grew up in a house where other languages and cultures were seen as really important. When Mum and Dad died, travel became a coping mechanism for me. A way to get away from the reality of a home without them and learn about the world. 

After university, what did you decide to do?

I backpacked around the world for a year, including 8 months traveling across South America.  I ended up in Whistler, Canada, where I lived and worked for two years.

How did the 30 Dates blog start?

I’d been let down by a guy who I met on the online site Plenty of Fish. When I realized how much it affected me, I decided to make the most of the last 3 months of my twenties. I posted a Facebook status suggesting I would try to go on 30 blind dates in the 3 months before my 30th birthday, and my friends went crazy for the idea. It was my friends who shared the idea on social media, and who suggested I start writing a blog about it. 2,000 people read the blog on it’s first day.

Did you have any idea it would take off the way it did?

Not at all! I didn’t expect it to even be a blog, let alone change my life!

You went on a TON of dates. Any highlights?

I guess the main highlight was that I fell in love with London, and actually moved there as a result. However, I did have some really cool dates. One guy surprised me and took me to The Ivy – one of the hardest restaurants to get into in the city. Another took me to dinner in the dark, which was a really cool experience. I actually finished the challenge in America – I went on Date 29 in New York and climbed up to the Hollywood sign in LA for the final date!

And.. a lowlight?

Erm … I got arrested for speeding on a date once!

Did you end up having a relationship with any of the men from the dates?

No, though I’m still friends with a lot of the original 30.

You've turned your blog into a career. How did that happen and was it difficult?

I got approached by the Guardian newspaper to run their dating blog, and then by the global multimedia company Time Out to be their first Global Head of Dating. I also set up the UK Dating Awards – the first dating industry awards. I guess it’s been a lot of hard work, but what was so good about it was it never felt like hard work. All the hours I put into 30 Dates were just a fun hobby – so it’s been so cool to have it become my career!

What do you love most about the dating world and your new career in it?

I love how quickly the dating world is changing. There are always new apps and new innovations, which means it’s hard to get bored! 

I obviously have to ask --- are you still single?

No, I now live with my boyfriend in London. We met on a blind date, which I doubt I’d have ever gone on, if it weren’t for the blog!

You also love to write. Might we be seeing your books in stores one day?

I hope so! I’ve written a few teenage fantasy novels which I would love to see published one day. I think that might be my next challenge!

What was the biggest lesson you learned in your 20's.

That it’s ok not to follow a set path. When I graduated from Cambridge with a Law degree, there was an expectation that I would go straight into the city and become a lawyer, but I’ve always known my future wasn’t sitting behind a desk in an office. I saw what happened to my parents – they were both taken so young – and I just wanted to know that I’d lived my own life to the fullest at every opportunity.

Name a female who has inspired you.

I think J.K. Rowling is incredible. Not only is she an amazing author, who has truly gone from rags to riches thanks to her incredible story telling, but she’s also a social media powerhouse.  She’s someone with a huge following, and the ability to dramatically affect the world, but she doesn’t abuse that. She very rarely tweets, yet when she does, it’s always with the most sensible, necessary messages.

If you could give one piece of advice to girls, what would it be?

Never use the fact that you’re a girl as an excuse for not trying something. When I set up my own company – the UK Dating Awards – I was so scared because I didn’t believe I had what it took to set up a company. But we’re all capable of anything … it’s just a matter of setting your mind to it. Whether you’re a boy or a girl!

When you look ahead in your future, what do you hope to see?

Next month I’ll be launching a new lifestyle blog and concentrating on my fiction work again. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do hope it contains lots more of exciting adventures!