Doctor Preeya Alexander shares with us what happens behind the closed doors of a general practice, and why you're never (ever) alone...
"As a GP, I often reassure my patients that what they're feeling is normal – how do I know? Because many women have disclosed this to me over time and I had similar emotions as a new mother. I can assure you the loss of sense of self is something I commonly encounter in my consulting room," Preeya said.
“I’m pregnant, but I’m here because I don’t want to go ahead with this”<p>This is not an uncommon statement I hear when the door shuts. I think many envision a certain stereotype when it comes to this kind of consult – it's assumed that its mainly teenagers with unintended pregnancies who come in with this request- but I can assure you that is far from the truth. I've supported all sorts of women through the termination of pregnancy process- married, in long term relationships, women desperate for children but without the financial capacity to sustain a child at the time, victims of sexual assault. There is often some reluctance from the patient – I often see a searching look pass across my face trying to see if there is judgement – but my response is always the same, "it's great you're here, let's talk options." I'm a GP who is prochoice – I believe a woman should know her all options and feel empowered to make whatever decision suits her mental and physical wellbeing at the time. As a GP I spend often multiple consults helping women through the decision, discussing options (from proceeding with pregnancy, to adoption to potential options for termination) – it is our job as the doctor to ensure a woman is supported so that she can make the decision that suits her. There are some doctors who do not discuss termination options or offer counselling based on their own religious or ethical reasons – but they do have a duty of care to inform you and refer you on to other doctors who can help you.</p>
“I feel like I’m constantly thinking about what needs to be done, and I’m exhausted by it”<p>The female mental load can be heavy –I know this from personal experience. Many women will admit to me the heaviness of the constant juggling, the constant need to think about what needs to be done. I often feel the same way and as the GP it can often be quite comforting knowing I am not alone in my thoughts. "I can relate to how you are feeling in more ways than you could know" is a common response from me. The therapeutic relationship and its boundaries can be tricky to navigate as a GP – we get to know our patients, their families so incredibly well and sometimes we start to share bits and pieces of ourselves. Some in my profession might say we shouldn't reveal a thing about ourselves to our patients to maintain a clear boundary. Personally, I disagree; if I know the patient may gain comfort, insight, courage from one of my own stories then I will consider sharing it. So yes, I have previously shared that I struggle with the constant juggle as well – and I've shared that as a family we too have survived miscarriages and that I myself have battled anxiety years ago and taken medication; if the story adds value to the consult then I may share it and my experience has been that it strengthens the relationships with my patients as opposed to weakening it. And so, I often agree with my female patients who struggle with the mental load- the list in heads, on paper, on phones is never ending for many of us – there's a lot to think about constantly and for many reasons, women tend to carry the main mental load of the household. Does the household have milk for coffee in the morning? Is there a meal for tomorrow night when everyone comes home exhausted tomorrow from school and work? Are there enough clean undies for everyone? Are the dogs fed/walked/groomed? Are the forms for school filled? Are swimming lessons on next week or do they go miss a week because of the public holiday? It's life – but for many, me included, it is exhausting so you are not alone!</p>
“I feel like I’ve lost myself”<p>New mothers will often very quietly admit this in the consulting room. The social media letter boards one often sees with the statement "I found myself in motherhood" can just be a "kick in the balls, or ovaries" as a patient once told me. She was one of many who felt her identity has struggled somewhat as a new mother.</p>
“I feel like I’ve lost my identity”<p><em>"I feel like people just see me as a mother now"</em> <em>"I feel like I've forgotten who I used to be"</em> <em>"I just don't feel sexy anymore since becoming a Mum"</em> I've heard all of these in my consulting room before, and personally, I don't think we openly discuss this enough as women who become mothers. I think many of us struggle to find ourselves again in motherhood and many might gain comfort in knowing they're not alone in this journey. Motherhood is a wonderful, tumultuous, fascinating, sometimes ugly dark journey. It has its real ups, but it also has its testing (and very exhausting) moments. In those initial month's patients will often reveal that they are struggling with the loss of identity or feeling lonely. Yes, you have an infant with you constantly- feeding off you, sleeping on you – but somehow you can still feel an overwhelming loneliness, an isolation from the "real world" as you mourn your pre-child life a little and the ease of it (if only you had really relished sleep-ins and pop-ins to the shops).</p>
I have a cousin who was born three days after me, so we grew up as twin sisters and this I consider such a gift.
"We grew up with our grandparents spending half of the year in the mountains and when I think I back I always smile," Margherita Cardelli reminisces about her childhood in Italy. She'd make pasta with her great grandmother, ride horses, ski in the mountains – to say it was idyllic is an understatement.
