Supercharge your wellbeing

Meet the founders of Supercharged Club: Emma Fullwood post-partum fitness expert and life coach Mary Meadows. The dynamic duo bring together a unique blend of physical and mental exercises to help women focus on their wellbeing after childbirth. We all know that coming to terms with changes in our bodies during pregnancy and labour can be very difficult. Then there are the hormonal changes which can trigger all sorts of emotional responses – put simply your mind and body goes through the wringer! Well, with that in mind, Emma and Mary have created a hub of support and practical help to guide you through this tricky time and leave you feeling in control, healthier and happier. You can sign-up to the next 6-week online mission here: superchargedclub.co.uk/join.

How are you embracing digital media in your business?

Technology and social media is the crucial element to our business, we are able to bring our 6-week missions to any women anywhere in the world because of it! We have clients from Los Angeles, Dubai, France, Canada, South Africa and all over the UK. We are able to bring women our expertise and support them on their adventures through our laptops and iPhones which is just incredible.

What are your top motivational tips for mind and body?

  • Eat more broccoli
  • Drink more water
  • Make sure you take a big deep breath at least once a day!

Keep it super simple, don’t try and make things harder for yourself, life is hard without ourselves making it more so.


Mary and Emma are following…

burrelleducation

Burrell Education: Jenny Burrell is a post-natal exercise specialist, there is nothing she doesn’t know about exercise for women of all age groups.

briannabattles

Brianna Battles: an expert fitness coach for athletes, inspires Emma as she loves her straight-talking, take a look at her blogs so inspiring!

missmagpiespy

For Mary, inspiration comes from anyone who breaks the rules, owns their words and actions, and inspires others. A great woman she had the pleasure of meeting a few weeks ago is Niki Groom, AKA @miss-magpie-spy, a talented fashion and beauty illustrator who’s Instagram feed, and blog is beautifully curated and inspirational.

hurrah4gin

The lovely Katie from Hurrah for Gin always manages to post what all of us mums are thinking!


Sign-up to the next 6-week online mission: superchargedclub.co.uk/join

superchargedclub.co.uk
instagram.com/superchargedclub
facebook.com/THESuperchargedClub
youtube.com/channel/UCJWk9v_BVPptV7Dec8w1Oyw

Find your inner goddess

Meet Lizzie Astin, the creator and founder of The Goddess Body Formula, a 12 week transformation programme for busy women.

Tell us about yourself

I started my career in recruitment, working long hours, sitting on my bum, drinking too much and eating badly. Seven years into my career, aged 29 I was dissatisfied and frustrated I decided to chuck it all in and re-qualify as a Personal Trainer. I started my business in 2015 at a mainstream gym and very quickly developed a reputation for getting the best from clients with fun sessions and an inspiring attitude.

lizzie aston

By 2016 I had carved a niche as a Transformation Coach, working only with women who really wanted to overhaul their physical health. I started to develop the foundations that would later become the ‘Goddess Body Formula Programme’. In 2017 I moved to a private studio in Bristol, I launched the online version of the The Goddess Body Formula and rapidly built a new client base of women who were all going through major transitions: divorce, babies, marriage or milestone birthdays.

What motivated you to start your business?

I started my business in 2014 for two reasons: I wanted to do something that mattered and truly made a difference and I wanted to do something that allowed me the opportunity to choose to live life on my terms.

Having lost 15% body fat and three stone I went through a serious transformation. But it wasn’t just my body that changed, everything changed. I actually cared about myself for the first time in a long time and I started to make empowering decisions. I gained weight because I didn’t care enough not to, I ate crap, drank too much and didn’t exercise. At first it was my changing physically appearance that provoked me into changing my habits, but that wasn’t enough, I couldn’t stick to anything and I didn’t know how to undo all the damage. In 2012 my mum was diagnosed with cancer and suddenly I did know what to do. I made it my mission to live as the best version of myself, starting with my body. I became fascinated with mindset and personal development and started to apply these principles to physical training – the results were incredible.

When I was angry, I worked out, when I was sad, I worked out, when I was happy, I worked out. I had an outlet – an empowering habit and I was addicted. My new-found passion allowed me to be a better person for her. Not being comfortable in my own skin had consumed me, made me selfish, snappy, fragile and self-absorbed, now I felt vibrant, energetic, strong, I had faith and belief.

