Inspirational mum in business and events guru, Laura Wolfe

Inspirational mum in business and events guru, Laura Wolfe

Laura Wolfe © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE

Inspirational mum in business, and events guru, Laura Wolfe, is unsurprisingly one of the most well-respected women in her industry. Alongside her flourishing career, Laura, is also a doting mum of two boys, aged 11 and 16 – and one very cute cavapoo, Teddy!

“I always say ‘the juggle-struggle is real’ – and it absolutely is!”

With a long-established career in events – particularly renowned within the footballing industry, Laura is also the driving force behind the NWFA (Northwest Football Awards). She took on the prestigious awards over 10 years ago – back when she was just a fan, but this didn’t deter Laura from her vision and desire to carve out a successful career path in a field that she loved. It’s no surprise that Laura is now working with Women in Football, who champion female talent in a bid to bring about change in attitudes to women working in the industry.

Laura’s story is a compelling one filled with incredible highs and devastating lows. Personally, she has gone through the heartbreak of a divorce and the loss of her dad, and it was only just over 5 years ago when Laura lost everything as her business went into insolvency. Consequently hitting rock bottom. Plagued with overwhelming mum guilt and consumed by the excruciating feelings of failure, Laura initially wanted to hide away, bury her ambitions, and get a job working in a supermarket. But then, with the support of her incredible family; her mother, her brother, her sister, and her partner – who have supported her no matter what; Laura courageously coached herself back into a stronger mindset, and she inspirationally jumped back into the world of business! And thank goodness she did, as it was only two years later that she embarked on an 18-month journey, that would become the highlight of her entire career. That career highlight being that Laura was appointed to manage Manchester City’s captain Vincent Kompany’s testimonial season; seeing her work alongside Vincent Kompany himself, and Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, to raise over £850,000 for a homeless charity. The fact that Laura is a lifelong City fan meant that this amazing opportunity had added meaning to her.

As a loving mum and daughter (as Laura also helps to look after her mother) and several formidable business ventures, it’s no surprise that Laura’s schedule is jam-packed. So, we asked the question so many people want to ask – how does she do it?

“I literally get to a Friday night, and I don’t understand where the week has gone!” she laughs.

We all know how hard it can be to achieve that ‘work life balance’ when you are running a business and juggling life as a parent, do you allow yourself any ‘me time’ and how do you fit that into your hectic schedule?

“I love going to the gym. The gym for me is my time – my hour. And to fit that in I have to do the 6am/7am class. It’s not always possible, like recently I’ve been too tired to get up and do it. But I do try to incorporate it into my routine as much as possible. Last week for example, I was in London on the Tuesday, my partner Daniel was away on the Wednesday in Newcastle, the kids were at their dad’s and the dog has gone to his doggy hotel – which sounds ridiculous, but because we’re all away and out, we just know he’ll have a lovely time there with all the other dogs and that’s obviously an extra weight off your mind. So, it was just me and I could have slept until 8am, but instead I got up to do my gym class. I could have used that time to catch up on my sleep, but I just know on the days that I do go to the gym; I feel much better than the days I don’t. Without a doubt. And I love it! It’s changed my life – so for me it’s a massive thing. And most of the time it’s doable until it’s half term or other school holidays, or my mum needs something, or my kids need something – then something’s got to give and usually it’s your ‘me time’!

“I always say ’the juggle struggle is real’ – and it absolutely is!”

Laura WOLFE IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD

With such a hectic schedule how do you manage to fit in your ‘mum jobs’ alongside the demands of your business? 

“My children are split between me and their father. They are with me for 8 nights and then with him for 6 nights. It’s not my choice, but it’s what you have to do, because their dad loves them too, there’s no doubt about it. But I’m still their mum whether they are with me or not, and the organisational side of things still falls to me. I’m naturally a control freak and it took me a long time to let that go, but I still need to make sure everything is done and that everything is in place so that they can do what they need to. So, whether they are with me or not they will still ring me, and you still have those ‘mum jobs’ to do. I’m so lucky my partner Daniel is brilliant. He will take my youngest to football on a Saturday and Sunday. He loves that, he played a lot himself when he was younger. So, he’s brilliant, but of course it’s still challengingly. I can be in London at an event, like I was on Tuesday. My eldest calls me and he’s stressing about something – which is fine because I’m his Mum and he needs me – so obviously I have to take that time out to sort things out things like that. The kids always come first. No matter how busy I am, there are moments I don’t want to miss because they are important moments, and they need their mum there.”

Laura Wolfe and MCFC player Vincent Kompany
Laura WOLFE with x-MCFC PLAYER vincent kompany, TAKEN FROM LAURA’S INSTAGRAM account

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You have an extra role to juggle in looking after your mum, how do you manage to fit that into your busy schedule.

“Mum is 84, she’s fantastic, she’s been there supporting me all my life. So now it’s my turn. My father passed away in 2015. My brother lives in America and my sister lives in Israel. We’re a really close family, but geographically we are massively dispersed, so the day-to-day falls to me. So, during Covid again, it was down to me to look after my mum – we live 5 doors down from her – which has brilliant benefits; she’s got an incredible relationship with my children, well all of her grandchildren really, but obviously with us being so close by, she does a lot with my kids and sometimes I couldn’t manage without her support too. But mum can get herself in a bit of mess with things like her phone etc and she needs me to go and help her, which I had to do yesterday and before you know it, it’s two hours out of your working day.

I grew up in a Jewish household with a mum who gave everything to her family – and I mean everything! Before my mum had me, my parents lived in Maidstone, and she was about to be made Mayor of Maidstone. She was a woman in her twenties, with all these men in a room smoking and she was sat there looking glamourous – and this was in the days where women didn’t do that! But then Dad’s job brought them up here and since then she gave her life to family and the community. She’s got an MBE for her services to the community. So, she’s a force. At 84, she’s still a total inspiration and as involved as ever, which is just amazing!”

And you’re also a mum to a gorgeous little cavapoo, Teddy, which is obviously another responsibility that you have to manage. Tell us a bit more about Teddy and how you make that work. 

“Our puppy Teddy is a lockdown down puppy. We love him, he’s like another baby to me. I would have wanted another baby – as I’m one of three and we’re so close – but it just wasn’t to be for me, as my life went in another direction. So, we love our pup, but because he was a lockdown puppy, he’s not good on his own. So, obviously we have to factor him into our schedule too. We’ve organised it really well now, he goes to doggy day care, and he absolutely loves it! It’s like playgroup he’s got a ball pit, slide paddling pool – I mean it sounds ridiculous, but he loves it so we know he’s happy when he’s there.”

Obviously, the events industry was hit incredibly hard through covid, that must have been tough, and you would have obviously had the boys the home-school too. So how did lockdown impact you professionally and as a parent?   

“Lockdown was an absolute nightmare! I mean for all parents it was just so hard. My eldest was 14 at the time and he slept all day and gamed all night. He only really came out of his room to eat and grunt something, but I just went with it because I had to. He couldn’t swim or do any of the things he would normally be doing, so it was awful and it was hard emotionally. My youngest needed home schooling and at the start school didn’t actually give them that much to do and he is so ridiculously conscientious that he would get it all done straight away. And as you said my businesses then was events and football – there were no events and no football. I remember the day they said it was all happening and we had to shut the office, we thought we would all be back in three weeks. We were really busy at the time, we were gearing up to do the PFA Awards etc and obviously none of those events went ahead and lockdown went on much longer than we all anticipated. I was running – a lot – but also eating – a lot! I was baking bread – in fact my youngest will say mum you never bake bread anymore! And I’m like ‘When am I meant to fit baking bread in now?’ (she laughs)

But as time went on and I realised that this wasn’t going away quickly, I set up my concierge business – looking after footballers primarily. Like helping them find a place to live if they’re moving from overseas, or to help them find a school etc. So that was great because that kept me busy setting that up. Then I’m really friendly with Brian Horton, ex-football manager and brilliant guy and he had written a book and I said to him ‘Who is doing the media for you book? I don’t do PR, but do you want me to help you?’ He said yes, will you speak to the publisher. Which I did, and I did the media for the book for him – just because I wanted to – and it went brilliantly, and the publisher asked me how much I charged! I didn’t know what to say as I’d never really done it before. But that was October 2020 and now we’re in May 2022 and I have provided the media relations for all of those books. (Points to an array of books displayed with pride in her office) I generally do the personality led books and so it’s great to work with so many inspiring sports personalities.

Then in February 2021 Women In Football got in touch and asked if I would meet with them as their head of events was really unwell with covid. It went really well and I’m still working for them now and we’re doing some really great and exciting things.

As much as covid was incredibly hard, it gave me was a chance to rethink things and look at things differently, and without that happening I would never have done the media side, or the Women in Football and I love it, and I’m good at it!

And of course, fast forward to now and the events industry is booming again. A lot of people have left the industry too and so there aren’t as many companies or freelancers around, so its crazy busy at the minute. But I’m not complaining as I’ve been on the other side where I lost everything! I’ve made some bad choices, put the wrong people around me, thought I knew how to do it and listened to people I shouldn’t have, and I lost everything!”

That must have been extremely hard. Do you think that’s almost part of the process though, to be successful? To make the mistakes, to endure the struggles and then grow through them.

“Well, I feel I have a lot of catching up to do because my divorce took its toll on me, I lost my dad, and having kids is really difficult. And when things are going well it’s great, but without going into it too much, like all kids, my kids have had their issues, and as a parent you find yourself dealing with those too, both emotionally. And sometimes that has been really hard and heart-breaking. Kids can say things they don’t mean because they’re hurting and you just want to make it all better for them, and sometimes you can’t.

At the end of 2017 when everything went, I was made bankrupt and my business went into insolvency and there were lots of different reasons for that and I remember sitting at Oddfellows in the park in Cheadle, with my brother who over from the US and Daniel, my partner. And I said to them I’m going to go and work in Marks & Spencer, and I was serious and do you know my reason for that was that they give you 20% discount on the food! And Daniel was so angry, to hear me be so defeatist like that, but my brother said just let her go through it. I just thought I can never show my face in Manchester again! No-one will ever want to work with me again! It was just horrible. I was let down by some people, but ultimately, I take responsibility for what happened. And then I ended up starting up another business, but it was completely different to the business I had before in that it was me front and centre, it reflected me and that’s what people wanted and always had, but I had tried to make the other business into something it was never going to be.”

