We loooove the concept of Storytellhers! Can you explain a bit more about the platform?
R: As journalists and writers we have met so many amazing women in our careers. Often we would interview them for one reason, but then another story would emerge while we were talking. Or, we meet women in our daily lives that have so much to say but have never had the platform to do so. That is why Storytellhers was born. We want to give a voice to all the intriguing and inspiring women we meet, and shine a light on the variety of roles that women inhabit. There are so many powerful stories out there – emanating from motherhood and business, to campaigning and culture – and we want to share them with our readership.
What steps lead you to get to this point in your career?
S: We met during antenatal classes for our first babies nearly 3 and a half years ago. We spent the following months chatting over coffees and surviving soft play, and we realised that we had a shared creative passion. We both love creating content and sharing stories: I am a writer for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, like House & Garden, Condé Nast Traveller, the Sunday Telegraph and the FT, while Rowan is a former BBC producer turned brand director. We LOVE being mummies, and want to maintain flexibility in our careers, but both felt we had more to give at a creative level. We set up Storytellhers as a project to stimulate that part of our brains again, but we are so excited that it has become so much more than that.
What have been your best career highlights so far?
R: Making the move from journalism at the BBC to a successful career in PR and branding has been a major thing for me. I loved journalism but really wanted to work with brands and consumers, so making that change 6 years ago was the ideal move for me. I love the variety of my day job, no two clients or projects are the same. I’ve worked with some major household brands, and I love seeing my creative ideas come to life, and how consumers respond to them. I also feel very proud of my return to work after children. Its a huge juggle and takes commitment, but I am proud of the skills motherhood has taught me, and the balance I have managed to find, so far.
S: Apart from my first job working as a producer’s assistant on Harry Potter, I have always been freelance. I’ve worked extensively as an actress on stage and screen, and took up journalism after getting a placement at the Sunday Telegraph. I’ve set up a travel video production company and am working on an entirely new project now: a natural family remedy to support the immune system. It’s been eclectic! My highlights range rather weirdly from acting on stage with Benedict Cumberbatch, interviewing Lewis Hamilton, being invited to Downing Street for my travel videos and then seeing those videos screened on airlines.
What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to take the first step in a new business?
R: Do not wait for it to be perfect. It never will be. Create the basics that you need to launch and get going. Also, realise you can’t do it all alone. Find people you like and trust, and delegate. Working with one of your great friends is a pretty good start too!!!
S: I entirely agree with Rowan – probably why we work so well together! But also we can disagree, and that’s so important. It’s good to listen to criticism as well as praise – it’s constructive and could save you time and heartache. There’s a saying – “just ship it”. Make it happen, and get it out there. But knowing when to pull the plug and divert your energy elsewhere is vital too – particularly difficult when you’re emotionally attached. I know – I’ve been there!
Do you have any tips for balancing such a busy schedule?
R: I wish. In truth, if you have a busy home life and want to achieve a lot in your career then you have to accept you are going to have to juggle. A lot. I would say find good support in whatever form you need, childcare/help etc, then plan, plan, plan. If it’s not in my diary, it’s just not going to get done. So my husband and I have a planning session each week on a Sunday evening. Be sure to plan some family time and me time in there too. You can’t do it all, but you do need time for yourself. Randy Zuckerburg’s book, Pick Three, was a revelation for me when it comes to balancing a busy life. I recommend it to anyone struggling with a busy schedule.
S: I need to read that book! Unfortunately, I don’t write it all down, so I just pick what has the nearest deadline and attack that. And when too many deadlines come at once, I work late into the night. It’s not ideal. And I’ve made a commitment in 2019 to not check my phone when I’m in the playground with the kids so that I can chase them, play games and really be present. But when I sit down at my desk I don’t dawdle – I won’t get sucked into social media – and I’ll make myself a coffee only when I’ve done enough work to justify it! So for me, it’s about making a few rules and sticking to them.
What do you do in your down time..that is…if you have enough time!?
