Natasha Wells is mum to Edie, 5, Avie, 3 and Bonnie, 22 months, and co-founder of The Hood.
L-R Natasha with her tribe.
Rachel: What did you do before you were a mum?
Natasha: I worked in advertising - predominantly in advertising agencies. It was great. However, it’s really not conducive to mums who want to work part time. So I made a conscious decision a long time ago that I probably wouldn’t ever return to a traditional role within an advertising agency again.
Rachel: I've seen first hand just what a wonderful mum you are, Tash. You give everything to your girls. What would you say is the best thing about being a mum?
Natasha: Everyone says it, but it really is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. It's also the hardest but I know that everything I am putting in now, I will get back threefold in the years to come. I'm the most content I have been, although not always entirely happy. But they are two very different things.
Rachel: Wrangling three kids day in and day out can also be exhausting. What do you find most challenging about being a mum?
Natasha: I find being a mum all-consuming and have really struggled to let go and step away from the girls. It’s probably part of the reason I have been a stay at home mum for 5 and a half years. I don't for one minute regret my decision to stay home with the girls but with hindsight it probably hasn't always been entirely healthy for me or my relationship with my partner. But I didn’t know how to do any other way. I have definitely learnt to let go a bit more more in the last couple of years and when I need a break I just go, even if the girls are screaming for me not to leave. Having a third has taught me that you can’t give your all to everyone at all times and you have to let things slide sometimes. For example, I don’t have the time or energy to worry about whether they eat all their dinner or not.
I've recently returned to work one day a week and it's been a really great experience for me and forced me to learn to live with the anxiety associated with being away from the girls. I’m lucky to be working for a guy who understands what’s it like to have young kids and that’s been a huge blessing.
Rachel: How do you manage to juggle it all and find balance in your life?
Natasha: I actually really struggle to find balance. That's one of my biggest challenges. I don’t feel like I have the space for any clear thinking a lot of the time and I often feel like I am just keeping our heads above water. I know that as the girls get older this will change. At the same time I feel I need to put some better systems in place to manage it all.
My partner is home from work for those crazy dinner, bath, bed hours and is really helpful so I’m very lucky. I don’t know how other woman do those long days all on their own.
Rachel: For years, we've talked about launching a business together. I actually haven't asked you this before, but what was the biggest catalyst for you to finally stop talking about it and launch The Hood?
Natasha: I guess I have always been interested in running my own business, partly because it would mean being able to work more flexible hours and be around for the girls.
I have also always been interested in entrepreneurs and of recent times have read a lot stories about online brands and businesses who have had a lot of success. The landscape today makes it really easy for people to start a business with minimal set up costs thanks to websites like Shopify and Big Cartel, and given the power and low-cost of social media it was kind of a no-brainer.
I have based a lot of the decisions I have made in my life on the philosophy of having ‘no regrets’. If I feel like I might regret something, then I'll act on it. I definitely didn’t want to die wondering if we could have made this a success. Combined with my passion for supporting other woman - as I have really found motherhood wonderful yet extremely challenging - it kind of all seemed to fit.
A friend of mine told me not to start a business until my girls were all at school. It was very sound advice, but given there are two of us to share the load, its seems to be manageable, for now.
Rachel is mum to 17-month-old Jack and co-founder of The Hood.
Natasha: What did you do before you were a mother?
Rachel: Slept. Oh, and worked as a journalist. Most recently as fashion editor at The Sunday Age and Consumer Affairs reporter at The Age. I return to The Age part time as a general/breaking news reporter at the beginning of September. Yikes.
Natasha: What do you find are the best and most challenging parts of being a mum?
Rachel: Falling in love. That's the magical part. I often tell Jack 'I couldn't love him anymore if I tried.' But each day I feel like I fall in love with him even more. The cuddles. After a rocky start I've been fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed. We're still going. I love that special time we have together. And watching him grow and thrive and learn new things and form relationships with the people I love. It melts my heart. The most challenging? Is how relentless motherhood is. I think that's one of the things I was least prepared for. I was used to working long hours with impossible deadlines but as a mum, you never really get to clock off.
Natasha: What's your parenting game changer - ie. the best piece of advice you have received or can share with other parents?
Rachel: I think the biggest game changer for me was being able to sit comfortably with the fact that as a mother, especially in those early months, there will be days where you get absolutely nothing done, besides feeding, walking, rocking and holding your baby.
Even now, it is not uncommon for things to only get half done - the dishes, the laundry, filling out a form, writing an email - before Jack wakes or needs something. I've always been very task-focussed. I love a list. When I was working, I often measured my days on my productivity levels. So in those early weeks and months I really struggled with the fact that I could get to the end of the day without seemingly achieving anything. I hadn't swept the floor. I hadn't returned that phone call. We would order takeaway again because I didn't get around to cooking dinner.
Looking back, they were such trivial things to have worried about. But at the time they were big things and it meant I couldn't fully focus on and enjoy the most important task of the day - being a mum. I'm much better at letting that stuff go now.
Natasha: Why did you decide to launch The Hood? What was your greatest motivation?
Rachel: I guess for me one of the biggest driving forces was really wanting to not only support mothers but try and encourage more open and honest conversations about parenthood - the good bits and the bloody hard bits.
We like to think of our Tshirt and sweater designs as a bit like a wearable pep talk to mums. And we want to continue those conversations online - through social media and now the blog.
I am really passionate about the fact that there is this overwhelming perception, particularly on social media, that motherhood is this shiny, stain-free, happy place. And, yes, a lot of the time it is, but not always, and we need to talk about that more. As you know, we've got some really exciting initiatives around encouraging this honest dialogue that I can't wait to roll out.
Having come from a background in fashion journalism and styling, the design element of the business also drives me. I love working with great product and I'm really excited about some of our upcoming designs.