I love working with my husband...<p>We have completely different responsibilities, but we share everything each morning before taking any decisions. Lots of people ask us how we can work together. We actually love it and consider it a miracle.</p>
I always wanted to be a mother...<p>I never thought not to have children. It's the best gift one can receive and I feel very grateful I got to be a mother. It teaches me so many things and it always makes me think of when I was little and how I took certain decisions while I was growing up.</p>
We travel a lot for work and making this work with a baby is difficult...<p>I always feel I need to do more to make both my child and my husband happy and making this work with all the job responsibilities is not an easy thing. We don't have our families in Rome, so we needed to have a nanny. My mother comes often and helps us a lot. The main reason why I work this much is the future of our baby and I would never consider slowing it down. Also working makes me feel empowered and satisfied.</p>
Since COVID-19 hit, the future is still uncertain but we strongly believe it will be for the better...<p>We started from 0 and we are not afraid. We firmly believe in what we do and nothing will stop us.</p>
The best part of motherhood is...<p>Knowing that I am doing good and the smiles of Aida Atena. I can't even describe what I feel. I am so grateful to have her and make her grow in our family.</p>
I love a clean look with lots of styling such as vintage jewelry and hair accessories...<p>I definitely love a masculine look but never forget to stay feminine. So I use a lot of vintage silk shirts and feminine slingbacks.</p>
Giuliva was born out of a common idea I had with Gerardo about repurposing menswear into womenswear and the tailoring skills on a feminine look...<p>I love the sleekness and the power a masculine outfit gives to a woman's body. And again never fail to make it feminine.</p>
We only buy children's clothing made of natural products...<p>She's a mini-me and we look for baby clothing that resemblance what we wear. <a href="https://shop.misha-and-puff.com/" target="_blank">Misha and Puff</a> is definitely my favorite.</p>
Live your children free to choose their life always supporting them if needed...<p>Make them open their eyes and teach kindness and respect for anything.</p>
Right now, I am loving...<p>The Peter Diamandis book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Peter-H.-Diamandis/e/B006392BR2%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share" target="_blank"><em>Abundance,</em></a> trying to master it and benefiting from the optimistic point of view it gives you. I am rediscovering the pleasure of cooking and water color painting. I am enjoying the pleasure of slowing down re-reading classics listening to classic Italian music, my favorite Lucio Dalla. Dancing the days away with Aida Atena and our dog Ottone in our living room.</p>
Imagine taking your one-year-old daughter for a walk in the pram and having garbage thrown at you because of the colour of your skin.
Or being attacked as a teenager because of the colour of your skin. Or feeling like you must contribute and participate contently in a society where your life is not valued, respected or recognised and remain unconfrontational about it, because of the colour of your skin. This is the experience of racism. And it's something many of our readers – myself included – have so much to learn about. To make changes and fully understand white privilege, we need to listen more. We need to educate ourselves. And as Simone Bevan points out here, the fact that black culture is something we profit from and are entertained by daily, but Black death and the value of Black life is suddenly a new thing, is not good enough. "It literally took a video of George Floyd being choked to death.
You have mentioned flaws in well intentioned allyship. Can you discuss this further?<p>Many Black and POC people are cautiously optimistic that the uproar of Black Lives Matter in recent weeks could be the beginning of monumental change. However, watching this change happen in real-time can also feel really gruelling and triggering for people who experience racism their whole lives. At times it feels saturated, messy and trendy. Non-Black voices are taking up important space and instead of using their platforms to amplify Black voices and drive practical change, I feel like they're diluting the cause.</p><p> I think it's really important to anchor this conversation in a recent, real example. 'The Show Must Be Paused' campaign on June 2ndwas founded by Black women <a href="https://twitter.com/jamilacthomas?lang=en" target="_blank">Jamila Thomas</a> and Brianna Agyemang aimed to hold the music industry accountable in how they drive the rhetoric for Black Lives Matter. Organisations like Apple and MTV got onboard and the campaign was aimed to drive people to a designated website filled with charities, petitions and over 91 resources where people could go to become better educated on racism. It was quickly dubbed 'Blackout Tuesday' with brands and individuals jumping on this trend to show solidarity to the Black community. This is where it becomes problematic: firstly, hundreds of thousands of people used #BlackLivesMatter saturating a hashtag that was once filled with amazing resources and important conversation led by Black voices with black squares. Secondly, no matter how well-intentioned, it is act of performative activism. Posting a black square then logging off just reinforces the issues of non-Black silence when it comes to racism and further silencing Black voices as the originators of this campaign were almost entirely removed from the conversation as it snowballed. It quickly became so saturated that people were just blindly posting black squares without looking into the origins of what it was intended for in the first place: driving people to useful resources. People followed suit of a trend without taking the time to research and understand what it was and it happens so often on social media.</p><p> Currently (21st June 2020) on Instagram the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has 21.7m posts. Whilst the #BlackoutTuesday hashtag has 24.7m posts. Bearing in mind Black Lives Matter was founded in 2003 and #BlackoutTuesday was intended for just one day this month. This solidifies the issues with performative acts when it comes to marginalised groups. You aren't driving momentum; you're crowding an important space.</p>
Can you tell us about your heritage? And what did your parents teach you about racism growing up?<p>I'm third generation Black British. My mum's side is Jamaican and my dad's side is Dominican. I have always been incredibly proud to be Black and never struggled with my identity despite growing up in predominantly white communities. Like many countries with histories that thrive from systematic oppression, in the UK I learnt nothing about Black history at school. My dad got me a history tutor and I was taught about the slave trade and racism, but I was also taught about amazing leaders, creatives, inventors and celebratory figures within my history. My dad was adamant about not propagating an oppressive narrative. We acknowledged our history, but revelled in the joy of our vibrant, beautiful culture. Both my parents taught me to love myself and be proud of who I am, and I always have.</p>
In your own words, describe how racism feels…<p>Racism feels like you must contribute and participate contently in a society where your life is not valued, respected or recognised and remain unconfrontational about it.</p>