R: Probably not enough!!!! I am someone who is never bored, so I often enjoy some time at home just listening to music or reading. I don’t need a lot of stimulus to be happy. On the occasion I do get time out I love nothing more than a bit of quiet contemplation and a good cup of tea. I tend to use this down time to listen to podcasts as a way of keeping in touch with the world. The High Low and The McKinsey Podcast are my current favourites. The odd spa treat, and supper with my husband doesn’t hurt either.
S: Talking to my husband, at home over dinner or on long car journeys. He’s a very good listener and gives excellent advice, so I feel very lucky that I can emerge from a deep conversation with him feeling more positive, whatever the subject. I love listening to audio books and podcasts in my down time, which is basically when I’m brushing teeth and getting dressed!
What beauty products can you not live without?
R: I am a bit of a product junkie, but for me its all about the skincare rather than make up. I swear by Lotus Youth Preserving Cream and Soy Cleanser by Fresh, one of my favourite brands. At night I rely on facial oil to help me fake the sleep I am not getting. I am currently using Sunday Riley Luna, or Superseed Oil from Votary.
S: I used to be a sucker for adverts’ claims and whatever my latest facialist was telling me to use. But since visiting Caudalie Spa in France last year, I’m hooked on their products – it was the best facial I’ve ever had and I genuinely saw a huge difference afterwards. I only use their Premier Cru range now and their Glycolic Peel leaves my skin so soft and supple.
Can you tell us your best beauty tips?
R: Sleep when you can, eat as balanced and healthy a diet as your life allows, and make time for a weekly home spa ritual. Close the door on the world and treat your skin to a deep cleanse, a mask and some nourishing products.
S: Sleep, definitely. I try to get 8 hours every night. It’s not great for business or social life, but I’m more productive and a better mum when I’m well rested! Also, staying out of the sun. I’ve worn a hat and SPF50 on my face since I was 25.
What do you feel are the benefits of 100% natural products?
R: I am no expert, but I do not like reading the ingredients of a product and not understanding any of the names. In all areas of my life I take a more holistic approach, keep it simple and harness the power of nature. From herbal remedies to acupuncture, I try to keep it natural, so why would I do anything different for my skin?
S: I try to cook everything from scratch for my kids, to avoid sugar and additives. Natural food is a must, and skincare too (I love that Caudalie is based on the grape) and I love herbal remedies. I had a muslin steeped in lavender oil to get me through two labours! Nature offers us everything we need, and it’s so easy to forget that in this tech-focused world we now live in.
What’s an average day like for you both?
R: First and foremost we are mothers, so a lot of my day is working around looking after my 3 year old. I check emails and instagram just after breakfast, once my daughter is at pre school, to make sure there is nothing I have missed over night. I then contact any clients that need attention and more often than not give Steph a call to plan our Storytellhers activities for the day. I work from home in the Surrey Hills most of the time so will squeeze in a walk on the north downs way when I can, but I also love my days in London, when I come in to town to attend meetings or catch up with Steph. I have a strict no phones rule after 7pm, so the evening often finds my husband and I watching Netflix or getting an early night.
S: My second boy starts nursery this term, so I will have an extra 15 hours to work. It’s going to be revolutionary for my productivity! I have a very part time nanny who gives me the freedom to scoot off to meetings or interviews in the afternoons. When my husband arrives home at 7pm, I’m ‘off duty’ and the kids go wild mucking about with him. I try to simultaneously cook dinner, handle our social media. and block out the shrieks!
What is next for you individually and for Storytellhers?
R: I have a lot of family things coming in 2019, so my focus is going to be closer to home, while also growing Storytellhers with Steph. We just can’t wait to share some exciting news with our readers in the first quarter of the year, as well as keep telling the amazing stories of the women (and some men) that we meet.
S: I want to continue nurturing Storytellhers and being as brave and forward thinking as Rowan and I can be. Our skills really complement each other, and we’ve sketched out some grand plans for this year! I’m extremely excited to launch my natural remedy product too.
What do you like about Dr.Lipp?
R: I love love love natural products and I am lip obsessed. The cold weather dries my skin and lips out so much, which means my beloved bright lipsticks are a no no. So I love any product that can keep my lips soft and supple during the winter months.
S: I love to use these all year round – I find lipsticks quite drying, and much prefer a smear of something natural while on the run.