It’s very inspiring that you went back into the world of business despite going through that and it obviously takes a lot of strength, how difficult was it to get back out there and start over again?

“I had a really lucky break in 2019, it was Vincent Kompany’s testimonial season at Manchester City and he came to the NWFA to present an award to Brian Kidd with Gary Neville and I met his business partner and the guy that manages him and I got on really well with them an then after we had had a coffee they gave me the gig to run his testimonial season so I worked with him for 18 months. And as a city fan that is like your ultimate dream, like I can’t even tell you what that meant, it was incredible. And when it was over, I was kind of like what do I do now? And he said good things will come to you, just trust the process.

Then when I started working with him the trolls came out and I remember sitting at my desk and Amy, a colleague and friend who had been with me throughout it all said ‘Laura don’t look at Twitter, don’t look at it!’ and obviously I did and it was just disgusting, the things they were saying about me, about my mum, there was antisemitic stuff, there was stuff about what happened with my old business and there was stuff about my partner and this was all because I was working with Vincent Kompany and Andy Burnham – because we were raising money for the homeless. And it was just horrific and because I wasn’t expecting it, it really knocked me. Honestly?  It made me not want to be here anymore.  It’s tough to admit that, but it’s true.  And I remember Andy Burnham rang me and said I signed up for this, this is part of my job, but you didn’t, the only reason they are doing this is because you are actually doing something positive. I know its horrible but just keep doing what you’re doing. And Vinny’s team were like, we’ve got you, if it carries on, we’ll sort it but for now let’s just ignore it. And when I started working with them, I had told them everything, so they knew everything, you know ‘This has happened to me, I’ve done this, I’ve done that, this is what happened, and it was a part of my life.’ They didn’t care, in fact they already knew about everything anyway, but the fact that I told them without them asking me, I think that showed them that I’m ok, you know. So that was extremely tough, and I blocked my account for ages and was then like sod it! And I got to the point where I though ‘I actually don’t care’ It’s actually something that we’re trying to stop through Women in Football, because unfortunately it’s something that is prevalent for women in football. I just don’t understand why, but it happens.”

Obviously 10 years ago in Football you didn’t see many women involved in football, have you had to fight even harder to carve out your career because of that?

Oh yes! Most men have probably never been asked to explain the offside rule, but I have many, many, times! We were talking about this at an event the other night and we all agreed that you don’t have to know everything, because men don’t know everything either. And I don’t know everything, and I didn’t know everything ten years ago, but I never pretended to know everything. But when you’re going into a room full of men and who already have preconceptions about you, it can be intimidating. Even going back to when I moved to Manchester, and I went to work at the Institute of Directors, I was the youngest and only female regional director they had, and that there had ever been before! I remember thinking to myself we’ve got to change this. I’ve seen some awful stuff over the years and heard some awful stories, I’m fortunate to not have experienced it too myself but it definitely something that happens. We have come a long way, although there is still a lot further to go. I’m a firm believer in women supporting other women to pave the way forward.”

What advice would you give other mums who are also striving to achieve success in their careers?

“I think you always strive for more. You always think that you’re not doing well. You always think that you could have done something better. I have the worst imposter syndrome. But I think firstly, you can’t regret anything – and that’s something I’ve had to really work on – learning not to regret things, because it nearly finished me! Secondly, know that you’re not on your own. The more you can open up and talk about things the better. I used to have this outward facing thing, particularly on social media, that everything is brilliant, everything is fantastic. Always saying, I’m fine to anyone who asked. So, no one ever knew that underneath my world was crumbling and falling apart. That I was losing everything. That I felt like the worst mum in the world, because I just couldn’t be there for my kids in the way that I wanted to be because I wasn’t emotionally strong enough, and I didn’t ask for help. But everybody struggles. Everybody fails. I failed very dramatically and very publicly.  Get yourself a girl gang of cheerleaders too.  Everybody needs their girl gang.  Mine is ace!

And thirdly be kind to yourself, I am not kind to myself – I need to listen to my own advice on this one. I’m always telling myself I should be doing better; I should be doing more. And it’s constant and I’m always on the go until I remind myself that’s not sustainable and I’m a human being, and that something has got to give. Oh, and learn to say no as well – it’s ok to say no. You can’t be the best friend in the world, the best mum in the world, the best partner in the world, the best person in the gym, the best businessperson etc… I can’t do it! Nobody can and you just need to remember that.”

 

Laura Wolfe

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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Auntie Cath cooks shredded chicken thai salad

Auntie Cath cooks shredded chicken thai salad

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!

Shredded Chicken Thai Salad

(Or you can use baked miso tofu if you’re veggie/vegan)

Ingredients
3-4 chicken breasts, cooked then shredded
4 tbsp sesame seeds – toasted
2 courgettes- spiralized
1 cup mange tout – raw
4 spring onions – sliced
1/2 iceberg lettuce – finely chopped
Handful fresh coriander – roughly chopped

The Dressing:
4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp of soy sauce/tamari
1tbsp honey
Juice of one lime

Toss all salad ingredients together in a bowl.
Whizz up dressing. Pour dressing over salad and sprinkle with extra sesame seeds.

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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Brooke Vincent: Mum, actress and Business Owner

Brooke Vincent: Mum, actress and Business Owner

BROOKE VINCENT AND HER SON MEXX. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE

Brooke Vincent 

“…you completely forget about yourself and anything else that might be important to you!”

Doting mum of two, Brooke Vincent is best known for her role in one of the UK’s most loved TV programmes, Coronation Street, but in 2018 Brooke boldly ventured into the world of business launching her company Oh So B. After starting the business in her bedroom, whilst juggling her acting career, Brooke’s fabulous stationery brand has gone from strength to strength, and Oh So B has now become one of the go-to brands for practical and stylish planners for busy professionals. We sat down with Brooke to chat about what inspired her to step into the daunting world of business and how different she finds running a business now that she is a mum of two gorgeous boys under two – Mexx and Monroe. It was both inspiring and refreshing to hear Brooke talk with honesty about the daily juggle, how she – like so many of us – sets unrealistic expectations for herself and how she deals with the dreaded mum guilt, when those hectic weeks creep in…

What inspired you to start Oh So B?

“Well, while I was doing Dancing on Ice, I was also doing radio – which I had to be up at five for, then I would finish that and go to do my ice-skating rehearsals, then I would go to Coronation Street, then I would go and do dance and then I would go home. And it was literally the craziest time of my life and when it stopped, I like what now? I remember being sat at home and I was like right, ‘we need to move house, we need to get a dog, I think we should have a baby.’ I felt like something was missing – I was missing the chaos. And it was during that time that I decided to start doing planners.”

Brooke Vincent and son Mexx
BROOKE VINCENT AND HER SON MEXX. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
oh so b

Why planners? Was that something you were passionate about?

“Well, I’ve always loved planners, dairies and any kind of stationery really, and I remember this one year I had spent about £200 on this planner from America. But they would only ship to the US and my friend Sacha was over there filming at the time, and I said to her, ‘I’m going to get this planner delivered to your house and you bring it home when you come back. Please don’t open it, don’t write in in it, don’t write your birthday in it or anything – because I won’t find that funny!’  (We laugh – as a stationery geek myself I totally get this!) When I did get it, it was like a lightbulb, I knew that wanted to create a planner of my own. And that’s how it came about. I always like to push myself and better myself and Oh So B has allowed me to do just that.”

And you didn’t have kids at this point, so how has it changed running the business prior to having kids as opposed to after having children?

“No, gosh, I didn’t have the boys then!” she laughs. “I have a lady, who is also a family friend Amanda who helps me manage the business now, and I’m very lucky as she’s great, she’s so knowledgeable and I feel like she knows all the things that I might not. I decided to bring Amanda on because I made a lot of mistakes at the beginning as I had no experience in business – I’ve gained a huge respect for anyone running a business – and as it’s grown, I’ve managed to build a mini team. I also pulled in a lot of favours at the start, like you do. The major difference now is, well I don’t even think this is just when you’re running your own business; I think any working mum – or dad – feels this way, but when you’re trying to give your children attention, whilst also trying to give your attention to something else that needs your attention, is the hardest thing in the world! Especially when you’ve got more than one!”

How do you fit in running your business now that you have two babies so close together?

“Well, Mexx, didn’t go to nursery until he was 18 months old because of covid, whereas Monroe, started when he was six months old, and as much I found it hard because I felt like he was so young, they don’t go full time and they love it and there’s only so much you can do for them at home. And it’s nice for you to know that you are dropping them off and they are safe, happy, and occupied. So I try and be as productive as possible in the days that they are at nursery so the rest of the time I can just concentrate on them.”

I know a lot of mums, myself included, feel guilty when they are working that they aren’t with their children, and anxious when they are with the kids that they aren’t doing the work that they need to do. Is that something that you can relate to?

“Oh yes, absolutely! It’s a constant battle within yourself! I think one thing I’ve really struggled with since becoming a mum is that you never stop feeling guilty over something! So even if it’s not over your kids or work, it might be over the time you spend with your partner, or your friends; whatever the situation maybe. I know they call it ‘work life balance’ but to me it’s the ‘mum life balance’ as I think you just get so wrapped up in the babies and what they need, that you completely forget about yourself and anything else that might be important to you. I also feel that if you do something to make your life easier, i.e., send the children to nursery, get a cleaner, etc for some reason you feel guilty. Because you question your own capabilities like, ‘Why can’t I run a business, look after the kids, run the house, look the best, feel my best, give the kids everything – why can’t I do that? I’m really hard on myself like that.”

Brooke Vincent

Do you think that is something we all do, that we set high expectations for ourselves and worry that others are judging us when really, it’s us that are judging ourselves?

Yes, I think it’s really hard for a woman to have a career and be a mum without feeling that. I think it’s one of those things that a lot of judgement comes from within us.

Do you think social media plays a part in putting too much pressure on ourselves?

