Our co-founder lolo stubbs explains the delay in the launch and the essence of brood 🤪

Our co-founder lolo stubbs explains the delay in the launch and the essence of brood 🤪

BROOD MOMENTS

“Don’t compare yourself to others, be inspired by others but don’t compare.”

When you run your own business alongside raising your brood, there can be many times where you feel guilty for ‘neglecting’ your children. We’ve all had to put another film on or give them extra time on their iPads to continue working. The anxiety and guilt from doing so can be quite overwhelming. When you’re working you feel like you should be with the kids, and when you’re with the kids, you feel like you should be working! It can be a never-ending cycle of feeling like you are failing in some way, every day. But what if your hard work and juggling everything was inspiring your children? What if instead of focusing on things we haven’t managed to do as parents, we focus on the things we have done? What if we are paving the way for showing our children that they can be or do whatever they want? That their dreams are achievable. This is exactly what happened with the entrepreneurial power couple – Oliver Dunn – better known as ‘Oli the Choc’ and his wife Kim Minchin Dunn, of Kim Minchin Lifestyle. Both Oli and Kim grew up watching their parents chase their dreams. Their memories of their childhood around their parents growing their business are fond ones, and it gives food for thought that maybe we need to stop being so hard on ourselves.
Oli and Kim have been climbing the ladder success for some years now, both building well respected businesses and personal brands. Oli is a real-life Willy Wonka, inspired by his own chocolatier father – Simon Dunn. Oli is a regular on Steph’s Packed Lunch and has also appeared on Blue Peter donning his incredible chocolate skills – fulfilling a lifelong dream to appear on the show. Kim started off her entrepreneurial journey through launching her own successful jewellery range – worn by many celebrities. Kim has also entered the world of interiors in the last few years, a natural progression as those following Kim will know that she has incredible style. The couple welcomed their first child Romy-Star last year and we sat down with them to see how different business life is now that they are juggling a baby too. And do they hope to inspire Romy just as their parents inspired them…

Kim, Oli Dunn and their daughter Romy Star © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
Oli The Choc, Kim Minchin & their daughter Romi. IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

How different is it running a business as parents, compared to before Romy’s arrival?
Kim – “Very different!”
Oli – “It takes a lot more planning obviously, but in a way, it helps you to stop procrastinating. 
Kim – “When you don’t have her, you can literally get so much done! It makes you think what you did with your time before! So it’s just about utilising the time you do get productively. Also it helps that my store is next to Oli’s and Oli’s parents’ shop.”
Oli – “Yes, we’re altogether so we’ve got a little bit of help.”
Kim – “She’s got her highchair and duplicates of her things at the store so that works well. But there’s no formula.”
Oli – “No we’re just winging it and hoping for the best! We take each day at a time. We’ll work in the evenings if we have to and just do whatever we need to do to get things done!”
Kim – “I think overall we’re more efficient. Like, before having Romy, I would sit at home, have a cup of coffee and probably scroll through Instagram for an hour whereas now when she has nap I’m like, ‘Right, quick, what can I get done!’.”

What has been the hardest or funniest moment that you’ve experienced as Parentpreneurs?
Oli – “Well a big part of my business is creating content and videos and this one day, I went out on my one wheel which is like an electric skateboard kind of thing, and I was making videos down my by the canal and Kim was at the shop with Romy. And I had kind of got lost in this creative flow and when I stopped, I had all these messages off Kim saying can you get back quick, I’ve got a shop full of customers and Romy will not stop screaming!”
Kim – “Awww, yes, I was so embarrassed and stressed. Although everyone was great with her and saying ‘Ah we’ve seen her on Instagram so it’s great to meet her.’ But I just felt like I wasn’t giving them the shopping experience that they were probably after. But they have been back so it obviously can’t have been that bad.”

Both of your parents are entrepreneurs too. How much has watching them inspired you both within your business ventures?
Oli – “I saw how my dad created something out of nothing, purely out of something that interested him – and that was making chocolate. He had worked in sweet factory and making sweets can take weeks sometimes, whereas chocolate you can make quite quickly. And he went on this course in Germany to learn how to make chocolate and he just fell in love with it. So I saw that passion in him and I wanted to create something myself out of nothing so I took the slightly different direction of entertaining people with chocolate – showing them how to create chocolate themselves.
Kim – “You always talk about being a child, being with your sister whilst your mum and dad were making chocolate at home. I think that inspired you to carry on that magic, of having a business yourself. So, you can be at home, and you can bring your children into the world of your business.

“Yes, we used to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night, into my mum and dads ‘chocolate factory”

Oli – “Yes, we used to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night, into my mum and dads ‘chocolate factory’ and take a handful of chocolate buttons up to our bedrooms! That’s some of my best memories as a child being surrounded by chocolate, so I think it was inevitable that I would explore that. I think I resisted it at first as it seemed to obvious that I would go into the family business and then I think I realised that I could be missing out on something that could potentially be fun. That’s what I’m really for as my dad has given me this tool to be creative and have fun within your work. I have got a lot of motivation from my parents. If Romy can find something that is her passion too then I’ll be happy. We used to sit watching movies at Christmas so that they could get on with the orders. They made the office next door really cosy, and they could watch us through a clear glass window. They would actually even give us a few Christmas presents early so that they could get work done, but as much as they probably felt stressed at the time, they are really good memories for me and my sister.”
Kim – “It has helped with mindset of knowing that you can have a child and still do what you want to do. So, it wasn’t a scary daunting prospect for us. My parents had their own business too, so they had a massive influence on me as a businesswoman. My Dad had 136 branches of his business, he was and still is an amazing businessman and he has always guided me and my brother, any doubt’s I ever have always reached out to him. Parents have always shown me that you can follow you dreams and that you get out you put in. So, for me growing up I always wanted to have my own business, I didn’t want to work for anyone else. And my mum has the most amazing taste so that has definitely helped me from an artistic point of view when I’m designing my jewellery and picking homeware etc.”

You both have strong identities -individually and as a couple; How do you feel your identity’s have changed since becoming parents?
Kim – “Well, I kind of felt like I lost my identity a little bit when I had Romy. I feel like I’m a gradually getting it back, but I do feel like that is a really tough thing for mums. You get so absorbed and consumed with the baby, as your whole life is about them. But, when you’re tired and you’re trying to juggle everything and keep everyone alive, but I think there is an internal thing for mums that the dads may or may not understand. But I remember she was only a few weeks old and I said to Ol, ‘Can you just have her for an hour? I wanna go to home sense – on my own.”
Oli – “Yeah, and you had like the best hour!”
Kim – “Yeah, I didn’t need anything, but that was my regular routine.”
Oli – “Yes, you needed that, to feel that freedom and step into your creativity. So I guess that’s what we need to be mindful of, making sure you get that time to keep your identity. I think that has been your driving force in opening the store.”
Kim – “Yes, the opportunity came along, and I thought, ‘Yes, it’s the right time’ As we said earlier Oli’s place is there and his parent’s shop is there, and I can pick and choose the days that I want to do there. And having the shop has made me fall in love with fashion again, as I’m getting dressed for work and doing little videos whilst I’m there. So instead of constantly wearing my activewear and not having any make up on. Now I’m thinking about buying clothes again and that was something I had stopped doing after Romy was born. So, yeah, I do think that is something that people need to talk about more. And with the fashion side of things, I try and buy things that a practical but then other times I think – I want that Jacket etc, because I know I’m a mum, but I still want to be me.”
Oli – “For me Romy has changed my identity in that now I’ve become a father and a husband. She’s made us a family. People say, ‘Welcome to the best club in the world.’ And you really do feel a part of that and a way that strengthens your identity a bit, as everything you do has more meaning and in way that makes you feel more confident really.”
Kim – “I think we’re such a good team though and we have a strong network of people around us so that is something that can help you when you’re having those low moments, Oli was always there so I think that helps remind you of who you are and your strengths.”
And finally what advice would you give fellow Parentpreneurs?
Oli – “I would say embrace the challenges that it brings, because it helps you to grow as an individual, you don’t always realise that how much it can you to evolve. And rewards far outweigh the challenges. You will more than likely surprise yourself, nature is a wonderful thing and a lot of it is more intuitive than you think.”
Kim – “I think mine is to just enjoy the journey and keep telling yourself that you are amazing at what you are doing. I’ve learnt to be a bit more relaxed and stop comparing yourself and then you can think clearer.”
Oli – “Yes, that’s a big thing for anyone, be inspired by others but don’t compare yourself. Just be good at being you.”

