Ladies who Mumble interview series is all about championing and highlighting inspiring mothers doing remarkable things around the world in their chosen field. Our community is enriched by each other’s stories, experiences and wisdom. Are you ready to get inspired?
As a documentary photographer, what do you focus on?
In my documentary work I focus on themes of identity. Since having my children,
I have been drawn to stories of motherhood and I’m working on a long-term
body of work visualising matrescence, the physical and mental transition from womanhood to motherhood. It needn’t necessarily involve the birth of a healthy baby, motherhood has many different narratives and I am interested in learning about all of them. I feel strongly about the rights we have as women to access good healthcare and to be shown consideration, sensitivity and respect in the birth space, something that sadly isn’t afforded to all women. I’ve also explored postpartum rituals across cultures and looked at the way they contribute to maternal mental wellbeing, which led to me looking the effects that birth trauma has on women in the postnatal period. We normalise birth trauma by saying ‘as long as the baby is healthy, that’s all that matters,’ but the mother’s well-being needs to be as much of a priority. It’s important to talk about and understand
what contributes to that experience, so that things might be different moving forward. I’ve always believed that the camera can be a tool for change, we
feel much more concerned for someone we can see and moved to action by their stories.
What inspired you to investigate this theme of matrescence?
I’m in the middle of a masters in photography and I was shocked by the relative lack of reference to motherhood in art and academic texts. Globally over 80% of women have children, none of us would be here if our mothers hadn’t become mothers. So why is there so little representation of them? The fight for gender equality doesn’t end at the door to the labour ward.
Matrescence is a relatively recent term, it was coined by an American medical anthropologist who observed that the huge mental and physical changes we go through in adolescence are not unlike the transformative experience women go through as they become mothers. Just like adolescence, matrescence covers a period of physical and hormonal changes that create emotional upheaval and uncertainty around how we fit into the world. In some cases women experiencing this transition are diagnosed with Postpartum Depression, but they may just be experiencing the very normal emotional effects of an enormous change. I want to give mothers a platform to speak openly about their experiences of becoming mothers, within an understanding of matrescence, to normalise this period of transition and contribute to a better understanding of it’s effects on women.
Your work and research has taken you across the world. What has been a beautiful postpartum ritual that you've witnessed in another culture that has really stayed with you?
I’m half Indian and when I had my first son my aunt asked me - when is your masseuse arriving? I was lucky the GP had time to see me for my six week check. It led me to discovering the beautiful and nourishing rituals that many cultures practice to mother the mother after she gives birth, protecting her from the outside world and relieving her of domestic duties as she learns to care for and feed her baby. During a period of confinement to the home, the mother is encouraged to eat foods that help rejuvenate her body and in Indian culture, as my aunt was referring to, it is common practice to massage the mother’s body daily, to encourage healing after a long pregnancy. Interestingly, contemporary Western culture is almost alone in it’s lack of postpartum rituals. Though it’s length and underlying principles are culturally variable, the concept of care in the postpartum period remains the same across much of the rest of the world. In China, this practice is known as ‘sitting the month,' or zuo yuezi. in India, jaapa, in Latin American countries, la cuarentena, and in Japan, ansei. It’s believed that this period of care ensures better health later in life for the mother and improves her bond with her baby. In the UK it feels like we are sorely lacking in practices that care for and support new mothers in the postpartum period. Perhaps instead of welcoming early visitors we should make like the rest of the world and stay in bed!
What is something that your children have taught you?
My children have already taught me so much, being their mother is the greatest privilege. I feel like I became an adult when my first son was born, they have made my life infinitely better. It sounds like a cliche but they’ve really taught me how to be in the moment. Small children are so fascinated by whatever they’re doing, they don’t think about what came before or what’s coming next. I have to remind myself to do the same when I’m with them, to just enjoy what we’re doing together.
What can we do as mothers to empower each other?
I think we have to support each other emotionally as much as we can, we’re all just trying to do our best. I don’t know what I’d do without my friends, even a quick message to check in can quickly make a tough day better. I know lots of mothers that have had to rearrange their professional priorities to be at home more so I think supporting each other’s businesses where possible is important too.
Portrait and Documentary Photographer
Director & Co- Founder of FLORIAN
What is one key value that you want to pass down to your daughters?
As a parent, I want to have a positive influence over my children, I want to pass on my values and guide them in ways that will contribute to their happiness and success in life. I want them to live authentically and be true to themselves.
What was the inspiration behind your luxury handbag company, Florian?