In 2013, I quit my job and qualified as a Level 3 Personal Trainer. I didn’t really have a clue about running a business but I figured if I brought the same enthusiasm to my clients that I had for my own training and I gave them the benefit of my experience then things would change for them too, and they did.

lizzie astin

I spent two years working in a gym, business was flying but I was exhausted, delivering 30 hours of one-to-one training, fitting in my own workouts and all the planning outside of the gym was too much, the level of service was in danger of being compromised. I knew for me to carry on serving at that level the business model had to change. I moved to a private studio and the Goddess Body Formula online was born. The programme gives all the practical advice, mindset, nutrition, workouts and support I give, but it is delivered remotely and can be done from the comfort of your own home. I still work with clients one-to-one, but space is limited.

I built the majority of the online content for my programme whilst down in Cornwall caring for my mum full-time during the final four months of my mum’s life. The cancer got her, she never gave up and I won’t either. I came back to Bristol in April 2017 and moved into the new studio, taking on just a few clients and giving myself time to heal too. I work with up to 10 clients face to face at a time and take on 2-4 new clients each month. In addition to formally launching the Goddess Body Formula online I will also be launching my podcast which will be a combination of tools, tips, insights, stories and interviews to support and guide your journey to a happy and healthy body for life.

How are you embracing social media to grow your business?

Instagram is hugely popular in the fitness industry and it is very possible to develop a huge following using this platform alone. However, I have my misgivings about it! I do not deny that aesthetics are a big motivator for many and can be empowering, however, to focus solely on that misses the point and can create feelings of low self-worth. I am all for a bit of body ‘inspo’, but I want to make it inspiring for the right reasons, there are too many fitness models with low body fat, fake boobs and fake lips. I use Instagram to share the journey, to encourage my followers to fall in love with the process and show case the results I have helped my clients achieve.

Facebook is a great tool and they are always developing the platform for business owners. I have a private Facebook group called the Goddess Body Community which is a safe place for me to share my own journey and the journey my clients are on. In this group I offer practical advice as well as theories and stories that inspire and motivate my members. I use my business page to advertise, my focus has always been on offering value, mainly through blogging. I share practical information demonstrating how to simplify eating for weight loss, and I share my own personal experiences to allow my audience to engage with me on a more personal level, it’s important to understand the journey that helps you to achieve the result.


Lizzie is following…

mollie sapp

Molly Sapp: she has really helped me from to understand the ways I have previously limited myself, how to overcome money mindset issues and in no uncertain terms cut through the BS. They didn’t teach us how to run a business in school, there are load of coaches out there but Molly’s messaging speaks very clearly to me and where I am at right now!

emily skye

Emily Skye: she has an amazing body and she has a great training style that I know works, but more importantly she teaches great mindset principles, she is authentic about the challenges she has faced and honest about the reality of the effect of pregnancy on her body, it’s refreshing to see!


Lizzie’s work

Email Marketing for Business

In partnership with She Is Digital I’ll be running a workshop on email marketing in Cheltenham on Tuesday 7th November, 9.30am-12.30am. Click here to book a place on the course.

Everybody and anybody who has an online presence has an active email address. So when it comes to connecting with your audience and customers, there’s no channel with a wider reach than email. Crafting the perfect email to send to your mailing list could be the one thing that builds a strong and lasting relationship with your audience, turning a reader into a paying customer.

What you’ll learn on the course

  • Why Email is the best at driving conversion
  • An introduction to MailChimp, the No1 email service provider
  • What types of content to include in your email campaigns
  • How to craft a killer email
  • How to measure your success and plan for future campaigns

This workshop gives you the inside scoop on all things email and how you can use it to reach your audience in that one place they visit every day – their inbox.

Social Butterflies meet-up with CheltenhamMaman: 20th November 2017

Join us for the second Social Butterflies meet-up with guest speaker Kate Starkey, founder of CheltenhamMaman, the online platform and events business for parents. Kate’s business is going from strength to strength and she has won two awards recognising her achievements: UK Blog Award winner in the 2017 Parenting category and Digital Woman of the Year at the Gloucestershire Women of the Year Awards 2017. Who better to discuss business, the power of social media and represent the South-West?