“Yes, because you look at certain people and the homes are immaculate; they look immaculate and the kids look immaculate, and you just think why I can’t be like that. But at the same time, it baffles me because really, we all know that they won’t be like that all the time but scrolling through lots of pictures like that just makes you feel like you’re underachieving somehow. Like for me when I saw people in jeans not long after giving birth, I was like how they are back in their jeans – because I couldn’t fit in mine. And I don’t know whether I felt the pressure more because I’m a ‘younger’ mum or what it was, but I definitely felt a lot of pressure to ‘bounce back’.

I think a lot of new parents – I know I felt it myself – feel like they lose their identity a little bit. Have you felt like that at all?

“When I was pregnant, we’d had a normal summer, I had Mexx in the winter and then it was lockdown, so I think everyone struggle a bit then and he was nine months old, we said shall we have another baby – as we wanted them to be close together and luckily, I got pregnant again really quickly. Everything with the pregnancy went well and he was healthy – which is obviously something that plays on everyone’s minds when they are expecting a baby. And Monroe arrived and it’s only recently that I’ve been able to get back into my old clothes again, but essentially, they are three years old those clothes now and they’re not necessarily in fashion or I have already worn them lots already. Although I have quite a few key pieces in my wardrobe that I can mix, and match and wear again rather than you know wear it once and give it to charity. I feel like I have lost my identity in terms of how I look, at times, as I’d gotten so used to wearing baggy clothes. And now, that I want to look nice, I just don’t have the time to try lots of things on and put an outfit together. The amount of chaos it causes in our house if I try to put a full face of makeup on for example before I leave the house, well, it’s just not worth it, so I just don’t bother – then I’ll get to Nanna’s, and she’ll tell me how tired I look!” she laughs. “Obviously, you do feel different, and it is tiring, but being a mum is also one of the best things in the world!”

What do you have planned in your business over the next few years?

“Well, I feel like a lot of the ideas I had the start that I’ve still not managed to action with as yet, as I started the business in the June and by the January, I found out I was pregnant and then we’ve had all the various lockdowns and obviously I went on to get pregnant with Monroe, etc, so I still don’t feel like I’ve been able to run with it fully the way I wanted too. And as I much as I still have lots of ideas and goals for the business, I feel like it’s ok not to push it as fast as I would have done if I didn’t have the kids, because I can cope with the pressures as it stands now, but because the boys are so young, I don’t really want to push it even more just yet as it will just become too overwhelming, and I want to enjoy the boys being babies too.”

Do you have any advice or tips for fellow working parents?

“If there are any tips out there you need to tell me because my life is just like a circus!” We all laugh and chat about life within our own circus’.  “I think even though it’s something I struggle with myself, I feel like I’m constantly learning, but you should expect too much from yourself and you need to remind yourself just what good job you’re doing. That’s why I’ve included reminders in my planners that ‘you are doing your best’, as I think it’s so important for us remember that.”

“…you completely forget about yourself and anything else that might be important to you.”

Written by
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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Culinary genius Simon Wood’s Inspiring Journey and his goal for a Michelin star

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SIMON WOOD OF WOOD MANCHESTER AND WoodKraft Cheltenham. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
“I want to have a Michelin star restaurant and I’ll do it! It might take me ten years, but I will do it!”

Culinary genius, Simon Wood, rose to fame as the winner of MasterChef in 2015. In 2016 his debut cookbook – At Home with Simon Wood was published and in 2018 he realised his dreams when he opened his first restaurant – Wood Restaurant in Manchester. He then opened his second restaurant in the December of 2018 – WoodKraft in Cheltenham. But the road to success was not without hard work, sacrifice, and enduring lots of challenges. Simon became a father at a young age and at the time he was working at McDonalds. By the time he was 22, he and his partner had three young children, life was far from easy and career success was seemingly a world away. So when we had the pleasure of sitting down with Simon at his sophisticated Manchester restaurant, we were bowled over by the father of four’s inspiring and incredible journey, and we are sure it will inspire all of you too!

Simon Wood
SIMON WOOD. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
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As soon as we sat down, Simon was so welcoming and jumped straight into a conversation about how dramatically his life had changed since he first became a father…

Simon – “By the time I was 22 I had three children under 5 years old, so I know what it’s like earning £140 a week and making it stretch. ‘Can I get a beer on a Friday night, or do we need nappies?’ Of course, you always have to choose the nappies. That’s the way it was. Then I ended up being a data scientist and made a successful career out of that. Then MasterChef happened and here we are – I’ve got no money again!” He laughs “I’m a grandad now as well, my middle lad has had his first child, so my granddaughter is one and a half. I’m still not sure I’m ready to be called a grandad yet either!” he laughs.

So, has cooking always been a passion of yours?

“Yes, I’ve always done it. I’ve just always loved cooking. I used to find ways to make ends meet, whilst raising three children. I would regularly cook for friends and family, and host dinner parties. And I would do buffets, weddings, christenings – any private events really, just to earn a bit of extra money on the side at weekends.”

And you mentioned earlier that you first became a data scientist. How did that come about?

“I’d spent a lot of time learning about data, initial basic programming, so I became a data scientist and no one ever wakes up and says ‘I think I’m going to become a data scientist.’ People don’t do that. But looking back, it was great learning curve, and it still helps me now – with percentages, GP calculations, wage calculations, negotiations etc – so there’s lots of aspects from it that I still use today. Back then I also managed quite a big team so again, that helped me gain experience as I obviously manage a large team now too. I also met some great contacts doing that, for example, through one of my contacts as a data scientist I ended up cooking for Billy Ocean and Pink Floyd – which was mental.”

We imagine this industry doesn’t lend itself to family life does it, how did you find that adjustment as a father?     

“I was all set to be chef from an early age and I didn’t do it, because life took me in a different direction and it was family life that changed that – of course in a nice way, I have no regrets. I wouldn’t be where I am now without doing it the way I did. I’d probably be sick of it, pulling my hair out, trying to earn a living somewhere else with two or three failed restaurants behind me. That’s the reality of it, that’s what can happen if you’re not focused. But as it stands, I’ve got a good platform, a good springboard, and a good support network around me (within the Manchester industry in particular.)

People that have supported me and have told people about us, now other people want to come down here, its great! As well as the good food, it’s about being hospitable, it’s called hospitality for a reason, it’s about earning a living but enjoying what you do as well.”

Simon Wood
SIMON WOOD. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE

Covid notoriously hit this the hospitality industry really hard, how much did this affect you, both as a business and as a family?

“Going back to the family thing, every one of my family has worked in this restaurant. Because being honest, I’ve needed them to. Everyone seemed to quit after covid. Despite the staff being kept on furlough for 18 months or so, everyone came back but did six services then left! We lost around eight staff in total. This was hard. They were people we’d been loyal to. Really loyal, even when we’d struggled to find money for their wages, I couldn’t see them struggle, so had to take it out of our my own pocket before the government paid it back in 6 weeks.

Plus, they’d all accrued holidays while they were all off, so when we re-opened, six services in and our head chef just quit, our sommelier, followed by our assistant manager. The Chef de partie was being offered head chef roles elsewhere, even though the restaurant offering them wasn’t ready, the industry was on its knees, and it was brutal. That was probably the most challenging time. I had my sons on the pots, I had my daughter and her mum polishing cutlery and glasses in the back. I was taking peas home to pod on my day off because I didn’t have enough time to do it there, all kinds of stuff had gone on, but that was a challenging time and I’m lucky I have a great family. They’ve all been really supportive of me. They’ve been through the whole journey, of course, since MasterChef especially, it’s been beneficial for me, there’s no escaping that but it has been for them too, because it’s given us [all] a fantastic quality of life, maybe not fantastic, but it’s certainly a better, more diverse, and interesting one! The people that you see, the people that you meet and that you cook for. Even doing things like this. That’s what makes hospitality worthwhile, it’s a network of enjoyment, I guess. It’s hard, you know. We might do 80 hours in four days, and then I wake up on a Sunday morning to go get Charlotte, my daughter, because it’s her day with me and I can’t get up – literally; so I have to sit for a minute and finally start to wander round like a 90-year-old, then finally by 4 o’clock when you’ve had a glass of wine, you can move around again a bit quicker.”

How do think it has impacted and inspired your children overall?

“Growing up, the lads have had other jobs over the years, that weren’t in the restaurant sector, but when they’ve come in to help out here, done a day on the pots, then suddenly whatever job they’d been doing before, doesn’t seem so bad. They’d do 7 and half hours with an hour’s lunch break at their work place, whereas here, when you’re 7 and a half hours in, it means it’s only half past three, and we haven’t even started service yet! When you’re in at 8am and you don’t leave until 1am – that’s working hard! So, it’s been good for them to see how hard it is, its definitely been grounding for them. They’ve learnt a lot from that, but so have I. You know I came from an office background originally, I used to go in the office early around 6.30am to miss the traffic and get an early start, but I’d always leave early and be home by 6pm. So, it’s not that long of a day looking back – for an office day, it’s probably quite long for an office job now I guess, but in this [restaurant] world it’s not at all.”

You’ve obviously always had a strong work ethic, do you think that has come from you having such a lot of responsibility from being a father at such a young age, or has that come from somewhere else?

“I got that from my parents, you know, I was always told, if you want money, you go out and get a paper round. Whereas I probably made the mistake of saying to mine not to – I felt like it was a bit risky them being out that late, for not a lot of money – I wasn’t sure it was worth it. So I didn’t push them in that direction. Well, at least with my first lad I didn’t, whereas my second lad he wanted to, so he did it regardless. And my third lad works the same hours as me in a Michelin star restaurant – as he’s a chef now too. So, it’s funny how your dynamic changes throughout. But in the end, they have all worked really hard, following their own passions and they really enjoy it. And that’s the key isn’t it, it’s making sure you’re doing something that you enjoy. We all know that if you’re enjoying it, it’s not really work. It might be stressful, it might be difficult, but it’s still enjoyable. If even on your worst day you can think – it’s alright – well, once you’ve thrown a few things that is. He laughs.

The margins are tight, there’s all kinds of things that you have to do but if you love what you do it’s worth it. We’ve even slept in the restaurant to save hotel bills; we’ve done home deliveries to save on fuel – you name it, we’ve done it. It’s definitely not as glamorous as it might seem on the outside sometimes.”