When you moved to Australia six years ago, what were your impressions of the country?<p>When I moved to Australia, I thought of my grandparents who left the Caribbean to move to the UK. My husband and I both had new jobs and I couldn't help but think my Grandad especially would have been so proud that his family made it all the way to Australia (he passed away when I was teenager). Overall, I enjoy the lifestyle and like most Brits I love living in a coastal city and being close to the ocean. In Australia I have experienced more 'casual racism' often shrugged off as banter. I remember a security guard in an office building saying 'I didn't expect a voice like that to come out of a girl that looks like you!', I also recall a manager in a company meeting jokingly asking me if I knew how to speak Aboriginal, when working on a brief that needed marketing material translated into Indigenous languages.</p>
Can you tell us about what happened when you took your daughter for a walk in the park recently?<p>I was taking my daughter for a walk as she was going through a phase where she'd only sleep in her pram. I was walking along and a van slowed down next to me, three men in the van started throwing rubbish at me and making monkey sounds. It was one of the most degrading things I had ever experienced and was incredibly damaging for me as it was my daughter's first experience of racism at one year old. I felt like I had failed her by not being able to keep her safe. Following that, I didn't leave the house for days because I was so scared of something happening to my little girl. I'm getting over it now, but those situations have a way manifesting into trauma. I often think white people can't comprehend situations where you're scared to do things like walk to Coles, especially in a seemingly pleasant suburb, but racism has a way of revealing itself in the most ordinary places.</p>
Going back, you were physically attacked in your teenage years when you walked back from the corner shop after buying sweets – what happened?<p>I was 14 years old and it was a group of older girls I knew from the area. They had made racist comments to me in the past and they followed me and waited outside the shop I went into. I asked the staff for help and if they could call my dad or the police, but they refused. I had no choice but to go outside and face them. They dragged me to the car park and began punching and kicking me and shouting that they had a knife and were going to kill me. No one intercepted, they just scurried past with their heads down. I was a tough kid and I wasn't going to back down despite being outnumbered, so I began to fight them off. I remember knowing as long as I could stay on my feet, I'd be OK. Looking back, it's sad that I had the ability to think so logically in such a violent situation because of experience. I fought hard enough to make the entire group back off and retreat and I ran home. The police did not do anything as they didn't believe it was that bad as I managed to get away with just cuts and bruises, which I now realise was racially motivated. I remember one officer even describing me as 'street smart' which now as an adult I recognise is a Black stereotype.</p>
As a new mother, do you see yourself reflected in the 'mummy' communities online?<p>From a personal standpoint, I tend to avoid the online mum community as whole to be honest, but I am across who they are because of the industry I work in. Even following Black mums becomes exhausting because I observe their audience and other known mums treating them as a token symbol in the influencer community. They are constant representations of being Black which doesn't always account for their experience of being a mother all encompassing. It's like they only exist for white audiences to be in closer proximity of Blackness within the comfort of their own bubble. They also get inundated with the most audacious comments and questions from tone deaf people and constantly have to defend themselves. I just don't have the energy for it. We're Black mothers, but we're also normal people who love cooking, reading, sports, reality TV and online shopping. It is a reminder that just in being Black you have no choice but to be an activist.</p>
How has your life changed since becoming a mother? What's been the greatest challenge, and the greatest joy?<p>My daughter has really anchored me and given me purpose and meaning that I never knew was possible. It sounds cliché, but she is the love of my life. She is the greatest joy and brings me so much happiness – I feel like my purpose in life is to be her mum. I love it all – even the tantrums in Target over Lego! She's playful, inquisitive and headstrong like me. She's such a mama's girl; always stuck to my side and following me round. The biggest challenge for me is hoping that my ability to parent is stronger than how horrible the world can be. If she grows up and she doesn't feel proud of who she is I'd feel like I have failed her.</p>
How can we talk to our children about what being anti-racist means?<p>The best way to be anti-racist is to lead by example: call out racist friends and family members, continue to do the work even when the dust settles, use your platform to amplify Black voices, and practically contribute to change. Look at your own friendship circle and the friends that your children have. Your child should grow up around kids with different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. You can have as many diverse books and Black dolls as you like, but if real life doesn't reflect their toy shelf it's tokenism. Teach them to see colour, explain what racism is in a clear digestible way, and why they should be against it and what to do if they see racism unfold. Celebrate Blackness and inclusivity in your household, learn about the history of racism but celebrate and appreciate the culture too. Racism should not be exempt from conversations because we fear our kids are too young, there are studies that reveal children observe racial biases from as young as two years old. One of my earliest memories was my dad talking to my then 12-year-old older brother about how to conduct yourself as a Black man in public: don't have your hands in your pocket, don't hang around for no reason, if the police stop you be overly compliant, even if you know they're in the wrong. If these are the types of conversations Black people have to have with their kids, it's a conversation no household should be exempt from.</p>
To diversify our feeds, can you share your favourite people to follow on Instagram?<p>At the moment I really enjoy following <a href="https://www.instagram.com/theconsciouskid/?hl=en" target="_blank">@theconciouskid</a> on Instagram. The platform is probably the most comprehensive guide on anti-racism and inclusivity specifically aimed at teaching our kids. They have just worked with Instagram to create a great resource on how to raise actively anti-racist children. I also just started reading The Book You Wish Your Parents Read. I was interested in the way they discussed themes of emotional baggage and how to not pass that on to your own children. With my lived experiences I am cautious about how my own energy and emotions impact my daughter.</p>
Trusty linen blouses from Worn Store, cosy knit pants from St. Agni, cashmere jumpers, bassike cotton jersey pants…
Ella McCabe Barton is listing her maternity wear staples (and we're taking note). The mother-to-be grew up in England and moved to Australia three years ago. She met her partner and that was that – Australia is now home. After deciding that she didn't want to just holiday in Byron Bay – she wanted to call it her home – she tapped into the creative community and landed a job at Tigmi Trading (one of our favourite home goods brands). Here, we catch up on everything from how she's navigating pregnancy to her love of swimwear brand Hakea Swim (worn throughout this story).