Written by
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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Top 10 Motivation Books

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Top Ten books for success

We all know it’s important to keep evolving and learning as a person -especially when it comes to chasing your dreams! We also know that finding the time to read can be hard, it’s never going to be something that you naturally put to the top of your list. But, hopefully as we begin this journey that is ‘BROOD’ we can help you to learn to reward yourself and schedule at least 10 minutes to feed your brain and refuel your soul! Now, if you’ve done well enough to give yourself that time the last thing you want to do is spend time researching books, that will help you on the road to success…so we’ve put together a list of books that are firm favourites with team BROOD.

 

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Auntie Cath Cooks

Auntie Cath Cooks

Catherine Tyldesley (or Auntie Cath as she’s often known!) is one of the UKs favourite actresses. Making in her mark in the likes of BBC Ones ‘Lilies’ , sitcom ‘Scarborough’, ITVs ‘View Point’ and Ofcourse- the nations favourite‘Coronation Street’.
Catherine has recently finished filming another drama for ITV and was crowned Winner of All Star Musicals 2021. Cath’s other huge passion in life is Food! After study nutrition on maternity leave with her first child- Caths enthusiasm for food grew. Especially nutritious, budget friendly, tasty family meals. We’re thrilled to bits to have Cath join us and share her knowledge and passion! You’re in for a treat with Auntie Caths recipes!

With a little tease of summer last week I thought I’d kick things of with a breakfast summer salad. Porridge is a strong winter warmer for me on those cold dark winter mornings. So this is my spring/summer go to. Light and full of fresh ingredients. Feel free to tag me and BROOD into your dishes. ENJOY.

Breakfast summer salad

2 hand full of baby spinach
1/4 cup blueberries
1 medium avocado, diced
1/3 cup cooked red quinoa
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds 2 strips bacon
2 large eggs
Dash of apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoons honey
Method
Place the spinach, blueberries, avocado, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl and toss to combine. Divide the salad between bowls or deep plates.
Place the bacon in a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until the fat has rendered out and the bacon is crispy, flipping halfway through, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Once cool, break the bacon into small crumbles.

Reduce the heat to low and fry the eggs in the rendered bacon fat to desired doneness. Remove the pan from the heat. Top each salad with the crumbled bacon and an egg.
Whisk the vinegar, honey, and salt into the remaining bacon fat in the pan until emulsified. Drizzle the warm dressing over the salad and serve immediately.

Catherine Tyldesley (or Auntie Cath as she’s often known!) is one of the UKs favourite actresses. Making in her mark in the likes of BBC Ones ‘Lilies’ , sitcom ‘Scarborough’, ITVs ‘View Point’ and Ofcourse- the nations favourite‘Coronation Street’.
Catherine has recently finished filming another drama for ITV and was crowned Winner of All Star Musicals 2021. Cath’s other huge passion in life is Food! After study nutrition on maternity leave with her first child- Caths enthusiasm for food grew. Especially nutritious, budget friendly, tasty family meals. We’re thrilled to bits to have Cath join us and share her knowledge and passion! You’re in for a treat with Auntie Caths recipes!

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Kate Devine – Nutritionist, PT & Mum of 3 Boys

Kate Devine – Nutritionist, PT & Mum of 3 Boys

“…a mum to my 3,
football crazy, overly loud, sometimes a bit
annoying, but generally amazing boys!”

Kate Devine – Nutritionist, PT & Mum of 3 Boys

Firstly, I’m so excited and honoured to be part of the BROOD family and involved in its first online launch! I hope you enjoy reading my very first article on health and nutrition and I hope you find it provides lots of information, tips and advice for you and your family…Now, to introduce myself properly…

Hi, I’m Kate and my most important job is, of course, being a mum to my 3, football crazy, overly loud, sometimes a bit annoying, but generally amazing boys! Oh and not forgetting our beautiful Bassett Hound, Hettie, who is 15 years old and still going strong – although she has lost the use of some bodily functions, which can be interesting at times! I am married to Paul, who is slightly more annoying than the kids, but we laugh everyday and tackle life together.

I am a Nutritional Therapist and Personal Trainer, alongside the things mentioned above! My journey into nutrition and fitness began after having my first child 12 years ago. I had always exercised and thought I ate relatively well, but I think once you become a parent, you realise just how important being healthy and looking after yourself and your family is! You want to be the best parent and you want your child to thrive, especially in their first few years of life. I returned to the gym and began to find it quite therapeutic. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was bloody awful doing the actual training (still is), but it enabled me to have an hour to myself and I found that I was a better person for having that time out from parenting. This became a regular thing for me and I suddenly grew very passionate about exercise and its benefits, both physically and mentally.

KATE DEVINE. IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

Some years past, a few more kids arrived, and I decided to become a Personal Trainer. By far the most terrifying thing I had done in a long time! Going back into learning after 3 bouts of baby brain, I was surprised there were even any brain cells left to be honest! But, I did it, and qualified 5 years ago and further qualified in Pre and Post Natal Exercise – this was something I found was lacking in the fitness industry during all of my pregnancies. Being as PT is by far the best job I’ve ever had. I get to help people achieve life changing goals and talk all day, every day, and if you know me, talking is the thing I like to do most!

“Pre and Post Natal Exercise – this was something I found was lacking in the fitness industry during all of my pregnancies”

As you can imagine, nutrition is talked about A LOT in the fitness industry, and it was no exception in my gym. I was asked daily about food, something which I was taught the basics on during my PT course, but I was always hesitant to actually advise people on what to eat – even back then, I believed that everyone was individual and no one plan suits all.

The next thing I know, I’ve enrolled myself on a 3-year Diploma course in Nutritional Therapy at The College of Naturopathic Medicine. Remember before, when I said my PT course was hard, well, this course was a whole different level!! Throw a global pandemic into the aforementioned and I’ve got myself a whole heap of craziness, emotional breakdowns and many moments of self-doubt! Thankfully, I carried on and here we are! I’m loving my new career and cannot wait to share my passion and knowledge with you all over the coming months, to help you achieve a lifestyle that ensures you and your family thrive!

Some of you may be wondering what Nutritional Therapy actually is…

In a nutshell, I aim to help alleviate symptoms potentially relating to disease, by treating the person, not the disease, in a naturopathic way by investigating the root cause and providing nutritional and lifestyle advice to help promote the outcome my clients want to achieve.

This is a lengthy process, taking several hours of investigation into current lifestyles and all body systems, functional testing and medical research into each individual case. From this, I can recommend the most effective dietary advice and supplementation and provide bespoke meal plans and recipes to begin this re-set. My ultimate aim is to educate my clients in order for them to be able to make these changes themselves and understand how their bodies work to ensure longevity in the lifestyle changes they are investing in.  

A subject that always crops up when talking to other parents is how they are struggling to get their children to eat, sometimes at all; never mind choosing a healthy option. This is something I have come across regularly in my clinic. I have worked with many children, from babies and beyond, helping to deal with chronic colic, intolerances, eczema and allergies to name but a few.

It’s so frustrating trying to get your child to eat. I remember spending MANY hours force feeding my kids smashed avocado and banana, only to have them chuck it on the floor, then being left with no choice but to try a hundred different options just so they would eat something! Usually a packet of Quavers! I sent myself a little more crazy and persevered with the ‘healthy foods’ until they finally accepted them. It has definitely paid off as they all eat really well now, so that’s one epic parent fail I avoided.  

The most effective way, I found, to get the kids to eat was involvement. Plain and simple. We sit down over the weekend and have a chat about what everyone fancies to eat over the coming week. There’s five of us so we all pick a day of the week and choose a dinner. On the weekends we’ll have a ‘treat meal’ on the Saturday – make pizzas or have fajitas – and usually a roast on a Sunday. We also have a wipeable meal planner stuck to the fridge and they write on their choice each week and when it’s their meal day, they help me prepare it. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not like the Vontrapp family and sing and dance our way through meal times, and we definitely have weeks where life happens and everything goes to pot; but with just a little bit of organisation and preparation, maybe we can all be singing and dancing our way through meal times!

Here’s an easy, fun and healthy Sunday morning breakfast recipe to try with your kids….

I have added a brief summary of some of the amazing nutritional benefits each ingredient has!

Maybe you can share with your kids, what all the different foods they are helping you prepare, can do for our bodies?

Happy cooking!