I have always been passionate about design, however I went down the academic route early in life, graduated University and got a job as an Analyst in the financial sector. After the financial crash in 2008, I was made redundant whilst pregnant. 9 months into Maternity, I knew I wanted to go back to work but as a mum I wanted flexibility, So I started reconstructing and reworking vintage bags at home, designing unique one-off pieces for friends and family. My husband who is also a Creative, encouraged me to start our own brand. So Florian was birthed, to create aesthetically pleasing bags for women all around the world at an attainable price point.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to a younger you that was starting the brand?
I would say embrace rejection, as an emerging brand you will get some doors shut in your face, rejection is uncomfortable and downright painful, but on the bright side it helps you grow, as long as you approach it with the right attitude. Rejection does not not indicate failure, it is an intermediate step on your road to success. Embrace it, give yourself credit and time.
What led you to advocating for and promoting Phenomenal Women, a series featured on your company platform?
I grew up with only sisters, I am a mother of two daughters so naturally I have always been passionate about promoting women. We have over 500k followers across our social media platforms whom are mostly women, I started the Phenomenal Women Interview series to highlight and champion women doing great things in their chosen field, in order to inspire and encourage women following our brand on social media who would like to follow in these women’s footsteps.
What other ways that we, as mothers and women, can empower each other?
I’ll say by choosing collaboration over competition, working together to foster intentional and genuine relationship with other women is how we can empower one another.
Wife, Mum & Founder of Mayfair Interiors
You’ve accumulated 20 years of experience in construction and design. Over that time, how has your taste evolved?
I think that taste evolves naturally over the years. It’s quite similar to fashion. I don’t really go with the trends though if I don’t like something. I have never been a fan of modern interiors and that probably will never change. But colors, textures and ambiances do evolve.
You are a mother to a 17 year old. What have been a few highlights about raising her in London?
Moving to London has been by far my best choice for my daughter. To be a teenager growing up in a multicultural city is key for her but it also demands a large amount of responsibility and vigilance. I love that she really takes advantage of what London has to offer culturally; life here is just so fun. Growing up in big city prepares you in a different way for life.
What aspect of motherhood have you found the most challenging so far?
I divorced when my daughter was 2 1/2 years old and it was quite challenging to be a single mother with a young child. I found the toddler years the most difficult. But even when times were tricky, I always stuck to the way I wanted to educate her and that paid off in her teenage years.
What advice would you give to mothers who try to be the “perfect” mum?
There is no perfect mum! In my opinion, she doesn’t exist. We all do as much as we can. We should be allowed to make mistakes and not get it all right. For sure, I rather be a “fun and happy” mum than a perfect one.
As mums, how can we strike a balance between style and function within our homes?
I grew up in a beautiful home with parents who were antique lovers and my mum was a fan of delicate fabrics and deco objects. The kids would eat in the kitchen where creating a mess was allowed. My sisters and I learnt from a young age how to respect a beautiful interior. We only live once, if you wait for your kids to be at university to buy your dream furniture, I think that would be a shame.
How has motherhood changed your life?
Motherhood has changed everything! The moment my daughter was born, I became an adult. Bringing up a child has been the biggest challenge of my life but also my biggest accomplishment. Motherhood changes me every day in so many ways and is evolving constantly. What is surprising is how much our kids are often our teachers.
Pediatrician and Co-Founder of Little Tummy.
Has becoming a mother influenced your practice as a paediatrician?
My first priority as a doctor has always been a holistic approach where I understand parents' and their children's individual situation so I can make personalised suggestions. Having become a mother has shown me how important it is as no mother and no child are ever the same.
What is Little Tummy and what led you to its creation?
Little Tummy delivers cold-pressed baby meals directly to parents' doorsteps. The products incumbent baby food companies sell to parents from the ambient shelves in the supermarket are loaded with sugar and lack authentic taste and texture. Little Tummy gives me the opportunity to change the culinary lifestyle of little ones and make their start into the world of food healthier and more nutritious.
What have you learned through the process of its creation?
I had to learn an entirely new skill set, starting from creating business plans to the wizardry of marketing. I greatly appreciate the support I receive from parents who believe in Little Tummy.
Do you have any advice that you could pass along to others who want to start their own business?
Dare to do it. If you are passionate about your product or service and truly believe it is going to make the world better, don't overthink it but make the first step. Find like-minded partners who can support you on your journey.
How has motherhood changed you?
I have become a lot kinder to myself. My daughter changed the way I set my priorities. Where in the past I told myself I have to manage everything at the same time, I now make sure I don't juggle too many things at the same time. She taught me to slow down my life and enjoy things more and I hope I can teach her some of this once she needs it.
Mindfulnes Coach & In-House Wellness Expert
How has mindfulness transformed you as a person and how has this impacted your role as a mother?