What are some great pregnancy resources you can share?<p>Self-care and making time each day to connect in, in whatever capacity that may be. I have had a daily yoga practice since the age of 18 and it has been the greatest gift and resource in my life. Having the time to connect in daily and be an observer to this wonderful life unfolding feels very important. My practice has evolved considerably over the years and now is less focused on the physical and more so on meditation and breath.</p><p> There are many wonderful support networks and resources available and at the beginning I found myself listening to many podcasts and talking to other women about their experiences. However, as my pregnancy develops, the inclination to go inward feels more and more important. I feel incredibly privileged to be a woman transitioning through this rite of passage into motherhood and trust that if I nurture from the inside – mother nature will allow things to unfold just as it should.</p>
How has your pregnancy been so far?<p>So far, the pregnancy has been a wonderful experience. The pure joy of coming to realise that you have created a new life and that your body is creating space to nurture is quite incredible. I have definitely allowed myself to surrender to whatever it needs – mostly sleep! I did get a little nausea which started around week 7/8 and dissipated around week 12 and since then I have been feeling great. </p>
How did you feel when you first felt your baby kick?<p>The most surreal and amazing experience! It took me by surprise. I had just sat down to have my tea one morning (at about 18 weeks) and all of a sudden there were 2-3 large thumps in my lower abdomen. I giggled to myself and then found myself talking to my belly. It was a couple of weeks until my partner felt it moving and when he finally did, it was incredibly special.</p>
Any food cravings?<p>The first trimester I was off a lot of foods and definitely craving more carbohydrates, however I haven't really strayed too far off my normal diet. I did, the other day, get a very strong craving for liquorice!</p>
What beauty products have you used throughout your pregnancy?<p>I have always kept a fairly simple beauty regime and I haven't changed anything during this pregnancy. I use <a href="https://www.dermaviduals.com.au/" target="_blank">Dermaviduals</a> on my face and I enjoy regular facials at <a href="https://www.aestheticabyronbay.com/" target="_blank">Aesthetica</a>, here in Byron Bay – it always leaves by skin feeling nourished, especially in winter! I truly believe that beauty starts from within and that what you put in will also transpire on the outside. I always start my day with a hot lemon drink and supplements where needed.</p>
What self-care rituals do you have in your life?<p>Self-care for me comes in many forms. In addition to my daily yoga practice, it is important for me to be in nature daily. Whether it is a walk, a swim or a surf, taking time to connect makes such a difference to how I feel.</p>
Has your approach to diet and exercise changed since you fell pregnant?<p>I have definitely slowed down. Exercise is still part of daily life, but I have modified my practice and I am continually tuning into what my body needs. When it comes to diet, I find myself often walking around our local markets or grocery stores to just buy what I feel like eating that day.</p>
Tell me about your work with Hakea Swim?<p>Casey has become a dear friend over the years and I absolutely love working with her and <a href="https://hakeaswim.com/" target="_blank">Hakea</a>. Her swimwear feels amazing (especially in the surf) and her creative input behind the brand makes it even more special. They are timeless pieces that wear incredibly well and fit all shapes and sizes. We are all big fans in my family!</p>
If you could write some words to your unborn child, what would you write?<p>You are surrounded in love, having come from infinite love, you are one of the many individual expressions of that infinite love, you are simply love in action journeying back to infinite love.</p>
How have you approached maternity dressing – what brands do you gravitate to?<p>To be honest, it took a little while for a bump to make an appearance and I managed to get away with wearing most of my clothes for quite some time. Now it has become trickier, but I do have some key pieces that are getting a lot of wear. We are very lucky to have some great brands on our doorstep here in Byron Bay! I have a few trusty linen blouses from <a href="https://wornstore.com.au/" target="_blank">Worn Store</a>, cosy knit pants from<a href="https://www.st-agni.com/" target="_blank"> St. Agni </a>– these layered with a cashmere jumper seem to be my staples these days. Oh, and also the cotton jersey pants from Bassike.</p>
How would you describe life in Byron Bay?<p>It really is a wonderful life here. Having moved from London three years ago, transitioning from a busy life working in the interiors industry to this… well, it doesn't compare. Here, it is possible to experience the right work and life balance that is hard to find in most parts of the world. In addition, we are surrounded by the most incredible nature and by a wonderful creative community. I have made many beautiful friends who are like an extended family and almost make up for my family who I miss dearly back in the UK.</p>
Tell us about your career path and where you are now in your career?<p>Having grown up in London and the South coast of England, I have always had a keen eye for design. I studied at London College of Fashion and at the Chelsea College of Art and Design, specialising in textile design. Having completed my degree, I started working in the interiors industry as an interior stylist and continued to do so, working on numerous editorial and commercial projects until I moved to Australia. After sometime here in Australia, I decided that I didn't want Byron Bay to just be another holiday, and I started to put some feelers out for creative opportunities when I met Danielle, the founder of <a href="https://tigmitrading.com/" target="_blank">Tigmi Trading</a>. I have now worked alongside her for more than two years, as creative producer, trade manager and product developer.</p>
What’s your favourite way to start the day?<p>I like to start my day practicing yoga or, in the summer, with a swim in the ocean.</p>