I think that’s something that we feel very passionate about with BROOD, is getting across the reality of what goes on behind the scenes in order to get to that success or achieve your dreams, whilst juggling your kids, as it’s very rare that it happens overnight or without sacrifice.

“Oh yeah, for around 6 years, I worked in a warehouse in the morning at half past six until quarter past three and I would pick the kids up from school, then my missus would go out and work in the same warehouse and do the half past three while 10 o’clock shift – and that’s how we did it back then, because we had to. It was hard. And some weeks you would throw in a bit of overtime on a Saturday to make ends meet, the lads would have football on a Sunday and then your week would start again! Then I started to dabble in IT in the late 90’s, taught myself basic programming and different other bits, and just progressed from there and ended up being quite successful in a more corporate industry, because I needed to do something more than what I had been doing. I couldn’t even afford a computer to practise on, but I was determined to change course no matter what. Once I got into that industry, and I had the tools to progress, I did it quite quickly. In a year I was managing the team, in two years I was managing the department and then I moved into the university side of things – looking at statistics there.”

So, at that point you had obviously carved out a new career for yourself that you were doing really well in, what made you decide to do MasterChef?  

“Well, I’d gone to work one morning, and my boss had really got up my nose! So, I clicked off my emails, got myself a coffee and started to look on Facebook and a little advert popped up at the side and it said, ‘Are you the next champion?’ [of MasterChef] so I just clicked it and that was that. I got on and won it! I had always been that guy at home questioning ‘Why are they cooking that!’. Everyone had always said to me, ‘Why don’t you do it?’ But in reality, I applied in temper. Everything I wrote in that application was very honest, but it probably had a little edge to it!” [We all laugh.]

“After getting through the application process, you do three telephone interviews, then you go to a hotel, take a dish with you – I was shaking, frightened to death at that point. And after that, once you’ve got through all that, you get into the kitchen and that’s it – the rest is history.”

At what point did you think, I could win this?

“I was never over confident to start with, I have to be honest, but there are points that I do remember where, at the end of each show you would walk around and look at what everyone else had done and you get to taste the food, I started to think, ‘Mine’s better than that, it’s better than that, it’s better than that one’ and it was at that point that I’d think, ‘I’m alright here’ and then I’d get through to the next round. Looking back, there was a couple of pivotal moments, like we’d had a shocking round as a team, I didn’t think it was managed properly and I lost my temper. So then I ended up running the team for the episode with the red arrows, and I was like a top gun geek and I was on the runway with red arrows and they’re flying around and I’m running the kitchen and I was just like, ‘this is me, I’m done now, I’m happy’ and I think it was there where a little switch clicked and it made me a little bit into what I am today, tenacious, direct, driven and passionate. I knew 100% from that point that was what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be.”

You have achieved so much already, what other goals do you have and what do you want for the future of your business?

“Well, we’re pushing towards a Michelin star, so my aim is to get a Michelin star, I want to have a Michelin star restaurant and I’ll do it! It might take me ten years, but I will do it! One way or other, because that’s my goal. I’m going keep trying and we’ve got a great team here. It’s really enjoyable despite it’s ups and downs, the kids are a little older now, my youngest Charlotte is taking her exams soon.”

Do you ever switch off? And if so, do you find it easy to switch off?  

“You’ve got to try and find a way to run a business by keeping your stress levels down so that your home life isn’t affected. Like on my Sunday, that’s my day with my family, so if I’m having an off day  I’m stressed, you know, that’s not how I want that day to be but it’s ruthless at times so it can be hard to switch off.

Especially when you’re tired, your body’s broken and you’ve not broke even that week, they’re the weeks you’ve got to try harder than ever to find that balance. But most Sundays, I manage it, and we’ll either watch the football or eat out so I’m not cooking, and when the boys have gone home me, and Charlotte will watch a box set or something together. We’re closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, which highlights how hard the other days are. Although we’re meant to be off on a Tuesday and a lot of us (the chefs) still come in, because we all know what needs to be done. You can’t really switch food off though, because it’s not up here (points to his head) it’s in here (points to his heart).”

And finally, what tips would you give to anyone else starting out into the world of business or looking to achieve their career goals? How does someone find the type of drive and determination that you’ve got?

“I think circumstance can dictate the amount drive that you have, like my dad died when I was 11. I had a paper round then, then I went working at the working mans club, then onto McDonalds at 15. So, I’ve always worked. I think family or personal circumstances change your work ethic. I think I would advise any young people wanted to find that work ethic to come into hospitality because it’s fun, it’s fast, it’s frantic, it’s ferocious – it’s always entertaining and it’s always hard. I think it’s something people can learn from very quickly. Hospitality is just a great steppingstone no matter what you want to do. If you can cook or pour a pint, you’ll never be out of work any where in the world – simple as that!”

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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Interview with Renowned Celebrity Make Up Artist, Cassie Lomas

Interview with Renowned Celebrity Make Up Artist, Cassie Lomas

CASSIE LOMAS, HER HUSBAND CHRIS BELL AND THEIR CHILDREN ELKIE & SPIKE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
“I can’t see obstacles, so if I want something, this is my motto, ‘Just make it happen, let’s just make it happen!”

Renowned Celebrity Make -Up Artist, Cassie Lomas, has built an incredible empire since breaking into the Make Up industry in her early twenties and her impressive portfolio of businesses include one of the UK’s most respected Make Up Academy’s – CLMA, an esteemed line of professional make up brushes, a make-up line within Superdrug and Creatives Make Up Agency – which has helped launch and support the careers for hundreds of upcoming MUA’s; all whilst being a doting mum to her two gorgeous children, Spike and Elkie. We sat down to hear how Cassie carved out her own path within the Make Up industry; how teamwork with her husband, Chris, has most definitely made the dream work, and how the last decade of sheer hard work and determination, has led to now finding the ultimate balance between her career and motherhood. You cannot help but feel in awe of Cassie’s formidable drive and what she has achieved already; but it wasn’t always easy, and her story is sure to motivate us all, to see that we can achieve anything that we want to, despite any obstacles that may get in your way!

Cassie Lomas
CASSIE LOMAS. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
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What made you decide to become a Make Up Artist and how did you get into the industry in the beginning?

“Well, I went to a girls grammar school – I went to Manchester High School for girls, so I was brought up in a very academic environment, where I was expected to go and become a lawyer, or an accountant or something along those lines and I felt a lot of pressure at the time because I’m fairly bright, but I wouldn’t say I was really academic, you know, I’m not one of those super intelligent people, I’m much more creative. So, for me at that point, there weren’t really any creative options, it wasn’t something that was talked about back then. And I only really knew about make up because I had previously done some modelling so had some experience of being on photoshoots, and I was doing my A Levels and someone came round college with these options for a night course, and I saw Interior Design and thought, ‘oh yeah, I’d love to do that!’ and then I saw Cosmetic Make Up and I thought, ‘Well maybe I’ll do Make Up so I could earn some money on the side while I go to Uni!’ Or you know have a year out and just do Make Up, so that was why I started it. And from there, well I realised it wasn’t quite that easy.” (We all laugh) “But once I’d started, I thought, ‘Well I can’t stop now,’ and I loved it, I was so passionate, and it’s been my hobby since then and I was 17 then.”

Obviously, you went on to create a successful career for yourself, when Make Up wasn’t really seen as a ‘proper’ career choice at that time.

“No, it wasn’t seen as a proper career at the time, and it’s never been intentional, well not that I remember, you know, I never really intended on becoming a Make Up artist. I remember, because I did a business degree at Uni, so all the time that I was finishing my A levels and doing my business degree, I was doing make up on the side and I was building my portfolio and then I remember saying to my mum, ‘I think I want to move to London and give Make Up a go.’ I was adamant about the best, I didn’t just want to do Make Up, I wanted to be the best and what I had found whilst I was starting out was that wherever I went everyone kept saying all the best people train at London College of Fashion and it really stuck with me. So, I thought, ‘Right, well if I’m moving to London, I’m going to go to London College of Fashion.’ So I did, I rang my mum and said, ‘I definitely want to move to London, I think the best way to go is as a student because it’s cheaper’ because at the time you still got funding to go to Uni. So that’s what I did, and I got in, I got a place on their HND Fashion Make Up course and by this point I’d already been doing Make Up for 5 years. So, I was quite far into doing it already, I’d had an agent, I’d been working with celebrities, and I went down to London, and it was obviously all new. I was working in a nightclub at night – a celebrity ‘hotspot’ you know, and I would be at college all day. And then I got a big break, working with an amazing make-up artist assisting her and just progressed from there. Within the space of two to three months I was flying around the world. And it never really stopped, and I got to about 25, and I bought a flat in Chelsea, I bought a brand-new car cash, I was shopping on Sloan Street, Champagne was the drink that I drank on my nights out and this was all in my early twenties and it was lot, when you think back. I was so fortunate and so lucky to be able to experience that, then suddenly it stopped, and I had no money. I couldn’t afford to pay my mortgage, my main client wasn’t working anymore, so I decided at that point I was going to stop working with celebrities and I wanted to become a Fashion Make Up Artist – like high fashion. I wanted to do London Fashion Week and editorials. So, I started saying no to all my money jobs and I changed my agent, and I went down the fashion route. So, then I found myself getting the tube across London, with two suitcases, to do magazine shoot – for no money at all and I get there, and they would say, ‘She doesn’t actually need anything. Maybe just do that with her hair’ (lightly ruffles her hair) and I would just think ‘Wow, I’ve just travelled two hours to get here, I’m not getting paid and now I’m not even allowed to touch the model!’ So I did this for about six months and I really struggled with it because I like putting Make Up on people and the fashion industry is not about putting Make Up on and you have to do so much free work at the beginning, that for me to go from earning a lot of money and flying around the world on jets to getting the tube across London for no money and then your work not even being appreciated as such, it was a real culture shock. And I found myself at this point where I couldn’t afford to pay my mortgage, I had this flat in Chelsea with my best friend, I’d been living the high life and it had just all gone. I’m skint, what do I do? So that was a real moment for me, and I found myself at this point where I had to make a decision because to be in this decision at 25 where I’d had all this success and I now had responsibilities, but no money, I thought what am I going to do? And I thought right I can either now think this hobby is enough, I’ve took it as far as I can and I need to now go get a ‘real job’ because as I said Make Up was never looked upon as a real job, although my parents always supported me so it never came from that, they were always like you should do what you want, it was more from society as a whole. So, I thought do I know start applying for jobs in marketing which was what my degree was in, or I do I go and get a job in pizza express which was my favourite restaurant and I can start trying to earn money again in make up and go back to what I love which is working in music and with celebrities and so that’s what I did. I decided that fashion wasn’t for me, I’d had such a great few years doing what I was doing and so I went back down that route.”