 

THE Perfect Pancakes

Makes 8 pancakes

 Ingredients:

 2 ripe bananas, peeledBananas are rich in potassium which is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure and helps strengthen bones – they are natural antacids, and contains slow release sugars to help maintain a balanced blood glucose level

  • 100g quinoa flakesQuinoa is highly regarded as nature’s most complete plant food as it contains amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, fibre, anti-oxidants and phytonutrients – it is also high in protein and naturally gluten free
  • 180ml of nut milk – Almond/coconut etc or milk of your choice – rich in beneficial fats
  • 1 organic eggcontains protein, omega-3 fats, high in vitamins, zinc, magnesium, calcium and dietary cholesterol (good cholesterol)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extractVanilla extract is a powerful anti-oxidant, has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and helps improve mental health
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamonCinnamon is a digestive aid that helps reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes – it is also a first-class antiseptic that can help fight bacteria, viruses and fungal infections – it is rich in anti-oxidants, which gives it a mild analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder while baking powder contains few vitamins and minerals, it still plays a role in maintaining healthy teeth, bones and nails
  • Small pinch of Pink Himalayan salt contains more than 80 minerals including potassium, iron and calcium which aid the bodies natural detoxification process and promote the removal of bacteria
  • 2 tsps organic maple syrupsweeter than sugar so a little goes a long way – it is nutrient rich and full of minerals
  • 1.5-2 tbsp coconut oilhigh in healthy fats medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) – which can help lower risk of heart disease and help with weight management by reducing appetite, boosting metabolism, and increasing activity of fat burning cells

 

Topping options:

  • 100g mixed berries/spoonful of Greek yoghurt/coconut yoghurt/crushed pistachios/drizzle of maple syrup
  • 2 apples, grated/sprinkling of ground cinnamon/spoonful of toasted flaked almonds

 

Method:

  • Place all ingredients for the pancakes (except oil) in a blender and whizz for around 30 seconds – alternatively, mash bananas with a fork and mix in a jug with remaining ingredients
  • Melt the oil in a large frying pan on a high heat
  • Spoon about 3 tbsp of the batter into the pan and circle about 1cm thick and 8cm wide. Repeat to make more pancakes, depending on the size of the pan
  • Reduce the heat to medium and leave the pancakes to set for round 1 min. When they start to bubble, flip each one over and cook for 1 min on the other side
  • Remove from the pan and repeat with the rest of the batter. Use a little more oil each time until you’ve made 8 pancakes (you do not have to eat them all, they can be kept in the fridge for 2 days, or frozen – pop them in the oven or fry in a pan to reheat)
  • Serve as is, add toppings recommended above or toppings of your choice.

written BY KATE DEVINE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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Top 10 Motivation Books

Top Ten books for success We all know it’s important to keep evolving and learning as a person -especially when it comes to chasing your dreams! We also know that finding the time to read can be hard, it’s never going to be something that you naturally put to the top...

read more
Sarie Taylor – Coach and mum of two

Sarie Taylor – Coach and mum of two

SUCCESSFUL MUMPRENEUR Sarie TAYLOR, is a parent to a 15 year old with another on the way…

 

Sarie Taylor is a trained psychotherapist and a coach who works with people across the world with a wide range of issues. Having suffered with severe anxiety for many years herself, Sarie also has personal experience and an understanding of what it feels like to struggle. Sarie will be a regular contributor for BROOD magazine, answering questions, sharing ideas and helping our readers understand more about the principles that eventually helped her transform her anxieties, relationships and business – enabling her to fall in love with life again!

43 year old Sarie is a parent to a 15 year old, Maia, with a another on the way! 

________________________________________________________________________________________

With Maia being a teenager now, what made you decide to go again?

It may sound silly but we have been ‘thinking’ about it for the last 15 years, I am not sure where the time went! On reflection, I know that I always wanted loads of children – being the eldest of five siblings, I had always desired a big family of my own. The reality was that I had one child 15 years ago, and then didn’t have any more until now aged 43. This is a whole other story in itself, but its due to me not trusting myself or feeling capable since suffering with anxiety and depression for many years in my early 20s right through to my 30s, and so I stopped myself from progressing with what my heart desired, as I was scared. Looking back I now know that I didn’t need to be, but I cant  change the past, only look forward and that brought me to being 43 and thinking ‘sod it why not!’

How did Maia react to becoming a big sister?

Maia has been amazing (I know we are biased) but she is always so understanding and full of compassion. There have been some doubts for her creep in naturally, as she has only ever known being an only child and having our full undivided attention, so she probably struggles to imagine at times what it will be like with a new member of the family after all these years! Although I wanted to wait till I was 12 weeks to tell her in case of anything happening, being a teen and not missing a trick it was about 6 hours before she asked me if was I pregnant! I have to be conscious of not putting any pressure on her when the baby arrives, but I am also sure she will be a great help (voluntarily) and I cant wait to see the bond she develops with her baby sister. We have bought her a t-shirt saying big sister which she may have to wear when out on her own with the baby so she doesn’t get mistaken for a mum! (This is not what she wants just yet – no judgment on anyone that does!)

Have you noticed a big different this time around being pregnant over 40?

This pregnancy has been different as I have suffered with HG sickness (again a whole other story) and its been really tough, weight loss, lack of energy and appetite, as well as it being a huge shift in my ability to just perform daily tasks. However, mentally I am so much more chilled and able to take what comes in this pregnancy in my stride. I am not feeling the urge to be in control (which obviously I can’t anyway!). I have only just started to buy things for the baby at 6 months (we have no nursery as yet) I haven’t googled much or read a single book, and as for the birth, what will be will be. This is  a very different outlook for me to how I was 15 years ago with Maia; full of anxiety and the need to be in control. (I believe this was a huge factor on how I was post natal too). I have joked that I am in denial, but in all honesty, I am just pretty relaxed about the whole thing overall. This doesn’t mean I don’t have my moments though! In fact when I found out I was pregnant I was in a state of panic and shock for a few days!

Do you think there’s stigma attached to ladies falling pregnant over 40?

I was torn with this question and so my answer is yes and no – let me explain. I am consistently told (and was from the beginning) that I am classed as high risk  – as I am an older mum. What I am more at risk of is nobody’s business. I am not one to worry too much about what might or might not happen, I am focused mainly on now. Overall I am pretty fit and well. (I have gotten very used to sickness and the weird food issues I have, like no longer being able to eat any meat). This hasn’t always come easily to me though, it’s through years of training and now working as a psychotherapist and coach that has dramatically changed my relationship with anxiety, and therefore my every day experience of life, including pregnancy. Although I don’t dismiss an experts point of view, I let it go in one ear and out of the other; until maybe there comes a time when I do need to pay attention, but I trust my body will make me listen up! I am much more trusting of my body and the wonder of nature in getting me through whatever comes my way. Even with the weight loss and sickness, baby is growing just as she is supposed to because our bodies do what they need to do without us having to interfere. Outside of professionals telling me I am ‘older’ I have had a few comments of ‘you must be mad’ but the majority of people and my friends especially think it’s wonderful and exciting, and they don’t seem to give my age a second thought! Another advantage of being a bit later in life is that I now surround myself with amazing supportive friends, who don’t tend to judge my life choices and support me no matter what. Having said that people do make interesting assumptions, the main one being that myself and my husbands relationship is fairly new, that we’re on our second marriage, when in fact we have been together 23 years! This just makes us laugh and we usually make a comment like we haven’t been lucky enough to find anyone else yet! I honestly believe we have a choice as to whether we are stigmatised or not, hence my and yes and no. There is the potential to feel that there is stigma or that things can be against us, but I am choosing not to take that on and it’s working out well for me so far!

Are you worried about maintaining your successful business now that you are becoming a mum again? 

Not really no. I feel so grateful that I am now in a position where I run my own business and have so much flexibility that it makes my life so much easier. I am not going to lie though, I have worked hard for the last 15 years to get to this place, and it wasn’t always easy (another advantage of being an older mum) but we now find ourselves in a good position. My business will run as usual with the support I already have, and the fact it doesn’t feel like work for me also helps, as I plan to be working after two weeks. I will get the best of both worlds – and again I am very grateful for that. This means that my business will not disappear whilst I navigate becoming a new mum again, but I have so much support and structure to my business now that I can do this for the most part with ease. Again, I am not under any illusions that this will be tough at times, but by showing myself tonnes of compassion and asking for help when I need it, I know I will get through whatever I face.

Any tips for ladies wanting to do it all? Run a business, loving family and tackle personal goals?

We can do it all BUT not with perfection! Once we let go of the idea of perfection and how things should and shouldn’t be, and we are more in flow with what feels right and good for us, things fall into place. The main three things I would consider here are:

Compassion, compassion compassion…

We can not expect to get it all right the first time, we will need to make adjustments and changes as we go, depending on what life throws at us. Changing direction and focus isn’t failure, its growth and progression. During the times when things become challenging and we start with the negative self talk i.e ‘I cant do it’ are the times we need to cut ourselves some slack and show ourselves love and compassion, we need to remember that we are doing our best!