Last book you read?<p>I have a whole stack of books that I am currently dipping in and out of in the lead up to childbirth. These include '<a href="https://www.booktopia.com.au/the-first-forty-days-heng-ou/book/9781617691836.html" target="_blank">The first forty days</a>', '<a href="https://www.booktopia.com.au/ina-may-s-guide-to-childbirth-ina-may-gaskin/book/9780553381153.html" target="_blank">Ina May gaskin's guide to Childbirth</a>', '<a href="https://www.booktopia.com.au/birthing-from-within-pam-england/book/9780965987301.html" target="_blank">Birthing from within'</a>, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Sadhana-Mothers-Sharmila-Desai/dp/1906756309" target="_blank">'Yoga sadhana for mothers</a>'… All are wonderful reads!</p>
Last Podcast your listened to?<p>Oh, it has been a while since the last time I 'plugged in'! I used to listen to podcasts weekly while enjoying an infrared sauna session at <a href="https://www.nimbusco.com.au/" target="_blank">Nimbus and Co</a>, here in Byron Bay. My most listened to subscription is <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/204933/awake-in-the-world-by-michael-stone/" target="_blank">'Awake in the world' by Michael Stone,</a> a wonderful meditation teacher who passed a few years ago. His workshops were all record and each time I listen to him, his message seems to come at the perfect time.</p>
When London-based Laura Roso Vidrequin - a senior buyer at Harvey Nichols and mother to baby boy Albert – became a mother for the first time, she noticed that while there were changes in the adult market, the circular economy for children's garments remained largely the same...
She also noticed that second-hand clothes had been deemed as "dirty" for a long time. "Consumers are used to associating second-hand with thrift shops, that are not always taken care of and are often full of old, discarded items that have not been cleaned or organized," she says. It inspired her to launch Kids Oclock, a fashion resale platform where you'll find the best of pre-loved for your babies and toddlers (sizes go from newborn to three years old) and where you can sell, rent, or buy clothes. Because as Laura recently posted on her Instagram account @kids_oclock, there is no planet B.
Let’s start at the beginning – talk us through your career as a buyer and what are some of your favourite moments working for companies such as Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi?<p>Let's start at the beginning –talk us through your career as a buyer and what are some of your favourite moments working for companies such as Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi?<br> <br>Born in Paris and raised there, until I moved to NY for my first real job – which was on the other side of buying, I was a wholesale assistant for a French-owned NY-based showroom representing Joseph and Balmain at CDNetwork.<br> <br>To this day, I continue praising the importance of understanding sales before buying. I have joined then many different retail spaces, Moda Operandi, Ralph Lauren/Club Monaco, and more recently Net-a-Porter. I have learnt so much in each of these companies, thanks to the incredible bosses and women I was working with. <br> <br>Moda Operandi was known and built, at the time, 2013, on the trunkshow business mode. When I joined, Lauren Santo Domingo had decided to add the boutique or buy now wear now to the platform. We were a very small team dedicated to source, and purchase collection for that purpose. <br> <br>I am very thankful for all I learnt during my time there, we were a small team, very hands-on. Lauren Santo Domingo was always involved in all decisions which, for us, was an amazing way to learn. <br> <br>To this day, the original modettes are still my closest friends, is it because we all worked so closely and late together? Or is it because we were taught in the same school? Not sure. However, I know they are the most hardworking girls, with the best taste one could have. <br> <br>One of my favorite moments at <a href="https://www.modaoperandi.com/" target="_blank">Moda Operandi,</a> came from we were tasked with building a shop for the 2013 Met Gala, 'Punk: Chaos to Couture'. We had to source all sorts of punk-inspired products from all over the world; mostly from non-fashion vendors. This experience made me feel like a true buyer; we were sourcing unconventional products and displaying them in a way that made them desirable to the fashion community, as opposed to going into a showroom and picking pieces displayed right in front of us. <br> <br>Net-a-Porter on the other hand was already very established when I joined, the impression of building or creating something was a little bit more complicated to achieve. However, the team and Elizabeth (buying director) were amazing at trusting their juniors and let us lead our respected categories. I have learnt so much about communication, trades, and processes. Both experiences are absolutely perfect together, and to me, helped creating the yin and yang of a buyer. </p>
What changes have you seen over the last few years in the circular economy around children’s garments?<p>I don't believe there have been any changes regarding children's garments. I have seen strong brands promoting seasonless garments, or "organic" production. I don't think it is enough. I don't claim to be an expert on sustainability, I am just a buyer with 10 years experience and a mom living in a city where I am exposed to a lot of cool brands. And I think they should lead and give the example. They should be more proactive. </p><p> <br>I have seen many companies use greenwashing, organic, sustainable as a way to position themselves at the center of the environmental conversations within the fashion industry and think that we have to be cautious in the way we use those terms. A marketing tool should not be used by a brand/a retail unless it is an actual adjective of their mission.</p>
How will this pandemic change the fashion industry?<p>I think the fashion industry has already changed since the beginning of this pandemic. The way everyone is having to speak on the issue is great because it will be environmentally impactful and force everyone to take a look at their own habits and practices. <br> <br>The industry doesn't need six collections a year, and the impact that the preconceived need to fly out every buyer, model, and hair or makeup artist to every show in all major cities this many times a year does not help anything, whatsoever. I am in for creativity, conception, imagination, but not at any cost.<br> <br><a href="https://maisoncleo.com/" target="_blank">MaisonCléo</a> is mastering the local creativity. I hope the biggest player will begin to move towards more local resources, using talent around the shoot locations rather than flying in a huge team like we've seen before. <br> <br>It has to start somewhere, brands need to show the responsible way, but consumers should too. Refuse to purchase when there is a lack of transparency in the production chain, or focus their spending on something more sustainable. </p>
