Emma is the founder of Isabella & Us. A fantastic brand that promotes positive wellbeing for Mums. She also created a truly awesome zine, which I’ve been honoured to be featured in and am on the cover of for the third edition. I chatted to Emma about sense of self, balancing Motherhood whilst building a business, alongside working fulltime, and her support system through her Postnatal depression. Get ready to be inspired, this lady is one epic plate juggler!
You set up Isabella and Us when your daughter Isabella was just 4 weeks old. Was it difficult to dedicate time to this new venture whilst getting to grips with new Mum life?
Gosh, it seems like such a long time ago now but it’s actually only last January. Because she was so young and sleeping so much I found it was a lot easier then that it is now to get things done. Mostly because now she wants to be involved! I definitely had more time then as I could work when she napped and I didn’t have to feel guilty about growing the business. However, I should have been resting and I didn’t at all so looking back that’s something I would definitely do differently.
Do you feel having something else to focus on, other than the baby, helped you maintain your sense of self?
I was struggling so much with the transition into motherhood (I was diagnosed with PND when Isabella turned 5 months old) and setting up Isabella and Us. really gave me a drive and a focus. I felt like I’d lost so much of myself when I became a mum, I was also incredibly sick during my pregnancy so for those 9 months I’d just ‘existed’ so it was nice to have something just for me. When I started sharing my story I began to realise that it wasn’t just me who was struggling and that was a massive help to me.
What was your biggest goal in setting up your brand?
I just wanted to help other mums and dads. And hopefully I’ve been able to do that! Obviously it’s also important that it creates an income but that was never the reason for starting Isabella and Us. - I wanted it to be a place to celebrate parenting wins (no matter how small) and to share honest stories of motherhood and fatherhood.
You want Isabella and Us to be somewhere that parents can celebrate the small wins, how important has it been to you to have a support system around you during your parenting journey?
So, so important! I couldn’t have got to the place I am now without that support system and I don’t mean just with the business. It was clear very early on that I was struggling and my parents and husband, Chris, really had to help out a lot. But I then continued to struggle even more in silence and then was diagnosed with PND nearly 8 months ago and they had to help out a lot again then too and that has been crucial to my recovery and getting the support I need. They are also so incredibly supportive of what I’ve tried to create with Isabella and Us. and they support me in making the most of any opportunities.
It’s also just as important though to have a strong friendship support group too, whether that’s one friend or a group. I was very lucky to have found two amazing friends who were pregnant at the same time (we were all due a day after each other) and we spent our maternity leave together. They were and still are the people I’d message during a night feed and to check if something was normal.
I’m also super grateful for the community that has been built with Isabella and Us. too because that support system is just incredible! I’ve met so many amazing and incredible people since starting Isabella and Us. and that is one of the best things about running the business!
What's been your biggest challenge running Isabella and Us whilst having a child?
Time and Mum Guilt! I’m forever feeling guilty that I don’t give Isabella enough time, that I don’t give the business enough time and then there is the whole mum guilt on top. The juggle is tough!
You donate 10% of sales from some of your products to Mind, the mental health charity. How do you look after your own mental health?
I think the best thing I’ve done is to be open and honest about how I’m feeling. That has been a massive help! That had allowed me to validate how I’ve been feeling, to accept it and to then decide how to deal with it. Also writing about it has massively helped too!
What's been the highlight of Motherhood for you so far?
Definitely the time I told Isabella I loved her as she was falling asleep and she smiled! That smile is the one thing that keeps me going!
Have there been any specific things about parenting that you've struggled with and if so, how have you tried to deal with that?
All of it! I’ve just found it all really tough! I think because I had a rough pregnancy, then a tough Fourth Trimester I’ve never felt like I’ve had a handle on any of it at all! I’ve just tried to muddle through the best I can.
You have another day job and you’ve recently gone back to work full time. I know a lot of women with Mama brands also have day jobs. Do you have a plan of action as to how to fit everything in?
I have no idea to be honest! I’m going to just see what happens, which scares me as I’m definitely a planner but I just have no idea how I will fit in it. I know I will but equally I know I’ll only end up doing what is really important so I can only imagine what state my house will be in by the end of January.
Do you have any tips for balancing work/Motherhood/home life?
Just to go with the flow, some days you’ll have it all together and some days you won’t. That’s okay! It doesn’t mean you won’t have it together the next day! Oh and lists! Lists are my saviour! I just don’t remember stuff like I used to!