Small steps…

The amount of times I have felt like giving up because getting what I want, the balance in life, has felt impossible – they are the times to keep going! Consistency is key for developing and building a life/business you love. We don’t need to have it all figured out straight away. In fact you might be disappointed if you believe you do, as things rarely turn out how we imagined – often they can be even better! We are not looking to move mountains, we are just looking to start and keep going. Small steps in the right direction can lead to huge changes in your experience of life.

Ask for help and support before you feel completely overwhelmed.

Most people initially come to me when they are in some kind of crisis, which is OK, but we know well before that when we need support from others, although we may resist as we ‘should’ be able to manage. We are not built to be on this planet alone, reach out and ask for help as soon as you recognise you may need it. There is no shame in getting support. I could not have the balance and contentment I have in life at the moment without others; family, business mentors, friends, professional mentors, colleagues and the list goes on. I wouldn’t be without any of them! See support as the water that the seeds need to grow, there is no shame in support, its a necessity!

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Ashleigh Guthrie

Ashleigh Guthrie

ASHLEIGH GUTHRIE. IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

Ashleigh Guthrie is a spiritual mentor, women’s circle facilitator, sound healer and trauma informed child hypnotherapist – trained by teachers from different traditions all over the world. Ashleigh is BROOD Magazine’s bonus mum and earth angel. Two years ago, Ashleigh met her partner – Rachel, and quickly found herself in a role she had never envisioned for her life; as Rachel came with a bonus gift in the form of her 10-year-old son.

“…having my own self-care time has probably been the biggest challenge”

The couple met through a female only dating app during lockdown. She recognised Rachel having met her 7 years earlier and they also had several mutual friends. As Rachel’s face appeared on the app, Ashleigh was instantly attracted to her smile. As the couple began communicating, they also found they had shared experiences – such as losing their parents at a young age. As they continued to get to know each other, the three hour zoom calls just further illustrated their undeniable connection.

We sat down with Ashleigh to chat about how her life has changed since sharing it with Rachel and her son. And how she balances embracing this new phase  – without losing the connection with herself – something we can all struggle with once we step into the realms of parenting.

How long into your relationship was it before you were introduced to Rachel’s son?

Ashleigh – “We had around four months of it being just us. Then I met her son in September. I wasn’t sure if we should wait a little longer but I think Rachel felt some guilt by not telling him who I was as he had seen me on camera as Mum’s ‘friend’ and he’s a smart kid, so it was important for Rachel that she could be honest about who I was. He actually said when he saw me on camera that he said “Yes, she’s the one!”

How lovely! Once you had met him did it change your relationship with Rachel at all?

Ashleigh – “It did. It shifted the dynamic of the relationship because I wasn’t prepared for what a supporting parental role entailed. I hadn’t spoken to any other stepparents so I just had to take a leap of faith and learn when to let go of control but equally how to be present at the right moments.”

As he already has two loving Mother’s was it hard for you to find your role?

Ashleigh – “We have our own mini tribe, so, he is surrounded by a lot of love! With time i found my flow in the polarity and seemed to take more of a paternal role.” 

ASHLEIGH GUTHRIE, IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
ASHLEIGH GUTHRIE, IMAGE © RACHEL JOSEPH PHOTOGRAPHY

Is it difficult to navigate different parenting styles within the different settings?

Ashleigh – “Yes, it can take us all a little time to adjust, so it’s just about stepping back and giving everyone a chance to settle into the shift of energy. He often has a lot of energy to burn off so it’s important to give him that needed space, after school clubs have been a blessing this year! I also recognised that in the beginningRachel would be rushing round trying to get everything ‘perfect’ on the day and struggled to ask for help, but we’ve both found a more relaxed routine and work well as a team to get ourselves and the environment prepared for his return. We have both come to agree that if the house hasn’t been hoovered for example, it doesn’t matter, as long as there is food in the fridge and he’s happy that’s all that matters. Tomorrow is another day”  

As your work means you need to be in a certain energy, when Rachel’s son is with you, is it difficult to switch between your home role and work role?

“It depends on what time of the month it is if I’m being really honest. Having two women in the same household…I didn’t have the awareness of just what an effect my own menstrual cycle influenced me. The week, when we’re in sync, trying to manage that, I’ve found is all about finding healthiercoping mechanisms that help us to communicate what our individual needs are and manage stress. So, I don’t actually work during that time – I manage my time, marketing plan and diet according to my cycle and it’s helped massively. But her son is really good when I am working, it’s all been online anyway, so he knows that when I’m leading a full moon ceremony I need a quiet environment and, he is really respectful when it comes to that. Recently Rachel’s been busy with her photography work so is out working long hours, we’re also in the process of moving house and Rachel has also started a property business, there is a new joint business being birthed too and the hardest thing that I’m trying to manage is connecting with my body and how the change in stress levels can affect my relationship to staying present and feeling grounded. I’m a big believer in a daily morning practice and consistent bed time to help regulate the nervous system.”

“But, Sometimes the mask needs to slip and it’s for children to understand that their parents aren’t perfect – because no one is.”

“In the beginning the area that the stress affected us most was me trying to find balance between my new business and bring awareness to where was i over giving in the relationship, and how that was affecting the dynamic, because by the end of our week of co-parenting especially when we were both bleeding, I felt burnt out. Switching from parent to partner mode has been challenging but we have found fun ways to re-connect.

This relationship has taught me how to create better boundaries as I was dropping into rescue mode when there was conflict and chaos. We try our best to practice patience with each other as a family, and have been learning how to practice compassionate communication with each other when we feel triggered and frustrated, consistency and commitment is key!  It’s taken time but I’m now able to lean back and trust, which has empowered Rachel to take more of the lead. As a result i find i have more energy, desire and time to focus on the things that bring me pleasure, such as my work, having fun with friends…and sex – because that’s the other area parental stress affects! (We all laugh) I genuinely don’t know how people stay together and have the energy to have sex when they have a child with them 24/7.”

 

What did you find changed most for you when you found yourself as a co-caregiver to a child?

Ashleigh – “My life had changed drastically anyway because of lockdown, as I used to travel around the world. I was very much a free spirit. I was free to explore and expressmyself without having to take anyone else into consideration. So, I would say asking for my own self-care time and taking it guilt free has probably been the biggest challenge. I’ve really had to learn how to create a space for self care when in a relationship with other’s and as a result i’ve really come to see the real value and importance of it, which is one of the reason’s i feel so passionate about facilitating women’s circle and creating sacred space for other’s. One of my favourite pastimes was having a cup of ceremonial cacao, lighting a fire withcandles, dancing naked in my living room, with no interruptions. That was my way of reconnecting with myself. Whereas now there’s an 11-year-old present and a partner in my life that wants my attention too, and although I’m not as ‘witchy’ in the same way i used to be, I now enjoy planning intentional time to connect to that part of me. (We all laugh) I found fun ways to adapt, so I will still light a fire in the garden for instance on a full moon, Rachel and her son will be with me. Hereally see’s my magick in that persona, he’ll call me witchy at times, which makes me smile and helps me to feel more confident sharing that side of myself with other’s. He’ll create his own rituals now and we really connect in that way, he brings out a playfulness in me that I have only really seen with myself.

Rachel is really great at knowing when I need my own personal space, especially around my moon time. She’ll take her son out during the day to spend time with friends on the weekend’s before I bleed so the house is quiet, i feel this has been revolutionary in our relationship as I feel cared for and appreciated by my family and i have the space and time to just focus on taking care of my needs.”

 

Do you have any advice for people who struggle to feel ok with finding time for themselves since becoming parents?

Ashleigh – “I think that people don’t give themselves permission to grieve, I personally have worked through a lot of grief, my mum died in 2016 when i was 28, I hold grief ceremonies and grief rituals for my clients, that’s part of the reason I need that time to come back to myself, to understand who i am in that moment and to re-charge. I have grieved for the various parts of myself that have shape shifted throughout this relationship – which is no different to when I was single, grief brings us back to love, which eventually makes us feel whole again. I find that alot of people resist the grief journey of going through the pain because they don’t know who they will be on the other side and they worry the tears won’t ever stop, but they do, and they purify the heart, this is how we evolve and grow. The old identity must die in order to make way for the new, just like the caterpillar does when she becomes the butterfly. Look at the seasons, the seasons change constantly, as do we. I think we’ve forgotten those cycles of change and how to let go so that you can move forward. And I don’t think you can do that when you become so enmeshed in patriarchal conditioning as to what relationships, family, sexuality and parenthood is “supposed” to look like. So, I think you need to set healthy boundaries for yourself. That’s really important. But also, community – like what BROOD is about – building a community and I think especially after lockdown, there is almost like this calling back to the village. I believe we all need that kind of support.”