Why is there the belief that secondhand clothes, especially in the kids’ category, are dirty?<p>Second-hand has been deemed as "dirty" for a long time. Consumers are used to associating second-hand with thrift shops, that are not always taken care of and are often full of old, discarded items that have not been cleaned or organized. It doesn't have to be dirty, it is actually a mine of gold. There is also a distinction to be made between vintage and pre-loved/ second hand. Vintage falls into silhouettes from the past, items from previous decades. Pre-loved doesn't have to be vintage, while vintage is, by nature, pre-loved. <br> <br>Kids Oclock has been created on the basis that kids' clothes should be worn more than once, but also, built on a trustful community of mums, which, I hope will help eradicate the stigma.</p>
What are some tips for women wanting to make changes to become more sustainable?<p>I am not an expert, but I believe every tiny change can make a difference. When you go grocery shopping, bring your own bags, drink filter tap water if you need to, buy local as much as possible. In London, there are now a lot of local shops that deliver such as <a href="http://farmshop.london/" target="_blank">Farm Shop</a> for your proteins and <a href="https://www.oddbox.co.uk/" target="_blank">Oddbox</a> for your veggies. In regards to living towards a more sustainable closet, few rules. Don't be a keeper, (donate, refresh or sell) what you do not wear. I use<a href="https://www.vestiairecollective.com/" target="_blank"> Vestiaire Collective</a> a lot, whether as a seller, or as a buyer. It is simply a habit to get used to. Take care of your pieces, they will last longer.</p><p>I have three main tips for women who want to become more sustainable:</p><ol><li>Don't be a keeper – get rid of and donate the clothes that you or your children aren't wearing of or have grown out of</li><li>Only buy what you really need and think harder about buying the things that you really want, and be okay with the clothing movement – accepting that fast-fashion has detrimental effects on the industry and our environment</li><li>Start investing in pieces that are slightly more expensive, but made ethically.</li></ol>
What are your thoughts on fast fashion stores such as Zara and H&M?<p>Zara proves to be strong in terms of their imagery and online marketing of their products, but it's a shame that their inspiration derives from many small designers trying to build their brand and create recognition just to create excitement around new trends that are affordable and able to be produced what seems like almost immediately. They are absorbing small designer's creativity without recognizing how impactful it is on their businesses, and I believe they should be more transparent about the realities of production in emerging countries and should be creative when it comes to making real-life changes.</p>
Tell us about your Mums O’Clock category?<p>Mums O'Clock was created as a platform to showcase the women that are the foundation of our community. We post a handful of mothers per month, where they are able to show their lifestyle, with each question asked by us being tailored to their individuality. The goal being to feature their creative input, their lives as mothers, and come up with productive conversation. </p>
What’s life in London like right now?<p>We got extremely lucky during the pandemic as our neighbourhood feels like a village. We have a farmer market every weekend –with strong COVID health and safety guidance – our favourite local food shop remained open, and Hyde Park was open for us to go for a walk. The weather was stunning throughout the whole quarantine so we enjoyed the outdoors as much as possible, which never happens in London. </p>
What has been the most challenging stage of motherhood for you?<p>I think it was the transition from Albie being a newborn to being a baby, around 4 to 8 months. You are no longer a very young mum, so expected to have it together, and I didn't. I realise now I was quite tough with myself, wanting to have it all, a sleepy, yet dynamic baby. I wanted to have my 'me time' back, but would not miss a second of my day without him. I was completely torn all day long between being myself and looking at the situation, which taught me one thing. A baby will not want a perfect mum, but a happy one. I had to teach that concept to my husband too, Mr. Perfectionist, and to make him learn spontaneity and flexibility are keys in parenthood. He is now much more comfortable with the concept, but we had a tough year of learning. Each family gives birth and goes through the first year their own way, but I wish I had been given more warning.</p>
What are some practical tips you can share around time management?<p>I am an early riser, so I do get a lot done in the morning, which is a huge part of mumentreprenurship. I also have baby-proofed the house. 18 months is a challenging age for a baby to be around when launching a business at home. But I really am trusting we should give their responsibility as early as possible, granted there is no danger in the house. So I let Albert play and explore, I put some of his toys out for him to access and he usually can last an hour during the day.</p>
What has kept you sane during this pandemic and what lessons do you hope we will learn from it?<p>I now am sure I can live with my husband and baby, just the three of us, without anyone losing it completely ha. So many good lessons, first of all, I didn't realise I was living a memory until it became one, so will teach me to cherish more the present and the instant. Then I think a big part of this pandemic has been to learn how to let go, not be on top of them, myself nor the schedule… we were happy just going with the flow, but going with it is an art or a sport, and it has to be taught.</p><p>The last thing I learned, which was a big wake up call, is to care, every day, all the time, for others. Since slow life hit us, we're now much more capable of taking time to reflect, and to care for everyone around us – start with a smile, you'll realise how big an impact this has. Look around you, a charity, an elderly person in your building – the crisis has hit hard and every little bit counts.</p>
The Grace Tales is a global lifestyle platform for mothers searching for style, substance, and solidarity. Driven by creating content, community and connection, we celebrate the paradox of modern motherhood; the struggle and the beauty, the joy and the relentlessness.
