In this month’s blog, I spoke about how for some of us, having children is an opportunity to reconnect with our own creativity and pursue something more in line with our purpose.
This month’s feature mum, Brooke Hill, is a walking talking example of that. After her senior marketing management role was made redundant while on maternity leave, Brooke was inspired to create a new career fuelled by a forgotten childhood passion.
Read on as Brooke shares her incredibly inspiring story.
The Mothers Den: Tell us a little about yourself
Brooke: I’m a copywriter, brand and marketing consultant and founder of The Content(ed) Copywriter. I'm also mum to Poppy, who is 11 months old. I live with my husband John, daughter Poppy and dog Humphrey in Balmain.
The Mothers Den: What was the motivation and drive behind The Content(ed) Copywriter?
Brooke: Prior to having Poppy, I was working in a senior management marketing role. Then when Poppy was 3 weeks old, the business I was working for underwent a big restructure and my role was made redundant. Of course, it was a bit of a shock at the time but I quickly realised what a positive thing it could be.
I was up every night with 2-3 hourly feedings and in the wee hours of the morning, my mind began tick, tick, ticking away with what I should do next. And weirdly, amidst the fog of being a new mum, I actually felt this big creative drive. It must have been the hormones. All of a sudden, I was fuelled by this desire to write.
I've always loved to write. When I was a kid, other kids would be out playing and I would be inside bashing out fairytale stories on an old typewriter. But I never really considered pursuing it as a career. To be honest, I didn't think I was good enough. But writing, or editing my team's work, was always a part of my marketing role, and looking back, it was the bit that I loved the most.
My biggest motivation, however, was Poppy. Suddenly, I couldn't imagine leaving her to go back to an office job. My husband had always said that I should run a business from home while our kids were young. I used to roll my eyes and tell him he was ridiculous. How could I possibly do both? But then, at 3am - maybe it was sleep deprivation, maybe it was hormones, maybe it was lunacy - but I started to see the possibilities. And possibility turned into drive. I had to give it a crack - because if I could make it work, it might just be the best thing for our family - and for me.
The Content(ed) Copywriter is a play on words - that I believe all good copy should be great content and vice versa. Also, that I like to think of myself as a fairly calm person, and believe I can offer clients a reliable, consistent solution. I meet the brief and meet the deadline - no fuss. I'm contented, they're contented - everyone's happy.
The Mothers Den: You decided to shift into your own business when your baby was still very young. Can you tell us a bit about that journey?
Brooke: To be honest, I kind of fell into it. I idly mentioned to a friend that I was thinking of going into copywriting. The next day, one of her colleagues sent me a brief. I did the job. And then another brief came. I did that too. And before I knew it, I had other new clients and a steady work flow.
I've been lucky; Poppy has always been always a good sleeper during the day. So I put her down to sleep and pick up my laptop. She was a bit of a night owl, but I muddled through it somehow. She sleeps through the night now, thank goodness!
The Mothers Den: If you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice, what age would you go back to and what would that advice be?
Brooke: I’d go back to my 14 year old self and tell me to stop aiming for perfection. Keep writing for fun. I put my pen down in my teens because I thought I wasn't good enough. I stopped writing for competitions because I knew I wouldn't win. It didn't occur to me that winning wasn't the point, that no craft comes without practise and hard work and failure. I didn't really understand how diabolical perfectionism could be until I was in my thirties.
The Mothers Den: If you could only teach your children one thing, what would it be?
Brooke: To find things you love doing and keep doing them. That you don't have to be perfect at doing something to enjoy it. As Uldouz so cleverly put in a recent email: I would tell my kids that good enough is good enough.
The Mothers Den: How do you manage the two worlds of business and motherhood?
Brooke: I’m honest with my clients up front; they know that I have a baby. Some of them have encouraged me to bring Poppy to meetings... with varying results. One time, when she was learning to use her voice, she crowed like a cockatoo for about fifty-five minutes of a sixty minute meeting. Luckily, the client was also a mum and was equally adept at tuning it out.
I choose to see balance is a verb, not an noun. In other words, if I thought that balance was something that was a thing that could be achieved, I don't think I'd get out of bed in the morning. If I choose to see it as something that is a constant act in motion - then it's doable.
I also have to keep telling myself to live in the moment. That's really hard for me; I'm a big planner. It's tempting to worry about what will happen to my business when Poppy changes her sleep patterns, or when we decide to try for a second child. Of course, I'm starting to put in plans for that but I'm trying to not let it keep me up at night. I have to keep reminding myself that it's working, now, and to be content with that. I had the best reality check today - I realised that it would have been my first day back in the office tomorrow. The thought would have filled me with the deepest kind of dread. It reminded me that however hard it is; what I'm doing now makes me infinitely happier than the alternative.
The Mothers Den: Care to let us in on your favourite hacks or efficiency tools?
Brooke: I probably have the worst advice in the world - I am sure I'm doing it all wrong.
Don't wait for creativity to strike. Just get started on whatever you have to do. The creativity will come, eventually. I am military about opening up my computer as soon as Poppy goes to sleep and just getting stuck into it. Sometimes what I'm writing is complete drivel, but that's what a second or third edit is for.
Surround yourself with a few good people who are good at things you aren't. My husband is excellent at telling me when I'm being too much of a workaholic. I have a small business coach (Clare Wood of ctdsolutions.com.au) who is incredible on helping me manage the finance side of things. Jade Warne of Hipster Mum is a talented photographer who makes me look less like crazy, food-splattered mum and more like a with-it business lady. I work with an outstanding brand designer who interprets things visually in a way that I could never imagine.
I also can't function without my to-do list, which I update every day. And for me, that's a really blurred list - I have 'submit brand strategy document to client' right there next to 'puree veggies for Poppy'. Both are important, and both have to get done. I do it on my notes section on my phone, and copy and paste anything that doesn't get done today into tomorrow, and try not to beat myself up about it.
Oh, and it's totally possible to shower, brush your teeth, shave your legs and have a baby crawl around the bathroom floor at the same time. It might make for a very patchy shave job, but it's possible...
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