Do you think that in modern society parents can struggle to accept support? That there is almost a stigma attached to it – like if you ask for help or accept help then you are ‘less than’ in some way – as society continues to place such unrealistic expectations on people?

Ashleigh – “Yes. If you look back in history, after holding their baby for no more than four hours, the mother would have passed the baby to a ‘grandmother’ or ‘auntie’ within the tribe so that they had time to come back to themselves. It would be a tribe of women, not just one isolated woman looking after her new baby.

And lastly, do you think it’s important for children to understand that life can be stressful at times for parents and how would you implement involving them without putting any unnecessary worry onto them?

Ashleigh – “Communicating with your children is so important. If you have a lot on, then be open with them – explain that you have a lot on. I’ve found the best results come when i’m able to shift my energy into feeling grounded, staying consistent and holding my boundaries. Because if you don’t, they just see you stressed and worrying, and they won’t understand why. I encourage expression of emotion in our household but not to project it out onto another person, taking radical responsibility for our own emotions issomething we can teach our children. If anxiety and overwhelm start to pour out or we suppress shame and anger and become passive aggressive and emotionally lash out, the child doesn’t have a clue what’s going on – they’ll feel confused and frustrated because they won’t feel safe. But if you can be mindful and come back full to presence with yourself and explain a little bit about what’s happening for you, ask how they are feeling and validate their experience, then you may find they are more open, understanding and willing to help you in the small ways that they can. This builds a more trustworthy relationship between parent and child and teaches them how to self regulate their own emotions, because they’ve witnessed you do it. But, Sometimes the mask needs to slip and it’s for children to understand that their parents aren’t perfect – because no one is.”

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Amy Hughes was the first woman to run 53 Marathons in 53 days…But was that as much of a challenge as being a mum in business!

Amy Hughes was the first woman to run 53 Marathons in 53 days…But was that as much of a challenge as being a mum in business!

AMY HUGHES AND HER DAUGHER. © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

“…you know THAT you’re working so hard to financially support them, but you just feel really bad when you’re working too much.”

As the first woman to run 53 Marathons in 53 days, inspiring mum of one Amy Hughes is no stranger to setting goals and showing phenomenal amounts of determination. Amy is also a well-respected fitness trainer at Barry’s UK and founder of Sculpt in Haus, Pilates Studio – Amy started Sculpt in the same week that she found out she was pregnant! Undeterred by the challenges that lay ahead Amy, (along with her partner Martin) has managed to successfully juggle parenthood and alongside a new business venture. We sat down with Amy and beautiful little Lennon at her studio in Manchester and we discussed the challenges of running a business with a baby in tow and how becoming a mum can impact on our identity.

So you started running your business before having a baby, how different has it been since your beautiful baby girl has arrived?
“Very! It’s hard, isn’t it? It’s just difficult because obviously you want to spend time with the baby, but equally, you’re just knackered all the time. It’s funny because people tell you, ‘Aww you’re going to be so tired. You’re not going to have time for anything.’ And you think, ‘Oh I’ll be fine. It can’t be that bad!’ But they weren’t lying!” (Laughs) “And yeah, it’s hard as well because when you’ve got a team, you feel like you’re not doing them justice. I think you just constantly feel pulled in all directions. I also thought I would be back at work 4 weeks after she was born, but I had really bad blood pressure issues so I couldn’t come back at that point in terms of teaching. So that was stressful – but nothing ever goes to plan.”

AMY HUGHES AND HER DAUGHTER © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

Have you experienced the dreaded ‘Mum Guilt’?
“The mum guilt is real; I’ve felt so bad whilst I’ve been setting up this place. But because my partner Martin is self-employed too we can juggle the childcare, so thankfully he’s looking after her when I’m not there. So, she’s not bothered at all. She doesn’t miss me. But it’s you that feels bad! Everything you do is for them; everything has completely changed nothing is about you and everything is about them and in a way you know that you’re working so hard to financially support them, but you just feel so bad when you’re working so much.”

What do you do to help ease that mum guilt?
“Well, when I’m feeling really bad, I think of my mum – she didn’t run her own business, but she worked really hard while I was growing up. She had like 5 jobs! And sometimes we would help her with a little production line, and I think that’s made me want to work hard. So, in the same way I saw my mum working hard and that inspired me, I hope that my work ethic will inspire my daughter too.”

The first few years of running a business are always the hardest, you ever feel like you can switch off?

“Because the business is busy, at the moment I feel like I never switch off. Even down to people messaging on social asking for the opening times, class times etc, you feel like you need to answer them there and then – because that’s what people expect. I was actually thinking about this the other day and I thought to myself that when she becomes old enough to understand when I’m on my phone etc, I’m going to have to put some boundaries in place. But that’s very hard when you’re not at the stage where you can afford for someone to look after your social media and reply to your emails. Also, I’m a ‘yes’ person and I always feel guilty when I can’t fit a client in. For years I’ve worked around them and obviously as much as I value my clients, Lennon is my priority now so in that way it’s good as it forces you to work differently anyway. It just takes time and effort to find as much balance as possible.”

How do you aim to find a better work life/life balance?
“Well, obviously the aim isn’t for me to always be answering every message and running all the classes here. The whole aim of having a business is so you have freedom. At the beginning it is hard though, you struggle with time and financially it can be really tough but focusing on the bigger picture helps. Hopefully the business will give me the freedom to be around more, and we’ll have that financial stability from it too.

I think another thing that can be hard, is obviously with not having that ‘standard’ maternity leave and you can’t go to all the mum and baby clubs. It’s just too hard to fit it in when your list of things to do is so long. But we have done lots of mum and baby classes here though, so Lennon gets the interaction with other babies that way, so we’ve integrated things like that.”

Although you gain so much from becoming a parent, it can often feel like we lose parts of ourselves too. Did you feel you lost any parts of your identity once you became a mum?
“Running was a big part of my life; it was always something that I found easy and that I could just do. And no matter how long I didn’t run for I could still just do it, whereas now it seems to take so much longer than it did before. That’s something that was part of my identity before, but that went – although I am starting to get back into it now. You do lose you; I’ve always been very independent and so that’s something I struggle with, especially with working really hard. I feel like when I’m not working, I should be with the baby, but you need that time for you too. I think the same can be said for Dad’s, I think people can forget about the impact it has on them too.”

And finally, do you have any tips for any mum’s?
“Tips, I don’t know – I would like someone to give me some tips! (We all laugh) “I would say if people offer to help you, accept it. That wasn’t something that came natural to me – at all, but one of my friends offered to have Lenny one a day a week and that’s been a massive help! And it’s hard to do at the start of a business but do try and delegate as much as possible.”

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Photography by Tom Pitfield

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Oli Dunn and Kim Minchin Dunn

Oli Dunn and Kim Minchin Dunn

Kim, Oli Dunn and their daughter Romy Star © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

The Entrepreneurial Mummy & Daddy, inspired by their own Entrepreneurial Parents!

“Don’t compare yourself to others, be inspired by others but don’t compare.”

When you run your own business alongside raising your brood, there can be many times where you feel guilty for ‘neglecting’ your children. We’ve all had to put another film on or give them extra time on their iPads to continue working. The anxiety and guilt from doing so can be quite overwhelming. When you’re working you feel like you should be with the kids, and when you’re with the kids, you feel like you should be working! It can be a never-ending cycle of feeling like you are failing in some way, every day. But what if your hard work and juggling everything was inspiring your children? What if instead of focusing on things we haven’t managed to do as parents, we focus on the things we have done? What if we are paving the way for showing our children that they can be or do whatever they want? That their dreams are achievable. This is exactly what happened with the entrepreneurial power couple – Oliver Dunn – better known as ‘Oli the Choc’ and his wife Kim Minchin Dunn, of Kim Minchin Lifestyle. Both Oli and Kim grew up watching their parents chase their dreams. Their memories of their childhood around their parents growing their business are fond ones, and it gives food for thought that maybe we need to stop being so hard on ourselves.
Oli and Kim have been climbing the ladder success for some years now, both building well respected businesses and personal brands. Oli is a real-life Willy Wonka, inspired by his own chocolatier father – Simon Dunn. Oli is a regular on Steph’s Packed Lunch and has also appeared on Blue Peter donning his incredible chocolate skills – fulfilling a lifelong dream to appear on the show. Kim started off her entrepreneurial journey through launching her own successful jewellery range – worn by many celebrities. Kim has also entered the world of interiors in the last few years, a natural progression as those following Kim will know that she has incredible style. The couple welcomed their first child Romy-Star last year and we sat down with them to see how different business life is now that they are juggling a baby too. And do they hope to inspire Romy just as their parents inspired them…