You can talk to Lucy Bloom about everything...
Why childbirth is not as bad as the movies make it seem. Or why the most harrowing part of being a CEO was dealing with an abusive board of directors. Or why there's a sense of fakery in niceness. She's smart, direct, and an unbelievable role model for women – no wonder she's the first and only Australian to be listed in the world's top 30 #socialceos. Her career highlights, all achieved while raising three children, are seemingly endless. A founding director and CEO of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia (Australia).
Tell me about your motorbike accident when you were 19?<p>I had a massive motorcycle accident in 1992, which changed the course of my life not long after it had just got started. It was during my first year out of high school when I was working in an advertising agency in Sydney, living in a little apartment with a friend and working in a cocktail bar on weekends. I was having the time of my life when I bought a motorcycle to complete the picture. What a goose I was. Sydney is not built for motorbike traffic at all. Everyone tried to talk me out of it but it thought I was invincible and I thought it would be fun.</p><p>On the way to work one Saturday night, a Gold Mercedes wiped me out on the approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I broke my leg really badly and would spend the next year having 14 reconstructive surgeries to avoid losing the limb altogether. There were a number of experimental graft surgeries which were a waste of time and trauma. In the end, my left leg saved my right leg with blood supply – my legs were grafted together like a mermaid, for a month. After that my right leg's vascular system was stable enough to go it alone. Now I have epic scars which tell quite a story. To this day, my left foot subconsciously supports my right foot when I'm lying down. It's like they're mates.</p>
Can you share your journey with the scar on your leg?<p>From the very beginning of my motorcycle accident saga at the tender age of 19, I was not so fond of my new scars. But as the surgeries progressed, infections took hold and the damage to my legs became much more gnarly, I downright hated the scarring I was left with. My legs were disfigured in shape, criss-crossed with long scars and patched together with grafts and hundreds of stitches. My scars became something I kept to myself because I was ashamed. I would only wear long pants and boots. No one saw my scars if I could avoid it at all. I even wore full leg swimmers to the beach.</p><p>Then something happened around the 20-year mark after my accident. I was approaching turning 40 and I suddenly realised I had no more fucks to give. It was that simple. I'd met someone special not long after my marriage ended that year, and he told me that he thought my scars were beautiful. Not just gnarly or epic, but beautiful. No one had ever told me I was beautiful before, let alone my scars, so it stopped me in my tracks and made me consider why I had hated my scars for so long. I stopped covering my legs, I started wearing shorts and didn't feel ashamed of my scars ever again. His name was Rob and he's since moved to Berlin but I will always have a soft spot for Rob for being so generous with his words when it came to me and my scars.</p><p>Then on a cold day in June 2019, I received an email from a photographer in London asking if I'd be available to sit for him in a photographic portrait series of subjects with interesting scars. So off I toddled to London from Sydney and went to Brock Elbank's studio in south-west London for a nude shoot which wound up in the pages of Vogue Magazine. It took almost 25 years to go from shame to fame on the scar front. What was important was getting to a point in my life where I truly didn't care what anyone might think of my war wounds. You can see those images and the rest of Brock's magnificent collection <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B1JxAUMB8ot/" target="_blank">here.</a></p>
What prompted you to become a doula, after already having an established career in communications?<p>I bore easily and doing something out of the ordinary appealed to me so I trained as a doula in 2004. I'd also just had my first child and our doula inspired me to be that person who takes a couple on a journey from fear to confidence. Babies are often born in the middle of the night so I would often be back at my desk in the morning and no one would notice I'd been AWOL. It was in my work as a doula that I noticed that men are often left out of the preparation for birth so I fixed that situation later…</p>
Can you share with us the inspiration behind joining Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia?<p>I was given a brilliant opportunity when Dr Catherine Hamlin asked me to be the CEO of a new charitable entity in Australia to fund her work in Ethiopia. I had the skills and was ready for a change of scene after 20 years as a creative director. I'd known Catherine for a number of years when she asked me to head up the charity and I didn't need any thinking time before I said yes and took the leap. Together we raised $7M for her work including a midwifery school in Addis Ababa. Catherine died in March 2020. My only grief is that I will never work with another woman like her again.</p>
You would have experienced some incredibly harrowing moments during this role. Is there anything that stood out for you?<p>To be honest, the most harrowing part of that job was dealing with an abusive board of directors. My board terrorised me for three solid years. I didn't report to Catherine as she was based in Ethiopia and had to focus on her surgical work there. I loved her to bits but she was technically not my boss. I reported to a board of three volunteers who made my time as CEO unbearable. If you are on the board of directors for a charity and find yourself becoming dreadfully jealous of your CEO, or you are shouty at board meetings, give yourself an uppercut.</p>