You’ve heard of ‘Professional Networking’ – think of this more as ‘Prosecco Notworking’

The event is hosted by me, Amy White, founder of Social Butterflies, a website and online community committed to celebrating and connecting women seeking professional inspiration and wanting to expand their career horizons. Like lots of things these days it all began with a blog, the blog spurned a wonderfully supportive online community and so it felt like a natural progression to create events so people could meet in real life (preferably over a glass of something).

My experience is a very common one – I took a career break to have children and when I returned to the workplace I’d completely lost my professional identity, and with it most of my confidence. These events are designed for women who don’t necessarily identify with the corporate world and treading a traditional career path. We are happy to challenge the conventional 9-5 culture in order to fulfil our career ambitions and hopefully achieve a better work/life balance. This is a totally informal evening for women (not just mums) looking to expand their networks beyond the realms of social media and chat about their careers, business aspirations and discuss how the digital world can transform their professional lives.

I figured you might have a few questions about the event, so I’ve outlined some key points below…

Venue

The event will be held at The Square Club in central Bristol, on Berkeley Square, just off Park Street.

What can I expect from the evening?

– Glass of Prosecco (obviously) and a goody bag

– Talk with our speaker Kate: sharing her experience setting up and running a successful online and events business.

– Q&A with guests: Kate & Amy will answer your questions.

– Speed networking (or as I like to call it) ‘notworking’: 15 minutes divided into 5 minute intervals where we will actively encourage you to make three new connections (I promise it will be fun).

What will you get out of it?

– Make connections: meet women at all different stages of their professional journeys.

– Feel inspired: hear from our guest speaker Kate, Amy and other guests.

– Gain knowledge: opportunity to ask questions and get advice.

Who is the event for?

– Women who want to expand their professional networks in a relaxed, social and non-judgemental setting.

– Those with a keen interest in developing or acquiring digital knowledge that will help them in their professional lives.

– These events are not aimed at ‘mums’ but are for all women, all ages, all backgrounds and at all stages of their professional journeys.

– You might be running your own business, a freelancer, working in an organisation, on a career break, on maternity leave, wanting to retrain, or simply just curious about the possibilities that expanding your digital knowledge could bring.

Ticket info

Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable between events, however you can transfer the ticket to someone else just email: hellosocialbutterflies@gmail.com.

Email updates

I’ll be keeping you posted on information about the event via email.

Pursuing a creative passion

Meet Vanessa Dennett, owner of The Simpson Sisters, a small business which runs creative workshops in relaxed and collaborative settings in Bristol and North Somerset. Like many women, Vanessa put her career ambitions on hold whilst raising her children, but now she is finally able to pursue her passion and showcase her creative talent through her blog and the workshops she runs.

Tell us about yourself 

I grew up in a small village in North Somerset and had a pretty idyllic early childhood. I went to the village primary school and then onto the local comprehensive where the idyll ended. I became pretty unmotivated and much more interested in horses and boys than anything academic. I was however considered bright enough to be studying the sciences at O-level and consequently wasn’t allowed to continue with the more creative subjects which I enjoyed.

Vanessa Dennett

Suffice to say that I was not successful at O-level, and after an unhappy start at a new school for A-levels I persuaded my parents to let me leave and go to secretarial college instead. I never particularly wanted to become a secretary, rather it seemed a good escape route. A couple of years temping and travelling persuaded me that office life was not for me and I applied for nurse training because I liked people and didn’t have sufficient qualifications to do anything else medical. It’s fair to say I could have given these decisions a little more consideration!

The following years were spent nursing and, following a knee injury, in various medically oriented sales and admin jobs – I recruited Australian nurses for the UK and sold plaster casts amongst other things! During this time I met my husband and we have lived and travelled around the world as he has pursued his career. Australia, Germany, South Africa, Belgium and Sweden have all been home at various times.

Since the birth of our two daughters I have explored a number of potential careers, largely based upon what I could fit around the demands of caring for children while living overseas without any established network and a husband who travelled. I drew upon my secretarial skills typing at home in the evenings, my knowledge of anatomy as a massage therapist and my sewing skills as a technician in a school’s textiles department, but nothing left me feeling very fulfilled or enthusiastic.

How did the idea for your business come about?