Adrian Adair Morson Group
CASSIE LOMAS AND HER DAUGHTER ELKIE. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE

You’re obviously very passionate about helping MUA’s start and maintain their careers and you’ve kind of put choosing to be a Make Up Artist as a career choice on the map, does that stem from what you experienced? Or what made you decide to start the academy? 

“So, the idea of the academy came about because I had struggled so much at the beginning, I felt like it was almost like a secret society and no one wanted to let you in and no one wanted to give you advice and you couldn’t just google the answer to things you wanted to know and I was made to feel a bit stupid on a lot of occasions and I made so many mistakes in my career that if someone would have just said, ‘Oh no, you don’t do that, that’s not the done thing’ then I wouldn’t have done it, but I didn’t know and so I wanted to open a school, not just that taught people, but that really helped them as well. That helped them get those breaks that I found so tricky to get because I thought I can offer so much, so many opportunities – not just the training, but after the training, like getting people into work. What I think every school should be like, you know our slogan had become after 10 years, ‘we don’t just teach make up, we nurture careers’ and that is what we do. It annoys me so much when people come to us to train and they’ve already paid for training elsewhere and they don’t know the most simple, basic things and people are taking their money off them and saying I can do that, I can teach you that and they’ve not even been taught to put moisturiser on the model, or they don’t know what a test shoot is. It just drives me nuts. So, I have always prided myself on teaching people everything they need to know. That’s why we don’t do loads of courses and we don’t do short courses. When I started out, I did do a short course for a week and it was a weeks bridal course and it was rammed, to the point where we had to get a new academy it was so busy. But what happened was someone rang me and said ‘Do you know such a body, they’ve got in touch with me about a job, it’s over in Spain and they’ve said they can do it and that they’ve trained with you’ but I didn’t know the person who they were talking about and then when I looked I realised that they had done the bridal course and it was that, that made me realise that people are going out after one weeks training and saying that they’ve trained with me and trying to get big freelance jobs and that was it I said ‘I’m not doing that course anymore, we need to shut it down’ and I also increased the length of time of the main course. It was a learning curve for me. But lots of people think that they can be a make up artist in two or three days and it doesn’t work like that – if you want to be the best and you want to get good jobs you must learn how to do it properly because it’s a craft. I think though because as women we do makeup everyday on ourselves, people think it’s easy, until they come in the school and they’re like ‘wow I didn’t realise how much there was to learn!’ So, the reason for starting the school was to help people genuinely and to offer opportunities that I wasn’t given. I never really had any expectations for it lasting, even in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have look forward to where we are today – we’ve been going for over 10 years.”

So how old were Spike and Elkie when you opened the academy?

“So, Spike was one and Elkie wasn’t born when I started it. I remember taking Elkie in when she was born, and I was teaching and breast feeding at the same time. I thought to myself if I have the luxury of being my own boss then I’m going to take my baby to work, and I loved it! Having that perk and being able to do that was amazing! And, because at the time I spent so much time away in London working, so when I was at home, I wanted my kids with me. I would take Spike in all the time and do-little shoots with him, which is great because they’ve both ended up being little models now, so I think being around that has really helped.”

Obviously when you’re as ambitious as you and as driven as you, it can be hard to continue in the way when children come along so how did you adapt initially when Spike came along?

“Well, that was actually one of the catapults to opening the school. When I was pregnant, I was still flying around the world doing make up – I was on tour with Lady Gaga and we visited 27 countries in two months, I was eight and half months pregnant when I got back. I literally flew home on the last day that I could fly, so spent most of my pregnancy away on my own, in Japan and all-around Europe so I literally experienced that whole journey with Chris on the phone, with the time difference and everything and I was petrified. And when I came back my agent was in London, people still thought I lived in London, I didn’t tell anyone that I had moved to Manchester because I thought they’ll stop booking me and I thought right I’m having a baby now, there’s no getting around this, so that why I decided I needed to set something up in Manchester and that’s when I said it’s the right time for the school. So I had the school, but of course I still went back to work down in London and I used to take Spike with me, I had a flat down there and my mother in law used to come with me. She would sometimes spend a week there with me whilst I worked because I wanted him there when I got home from work. It was great having that support, because if I hadn’t of had Susan (Cassie’s Mother- in-law) I wouldn’t have been able to do that.”

That’s amazing, especially for 10 years ago, because even though society is slowly becoming more inclusive of working parents it certainly wasn’t the case 10 years ago, but that’s obviously a testament to your determination and ambition.

“I can’t see obstacles so if I want something, this my motto, ‘Just make it happen, lets just make it happen!’ I say it my students all the time, I can’t see how if you want something you can’t get it? My brain just won’t allow that, because what I’ll do for example, say I want to go to London tomorrow for work and I will work back wards and I will think ‘Right how I do get there?’ So instead of thinking, I want to go to London tomorrow but I’ve got no one to have the kids, but I’ll think about what time I need to be a work, what time I need to leave and I would think who can I pay to come with me and stay in the flat with the kids, I’m just always trying to find a solution and that’s just the way I work. I just don’t know how to work any other way.”

Did you ever experience any judgement about taking your children to work with you?

“Well, I would never have taken them on to a paid job, because I was working with popstars etc and that wouldn’t have been the right thing to do, but when it was taking them into the academy, I didn’t even care what people thought. I just thought well its my academy and I feel this is the right thing to do. But actually, I had the opposite, because I remember going to the hairdressers and I was all flustered because I’d had to get a babysitter and I was like, ‘What do people usually do with their kids when they need their hair doing or their eyebrows done?’ and they were just like, ‘Well, everybody just brings their kids in’ and I remember thinking ‘Really?! People bring their kids to a hair salon. I would never have thought of that.’ And from then I realised it was ok to take my children to things, but because my brain was so programmed to be professional, turn up at work without the kids, that thought had never crossed my mind that I could take them to the salon with me!”

We all know what parent guilt is like, and getting that balance can be really hard, is that something you’ve experienced too?

“So, Chris is amazing, he said at the beginning when we said we’d have children, you know I’d moved back up north from London to be with him, I love my job, I didn’t want to stop it and he said, ‘I’ll do it, I’ll look after the kids.’ Not that he would give up work, he would still work, but that my job would be the priority basically over his job so if I needed to go off, I would go off and he has stuck to that ever since, so I’ve never had to think I’ve got a job I need someone to look after the kids in order to be able to do it. Would just pick up the phone and let him know that I need to go to London the next day etc, and I remember there’s been times where he’s rang me and been like, ‘Where are you?’ and I’d be like, ‘I’m on my way to Dubai’ and ‘Oh right, when are you back?’, ‘In 5 Days’, ‘Oh right so you can’t get the kids?’, ‘No’, ‘Oh right, OK.’ (We all laugh) and that’s just the relationship that we have. And we’ve made it work. Chris has always done the school runs, it’s only now the last couple of years that I’m doing it now and roles have kind of reversed. What happened though a few years ago was Elkie said to me, ‘Mummy I don’t want you to go to London’ well, that was it, it was like a sledgehammer to my heart, and I had never considered that my children would have even noticed that I wasn’t there because they were so happy, and Chris is such a good dad. So that was it, I was like, ‘Right, what am I going to do know. I can’t go to London and work anymore, what am I going to do?’ So, I just decided to run my businesses instead, I’ll have to stay home, take a step back from going to London to do make up and run my businesses. Now what I do is I choose the jobs that want to do very carefully, I only work with people who make me happy, and I only go if I’ve got no family commitments and I’ve learned to say no, which was something that I could never ever do before she said that to me. So, I’ve adapted, I’m still getting up everyday and working but I’m not flying around the world. Although I have got a trip coming up but it’s only two day and I will always check with Elkie first if she doesn’t mind me going and if she doesn’t want me to go, I won’t go. Ultimately, these guys are my priority.”

Have you ever worried about other people perceptions of you working ‘too much’?

“I’ve never really cared what people think and all I’ve heard is ‘Oh my god I don’t know how you do it! ‘You’re like wonder woman’ etc so because everyone was so complimentary of my success, I never felt a judgement of anyone, but I do that to myself, I judge myself and have that terrible mum guilt and I think if the children ask me to do anything it’s always a yes. I think because I’m always questioning am I a good mum? Elkie is the worst she has me wrapped around her little finger!” Laughter fills the room once again. We’d got back from camping the other week and she’d decided she’d had enough of the wallpaper in her bedroom and so at 7pm I was at B&Q getting paint, I finished it around 11pm. We got up the next morning about 7am, went to Ikea, got her all bits to finish it off and it was all done within 24 hours and that’s what she does to me! It’s like ‘I wanna be a good mum, I wanna be a good mum!’ And I think that’s because it doesn’t come naturally to me, all I’ve ever known is work. I’m not the kind of mum that sits on the floor pulling out jigsaws and playdoh, I have to work at it. So, what I’ve tried to do is find things to do with the kids that we all enjoy. You just want to do your best.”

Obviously, you will be inspiring your children in so many ways too, though, so do you allow yourself to take stock of that and feel proud at how you’re influencing them as a parent?