You stopped working as a doula after returning from a trip to Ethiopia. Can you explain this decision?<p>I had just returned from a particularly hard going trip to Ethiopia when I hung up my doula bag for good. Before I became CEO I had been travelling to Ethiopia for eight years. I would go each year and shoot a catalogue of beautiful images of staff, patients, the hospitals and the countryside. That particular trip took me to some of the regional obstetric fistula hospitals in Harar and Yirgalem where I saw some pretty difficult situations. What I recall most was the grace and gratitude with which the Ethiopian women faced their injuries, usually after the loss of their baby. I came home to Australia and attended a birth where a couple were rude to the midwife over how quickly she could get them an extra pillow. I think when you want to poke the birthing mother in the eye, you know your time as a doula has come to an end. I couldn't support couples in this environment of privilege and choice when I was exposed to the difficulties of women elsewhere.</p>
What do you wish that pregnant women knew about childbirth?<p>Childbirth is not as bad as the movies make it seem. It's hard work but you are built to birth. I believe in you.</p>
What about partners? Your gorgeous first book focused on partners in the birth process - is there a top tip you’d provide them with?<p>I've just republished that book for its tenth anniversary. Cheers to Childbirth is especially for men and prepares them for their role in the birth of their baby. I think my number one tip for the lads is to stay present, emotionally and physically. No phones, no talky talk, no other distractions at all. Just be there with your partner while she labours. You won't die of boredom. Promise.</p>
Tell us about the importance of friendships in your life. How do you foster them when you have such a busy, demanding life?<p>I have never maintained a huge circle of friends, just a special few. Those friends have been non-judgemental, solid, down to earth women who have been good at staying in touch and pointing out typos in my work! I am also a collector of good people so when I meet really solid humans, I collect them and stay in touch. It doesn't have to be often.</p>
Can you share with us what your new book - Get The Girls Out is all about?<p>Get the Girls Out is my memoir. I think this says it best:</p><p>Lucy's open-hearted interest in the world has taken her from working as a farmhand on a cattle station to maternity hospitals in Ethiopia, from marshalling a cross-country carnival in northern Uganda to CEO briefings in the back of a tuk-tuk in Cambodia. Hers has been a life of fighting for the underdog only to find out that, sometimes, the underdog is actually her. Taking all dramatic life-turns, side-steps and face-plants in her stride, Lucy has rebuilt her life every time, with love and adventure at its heart, plus a side order of mischief.</p><p>Here's a<a href="https://thelucybloom.com/get-the-girls-out/" target="_blank"> link where readers can download the first chapter for free.</a></p>
In your book, you've said you hope that you inspire women to "do cool stuff, make plans, launch that business, pack your bags, shave your head, ride that horse, date that hottie, apply for that job, chuck that party – and, most of all, get your girls out, whatever that means for you." While many of us understand the, "live each day like it's your last," message, it can be a challenge to make it happen in the grind of daily life. When did you realise that this was the way you wanted to live?<p>I don't believe in that idea that you should live each day like it's your last – if that were the case I would never pay my bills and I would be cuddling my kids right now instead of writing this for you! I think the general groove of my life is to HAVE A GO. Don't hold back on life because you might fail, or because you worry what other people think. Just HAVE A RED HOT GO. I think I made a very clear decision on that when my kids were little and the grind of daily life was hard going. That's when I started really having a go, to make life more interesting, adventurous and fun. Like doula training and trips to Ethiopia. Like writing books, starting new business concepts, like keynote speaking and sea kayaking. I don't have the bandwidth to care what other people think of my choices and that is the key to having a go.</p>
Do you think it’s more important to be brave than it is to be nice? How do you showcase this in your everyday life? How can we teach our daughters this same message?<p>There's a place for politeness, for sure, but there is a sense of fakery in niceness. I've been willing to speak up even if it's not the popular point of view and this is brave. I am the one pointing out the magazine cover crammed full of white women or the event with all-male speakers. The 'nice' thing to do would be to ignore the chronic lack of diversity or imbalance but the brave thing to do is say 'Hey you! This needs some work.' I don't want to live in a world which is dominated by authoritative voices only coming from pretty, thin, white chicks. Or old white men for that matter. I want a rich and juicy, radical life which is enriched by a diversity of perspectives. You have to be brave to demand it. Nice doesn't get heard.</p>
What’s next for you?<p>I've just launched a <a href="https://thelucybloom.com/podcast/" target="_blank">podcast</a> for the readers of Get the Girls Out and am adapting Cheers to Childbirth for an international readership. Babies are born the same way all over the world, it's just the way hospitals manage the process which differs from one country to the next. And I have a new business idea that I am working on. It's under wraps for now but let's just say it's inspired by all this isolation bizzo, panic buying and environmental concerns.</p>
In a few minutes you can learn a lot from contemporary textile artist Nikita Sheth, namely the importance of quality family time. When she was just two year's old, her family home was burnt down.
Luckily, no one was hurt but it meant she was raised in a home where material possessions came secondary to family dinners and spending quality time with one another. She grew up in a home with "good food and laughs". While it took time for her to embrace her Indian heritage – her dad's family was one of the first Indian (Gujurati) to move from India in the 1950's – she later realised how lucky she was to have it.