While living in Belgium I was offered the opportunity to participate in a pilot online coaching programme by a friend establishing her business. I finally spent a bit of time thinking about who I am, my skills and my interests and concluded that what I would really like to do would be ‘something creative with other people’. At this point we moved again twice in short succession and I put these thoughts on hold. We returned to the UK and I found a job almost next door at St Peter’s Hospice where I helped manage their hospice based volunteers on a short-term contract. At the end of this contract I again felt the frustration and entrapment that I have so often experienced in office environments, and much as I love the hospice I looked again at the outcome of the coaching programme and thought “I just have to try something, anything, more creative”. It was at this point that several threads began to weave together.

simpsons workshops

  • While overseas we had bought a small disused barn from my parents when they downsized from our family home and I had begun to blog very sporadically about the project, simply as a personal record and a way of family seeing what was going on. I had great intentions but too many moves got in the way and I never really got going.
  • While at the hospice I undertook a Digital Mums social media management course in order to up-skill a bit and with the notion that this type of flexible working might suit me. During the course I attended an Instagram workshop at The Forge with Emily Quinton and was introduced to Makelight and the online world of creatives which had somehow been a secret to me until then.
  • Originally a Simpson, I thought that The Simpson Sisters would make a great name for a business. Though I wasn’t sure what business I could possibly run I had bought the domain name a few years ago.
  • Attending creative workshops of all sorts, from cake decorating to pottery, watercolours and stage make-up has been how I have met some of my best friends in various locations over the years and I have spent many happy hours learning new skills in this way.

It suddenly occurred to me that workshops were just exactly doing something creative with other people and that I could either keep attending them, or I could start running them. Being interested in so many different creative pursuits it seemed to me that collaborating with others would be a really great way to do this.

It has taken me a while to nail exactly what it is that I’ve been creating, but I’ve loved finding my way over the last year and can now confidently tell people that The Simpson Sisters is a small creative business whose aims are to encourage and enable creativity by offering a variety of creative workshops in a warm, friendly and relaxed environment, and by providing a small attractive venue for other creatives to use for similar purposes. I love sharing my home with people and workshop days are my absolute favourites. In fact, I’m teaching my first sewing workshop in September and have often wondered how different my life might have been if I had pursued textiles as a subject at school!

How are you embracing social media?

Social media has been a huge learning curve for me over the last 18 months, I didn’t even have an Instagram account until last year and had never tweeted until then either! However, it has proved a wonderful resource and I have benefitted enormously from so many of the lovely people I have met online. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are where I’m found regularly and although I sometimes find three platforms challenging I believe that they each offer something quite different to me. I would love to grow my audiences and have worked hard to improve my photography to this end.


Vanessa is following…

me and orla

Me and Orla : I love Sarah’s honesty and no nonsense approach, her Hashtag Authentic podcast has been one of my favourites.

simple and season

Simple and Season: I had followed Kayte’s blog for a while and jumped at the chance to hear her speak at Blogtacular. I was not disappointed and found her marketing advice invaluable.

makelight

Makelight: without some of Emily and Stef’s courses I would never have pursued Instagram, updated my website or begun sending a newsletter.


Vanessa’s work…

thesimpsonsisters.co.uk
eventbrite.co.uk/o/the-simpson-sisters-11355703362
instagram.com/simpsonsisters

Newsflash: social media exists to make money

Sorry to break it to you all, but it’s true. However, the tide is turning and a new generation of bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers are using these platforms to their advantage and making a living from them. Social media networks are marketing and advertising tools like any other, but unlike traditional forms of media (TV, press, radio) they are not subject to stringent regulation. They are embedded in our digital culture purely as ‘social connectors’ and to the average consumer that’s true (on the surface) and that’s why we all love them. But the reality is that they are billion dollar money-making corporations, not worthy social-enterprise projects.

I find it surprising that considering the overwhelming power and effect social media has on our lives that so many people misunderstand its purpose. Money and the currency of influence is what fuels these networks. But we continue to attach the morality of friendship, trust and authenticity to the likes of Facebook and Instagram and feel a sense of collective outrage and disappointment when we are reminded of the commercial realities which are bubbling beneath the surface. I probably sound very cynical, but don’t misunderstand me, I’m just looking pragmatically at these networks as business tools.