“I think one good thing is that is that me and Chris are opposites, he lives day to day, he’s not bothered about success, you know. He’ll work for things he wants like to get the motor home or to do up the house etc, and he really enjoys spending time with the kids. I’m very much career focused, and I struggle to switch off, but he brings me back down to earth and family life which is brilliant. When I grew up my parents taught me so much about building for my future and instilled a great work ethic into me and made me believe I could succeed in anything. It was a different upbring than what Chris had and he’d be off with his family camping and fishing and generally living life to the full. I love having those differences in both sides of our family, where I can show the kids what they can achieve if they work hard, and also how to enjoy life. They go without nothing and that includes my time and my love. I’ve made a rule now that we have every single school holiday off. We go on holiday at Christmas and at Easter, we have every half term off and the full six weeks in the summer off both Chris and I, and that last 10 years has been really hard at times, but it has allowed us the privilege to be able to do that.”

Do you have any advice for fellow mums out there who are looking to start a business or reach the top of their career?

“Firstly, I think whatever you want you can make possible. And secondly you really have to really visualise what you want. Without a goal you can’t make it happen. So, you need to know where you want to be, I do vision boards. I actually had a really bad time when I’d hit 40 because I had achieved everything I wanted, a successful career, a beautiful husband, two gorgeous children, the academy, my make up brushes and a beauty line in Superdrug, Creatives agency, amazing friends and family, big house great holidays etc and I thought what do I do now? But I gave myself a talking to and realised I just need to set new goals and work towards those. So, my advice, is set your long-term goal and work backwards. What’s your 5-year plan? 3-year plan? 12-month plan and what do you need to do in the next 3 months in order to get there? And just tick things off and you will get there. Don’t let anyone tell you no!”

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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Sarie Taylor: Overwhelm

Sarie Taylor: Overwhelm

Overwhelm – anxiety, stress & worry

Feeling overwhelmed? Our resident Psychotherapist, Sarie Taylor gives us some tips to reduce our stress and anxiety when juggling work and family life…

Let’s start by looking at what we even mean by overwhelm? Usually we are talking about when we feel like we have too much on our plate! Too much to do, or to think about, and we often get to a place where we feel like one more thing will happen and it will tip us over the edge!

There is often an innocent misunderstanding about overwhelm in that we believe it stems from the challenges we face, the external things in our lives that cause us to get overwhelmed, our work, our family and so on. I really get it, and believed this wholeheartedly myself for many years until I was able to understand more and see things differently. Bare with me whilst I explain!

Life does throw so many challenges our way, as well as opportunities, and at times it can feel never ending as though we are being faced with one thing after the other, and we have no control! Now there is some truth in this in that the majority of things day to day are actually very much out of our control. The issue comes when we find discomfort in what we can’t control, and so we try to control the uncontrollable using the gift of thought, our minds, queue the worry!

Lets just say it was the external stuff that caused the overwhelm directly. We would all have the same levels of overwhelm and stress about the same things and yet we don’t. Something I find stressful may be a breeze for you, and then something you really fear may be an everyday easy occurrence fo me? It’s our response to the challenges we face, our perspective and our thinking about what is happening that creates the overwhelm. Overwhelm comes from the inside out, not outside in!

I would actually go a far to say that the overwhelm is caused 99.9% of the time from the pressure and expectation we put on ourselves, often habitually without even realising, we just get so good at it. Let’s take guilt as an example, parental guilt is talked about a lot. Our feelings always come from our thinking and this includes guilt. Feeling guilty as a parent often involves feeling that you are struggling to be all things to all people and somehow not quite hitting the mark (your expectations). This is not a reflection of your ability as a parent, it does not correlate with whether you are enough, doing a good enough job or getting it ‘right’. It is simply an indication of where your thinking is at…

“I feel bad I haven’t spent much time with me kids”

“I am behind at work because my child has been unwell”

“I feel selfish but I just need a break”

We could go on, and I am sure we could all add hundreds if not thousands of comments and thoughts to this! All of these thoughts create feelings of not quite being enough and then naturally cause us to feel overwhelmed. What if you could change the goal posts yourself? What if you could lower your expectations? Even with all the challenges we face as parents, we can still change the pressure and expectation we put on ourselves. ‘Yes but’ I hear you say! Well you can come up with all the reasons as to why you cant reduce the pressure or expectations, but ultimately if you don’t, your body will slow you down anyway, through feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, catching every cough and cold you come into contact with amongst many other things. It’s our bodies job to slow us down when we don’t take notice. We are humans not robots.

The other aspect to overwhelm, that we don’t always notice, is that we are not often concerned with that present moment, (as we are actually managing and more capable than we give ourselves credit for), but again we are more in our head about what happens next! Let me give you some examples.

‘My child is ill and I feel overwhelmed’ – usually translates to, what if they get worse, what if I am off work for another day, how will I manage (future what ifs)

“I just don’t get a minute to myself” – usually translates to if I carry online this what will happen, when does it end? (Future what ifs)

“I keep getting terrible headaches” – usually translates to what is wrong with me, is this something serious, how will I manage if it is, who will take care of my children? (Future what ifs)

I would love you to reflect on how much of your suffering is really about the here and now, or if it is in actual fact more about the what ifs, the stories we create trying to predict the future and believe we are in control!

How can you start to reduce your overwhelm starting right NOW? Even just picking one will make a difference!

*Treat yourself with compassion NOT criticism

*Adjust your expectations, lower that pressure

*Remember we are only ever doing the best we can given our thinking at the time

*We are enough!

*Ask yourself…would you treat your closest friend or family in the same way you treat or talk to yourself?

*Ask yourself…right in this very second am I OK?

– will it all get too much to handle? (Not sure how you want to start it or how you plan to do the title)

Let’s start by looking at what we even mean by overwhelm? Usually we are talking about when we feel like we have too much on our plate! Too much to do, or to think about, and we often get to a place where we feel like one more thing will happen and it will tip us over the edge!

There is often an innocent misunderstanding about overwhelm in that we believe it stems from the challenges we face, the external things in our lives that cause us to get overwhelmed, our work, our family and so on. I really get it, and believed this wholeheartedly myself for many years until I was able to understand more and see things differently. Bare with me whilst I explain!

Life does throw so many challenges our way, as well as opportunities, and at times it can feel never ending as though we are being faced with one thing after the other, and we have no control! Now there is some truth in this in that the majority of things day to day are actually very much out of our control. The issue comes when we find discomfort in what we can’t control, and so we try to control the uncontrollable using the gift of thought, our minds, queue the worry!

Lets just say it was the external stuff that caused the overwhelm directly. We would all have the same levels of overwhelm and stress about the same things and yet we don’t. Something I find stressful may be a breeze for you, and then something you really fear may be an everyday easy occurrence fo me? It’s our response to the challenges we face, our perspective and our thinking about what is happening that creates the overwhelm. Overwhelm comes from the inside out, not outside in!

I would actually go a far to say that the overwhelm is caused 99.9% of the time from the pressure and expectation we put on ourselves, often habitually without even realising, we just get so good at it. Let’s take guilt as an example, parental guilt is talked about a lot. Our feelings always come from our thinking and this includes guilt. Feeling guilty as a parent often involves feeling that you are struggling to be all things to all people and somehow not quite hitting the mark (your expectations). This is not a reflection of your ability as a parent, it does not correlate with whether you are enough, doing a good enough job or getting it ‘right’. It is simply an indication of where your thinking is at…

“I feel bad I haven’t spent much time with me kids”

“I am behind at work because my child has been unwell”

“I feel selfish but I just need a break”

We could go on, and I am sure we could all add hundreds if not thousands of comments and thoughts to this! All of these thoughts create feelings of not quite being enough and then naturally cause us to feel overwhelmed. What if you could change the goal posts yourself? What if you could lower your expectations? Even with all the challenges we face as parents, we can still change the pressure and expectation we put on ourselves. ‘Yes but’ I hear you say! Well you can come up with all the reasons as to why you cant reduce the pressure or expectations, but ultimately if you don’t, your body will slow you down anyway, through feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, catching every cough and cold you come into contact with amongst many other things. It’s our bodies job to slow us down when we don’t take notice. We are humans not robots.  

The other aspect to overwhelm, that we don’t always notice, is that we are not often concerned with that present moment, (as we are actually managing and more capable than we give ourselves credit for), but again we are more in our head about what happens next! Let me give you some examples.

‘My child is ill and I feel overwhelmed’ – usually translates to, what if they get worse, what if I am off work for another day, how will I manage (future what ifs)

“I just don’t get a minute to myself” – usually translates to if I carry online this what will happen, when does it end? (Future what ifs)

“I keep getting terrible headaches” – usually translates to what is wrong with me, is this something serious, how will I manage if it is, who will take care of my children? (Future what ifs)

I would love you to reflect on how much of your suffering is really about the here and now, or if it is in actual fact more about the what ifs, the stories we create trying to predict the future and believe we are in control!

How can you start to reduce your overwhelm starting right NOW? Even just picking one will make a difference!

*Treat yourself with compassion NOT criticism

*Adjust your expectations, lower that pressure

*Remember we are only ever doing the best we can given our thinking at the time

*We are enough!

*Ask yourself…would you treat your closest friend or family in the same way you treat or talk to yourself?

*Ask yourself…right in this very second am I OK?

 KEEP UP TO DATE WITH BROOD:

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Interview with Adrian Adair COO – The Morson Group

Interview with Adrian Adair COO – The Morson Group

ADRIAN ADAIR OF MORSON GROUP AND HIS DAUGHTER. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE

“It’s really important for kids to see where their parents work and what they do.”

Dad of one, Adrian Adair is the COO of globally respected, recruitment and engineering organisation Morson Group and has been a senior leader within the company, for over 10 years. Adrian is renowned for his expertise in coaching, his in-depth knowledge of the recruitment market and his innovative ways of motivating colleagues of all levels to create positive and enthusiastic atmospheres within their teams. We sat down with Adrian, to discuss how different life is now that he is juggling a successful career alongside the demands of family life. It was clear throughout the interview just how passionate Adrian is about creating the best working environment possible and we were in awe at how forward-thinking the Morson Group are when it comes to supporting working parents, and how this ethos has helped them to build a loyal and thriving work family. Adrian’s wife Leanne – who runs a successful business herself, and their beautiful little girl Alana joined us for the shoot and consequently added some wonderful BROOD-esq moments to the interview.

Morson Group
Adrian Adair Morson
ADRIAN ADAIR OF MORSON GROUP. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
Morson Group - Find your next job

How long have you worked in recruitment and why did you decide that Morson Group was the right company for you to achieve your career goals?   