Kim, Oli Dunn and their daughter Romy Star © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
Oli The Choc, Kim Minchin & their daughter Romi. IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

How different is it running a business as parents, compared to before Romy’s arrival?
Kim – “Very different!”
Oli – “It takes a lot more planning obviously, but in a way, it helps you to stop procrastinating. 
Kim – “When you don’t have her, you can literally get so much done! It makes you think what you did with your time before! So it’s just about utilising the time you do get productively. Also it helps that my store is next to Oli’s and Oli’s parents’ shop.”
Oli – “Yes, we’re altogether so we’ve got a little bit of help.”
Kim – “She’s got her highchair and duplicates of her things at the store so that works well. But there’s no formula.”
Oli – “No we’re just winging it and hoping for the best! We take each day at a time. We’ll work in the evenings if we have to and just do whatever we need to do to get things done!”
Kim – “I think overall we’re more efficient. Like, before having Romy, I would sit at home, have a cup of coffee and probably scroll through Instagram for an hour whereas now when she has nap I’m like, ‘Right, quick, what can I get done!’.”

What has been the hardest or funniest moment that you’ve experienced as Parentpreneurs?
Oli – “Well a big part of my business is creating content and videos and this one day, I went out on my one wheel which is like an electric skateboard kind of thing, and I was making videos down my by the canal and Kim was at the shop with Romy. And I had kind of got lost in this creative flow and when I stopped, I had all these messages off Kim saying can you get back quick, I’ve got a shop full of customers and Romy will not stop screaming!”
Kim – “Awww, yes, I was so embarrassed and stressed. Although everyone was great with her and saying ‘Ah we’ve seen her on Instagram so it’s great to meet her.’ But I just felt like I wasn’t giving them the shopping experience that they were probably after. But they have been back so it obviously can’t have been that bad.”

Both of your parents are entrepreneurs too. How much has watching them inspired you both within your business ventures?
Oli – “I saw how my dad created something out of nothing, purely out of something that interested him – and that was making chocolate. He had worked in sweet factory and making sweets can take weeks sometimes, whereas chocolate you can make quite quickly. And he went on this course in Germany to learn how to make chocolate and he just fell in love with it. So I saw that passion in him and I wanted to create something myself out of nothing so I took the slightly different direction of entertaining people with chocolate – showing them how to create chocolate themselves.
Kim – “You always talk about being a child, being with your sister whilst your mum and dad were making chocolate at home. I think that inspired you to carry on that magic, of having a business yourself. So, you can be at home, and you can bring your children into the world of your business.

“Yes, we used to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night, into my mum and dads ‘chocolate factory”

Oli – “Yes, we used to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night, into my mum and dads ‘chocolate factory’ and take a handful of chocolate buttons up to our bedrooms! That’s some of my best memories as a child being surrounded by chocolate, so I think it was inevitable that I would explore that. I think I resisted it at first as it seemed to obvious that I would go into the family business and then I think I realised that I could be missing out on something that could potentially be fun. That’s what I’m really for as my dad has given me this tool to be creative and have fun within your work. I have got a lot of motivation from my parents. If Romy can find something that is her passion too then I’ll be happy. We used to sit watching movies at Christmas so that they could get on with the orders. They made the office next door really cosy, and they could watch us through a clear glass window. They would actually even give us a few Christmas presents early so that they could get work done, but as much as they probably felt stressed at the time, they are really good memories for me and my sister.”
Kim – “It has helped with mindset of knowing that you can have a child and still do what you want to do. So, it wasn’t a scary daunting prospect for us. My parents had their own business too, so they had a massive influence on me as a businesswoman. My Dad had 136 branches of his business, he was and still is an amazing businessman and he has always guided me and my brother, any doubt’s I ever have always reached out to him. Parents have always shown me that you can follow you dreams and that you get out you put in. So, for me growing up I always wanted to have my own business, I didn’t want to work for anyone else. And my mum has the most amazing taste so that has definitely helped me from an artistic point of view when I’m designing my jewellery and picking homeware etc.”

You both have strong identities -individually and as a couple; How do you feel your identity’s have changed since becoming parents?
Kim – “Well, I kind of felt like I lost my identity a little bit when I had Romy. I feel like I’m a gradually getting it back, but I do feel like that is a really tough thing for mums. You get so absorbed and consumed with the baby, as your whole life is about them. But, when you’re tired and you’re trying to juggle everything and keep everyone alive, but I think there is an internal thing for mums that the dads may or may not understand. But I remember she was only a few weeks old and I said to Ol, ‘Can you just have her for an hour? I wanna go to home sense – on my own.”
Oli – “Yeah, and you had like the best hour!”
Kim – “Yeah, I didn’t need anything, but that was my regular routine.”
Oli – “Yes, you needed that, to feel that freedom and step into your creativity. So I guess that’s what we need to be mindful of, making sure you get that time to keep your identity. I think that has been your driving force in opening the store.”
Kim – “Yes, the opportunity came along, and I thought, ‘Yes, it’s the right time’ As we said earlier Oli’s place is there and his parent’s shop is there, and I can pick and choose the days that I want to do there. And having the shop has made me fall in love with fashion again, as I’m getting dressed for work and doing little videos whilst I’m there. So instead of constantly wearing my activewear and not having any make up on. Now I’m thinking about buying clothes again and that was something I had stopped doing after Romy was born. So, yeah, I do think that is something that people need to talk about more. And with the fashion side of things, I try and buy things that a practical but then other times I think – I want that Jacket etc, because I know I’m a mum, but I still want to be me.”
Oli – “For me Romy has changed my identity in that now I’ve become a father and a husband. She’s made us a family. People say, ‘Welcome to the best club in the world.’ And you really do feel a part of that and a way that strengthens your identity a bit, as everything you do has more meaning and in way that makes you feel more confident really.”
Kim – “I think we’re such a good team though and we have a strong network of people around us so that is something that can help you when you’re having those low moments, Oli was always there so I think that helps remind you of who you are and your strengths.”
And finally what advice would you give fellow Parentpreneurs?
Oli – “I would say embrace the challenges that it brings, because it helps you to grow as an individual, you don’t always realise that how much it can you to evolve. And rewards far outweigh the challenges. You will more than likely surprise yourself, nature is a wonderful thing and a lot of it is more intuitive than you think.”
Kim – “I think mine is to just enjoy the journey and keep telling yourself that you are amazing at what you are doing. I’ve learnt to be a bit more relaxed and stop comparing yourself and then you can think clearer.”
Oli – “Yes, that’s a big thing for anyone, be inspired by others but don’t compare yourself. Just be good at being you.”

Written by
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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Sarah Jayne Dunn & Jon Smith

Sarah Jayne Dunn & Jon Smith

SARAH JAYNE DUNN, JON SMITH AND THEIR SON STANLEY. IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

Sarah Jayne Dunn & husband Jon Smith DISCUSS finding empowerment in MAKING your OWN choices & breaking out of society’s parental moulds.

“…You shouldn’t be doing that, you’re a mum.”

Earlier this year well-loved Actor, Sarah Jayne Dunn, was thrown into a media whirlwind when she joined the platform – OnlyFans. After walking away from a seemingly dream job at Hollyoaks (when she was given an ultimatum to choose between the two), Sarah has been continually forced to defend her decision. Throughout it all Sarah’s husband, Jon (a well-respected PT in his first year of running his own gym), has stood firmly by her side and their family is happier than ever. Overall, Sarah has received more support than negativity from the public, but not surprisingly, one of the leading criticisms was – ‘You shouldn’t be doing this, you’re a Mum!’. A glaring example of the unfair expectations society continues to place on women once they become parents; that we should somehow forget who we were before and no longer think of ourselves.

As they arrive at the studio and begin to get ready for our shoot you immediately notice their close bond as a family. After the fun of the shoot is over and Stanley beams from being awarded the star of the shoot, he proceeds to happily catch Pokemon around the studio. As we start chatting, a number of things become apparent = Sarah’s beauty is striking, and Jon has equally modelesque looks, but what’s special about Sarah and Jon runs deeper than that; they have navigated some rocky roads together, done a lot of soul searching, been bold enough to take risks and change course within their careers – all whilst raising their lovely little boy, 5 year old, Stanley.