Collective delusion

Part of the reason I felt compelled to write this article is because there has been a huge amount of discussion in the last week sparked by an ‘Insta-mums‘ thread on a Mumsnet discussion forum. Several high-profile social media influencers including Mother of Daughters and Father of Daughters (pictured below) have come in for all manner of verbal abuse and criticism for making money through paid social media content. Now, personally I think that if you put yourself out in the public domain you have to be prepared for a certain degree of negativity – there will always be a few people who can’t resist judging and bitching (let’s not forget Katie Hopkins has made a career out of it). However, personal insults (or trolling) are obviously unacceptable and unnecessary, and the armchair warriors would clearly never say it to their faces. That said I do think it’s brought up some interesting points and I think there is a collective delusion going on around this topic.

Clemmie and Simon Hooper

The global corporations like Facebook (who own Instagram) are making billions of dollars harvesting all our data and selling it on to companies which in turn target us with ‘demographic specific’ advertising. We are all happy to create accounts and spend inordinate amounts of time on these platforms. The unpalatable truth is that we are all caught up in the murky net of advertising on a daily basis: consciously or unconsciously and to deny that fact is at best naive and at worst hypocritical. Where an opportunity to make money exists people will exploit it. Fact.

Winning the game

Now, if you turn this on its head and start to consider that bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers are making these mass commercial platforms work for them as a business then you can begin to understand the appeal. After all a lot of work goes on behind the scenes building a social media brand – just take a look at Mother Pukka AKA Anna Whitehouse. Her approach and response to all this judgement and ‘Daily Mail-esque’ controversy is to be open and confrontational, but not in an aggressive way – Anna plays the game as it should be played. She’s a businesswoman making a living and is happy to discuss the pros and cons of walking the tightrope between personal and business. At least she’s open to discussing it and surely that’s the point – the more transparency the better. If she’s not your cup of tea then find someone who is.

I’m not making any judgements about specific individuals, but I think it’s important if you’re going to have a debate about the perceived unsavoury aspects of making a living by selling stuff via social media that you acknowledge the part we all play as consumers in that – we are all at the behest of big business. So, if a few people choose to make money by using it as a business tool we shouldn’t be surprised or overtly offended.

You may choose to be personally upset by the commercial partnerships some bloggers choose to go into, and that’s fair enough. That’s what the unfollow button is for. Within reason you can choose what you see (damn those pesky algorithms). So, I urge people to make active choices about what and who they follow and also remember people are making a living from platforms that are making a living from you. If you have a problem with that then perhaps social media is too morally corrupt a place for you. My philosophy on the whole culture of social media brings to mind a classic quote by Rudyard Kipling: “If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you. The world will be yours and everything in it”. Don’t lose sight of what drives the media-technology companies to engineer these social networks. Get what you want from them and enjoy it for what it is.

Changing the culture

Now, rather than having a go at all the people trying to make a living via social media, how about ploughing all that energy into making Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and their friends more accountable for their advertising standards. Also, while we’re at it how about better regulation generally on social media and more education in our schools, colleges and universities. How about re-educating the workforce too while we’re at it? Big businesses should take more corporate responsibility for the effects their networks have on society and be clear, open and subject to scrutiny.

I survived the summer holidays

The summer holidays are a metaphor for everything that is great, and ‘challenging’, about parenting. A 6-8 week period of intense family time which rouses emotions ranging from serene contentment: “oh how wonderful to have such precious time to creating everlasting memories”. To scenes of complete and utter irritation: “when will this fresh hell be OVER?”. That kind of thing.

I love my little munchkins, but my word do they test my patience. Over the summer three ‘phrases’ have echoed around my head (and I’m sure yours too). So, as a way of drawing a virtual line in the sand and to signal the beginning of a new school year, I have suggested some solutions for future holidays. Don’t forget October half-term will soon be upon us!

P.S. I’m considering introducing a reward based system (blackmail) for blatant misuse of these phrases for future holidays.

1) Indistriminate use of the word ‘mummy’
We wait months for them to say it and then wish they would find literally any another way of starting a conversation. This summer I estimate the daily tally of “mummy” with no valid follow up question or coherent statement has probably reached 50 a day (it could be more). The word makes me recoil before they’ve even finished uttering it “mmm-uuu-mmm…”. I’ve developed a nervous tick, but on the plus side I’ve honed my razor sharp response “YES?!?” down to a nanosecond.