“Well, I’m a recruitment lifer, I started in recruitment when I was a graduate. I’d been looking for the right company for a number of years, I’d met with a number of CEO’s and then I met Ged (Ged Mason OBE, Morson Group CEO). I had already decided in the lift that I wanted to work for Ged. He’s a well-known, well-respected leader, a family man himself and he was proud to be running a family business – Ged’s father founded the company 52 years ago. And I think what clinched it for me in the lift was when he said, ‘recruitment is all about the people’. That’s one of the tag lines we use now ‘placing people first’. Whilst it’s en-vogue for businesses, this has been the recipe that’s been in existence at Morson for over 50 years. I think I knew when I joined the company that it had the right ingredients for me to continue to move the business forward.”

How long had you worked at Morson before you became a dad?

“Well, when I met Leanne, I had always said I wasn’t going to get married, I didn’t like pets and I don’t want children – she said OK to all three. Then we got married, we’ve got a dog and Alana arrived 3 years ago! (We all laugh) So, I’d been here for about 7 years before she arrived. I think because we are a family business there’s always a kid in the building. Alana after this (interview) will go up and see Ged, sit in his chair and he’ll spin her around. I think even though Morson is a big organisation it’s still a family business and you look after your family, don’t you? We think new arrivals to the family are great and kids are always encouraged to be around, and I think that’s fantastic. I think it’s really important for kids to see where their parents work and understand what they do.”

Morson have quite an innovative approach to supporting working parents, can you tell us a little bit more about how the company do that so successfully.  

“I think a lot of organisations are still figuring out how to handle working parents, whereas it’s been baked in here. Simply, we look after them in the different ways that they need. That might be a part-time return or a full-time return with flexible hours, there’s no set solution it’s about each person as an individual and their specific job role, we try to understand what is going to work best for them and the business. I think the average time for an employee to work here is 7 years – which is amazing for this industry. And the average tenure for our directors is 15 years, so again lots of people are here for a long time, because we support them.

It was evident during Covid how important this (to support working parents) is for Morson. We talked as a board about what we could do to help our working parents – as it was just crazy wasn’t it?”

We all agree it was a very hard period – especially for working parents.

 “So, we put on some kids shows during the day, we sent educational toys out to all our colleagues’ children as well. I think it was the little things that helped, and again I think what was interesting was that a lot of organisations during that time finally got to see the kids on the video calls, but obviously it’s something that we’ve always encouraged.”

Has becoming a parent changed your managerial style at all?

“I think you do become more understanding as a parent, because whilst the theory is great, you don’t know until you do it yourself. I’ve always admired working parents, but when you’re doing it, yourself you just think ‘wow!’. I’m definitely more of an empathetic leader since becoming a father.

Adrian Adair Morson Group
ADRIAN ADAIR OF MORSON GROUP AND HIS DAUGHTER. IMAGES © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BROOD MAGAZINE

How did you personally adapt your life after you became a dad?

Adrian – “I used to be at the gym early every day for example, and I can’t do that anymore. And obviously, you sleep less – bet everyone says that. One thing that stands out is that I don’t read anymore. I used to read a book a month…”

Leanne adds “He used to read the paperback to front by 6 am, then read a book – you were like Johnny 5!” We all laugh.

Adrian  – “…yeah, but you have to adapt your routines, and it can take a bit of time to figure out how to do that and of course that can change and evolve as your child grows and evolves too. Another thing I don’t really do anymore is either is watch TV – if I do watch it, I fall asleep! We’re very lucky in that we’ve got a gym in the garden though – so I can still fit ‘going to the gym’ into my life as much as possible. Leanne’s a bit of a night owl and I’m an early bird, so that combination works well for us. We’re a global operation, so for example I was doing some work with Australia this morning and some days I might need to be on to North America at night, so being flexible in your approach is important and that can help you in terms of balancing being a parent with work-life too.

One thing I do try and do, which I think is important for all working parents, is to make time for yourself, you’ve got to fit that in when you can. So, for example, because I’m an early bird I will go biking in the mountains at the weekend, but instead of making a day of it like I used to, I’ll do it early in the morning, so that I can be back in time for breakfast. I think it’s important to find the balance, because that’s your escapism from work and the pressures of life, and I think for me that really helps me in terms of staying energetic, productive, and happy. There’s a bit of a joke in the office if I’ve not been to yoga, ‘Have you not been to Yoga this week, Adrian?’ Because you can tell!”

“I’m actually missing a yoga class today! We do corporate yoga here actually, in the building. We’ve done it here for several years now and I think that’s something I encourage as it’s great from a well-being perspective. Yoga is something you can do collectively. You don’t have to be super fit, you don’t have to be super flexible, everyone can do it and that’s something else did through covid, we put the yoga class online. It’s great that we can now practice it in the building again, as it’s a great way of interacting with the team out of the office setting. We’ve got graduates that come to the classes, right through to people who have been here for years, everyone benefits from it massively. This is something that other companies are starting to implement, but we’ve always been the first to do things like this. It’s so important to us that we’ll often talk to our clients about their staff and let them know what we do here and what the benefits are. We were one of the first companies to have a well-being manager and things like that are important whether you’re a parent or not. It really does help to create a productive and engaging environment and that obviously links back to people staying here for so long.”

Self-care is obviously very important to you and something that obviously has great benefits, is it something you continued to do right from the moment Alana was born or did it take you some time to figure out how to maintain that? And if so, did you feel guilty at all for having that time?

Adrian turns to Leanne laughing, “Do you want to answer that?”

Leanne – “When Alana was first born, we were members of a local gym which do games every year where everyone has to compete. You get points for going to classes etc and he basically was there every day! So yes, right from the beginning!”

The room erupts into giggles – Oh, so no guilt in having time to yourself then, Adrian?

Adrian – “Well, I didn’t want to let the side down. We were in a team, and it was probably a bit for my ego too, as I was in the 25–40-year-old category, so you’re competing against 25-year-olds, so it was good to beat a few of them!”  

Leanne – “But, then we saw the benefits, that even when you’re so tired, the more you exercise the better you feel! And we got into a good routine with that, so, no guilt never came into it.”

Brood – “That’s such an important message, as for some people, where exercising isn’t the ‘norm’, they will think that sounds crazy, but once you tap into to it and integrate exercise into your routine you can see the benefits. It’s great that Morson makes that so accessible to their employees.”

You spoke earlier about needing to be flexible due to working within a global company and as anyone who has a successful career knows, it can be demanding at times, so how do you switch off when you’re in Dad mode? Can you switch off?

“I think my ground rule is to be present when you’re there. So, whether it be bedtime or when we’re having breakfast in the morning, I won’t pick up my phone and I am strict with that, so my engagement with Alana is good. We’ve got a great relationship. Don’t get me wrong there are times when we need do need to go on the laptop, so we’ve got Alana her own little laptop, so she can sit there typing away with us at the times we do need to jump onto something. When you talk about work and kids I think about my parents and their work ethic, and I never remember my mum sleeping. She would be sewing in the morning when I got up and as I was going to bed. She went out to work, she would drop me off for my paper round etc, she never ever stopped, and I think that’s the work ethic that’s ingrained in me now.”

Adrian turns to Leanne and continues, “You’ve got that with your dad, haven’t you? And I feel lucky with that as Leanne’s dad worked away a lot when she was younger, so she’s used to that kind of busyness. You can see the impact that is having on Alana already and the things she’ll notice, like when Leanne is off to a meeting and she’s dressed up Alana will say, “Oh look at you mummy! Look at how you’re dressed – you’re not in leggings!” Once again, we all laugh. “We’ll encourage all parents, dads especially, to some of the school drop-offs or pick-ups, as you’ll never get that time back. I’d encourage all organisations to do that.”

Leanne – “Some weeks the balance is tipped so far towards work that it’s just too hard to get that balance.”

Adrian – “Yes, I was listening to Jay Shetty on Steven Bartlett’s podcast recently, and he was saying when he was setting up his business, he was working 16–17-hour days. There were spells last we where we were acquiring new business etc where I was doing the same and you feel bad as a parent for doing that. But equally, you have that mindset that takes you back to your parents and when they were working hard and actually, I only have fond memories. One thing my parents did, was no matter what they were doing they would have dinner with me. Even when I started working and they had dinner earlier than me, they would still sit at the table with me when I ate my dinner. So again, we try and sit at the table and it’s not always practical in terms of timings, with work, but it’s something we’re always striving for.”

We’re thrilled to welcome you on board as one of our contributors, where you’ll be interviewing different working parents from within your vast group of clients. What are you most looking forward to about that?

“I think it’s sharing stories. The more people that hear that it’s the norm (being a career parent and being an organisation that supports that) the better. A lot of the organisations that we are working with are doing some great things and I think it will be exciting to share that. A lot of other senior people that I interact with, are all in the same boat, I won’t spoil some of the stories that we’ll tell but everyone’s got a funny story from when they’re on the phone to the boss, with the kids in the background. I think it will give people inspiration, as it’s always interesting to listen to successful people and to hear how they have done it. One of the last interviews I did was actually with the body coach -Joe Wicks and he made me feel a lot better actually. You just see him on Instagram and TV and people presume, he’s got an army behind him, and that’s how he does it – but he’s not – I had a bigger entourage with me!” We all burst into laughter again before Alana then politely proceeds to offer us all a snack that she carefully pulls out of her rucksack. “And you know he’s got two kids, with one on the way, and I was talking to him about exercise and balance and he’s good at being strict with it.” Alana, who is obviously more than ready for the photoshoot now, interrupt’s Adrian in the sweetest way,

“Daddy. Daddy.”

“Yes, Alana?”

“This is your office.”

 “Yes, this is my office. Do you like it?”

“Yes!”

“Are you going to go and see Uncle Ged after this?”

“Yes.”

Alana then returns to sitting on Leanne’s knee.

Adrian -“So yeah, that’s good, to kind of go behind what you see on social media, which is obviously something you’re doing with BROOD.”

Talking of funny stories, have you got any standout moments?