We listened intently as they chatted openly about the turbulent, life changing journey they’ve been on this last year, and how lockdown contributed to them taking stock and looking at different options within their careers to improve their life as a family.
We were inspired by their strength and determination to put their wellbeing and happiness first, so that they can be the best parents possible to the adorable, Stanley.

So, Jon, we’ll start with you and how did find yourself in the fitness industry and what made you take the leap into running your own business?

Jon – “Well, I’ve always been self-employed as I started out as an Actor – that’s how we met. I also worked in coffee shops and shoe shops etc. Then, when we found out that we were expecting Stanley, I decided that I needed to do something else to properly provide for a family. I decided to look at becoming a Personal Trainer, as it had always been something that interested me, and I wanted to have more stability within my career. I found that I loved learning, I enjoyed the classroom environment – which was completely different from when I was at school, as I had always mucked about! I went on to get a job at a PT studio and I became a Sport’s Therapist too.

SARAH JAYNE DUNN, JON SMITH AND THEIR SON STANLEY. IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

However, as much as enjoyed being a PT, my earnings were capped and when Sarah wasn’t filming, I found that difficult. As the man I felt like I was failing by not being able to provide enough and I took that hard. I was never busy enough to feel comfortable or safe, and I blamed myself. I would beat myself up. At that point I took a job, which was a completely cerebral decision – which kills you!”

Sarah – “Being in the acting industry, there is always that fear financially – that was one of the reason’s you stepped away, wasn’t it? (Turns to Jon) There’s just never that security. Even with a long-term job – like me being in the show for years and years, on and off – you still just never know what’s coming in week to week. You can be busy one month, doing well, and the next month, you might not be in any storylines and not filming and have nothing coming in. During those months you’re struggling to pay the bills and it’s hard. People don’t see that though, they think ‘Oh you’re on the tele, you’re obviously making an absolute fortune!’ Jon taking that job had meant we knew where the money was coming from every month, but it made him miserable.”

Jon – “Yes, and it was in lockdown that I realised I couldn’t carry on like that. I was completely miserable. One evening our neighbour, who is a friend and someone I had worked with in the past, said to me would you not go back into the fitness industry, and I said yes, but only if I could own my own gym. He said he felt the same and it started from there.”

Sarah – “It was actually over a few bottles of Prosecco in the garden during in lockdown! Myself and our neighbour’s wife were both cheering them on saying ‘Yes! You should do it! Do it!’” (Both laugh)

Jon – “We decided to give it a go. The idea is to create more stability, it’s a future investment and I can control more in terms of where I want the business to go, where we want to push it. It all came down to – a) me being happier and doing something that I’m interested in and b) having something to show for it at the end of the day.”

And how did lockdown affect you and your career Sarah?

Sarah – “Well the industry just shut down completely! I was unable to work at all and it was driving me crazy! I like to be busy and working towards something and obviously lockdown took that away from us and also with that, being self-employed, the financial side of things went too. I felt miserable – as we all did! We had said for a while that we needed to find something that I could do on the side, to help with my wellbeing during the quiet periods and also to help us financially, because of the lack of security in the acting industry. We had toyed with a few ideas such as opening a coffee shop etc, but we realised that wouldn’t work for us for various reasons and we didn’t have enough knowledge about running a coffee shop etc. We really wanted to find something that I could do alongside my acting career, with financial stability that was still creative and something that I would enjoy doing. That’s where the decision for me to join OnlyFans came about. We’d had a lot of conversations about it, it wasn’t done on a whim. We’d probably been discussing it for about 6 months.”

Jon – “Yes, we had a lot’s of conversations about it. It was never going to be OnlyFans at the start.”

Sarah – “Well we were just thinking about different options at the start and we kept circling back to the OnlyFans platform because of it’s business model. It’s already got the infrastructure in place, it’s global and it’s populated.”

Since making the decision to leave behind your role at Hollyoaks, how has life been for you as a family?

Sarah – “Despite what happened with my job, it’s been the best thing that we could have done, because it’s offered us both time and financial stability. I get to be my own boss. I get to take Stanley to school and pick him up. I get to be creative and decide on what I want to shoot and when. Essentially I’m just doing what I was before, but now I’m getting paid for it and I get copyright of all my images. It’s really empowering. I understand that there’s a stigma attached to the platform and it’s a bit taboo, but I think that’s just a generalisation, when people hear it – a bit like what I did when someone first mentioned it to me, I was like ‘Woah! No, no, no, that’s not the kind of thing that I’m doing.”

Did you receive a lot a judgement or criticism because of that stigma?

Jon – “I think people judge you more when you’re known.”

Sarah – “The response has been amazing and actually super overwhelming, in how positive it’s been. I didn’t announce it to the press so the big media thing that happened wasn’t my choice. I was suddenly whipped up into a media whirlwind. It was a horrible four weeks. It was overwhelming and intense, and I was like I’ve just got to ride this and defend myself. I felt like I was in fight or flight mode. I was pretty much running on adrenaline.

The judgement came more from people making assumptions about my role as an actor – ‘Why have you given up this well-paid job’ All these figures were flying around – none of which were accurate, but people read it and think it’s true and ‘Well isn’t she stupid to give up all that money and such an amazing job! Because they know nothing about it. No-one judged me on facts or asked me how I felt.”

How did the judgements affect you as parents?

Jon – “The biggest concern for me and still is, is Stanley – beyond anything else. And we still don’t know what the consequences will be for him, personally, as he gets older.”

Sarah – “But for me, the images are the same type of images that I’ve been doing since 1999, there’s no problem with that, because you could just google my name and those images will pop up. The issue for me is once he goes to high school because I would then be conscious of other children doing what grownups have been doing to me and saying ‘Ugh, you’re on the platform’ and making assumptions and making judgements. But we’ve spoken about this, I don’t know how long I’m going to be doing this for or where it will take me. But who knows in 3- or 4-years’ time this might be a distant memory and by then he’s not even 10 years old, he’s not in high school and hopefully the taboo of the platform and the stigma will have changed? And I think it will, because all the platforms are going in that direction in that they are being monetised. Instagram has just trailed it in the US that you can have a subscription alongside your free platform. Tik Tok are doing it. They will all go that way and I think OnlyFans is the original yes, but it will probably just blend in with the others. “

“…You’ve got to be the best version of you, in order to be the best parent.”

We have found when talking to other mum’s that there is a definite loss of identity when you become a parent. Do you think you will inspire other mums to think – ‘Yes, I’m a mum but it’s ok to still want to feel sexy and feel empowered by their sexuality?

Sarah – “Yes. One of the reason’s that I wanted to do this in the first place was that I really wanted to empower other women, to go, actually, when you become a mum, you don’t suddenly stop wanting to look nice, wanting to feel sexy, wanting to feel empowered. And in fact, with the sexier images that I was putting up on my Instagram prior to going on OnlyFans, I was getting so much support from other women. Saying you’ve inspired me; I think that it’s amazing that you’re doing this. That you’re looking after yourself. You’re finding the time for you, your health, your wellbeing etc and with that comes confidence. You know it’s hard work being a mum, having a job, trying to look after yourself and take time out. It really is hard work trying to juggle all those things. So, I try and be relatable on my Instagram and show the reality of that, by saying ‘Urgh, it’s been a dreadful day. I feel like crap today. Stanley’s been poorly. I’ve not managed to get to the gym – and all those things that happen.”

Jon – “Yes, just the usual, everyday stuff that is life!” (both laugh)

Sarah – “Yes, so I had so many positive messages from women, but the minute I switched my images over to OnlyFans, the main negative comments that I did get were from people were ‘You shouldn’t be doing this you’re a mum!’ Which, why it’s any different because I’ve moved my images from one platform to another – I don’t know. But also again, why? Who says that when you become a mum you can’t do that anymore? You can’t wear a short skirt. You can’t wear a figure-hugging dress. You can’t feel like your best self. You can’t look after yourself as ‘you shouldn’t have time for that’. I think it’s society saying when you’ve got all those things, in terms of being a parent, that you just can’t have those other things. But you can. It’s not easy, but if somethings important to you, you should be able to do it.”

Do you think we do lose ourselves  a little bit, both when we become parents, and through the expectations of society?

Jon – “I think when you first become a parent you do lose yourself. I think it’s inevitable. You lose your identity, you lose…”

Sarah – “You’re mind!” (laughs)

Jon – “You do lose your mind!” (We all laugh, as we can all relate to this!)

With your first especially!