Solution:
Refuse to answer to “mummy” unless there is a genuine question that only you can answer. My default now is “is it a question daddy could answer?”. Answer is usually, but relunctantally “yes”. Also, suggest that asking a question without prefixing it with “mummy” will elicit a more favourable response. Deduct imaginary points for blatant misuse of the word just because they like hearing their own voice. How many times have you heard “mummy” on repeat and it’s clear they’ve either forgotten the question or they’ve developing a form of tourettes.

2) “I’m bored.”

This is a tricky one because I’m sure as a child I was deeply annoying. I find myself repeating words my parents used to say: “Only boring people get bored”. If you’ve found yourself using this old chesnut, have no fear it simply means you too are displaying a similar lazy kind of behaviour but just in the context of parenting. No shame in it, we’re all guilty of this, particularly if you’re trying to work around the kids at home. Parents can get bored too. In fact I think I’ve said to my kids several times this summer: “I spent most of my childhood being bored. Welcome to my world”. Yes, I’m both lacking in any kind of creative parenting style and a hypocrite.

Solution:
Find other bored parents with their bored children and hangout together. You can have a good moan over a cuppa and they will probably wind each other up and then play nicely 20 minutes before you’re due to leave. Classic.

3) What are we doing today?

“Nothing. We’re just doing jobs at home.” If your children are anything like mine you can only get away with this a few times in the course of six weeks. Their generation is living the middle class dream of café society, cultural days out mixing with different people and going on two or sometimes three holidays. They don’t know they’re born, which is why we go camping (just to keep it real). Joking aside though, their expectations are so high these days. I blame the parents (i.e. myself). We’re all having kids later in life and we miss the lattes, lunches, boozy dinners and mini-breaks. As a result we’re all desperately trying to recreate it with our kids. But are we creating little monsters who want it all?

Solution:
Actively seek out opportunites to detatch from the luxuries of modern life and let them go feral. We need to go feral too: perhaps not in the hygeiene department, but we all need to find our inner ROAR and go wild. Take a walk in the country, enforce a digital detox, go for a swim outdoors, breathe fresh air.

Mother of all tribes

Meet Danni McCabe, owner of Mama Tribe, a fantastic hub of information for mums all over the UK. It’s a curated business directory listing everything from retail brands selling covetable products, to groups which host events and small businesses offering a range of services. Plus it also features regular articles from women on a range of topics including motherhood and digital marketing advice (as a regular contributor I’m proud to be part of the tribe). The concept was born out of a passion for the social media scene and a desire to find a better work-life balance.

Tell us about your career to date

I left London nine years ago and moved to the Cotswolds with my husband to start a family, but continued to commute to work in London until I went on maternity leave. Our eldest boy, Monroe is now seven.

There was no option for me to work remotely and with no family on hand to help, it would mean leaving our baby in nursery and wrap around care for up to 12 hours a day. So I chose not to return to my job as manager of a health club and instead went about setting up my first business.

Sadly, that business came to a very unexpected end! After just a few years trading, there was a fire in the flat above my bridal boutique. It took them 16 months to repair the building and the effect on my business, my ability to trade from a temporary office space was detrimental, so I had to closedown.

It’s not all bad though, firstly it gave us the time to go through IVF and after three rounds, I managed to get pregnant with our second little miracle boy Lorne, who is now two. Secondly I realized that the retail business I had created didn’t offer me as much flexibility as I’d hoped. So that’s when the idea for Mama Tribe started to develop.

What sparked the idea of Mama Tribe?

During the newborn days whilst feeding my second son, I started following different bloggers and became addicted to Instagram. I become aware of the number of women choosing or finding they were unable to return to work after having a baby because of the effects it had on their family life. Instead, they were choosing to go it alone and putting their years of experience and skills into new business ideas that they could create from home or around their family.

In many ways this isn’t a new phenomenon, women have been setting up their own small businesses for years, but what did seem different, was the way in which social media, in particular Instagram, was allowing these businesses to market themselves in a professional manner from their kitchen tables.