Mindfulness, Meditation & Energy has transformed me in so many ways. My health and immune system are stronger. I have also become more resilient to stress and challenges in my life. My children are learning from my mindset and are witnessing the changes that happen just by being mindful and how it can adjust our lives in so many ways. Simple practices have made me fall in love with my existence and this emanates to those around me. It is contagious in every way. I am a stronger mother since changing my mindset and energy. I'm so grateful for what it teaches my children, offering them techniques that will help them for the rest of their lives.
Some of us might not be familiar with holistic healing therapies. Can you describe what is Reiki healing? Reiki is a Japanese healing technique that has been used for many years. Reiki channels the universal life force energy into our energy, bringing us energy, boosting our immune system, removing blockages within and also around the bio magnetic fields that surrounds us.It has many benefits including helping us deal with mental and emotional challenges such as stress.
What are some of the potential benefits of these holistic treatments?
These holistic treatments can calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure and heart rate, leaving our bodies in a rest and repair state. Balancing and aligning our bodies helps us to relieve stress, anxiety and improves our sleep. As a result, it allows us to be more mindful of how we deal with day-to-day stress and makes us more resilient to handing new challenges.
Mindfulness has been a hot topic for the past few years. Can we introduce any elements of holistic healing to our children? If so, how can we do it and what might be a good starting age for it?
Meditation and mindfulness can be taught to our children in the earliest years. There are many forms of mediation that children can take part in, such as gardening, dance movement, being creative and being mindful. Meditation can take place during any activity where our minds are not thinking about anything other than the practice we are doing at that time. It teaches us focus and to be present. This helps our children learn valuable skills which they can carry into various areas of their lives.
As busy mums, we often put ourselves last and this feeling of being overwhelmed and drained can penetrate into every area of our life. Do you have any recommendations for an easy activity that we can do at home or at work to help us stay grounded/present/with a clearer mind?
Practicing daily meditation, regardless of its length or at what point in the day, will benefit our wellbeing.Simply by practicing for ten minutes a day where we focus on nothing but our breathing or the sounds around us, will have a calming effect on the body. Our children will pick up on this shift in our behaviour and energy. Throughout the day, we can repeat affirmations to ourselves aloud or in our minds. For example, if we are stressed, we can repeat “I am calm, I am strong, I am worthy of self love.” As mothers, we forget to practice self love. When we do, we become happier and then in turn, so will our children. When we are calmer we become more present when we are with our children. An act of self love is also accepting that we cannot do everything and that it is okay if things are not always perfect.
Owner & Founder of Apogii Clinic
You had an impressive career as a professional show jumper and were part of the Danish national team. What did your experience teach you about taking care of your body? As an international showjumper you’re constantly on the move travelling to shows all over the world. Early on in my career I didn’t think about what I was eating but as I got older I started to consciously incorporate a lot more veg & greens into my diet and cut back on things that weren’t ‘clean.’ I started feeling more energized and focussed so I’ve never looked back and today I hardly eat any animal protein. I havent had sugar in 10 years (except when I was preganant, it was like my body needed all things “white” and sugar…..).
What influenced you to create the Apogii Clinic and what are you most proud of about it? As a proffessional athlete I learned that my body is like a machine that needs constant maintenance and only the best things can go into it. I started using cryotherapy for recovery when I was a professional showjumper and learned that it does so many great things for the body. When I stepped back from showjumping in 2017 this was a natural space for me to explore since I’ve always been into health, wellness & beauty. We now have a community who all know each other and bond over their love for cryotherapy. It’s created some great friendships and people just like to hangout and talk with each other. That for me is what Apogii is about and what I’m most proud of – sharing the passion for feeling good.
What is your favorite treatment offered at your clinic and why?
I think our cryotherapy-offering is very special and different, both because it’s a medical grade two-chamber cryo machine, but also because we’ve created cute uniforms and now have a community who all know each other and bond over their love for cryotherapy. It’s created some great friendships and people just like to hangout and talk with each other. That for me is what Apogii is about – sharing the passion for feeling good. For beauty treatments, our HydraFacial is amazing and so effective… no wonder it’s our best seller!
What has been the best advice you have received about being a mother? Get help if you can - a grandparent, a good nanny or maternity nurse. I believe that quality time with my kids is above quantity time. I believe that I’m a much better mother because of that and that your kids should be taught that the world doesn’t evolve around them and learn that mommy and daddy go to work every day. Nothing is more important to me than my kids but I also believe it’s important to stay busy with other things I’m passionate about like the clinic.
What do you think we can all do to empower each other as women and mothers? Help each other as much as you can, offer advice and guidance when possible but respect that everyone’s different and have their own opinions. Encourage, inspire and compliment each other everyday.