“Yes, I haven’t told this one. There was this one time that I was working at home and I was on a call and Alana was going absolutely mental and Leanne just came in and said I can’t deal with her anymore.”

Leanne – “Yes, it was during those early stages when they just don’t stop crying sometimes and I’d just had enough. So, I just said you’ve got to take her off me. So, he took her upstairs put her on the bed and did this conference call.”

Adrian – “I was on this conference call; I had my laptop open, and I had a dashboard up and it was just crazy!”

Leanne – “There’s a picture of her on the bed next to all these papers.”

And finally, do you have any hints or tips for career parents?

“I think don’t be harsh on yourself. Just do your best. Also, you’ve got to make sacrifices. There’s lots in social media now around manifesting, vision boards, and it’s great to do all of that, but you’ve still got to graft. I think it’s perceived at times that a lot of people have made money easily but everyone who has done well has made sacrifices whether that’s been short term or long term and you do still need to do the work.”

Leanne – “Early mornings and wine in the evenings!”

Adrian will be featuring each month as a contributor so watch this space and sign up to our mailing list to be the first to receive all the latest articles.

My ideal routine:-

  • Get up at 5am
  • Have a coffee and a little time to myself
  • Go into the gym
  • Read my emails
  • Wake Alana up, get her breakfast and then get her to Nursery
  • Go to the office.

 

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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Bank Holiday Baking with Kate Devine

Bank Holiday Baking with Kate Devine

Bank Holiday Baking with Kate Devine

BANK HOLIDAY BAKING WITH kate devine

Well, aren’t we lucky this month…two long weekends and it’s #worldbakingday on Tuesday 17th May! That means indulgence on many levels! Also, don’t you just feel like May is a positive month? It’s beautifully Spring but nearly Summer, there’s lots of lovely sunny days and nights in the garden to look forward to (hopefully – come on British weather, be kind to us this year!), and I feel we all enjoy and appreciate food more.

It’s such a sociable thing food, it brings people together, and that’s exactly what World Baking Day is all about! It’s a time to spend with family and friends; baking delicious food to enjoy together; spread the joy of food and embrace the deliciousness that baking can bring to your day!

So…dig out your spatula and get creative with your kids by making treats for friends and family, neighbours, or the hard-working teachers at your kids school. I mean, who doesn’t love a homemade treat made just for them?

Personally, baking and I don’t mix well (pardon the pun), but I’m just one of those people who’s too impatient to measure and sift ingredients. I get easily distracted and weigh the wrong amount of the wrong thing and inevitably end up with a soggy bottom!

Having said that, I’ve managed to master the old faithful, chocolate brownie, so here’s a healthy and quick version, that even I can do, to get you cracking on World Baking Day! Have fun! Oh, and don’t forget to share your creations on Instagram @broodmagazine & @the.devine.life and #worldbakingday 

Sticky BB Brownies – packed full of polyphenols and prebiotics to help support the gut

Makes 12

Ingredients:

  • 125g tinned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 20g organic cocoa powder
  • 80g organic rolled oats – Gluten free if necessary
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 8 small prunes – pitted
  • 6 Medjool dates – pitted
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 120ml milk of your choice – nut/dairy free milks will work just as well
  • Pinch of rock salt
  • 50g dark chocolate chips – Gluten free if necessary
  • 2 tbsp of crunchy peanut butter or 30g walnuts (optional) – you can substitute the nuts for dried cranberries if you prefer

You will need:

  • Minimum of 12 cupcake liners
  • Bun or muffin tin
  • Blender

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan/400F/gas mark 6
  • Weigh out all the ingredients before starting – believe me, this is the key to successful baking!
  • Place all the ingredients, except the chocolate chips and walnuts/cranberries, if using, into a blender and blitz until completely smooth – around 3 mins
  • Place the cupcake liners in the muffin tin, then, using a teaspoon, divide the mixture between the cupcakes liners
  • Dot in the chocolate chips and nuts/cranberries (if using)
  • Place in the oven and bake for around 10-12 minutes, then remove form the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5 mins. Enjoy!

You can keep the brownies in an airtight container and consume within a week. Alternatively, you could wrap each one individually and give to someone special.

 *Recipe adapted from ‘Eat Yourself Healthy’ & ‘Hemsley & Hemsley’ cookbooks*

 _________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 This takes me nicely into the May Day bank holiday weekend

I never really knew why we had an early May bank holiday. I just remember celebrating it as a kid and watching people dancing around the Maypole, but not really understanding what it was all about. Then as an adult, you just see bank holidays as a well needed extra day of the weekend and thank god for the day off! But, I’ve since come to realise that it is a day of unity, togetherness and rebirth, regardless of race and culture, where people come together as one in celebration. Traditionally, people would leave baskets of spring flowers and treats on their neighbours doorsteps. How lovely! International Workers’ Day, also known as ‘Labour Day’ is also traditionally celebrated on this May bank holiday and is a demonstration of the labour movement and its efforts to improve worker rights across the globe.

Why not bake my brownies above and make your own May Day basket with your kids and celebrate it the traditional way?! It’s nice to be kind, you never know just how much a random act of kindness can change someones day.

I wish you all a wonderful May and don’t forget to email me at kate@thedevine.life with any questions you may have regarding nutrition or fitness and I’ll answer on my instagram or in our June edition.

BY KATE DEVINE

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Kate’s Leftover Easter Chocolate Smash!

Kate’s Leftover Easter Chocolate Smash!

Kate’s Leftover Easter Chocolate Smash!

Kate’s Leftover Easter Chocolate Smash!

Hello lovely people, I hope you all had a wonderful chocolate bunny filled Easter and enjoyed a well deserved long weekend of rest and delicious food! 

I just wanted to share a little recipe that I’ve made with my kids, to get rid of the left over Easter egg chocolate that sits in the cupboard calling your name every time you walk past! It’s a chocolate bark smash full of lots of healthy ingredients that the kids will love to add along the way. 

 

Ingredients:

  • 200g of milk chocolate – or dark chocolate – at least 70% organic for a healthier snack alternative 
  • 30g of white chocolate for the topping
  • 50g of dried fruit of your choice e.g. raspberries/cherries/goji berries/cranberries
  • 20g of nuts – crushed in a pestle and mortar e.g. pistachio/walnuts/almonds – you can leave the nuts out if you prefer, just add a different dried fruit 

What you will need:

  • Medium saucepan
  • Glass bowl to rest on the top of the saucepan for melting the chocolate
  • Spatula/mixing spoon
  • Medium size baking tray
  • Parchment paper

Method:

  • Weigh out all ingredients before beginning the following process…
  • Place the chocolate in the bowl, grab the saucepan and fill with cold water approx 200ml 
  • Place the bowl of chocolate on top of the saucepan and heat on a medium to high heat
  • When you notice the chocolate begin to melt, stir continuously with a spatula until smooth 
  • In the meantime, cover the baking tray with parchment paper
  • Once the chocolate has fully melted, pour into the baking tray and spread evenly with a spatula approx half to 1cm thick
  • Add the fruit and nuts, spacing evenly. Push any larger piece into the chocolate so they set properly and place in the fridge for 10 mins
  • Meanwhile, melt the topping chocolate the same way as the milk chocolate 
  • When the 10 mins is up, remove from fridge and using a fork, flick the topping chocolate over the bark chocolate and fruit and nut pieces on the baking tray
  • Return back to the fridge for 30 mins or until fully set
  • When set, remove the parchment paper and smash with a rolling pin into snack size pieces
  • Share with family and friends and enjoy!

I also make this as a snack for myself but use dark chocolate (as mentioned above) and leave out the extra chocolate topping. Store these in an airtight container in the fridge and they will last up to a week, although I doubt they’ll be any left after a few days, they’re that delicious!

Ingredients Facts:

  • Chocolate Some research suggest there may be healthful nutrients belonging to chocolate, including improved immunity, greater longevity and quicker recovery from intense exercise. Dark chocolate without unhealthy additives and sugar have been shown to lower blood pressure, cancer and stroke risk as effectively as antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
  • RaspberriesPacked with antioxidants, potential benefits in regulating metabolism and fighting diseases – contains the antioxidant compound, ellagic acid, which is cancer protective
  • Cherries – Rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and help in the treatment of gout. They also contain melatonin, which helps treat insomnia and encourage good sleep.
  • Cranberries Again, high in antioxidants, helps prevent infections from taking hold in the urinary tract, kidneys, and bladder. Aids digestion by helping to prevent stomach ulcers, helps alleviate heavy periods, stomach upsets, sore throats and laryngitis.
  • Goji BerriesThese berries belong to the nightshade family that includes chilli peppers and tomatoes and are rich in a combination of antioxidant nutrients that benefit cardiovascular health – they contain carotenoids known to boost metabolic processes and promote good sleep and memory.
  • AlmondsGood source of zinc, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, which supports the brain, cardiovascular and respiratory systems and are rich in cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fatty acids and help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Pistachio NutsContain anti-inflammatory properties, high in beta-carotene, oleanolic acid and phytosterols, a type of anti-inflammatory plant hormone associated with improved immune function, lower levels of LDL cholesterol and reduced risk of cancer.
  • Walnuts – Rich source of Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and omega-3 fatty acid. ALA helps lower unhealthy cholesterol (LDL) levels and keeps arteries healthy. They contain antioxidants and tocopherols (Vit E complex), helping to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and maintain skin and tissue health. They also contain serotonin, a brain chemical that can help lift depression. 

READ MORE FROM KATE HERE

easter egg leftovers
Nutritionist Kate Devine
Easter Eggs Leftover
KATE DEVINE IMAGES ©
written BY KATE DEVINE

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brood magazine has a new resident baby!

brood magazine has a new resident baby!

Tom Pitfield and Catherine Tyldesley Baby

Congratulations Tom & Cath!

Huge congratulations to our co-founder @tompitfieldphotography and @auntiecath17 on the birth of their baby girl! 🤍🤍🤍
Posted @withregram • @tompitfieldphotography We are so happy to announce that our beautiful daughter has arrived. We are grateful beyond words and feel overjoyed that our family is complete.
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#congratulations #babygirl #welcometothebrood #newbaby #family #newaddition #brood #baby #happynews #love

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