Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into blogging?
Well, first and foremost, I’m a working mum and mother to a gorgeous 9-year-old called Flea (it’s a nickname, don’t send hate mail).
During my 20s, I worked as a journalist writing terribly grown-up business and technology features for various magazines and websites. On the surface, it was a great job – I earned a good living and travelled all over the world meeting ridiculously smart people who were shaping the world. I’d always blogged about my work, but as a Mum I found myself sharing silly stories and parenting adventures so in 2009 decided to set up a new blog to capture our family story. What happened next was a perfect collision of luck, a good idea and knowing the right people – I had an idea that there should be a database of bloggers, I knew lots of clever tech people who could help me build it, and I was lucky enough for it to work. Over the next two years it became a whole new career that was even more fun than what I used to do – now I get to travel and meet great people, and take Flea with me!
Apart from Flea, (whose name we love, by the way!) do you have an inspirational hero?
At the risk of being cheesy, it’s definitely my own Mum. She fostered me from the age of 2, adopting me when I was the age Flea is now, and there’s not a day I don’t thank my lucky stars that I got to be a part of her family – my Mum taught me everything I know about being smart, independent and fair, and she’s still the person I ring (almost daily) when I’m lost or confused about something.
Is it hard to find a balance between work and family?
Very much so. I think there’s a notion these days that we’re all working flexibly so there’s no need for a divide between home and work, but the reality is people end up working all the time whilst never being fully present in their own lives. Being a business owner it’s especially hard because half my customer base (brands) work 9 to 5 and the other half (bloggers) work evenings and weekends. I suppose I’ve learned that unless you’re a surgeon nobody’s going to die if you reply to that email an hour or two later. Also, if you’re in a position to do so, hire help. I started out hiring a virtual PA for a few hours a week to answer routine emails, and a developer to do the tech side of my websites- it was life-changing. Now I have a fantastic team of 12 people who all work part-time, and having those people means I can actually take a holiday, knowing there is someone at home who can handle (almost) any crisis that might pop up.
We’ve seen what an awesome job you’ve done with the Harry Potter makeover for Flea’s bedroom. For the rest of the house, how do you combine design and practicality?
My house is a period house and it’s not naturally very light, so I opted to have all the walls an off-white, and I use a sage green as a secondary colour with splashes of red. It makes it very calming, which is the most important thing I want in my home – it’s very much a calm space in a very busy life! We use lots of natural wood, of various hues and hundreds of photos – happy memories make a house a home! (Also white is easily painted over, and wood sanded down – essential when you have a puppy and a child!)
Your life looks like a continuous adventure! What’s your next challenge for 2015?
We are off to Tenerife for a short break, then we are spending a month in California – we’ve booked a series of rentals along the coast and we’re just going to wing it, and see what happens.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out blogging?
Love it. Seriously. Blogging can be hard – to succeed, you need to invest quite a lot of time and energy, be nice to everyone, be enthusiastic even if you don’t feel like it, and deal with a lot of temperamental technology. If you’re writing about something you love, you love to write, and have a passion to share stories, none of this really seems like hard work.
If you could only take one possession to a desert island, what would you take?
Probably a book – something I could read over and over, and which would make me happy. Maybe My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I’ve read that book at least 50 times since I was a kid and it still feels like sunshine in print.
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