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From side hustle to an Instagram empire – Mère Soeur

Founder Carrie Roberts’ advice on making a side hustle successful

The New Blood Side Hustle category is for people who make their passion projects a reality. For the raw creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that’ll drive our industry forward. The self-initiated side projects that have become the main event. With that in mind, we’re throwing a spotlight on the doers out there, who aren't doing things the done way. We spoke to Carrie Roberts,  purveyor of ‘mama merch’, Mère Soeur  about why she knew her idea would work, learning on the job and making “necessary mistakes”.

Now, a side hustle is usually something you do on the, well, side of a full-time gig. But in Carrie’s case, that full time gig is motherhood. The £400 a month Statutory Maternity Pay wasn't exactly the dream, so after having baby River, she started making use of her creativity so she could work for herself, at home, while also raising the future. Today, Mère Soeur isn't just a side gig, it's become one mighty Instagram empire. So what this chick doesn't know about juggling, isn't juggling.

Did you know it was going to work out?

I think I just knew that it had to work. I wasn’t going to let it not work, no matter how many doubts I had or late nights I had to pull (still have to pull). The thing about creating something entirely your own is just that, it’s your own. It’s you, putting yourself and your work out there. It’s raw and it’s scary and the only thing I could do to combat that and alleviate the stress that comes along with it was to make sure I had perfected my work to the point where I couldn’t actually wait to show people because I thought it was so bomb. I applied the same, arguably flawed, logic when it came to wondering if it was all going to work out or not. I thought that if I worked hard enough and never put out anything I wasn’t 100% excited about then it’d probably just be ok. 

What made you keep going to make Mère Soeur happen?

Before I started the business I didn’t know what a tax return was, how to put together a spreadsheet, where I’d even source stock from or how to design anything so I had to learn on the job. Once I realised that every skill or piece of information or snippet of advice that I needed was out there and all I had to do find those pieces and fit them together it felt like a switch had flipped and I understood that making it happen was simply a case of being resourceful and having a fire in your belly. That, and I didn’t want to go back to working the shop floor at your favourite high street bath bomb suppliers and have someone else raise my child. I wanted to make it happen so that I could have the best of both worlds.

How do you juggle your work with raising River?

The juggle is constantly evolving. As his needs change, the schedule and work pattern has to change too. At the moment we’re at the ‘I clock in when he goes to sleep and work into the early hours’ sort of shift pattern but it’s worth it. Mums and dads are expected to parent like they don’t have a job and work like they don’t have a family and it’s hard going, but nothing beats being able to afford yourself the flexibility to do a job you love alongside raising your child and not missing out on the good stuff. I’ll hold my hands up, it’s not perfect or easy and I’m definitely overstretched but I wouldn’t change it.

Any advice for the other side hustlers out there?

Having a passion isn’t always about getting it right the first time, it’s about making the necessary mistakes (of which there will be many) and not taking no for an answer from anybody. Including yourself. Also, and this is a biggie, the quickest way to zap yourself of all creative capabilities is to compare yourself to others. There’s an abundance of people already out there living your dream and making it look SO easy while you’re still wondering how to get a logo made or what colour envelopes to use or how to brand yourself/your business.

There are endless perfectly curated Instagram accounts belonging to a multitude of flawless, creative, achingly cool humans who all seem to be undoubtedly more talented, considerably more enabled and infinitely more successful than you will ever be. BUT, none of them are you so stay on your shit and do your own thing. Offer something different and authentic and you won’t go far wrong. Take your time, make it worthwhile and don’t forget yourself.

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