Via Instagram I became aware of these women in business and was drawn to their creative brands. I wanted to support them, buy from them and promote them. I became a brand rep for a number of the brands and became more involved in the Insta-shop community.

My attention then turned to the new type of business networking groups. The first one I came across was Mothers Meeting, set up by Jenny Scott in London, running motivational workshops, sharing advice, resources and inspiration.

Being based in the Cotswolds, as an ex London girl, I felt out of this loop and unable to access this network. I was just about to set up my own local version, when I found out about other groups setting up across the UK. Other business orientated women felt the same as me, they wanted access to this type of network and community.

So that’s when I came up with the idea to create a national hub, a directory dedicated to this new community. That was unique in its effort to profile all of these new groups, but also listed all of the Insta-Shops I’d grown to love and other businesses set up by women. I was a mother with a baby whilst all of this was developing, but I felt there needed to be a resource for future new mums to tap in to, to find out all about and connect with like minded, business savvy women.

What are your aspirations are for the business?

On the website you can find independent brands and businesses set up by women or for women, with a focus on supporting women that are mamas or hope to be. As more people hear about Mama Tribe, the community will grow, the directories will expand and so will the opportunities to network, support, collaborate and promote each other. Together we can become a strong, talented workforce of women raising our tribes.

How do you manage juggling a business with being a mum to two young children?

It’s exhausting, sometimes frustrating and stressful, but I love it! I love the flexibility, I like that I choose when I want to work, go to the park, or chill out at home and watch a movie with my boys. I’m learning to manage my own anxieties and the pressure I put on myself. I work hard (anyone that knows me, knows my brain doesn’t stop) so for me, my focus is to switch off and give myself time off with my boys. Things like housework have become less of a priority or concern. I got a cleaner, so the house is clean and the mess is just toys, dumped clothes and shoes mainly. I’ve come to realise it’s not worth worrying about.


Danni is following…

I follow so many inspirational women online, it’s hard to narrow it down. I have over 130 businesses involved so far, but it’s growing daily and I’m so proud of all the talented women that are part of the tribe. However, there is one lady that does stand out to me and that’s Anna AKA Mother Pukka. She is followed by thousands because she is honest, motivating, inspiring and very funny. She has a way with words and poetically portrays the truth, the real highs and lows of motherhood, whilst passionately campaigning for flexible work opportunities for parents. If you’re not already following her, then do.


mamatribe.uk
facebook.com/mamatribeuk
instagram.com/mamatribeuk
twitter.com/mamatribeuk

The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau

Have you ever dreamt of writing a book? I’m sure we all have at some point: a beach holiday bestseller or perhaps a ‘how to’ guide on a subject that you’re passionate about. The reality is that very few of us actually sit down and put in the hard work that’s needed to go from notebook to bookshelf (or indeed Kindle). Well, that’s not something we could accuse journalist Julie Ferry of – her recently published book The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau is a work of non-fiction that is surely destined for a TV series: “Husband hunting in the Gilded Age: how American heiresses conquered the aristocracy”. What’s not to love?

Tell us about yourself

I always knew that I wanted to write for a living but I’ve probably had a less structured career path than most who end up as a journalist and author. I completed an English degree at Cardiff University and would have liked to go on to do their respected Master’s course in journalism but I couldn’t afford it, so instead I went to Japan to teach English as part of the JET programme for a year.

I didn’t know anything about the country and certainly didn’t speak any Japanese, so when I got posted to a remote island between Japan and South Korea, it was a bit of a shock to the system. However, somewhere between the bouts of homesickness and struggles with everyday tasks (shopping at the supermarket isn’t easy when you don’t read the language!), the whole experience taught me a lot about myself. It taught me to be brave, get stuck in and most of all, that I could challenge myself and come out the other side.

When I got back to the UK, I applied for a post at the British Dental Association that included editing their student magazine. It was my first taste of professional journalism and was a steep learning curve, as I had to learn commissioning, writing and editing on the job. However, it was a great experience and confirmed my belief that journalism was what I wanted to do. When I was offered voluntary redundancy a couple of years later, I decided to take it and use the redundancy money to give me the cushion I needed to go freelance. Luckily, my boss asked me to take on parts of my old job on a freelance basis too.