Jon – “Yes, I mean everyone say’s it, ‘Your world is turned upside down!’ but that’s the truth. That doesn’t necessarily make sense to you, until you’re in it… and then it’s too late! (Once again laughter echoes around the room) Nobody can tell you how to get back to yourself and you won’t even necessarily know that you’ve lost yourself a little bit. You have to do it yourself and that what we did. And going back to the decision I made to take that job, it took me even further away from who I am. If I would have stayed like that, stayed being ‘half me’ I wouldn’t be able to the best parent, the best version of myself for my son. And for you.” (Turns to Sarah)

Sarah – “When Jon was doing that job, he wasn’t himself and he wasn’t happy. The minute he stopped doing it, I noticed the difference. And he said the same about me. As soon as I left the show and knew I wasn’t going back. That first week Jon said to me ‘Sarah’s back’. We had both lost ourselves.”

Jon – “I think that can really be difficult to grasp, especially if you don’t have a clue what you’re doing with your life.”

Especially when as a parent you’re meant to hold it together at all times!

Jon – “Oh yeah, you’re not aloud to show any pain. But making decisions from a place of ‘oh should do this, I should do that’ is the wrong way to live your life.”

Sarah – “Yes, because (pointing to Stanley) he’s going to get miserable parents.”

Jon – “Exactly!”

And finally, do you have any tips for fellow parents wanting to pursue their dreams or change course in life?

Sarah – “Coffee! So much coffee!”

Jon – “Don’t take advice from me!” (laughs) “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, or you will live your life in a box.It’s so easy to stay safe. To not listen to yourself. I’ve spent most of my life trying not to make mistakes and I wish I would have made more”

Sarah – “Yes and follow your heart. It sounds cliche, but you’ve got to be truthful with yourself. You’ve got to be the best version of you, in order to be the best parent.”

Written by
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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Paul ‘Omega’ Olima

Paul ‘Omega’ Olima

PAUL OLIMA. IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

A SOCIAL MEDIA SENSATION, AUTHOR, SPORTSMAN, TRAINER & ACTOR; PAUL OLIMA EXCELS IN MANY ROLES, BUT HOW HAS HE FOUND HIS MOST IMPORTANT ROLE SO FAR…AS A DAD TO TWO DAUGHTERS.

Since embracing his natural comic ability Paul Olima, has gained the attention of over 402k followers, tuning in daily to enjoy his ‘weird shit’ (Paul’s humorous analogy of his original sketch’s) The 34 year old Instagram sensation is a single dad of two daughters – aged 12 and 3 years old. He is sportsman, trainer, author, and actor. All in all, Paul is a successful man of many talents, but life has not been without its challenges and Paul is constantly looking for ways to improve both in terms of personal and emotional development. It is very clear that Paul absolutely adores his girls and revels in his role as a dad. “I feel as though I have no purpose when they’re not around. Even when I go on holiday with my mates, they will go for a week and I will go for three days max. I just get bored after a bit. I want to get home and play with my kids. I just feel like I have something missing, you know.” We sat down with Paul in his London home to discuss the journey that fatherhood has taken him on so far and how he juggles being such a doting dad to his daughters, whilst managing his ever-growing successful career.

What do you is find the hardest part about juggling working and being a father?

“I’m a co-parent with her mum – so I do 50/50. But when I have my daughter, I put everything second to her. I’m lucky that she goes to nursery, Monday to Friday anyway, so that means I have 9-5 to do my work. Even days like today, when it’s my day to pick her up,  I’ve got to get my work done and everything so it can be tiring by the end of the day, but she’s 3 now, nearly 4, so she’s lots of fun so I’m still looking forward to going picking her up.”

So, after you’ve picked your daughter up, as you’re self-employed how do manage the enquiries etc that you may get through once she’s back home with you?

“Well, I’m terrible, because I will put my do not disturb on. And I don’t like accepting work that will impact on my time with her, but obviously sometimes you can’t turn it down. Like last night I had a big job that I really couldn’t say no to, so I got a childminder to look after her – and she’s great – but I wasn’t home until 10pm so I felt like I wasn’t doing my job as a dad because I hadn’t read her a bedtime story. I feel like being a dad is a duty and I hate not doing my duty.
I have a 12-year-old daughter, who I had when I was 22 and I when I split up from her mother, I didn’t do my duties – as she moved to Derby, and I lived in London. I was playing football at the time, and it was a bit of nightmare trying to get up there to spend time with her. I just remember feeling like fourth choice for my daughter, as she was close to her grandparents as well. It was just the most horrible feeling. She lives closer to me now though, which is great! I can have her at weekends or pick her up from school, but as she’s 12 now so she doesn’t always want to come now, as she wants to be with her friends instead!” he laughs. “So, I’m like ok cool but that’s definitely impacted how much time I want to spend with my 3-year-old – as I want to be number 1!” he laughs.
“I know a lot of people don’t feel like they have a lot of time, but 9-5 is a lot of time to do what you need to do – if you’re productive and if they are in Nursery – as I know a lot of people don’t have that. I feel like it’s enough time for me to don my wigs and make weird videos!” we all laugh. I know that I wouldn’t be able to do what I do 100% of the time, if I wasn’t co-parenting. Obviously if she was with me full time it would be a lot harder, as it’s on the days that she’s not with me that I have my down time and I get to replenish.”

PAUL OLIMA. IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

“Having a daughter opened my eyes. I never realised how hard females had it!”

Is putting ‘do not disturb on’ hard? Does it ever cause you any anxiety, that you may miss an important email or work opportunity?

“I’m very lucky because now I’m at the stage where I have a team that help me. So, I feel like I’m winning in that respect. Once you get to that stage, those worries aren’t there like they were in the early days of being self-employed. Now I have a management team, VA, PA, social media assistant you know – I have a full team around me, so I can turn off my phone and I know that they will pick stuff up. If are self-employed and you can afford to get assistance, then do. However, even up until around a year ago, when I wasn’t at this stage, I would still try and switch off at certain times. You can always get to a message; I feel like people don’t always need a reply straight away. It’s easier to step back when you’ve not got notifications popping up. Society has gone a bit crazy expecting people to be accessible 24/7. I read a book recently – Carl Newport – Deep Work – and it’s brilliant! It’s about time boxing and how to use your time perfectly. So, like today I’ll be writing my scripts or ‘skits’, and I have to go into my little ‘weird state’ to write them, but then if my phone goes that pulls you out of the ‘weird’ space or rather my creative zone I should say! he laughs. “People presume I’m on social media all the time because of what I do, but I’m not. Most of time I’ll post, then I’ll reply for about half an hour, or so, and then put my phone away. My mates will be like, ‘Did you see that story I did?’ and I’ll be like no!” 

Self-care is obviously very important to you, what do you do to maintain that?

“I listen to classical music in the car to keep myself calm. Upskill myself and just to become a better friend. I’ve just found jujitsu, and I’ll be doing that until the day I die. It makes me feel good about myself, so yes, a lot of what I do in my spare time is all about self-care. I put my children first, then its me. Even if my mum rings me and I’m not in the best mood, I won’t answer. Sometimes you have to go, ‘I’m sorry, I just need a minute to myself.’ You need to think to yourself how are you feeling right now? Are you ready for this conversation?”

What has been the biggest change within yourself that has come from being a parent?

“When I was growing up in Dublin, I was like the only black person the other kids had ever seen and I was always having to fight. It was horrible and so I was really quite an angry person. I really wasn’t a nice person. But then when football brought me to London, things started to change and I had a chance to escape that, but underneath I was still angry. So I’ve always tried to find things to help me and that’s usually been through sport. When I had my first child and she was a girl, I never realised girls had it bad before that. But as soon as I had her, it was like my eyes opened to females and how life was for them. I started to notice things that I’d never noticed before. I remember not long after she was born, I noticed a young girl going through the park on her own and I couldn’t understand what was going on in me as I became really worried about her. Or like if a girl is walking down the street and there’s three builders shouting stuff at her it makes me angry.
It’s like I hate men now you know!” he laughs. “If I’m honest if I would have had a boy, I’m not sure much would have changed in that way. With my first I really wanted a boy, you a know a little bruiser a little ‘mini me’ and I was a bit taken aback that she was a girl but now if ended up with 6 girls I’d be over the moon!”

What does the future look like for you family wise and your career?

“I want 4 more but I want to be married first – so I can be a better Dad. I love watching my girls together, my heart just goes! I’ve just filmed my first acting job actually, which is out this month on ITV2. So, it’s Hollywood next!” he laughs. “I just want to keep creating content and growing on what I’m already doing, you know?”

Do you have any tips for any other single dads out there trying to build their business?

“If you’re a single dad, just try and be steps ahead, it’s not easy but if you’re prepared and organised it really helps.”

Paul Olima
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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read more