Next, I secured a part-time job in a press office, which gave me an insight into the other side of journalism, which was to prove invaluable. On my freelance days I worked to secure my first commission with a national newspaper, which came with an article for The Independent. From there I started to get more and more commissions, eventually writing for publications like The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph and Glamour magazine. I won’t pretend it was easy, there was a lot of rejection involved, but it was incredibly rewarding to see my byline in some of the newspapers and magazines that I had been reading just a few years before.

In the meantime I began working on proposals for non-fiction books and submitting them to agents, which meant a lot more rejection. However, finally I managed to get an agent interested and, with her help, I managed to put together a proposal that was ready to go out to publishers. The proposal was for The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau, a book about the American heiresses that married into the British aristocracy during the Gilded Age. It was picked up by a publisher and the book was published in February this year.

Tell us about your book: from the initial idea to publication

The book was maybe the six or seventh idea that I had worked on over a ten-year period. Non-fiction books differ from fiction in that publishers usually require a lengthy proposal from the author, which details some background research on the book and what you hope to find out and chapter outlines, as well a couple of sample chapters to get a sense of the author’s writing style. With a fiction book the author usually submits the whole manuscript. I had got pretty far down the line with an agent and publisher on a previous idea but was rejected at the last minute because the marketing team didn’t feel that the book would be an easy sell to female readers. It was disappointing and of course there were a lot of times I felt like giving up, but looking back at it now I can see why some of those ideas and proposals didn’t make it. When I was working on The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau I knew why it had been accepted. It had the perfect mix of rich characters, gossip, glamour and historical details that captured people’s interest from the beginning.

The actual writing of the book was incredibly difficult in terms of deadlines, as I had around a year to deliver the manuscript. I researched in libraries and archives for six months, which included a trip to New York to look at the American side of the story and then I wrote the manuscript in three months. It was tough finding the time to write, as I had my three-year-old at home almost full-time and my six-year-old at school, so there were a lot of late nights. However, they all became a distant memory when I held the finished product in my hands for the first time. When I saw the book in Waterstones, I had to stop myself from letting out a little scream of excitement.

Who or what inspires your literary work?

I am very drawn to strong women from history that have largely been forgotten or fallen by the wayside. I think because of the inequality that women faced in the past these extraordinary characters were often airbrushed out of important events, despite wielding considerable power behind the scenes.

Can you tell us about future books you’re working on or a project you’d love to get off the ground?

The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau has been optioned for TV, so I would dearly love to see it on screen one day, although I am very aware of how difficult it is to get a book to that stage. I am working on a proposal for the next book at the moment, which covers a similar period (late Victorian era) and resurrects some very interesting and influential women to their rightful place in history.


Julie is following… 

I love Twitter and I’m always blown away by the articles I discover through @Longreads and @TheAtlantic. Matt Haig is both inspirational and amusing and I love Sarra Manning for all things bookish.


julieferry.co.uk
twitter.com/womentoinspire

Speaking about confidence

I will be speaking about ‘confidence’ alongside Chiedza Sowah, founder of A Bunch of Mums, at Sunita Harvey’s Lucky Things event in Bristol (click here to buy a ticket). Join us for an afternoon of socialising, networking and inspiration. Sunita’s events are a great way to make real life connections.

I first met Sunita at Blogtacular where she was speaking on a panel with author and broadcaster Emma Gannon and writer and blogger Alison Perry. So, I was hugely flattered to be asked to speak about a subject close to my own heart – confidence. As a newbie blogger (I began Social Butterflies this January) I’ve been overwhelmed by the opportunities, experiences and connections I’ve made via social media.

(Left to right): Alison Perry, Sunita Harvey and Emma Gannon speaking at Blogtacular.

My story is one a lot of you will relate to: finding your professional identity after becoming a mother. I’ve been on an incredible confidence rollercoaster over the past seven years but maintaining a positive attitude and believing in my own abilities has enabled me to keep on going (even when I’ve felt like giving up!).

We are our own worst enemies when it comes to confidence. We unrealistically compare ourselves to others and delude ourselves into believing in perfection. As I get older I’ve becoming more conscious about my strengths (and weaknesses) and I’ve come to the conclusion that being the best version of myself is more than good enough. I hope that along with Sunita and Chiedza we will create an interesting discussion around what confidence means to us – I do hope you can join us.